Family visas can be given for up to 5 years depending on which Family Visa you apply for and how you apply. However, in most cases, when you first apply, you’ll be given your Family Visa for up to 2 years and 9 months.
If you plan to live in the UK with your family member permanently, you’ll need to extend your Family Visa to have the same rights and permissions in the UK. Let’s look at all of the important information regarding extending your Family Visa now.
Extending a Family Visa in the UK
Extending your Family Visa in the UK is just as easy as applying. Simply go to the Gov.uk site for Family Visas as you would have done when you first applied and start your application to extend your visa. You’ll need many of the same documents you needed when you first made your application, such as those demonstrating you still meet the financial requirements of the visa, you’ll be living with your family member and your accommodation is safe and suitable for you and your family.
You should apply to extend your visa before your visa has expired, as you may not overstay your visa and will be asked to leave the country and restart your application from abroad. Having overstayed your visa may negatively affect your second application for your Family Visa.
Once you have made your application to extend your Family Visa, you should stay in the UK, as leaving the UK including British territories such as the Channel Islands, will cause your application to be treated as withdrawn, and you will not have your application fee refunded. If you urgently need to leave, you can get help from an expert visa agency about your individual case, such as Synergy Immigration Solutions.
Who Doesn’t Need to Extend Their Family Visa?
Family Visas refer to four types of visa, depending on what relation you are to the family member who is resident in the UK. Family Visas are for:
- Partners and Spouses (married, in a civil partnership or engaged and intending to be wed within 6 months of arrival in the UK)
- Parents of children under 18 or not living independently
- Dependent children i.e. those under 18 or not living independently
- Dependent adult relatives i.e. those who require care from the UK family member
Siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents and grandchildren cannot apply for Family Visas for the UK unless they qualify as adult dependant relatives.
Dependents (children and adult dependant relatives) will receive permission to stay in the UK for as long as their family members are in the UK. Since the family member in the UK who is sponsoring the application must be a legal British resident, British citizen or have protected status in the UK, they have the same rights to stay in the UK as British citizens, i.e. they are not required to leave the UK at any point unless they no longer meet the conditions of their residency.
Therefore, child and adult dependent relatives do not need to extend their Family Visas in the UK.
EU or EEA citizens with family who have settled in the UK before the British exit from the EU was enforced (Brexit), do not have to get Family Visas. If they plan to arrive after 2021 and stay for more than 6 months with a relative who has British residency or British citizenship, they will have to apply for a Family Visa in the same way as other nationals.
How Much Does it Cost to Extend a Family Visa?
Applying for a Family Visa from within the UK costs the same amount whether you are switching from a different visa or extending your visa. As well as the application cost, you will also be required to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge. This charge enables you to use NHS services. Even if you have private insurance or do not use the NHS, you are still required to pay the fee.
- The cost of extending your application is £1,048
- The Immigration Health Surcharge costs £1,560
- The total cost to extend your visa is therefore £2,608
If you are extending your Family Visa at short notice or simply require a quicker response, you can pay an additional £1000 to use the Super Priority Service. This does not make it more or less likely that your application will be successful, but it will greatly speed up the processing time for your application.
When You Should Apply for an Extension
It takes up to 8 weeks for your Family Visa extension application to be processed by the Home Office, however, it can take longer if they need to ask you for more information regarding your application. Since overstaying your visa can have grave consequences for your UK visa applications in the UK, you should make sure you have plenty of time left on your current Family Visa when you start your application. 8 to 10 weeks is ideal to ensure you receive your visa in time.
If you receive your Family Visa extension before your current visa expires, you will have a maximum of 28 days added to your new visa. If you have paid for the Super Priority Service, you will receive a response from the Home Office within 2 working days of submitting your biometric information (a biometric photo and your fingerprints).
How Many Times Can You Extend a Family Visa?
You can extend a Family Visa in the UK as many times as you like, however, after 5 years of living legally in the UK, you can apply for permanent residency, which is much more beneficial for you, in terms of your rights in the UK, and a better option financially if you plan to continue living in the UK.
While in the UK on a Family Visa, you have the right to live, work, study and use NHS services, it is a temporary visa so you will always have to leave the country or reapply for the visa at a certain date. With permanent residency, also known as indefinite leave to remain (ILR), you will not be required to leave the UK.
When Can You Apply for British Citizenship?
Permanent residency is not the same as British citizenship. With British citizenship, you can apply for a British passport and are legally considered British. You can apply to naturalise after having lived in the UK on a valid visa for at least 5 years and held ILR for at least 12 months. You will have a lengthy application process, prove you are of good character and have not committed any serious crimes or immigration crimes within the UK and pass the Life in the UK test regarding British culture, traditions and values.
Any valid visa that is held for more than 5 years qualifies you for ILR and then British citizenship. So as your first Family Visa will usually be issued for 2 years and 9 months, and a visa extension will last for 2 years and 6 months, you can apply to settle in the UK, get ILR, towards the end of your Family Visa. Be careful not to overstay your visa, as this will negatively impact your application.
Need Help with Your Visa Application?
Applying for your visa, extending your visa and even applying to be a sponsor for someone coming to the UK can all be very complicated processes. Fortunately, you don’t need to do it alone!
Synergy Immigration Solutions has a team of immigration experts ready to help you with your application or help your family member through the process. We help individuals, families and businesses through the application process so you can make sure you have all the right documents to receive a positive response on your application.
Contact us now to find out more about how we can help you.