Family Visas are a class of visa for immediate family members of a British resident to join them in the UK, or stay in the UK if they’re already in the country on a different visa. As there are four types of family visas, the application process for each one differs slightly regarding the cost, the documents needed for the application and what rights the family member has once their Family Visa has been approved.
We’ll answer some frequently asked questions relating to Family Visas, so you know exactly what to expect from the application process, and when you should start your application.
What Is a Family Visa?
A Family Visa is for immediate family members to join a person living legally in the UK. That person is referred to as their sponsor and they must meet certain criteria to be able to sponsor a family member to join them in the UK.
One of the following must be true to sponsor a Family Visa:
- Be a British or Irish citizen
- Have permanent residency in the UK (ILR)
- Have residency as a refugee or protected person
- Have a Turkish Businessperson visa or Turkish Worker visa
As Family Visas are only for immediate family members, only partners, parents, children and dependant adult relatives can apply. Grandparents, grandchildren, cousins, aunts and uncles cannot apply for Family Visas unless they are dependent on care that can only be provided by a relative who is resident in the UK.
Types of Family Visa
Family Visas include:
- A Partner or Spouse Visa
- A Parent Visa
- A Child Dependant Visa
- An Adult Dependant Relative Visa
You don’t have to be married to apply for the partner or spouse visa, civil partnerships are also valid and can apply for this visa. Couples in unofficial relationships (without a legal document such as marriage or civil partnership certificate) must be able to prove they have been living together for at least 2 years to have their visa approved. Such proof includes official documents such as bills and bank statements with both persons’ names listed, not photographs, texts or travel tickets.
You can also apply for a Family Visa as a partner or spouse of someone who has died, or if your relationship has ended due to abuse.
If you are the grandchild of a British citizen, a commonwealth citizen or a national of Zimbabwe, you can apply for a UK Ancestry Visa, provided you have the relevant proof.
How Long Does a Family Visa Take to Process?
While most other UK visas take a shorter time to receive a response if you apply from outside of the UK than inside, Family Visas are the opposite and take quite a long time to receive responses.
You should ensure you have all of the right documents ready to submit with your application to ensure that the Home Office doesn’t request additional information from you, slowing down the process, so enlisting the help of a visa agency can be beneficial to ensure your application is complete and ready to submit. However, in some cases, you may still be asked to attend an interview in your nearest embassy or consulate, if there are ambiguities or issues raised in your application.
If your application goes smoothly, you can expect an approval or denial of your application within 24 weeks (5 to 6 months) if you have applied from outside the UK. If you are applying from within the UK, you will receive a response within 8 weeks (2 months) – unless you have paid extra for the priority service, in which case you’ll receive a response within 2 working days.
When applying from within the UK, you first must have legal permission to stay in the UK and you must apply before your current visa has ended. If your current visa expires before you have a response on your visa application, you will have to leave the UK and restart your application.
How Much Does a Family Visa Cost?
The cost of a Family Visa for the UK changes according to where you are applying from and which Family Visa you are applying for.
If you apply from outside the UK, the following costs apply to each visa:
- Partner or Spouse Visa costs £1,538
- Parent Visa costs £1,538
- Child Dependant Visa costs £1,538
- Adult Dependant Visa costs £3,250 if the sponsor has ILR
- Adult Dependant Visa costs £388 if the sponsor has protected status
If you apply from within the UK, the following costs apply to each visa:
- Partner or Spouse Visa costs £1,048
- Parent Visa costs £1,048
- Child Dependant Visa costs £1,048
- Adult Dependant Visa costs £1,408 regardless of the sponsor’s status
As well as the application fee, each applicant must also pay the immigration health surcharge which grants access to NHS services during the stay in the UK. This cost is £1,872 for partners and parents on their first application, and £1,560 if they’re renewing their Family Visa. For children, the cost is £1,410 on their first application and £1,175 if they’re renewing their visa.
Adult dependant relatives can stay for longer on a Family Visa, so their immigration health surcharge costs £3,120.
Each applicant except for adult dependents can choose to pay an additional £800 for a faster response from the Home Office on their application.
How Long Can You Stay in the UK on a Family Visa?
Parents and partners can stay in the UK on their Family Visas for up to 2 years and 9 months when they first apply. You can extend a Family Visa as many times as you like; each extension grants you a further 2 years and 6 months residency in the UK. This is not permanent residency, as your visa will have an expiry date, however, during the validity of your visa, you may live, work and study in the UK, as well as use NHS services as any other British citizen. You may not, however, claim most governmental benefits.
Child and adult dependents may stay in the UK as long as their sponsor. They will also not be awarded indefinite leave to remain (ILR), however, as their sponsor must have permanent residency or citizenship, they can also stay indefinitely. However, permanent residency and protected status can be revoked if the individual fails to continue to meet the eligibility requirements of these residency types. If your sponsor’s residency is revoked or they are deported, this will very likely affect your status in the UK.
Can You Get British Citizenship After Having a Family Visa?
You can apply for British citizenship after living legally in the UK for at least 10 years, or having lived legally in the UK for 5 years and had ILR for at least 12 months. Since Family Visas can be extended indefinitely, you can apply for British citizenship after 10 years, or apply for ILR after 5 years, and British citizenship one year later.
Some countries don’t allow dual nationality, so if you apply for British citizenship, you may have your rights revoked in your country of birth or previous country of citizenship. Check your country’s policy before you apply.
To receive British citizenship, applicants between 19 and 64 will have to prove they have sufficient knowledge of English, Welsh or Scottish Gaelic, as well as pass the Life in the UK Test about British culture, history and values. Once you have citizenship, you can also apply for a British passport.
Need Visa Help? – Contact Synergy Immigration Solutions
Applying for your visa as an individual can be daunting; ensuring you have the right documents, paying the relevant fees, not to mention receiving a request for more evidence of your relationship with your sponsor. But fortunately, no one needs to go through it alone.