While the whole process of getting a visa for the UK is long-winded and complicated, the actual application is the easiest part. Simply go on to gov.uk and submit your application and documents online. But what is the right visa for you? What documents do you need to submit? What counts as valid evidence for your application?
These are all questions you need to ask yourself before starting your application, and it’s not always easy to find the answers online as visa names and requirements change over time. That’s why it’s a great idea to get a visa agency to help you with your application. Fortunately, Synergy Immigration Solutions is here to help. Let’s take a look at the visa application process so you know what’s what before you get started.
UK Visa Application Process
When you apply for any kind of visa for the UK, you should start by looking into what documents you’ll need for your application. The documents will differ according to the visa, however, you’ll always need to show a valid ID document, usually an in-date passport with your application. Your passport or other ID if you’re travelling for tourism from the EU should be valid for the entire length of your intended stay in the UK.
Moreover, the more up-to-date the documents you have, the better. For Family Visas, you’ll need to submit evidence that you are a close relation of the family member in the UK who is sponsoring you. These documents cannot be more than 4 years old.
Each piece of evidence should also be from a reliable source. For example, if you’re proving you’re a partner of a UK resident for a Partner or Spouse Visa, you should show your marriage or civil partnership certificate, a signed contract from your landlord with both your names visible or a joint bank statement. Photos and text messages can easily be faked, so do not count as valid proof of a relationship.
Once you have all of your documents together, you can start your application online, or go through the application with your visa agency. Simply submit all of your documents and wait for a response from the Home Office.
How Long Does the Application Process Take?
How long you have to wait for your visa depends on whether you have provided sufficient evidence and the right documents, and whether you apply from within or outside of the UK.
If you have applied from outside the UK, you’ll have a response from the Home Office within 24 weeks i.e. 5 to 6 months. They may ask for more evidence from you, or invite you to an embassy for an interview if they feel it’s necessary. Or, they’ll simply send you an email or letter to approve or deny your application. Applying from outside the UK costs £1,538 for each applicant, as well as a fee of £1,872 for first-time applicants for use of the NHS, known as the Immigration Health Surcharge.
If you apply from within the UK, i.e. you’re switching from a different visa or extending your current visa, the cost is £1,048 per applicant, plus £1,560 for the Immigration Health Surcharge. You will receive a response on your application within 8 weeks unless you have paid extra for a quicker response, in which case you can have your visa application reviewed within 2 working days.
Types of Family Visa
There are four types of family visas, depending on what your relation is with the UK resident you are applying to join.
- A Partner or Spouse Visa
- A Parent Visa
- A Child Dependant Visa
- An Adult Dependant Relative Visa
People in civil partnerships can apply for the Partner or Spouse visa, however, fiancé(e)s who intend to get married within 6 months must apply for a Fiancé(e) or Proposed Civil Partner visa, which is only valid for up to 6 months. After the marriage or civil union, they can switch to a Partner or Spouse visa to remain in the UK for up to 2 years and 6 months. Partners and parents can ordinarily reside in the UK for up to 2 years and 9 months on their first application, but they can be extended indefinitely.
Extended families cannot apply for family visas unless they require care from a relative who is a resident of the UK, in which case they can apply for the Adult Dependant Relative visa. Grandchildren of British citizens or people born in former Commonwealth countries and Zimbabwe can apply for the UK Ancestry Visa, which grants residency for up to 5 years.
Documents Needed for Family Visas
The documents needed for Family visas are largely the same, and include:
- A valid passport for the duration of the proposed stay in the UK
- Biometric photographs and fingerprints
- Proof of relationship between the applicant and UK resident (documents cannot be over 4 years old)
- Proof of suitable accommodation in the UK
- Proof of A1-standard English*
- Proof of sufficient finances to cover your stay in the UK*
- Tuberculosis test results*
- Details of any criminal history
- Details of any previous immigration applications made
- Certified translation of any supporting documents that are not in English or Welsh. This should include confirmation of the eligibility of the translator
- Photo page and any visa or entry stamps in previous passports
- Any other supporting documents that UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) has asked for
Exceptions for Family Visa Applicants
Each applicant will have to provide the above documents when submitting their application. However, there are some exceptions, marked here with * that should be made note of.
English Language Test
You do not have to prove your English language knowledge if you:
- are aged 18 or below or 65 or over
- are applying for an Adult Dependant Relative Visa
- have been living in the UK on a Family Visa for at least 5 years and are extending it
- have a physical or mental disability that prevents you from this requirement
- are from a recognised English-speaking country
If you complete a degree in the English language or at a UK university or institute, your degree certificate is sufficient proof of your knowledge of English. Otherwise, you should take a test from an approved authority to provide evidence that you have A1 level English or above according to CEFR.
Application Fee Waiver
You can apply for a fee waiver if you are applying as a child dependant and you do not have sufficient finances to cover the costs due to low income, no housing or cannot afford your living costs.
You will only have to provide a tuberculosis test result from an approved clinic if you are from one of the 112 listed countries, or have lived in one of those listed countries within six months of your application.
Can You Get British Citizenship after a Family Visa?
A British passport has long been one of the most sought-after passports for visa-free travel throughout the world. However, obtaining a British passport is a relatively long process. You must first have been living in the UK for at least 10 years on a valid visa, or 5 years on a valid visa and at least 12 months with ILR.
ILR stands for indefinite leave to remain, and simply refers to permanent residency, also known as settlement or settled status. You can only get ILR after staying legally in the UK for 5 years for most visas, except the Innovator Founder visa and the Global Talent visa, which take 2 years and 3 years respectively.
Once you have applied for British citizenship and passed the Life in the UK test, you can apply for a British passport. However, some countries do not allow dual nationality, so check your home country’s regulations before you start your citizenship application.
Need Help with Your Visa Application?
To apply for a UK Family Visa isn’t easy, with all the documents you need to collect and understand what fees you have to pay. Fortunately, Synergy Immigration Solutions is here to help! Our team of UK visa experts are on hand to help each individual with their application, so you’ve got better chances of being accepted.
Contact us today to find out how we can help you!