Writing invitation letters can help with your family or friend’s visa applications, depending on which visa they’re applying for. But if you’re going to write an invitation letter for a visa, you need to include all of the right information for the letter to be of use.
What you need to include and what visas invitation letters are for, we’ll get into now.
Writing a Visa Invitation Letter
The most important things to include when writing an invitation letter for a visa, are your details, the details of the person applying for the visa and evidence of your relationship. For an invitation letter to be valid, you need to be a British or Irish citizen or have permanent residency, and demonstrate clearly your relationship with the applicant.
Some evidence of your relationship can include:
- Birth certificates
- Marriage certificates
- Bills or house deeds with your and your partner’s name
These documents can be submitted as supporting evidence with your invitation letter.
For Standard Visitor Visas, you don’t need a familial relationship to write an invitation letter, however. You can write an invitation letter to show your willingness to let a friend or extended family member reside in your home for the duration of their stay in the UK. For this type of invitation letter, you should include your name, date of birth and physical address as well as your housing contract to show you have permission to allow someone to stay with you.
You can address the invitation letter to the applicant, or the Home Office, as long as you give both you, as the sponsor, and your guest, as the applicant’s, details on the letter.
A Family Visa is a type of visa for the UK that allows you to join a close member of your family in the UK. Family visas include:
- Partner or Spouse visa
- Parent visa
- Child Dependent visa
- Adult Dependant Relative visa
To qualify for an Adult Dependant Relative visa, you need to be either:
- A parent aged 18 years or over
- A grandparent
- A brother or sister aged 18 years or over
- A son or daughter aged 18 years or over
Therefore, if you are not one of the above relatives to a person with permanent residency or citizenship in the UK, you cannot apply for a Family Visa.
Applying for a Family Visa
When applying for a Family visa, each applicant must complete the application themselves; family members in the UK cannot request a visa or bring their family members with them. The application must be done by the applicant and usually from abroad. You can change from a valid visa to a Family visa from within the UK, however, valid visas are only long-term visas. You cannot switch from a Visitor visa to a Family visa.
Each application must also be done online. When submitting your application you must provide several documents as evidence with your application. These 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
- Proof of suitable accommodation in the UK
- Proof of A1-standard English if age between 19 and 64
- Proof of sufficient finances to cover your stay in the UK
- Tuberculosis test results if from a relevant country
- 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
You must also pay the relevant application fee and the immigration health surcharge to be permitted to use the national health service. In most cases, these fees are:
- £1,538 for each applicant applying from outside the UK
- £1,872 for first-time applicants for the Immigration Health Surcharge
The Family visa application process can take up to 24 weeks (around 5 to 6 months), however, if you have not provided enough information, the Home Office may ask for supplementary evidence or call you to your nearest embassy for an interview.
When extending your Family visa, the costs and processing time are different and you can complete your application from the UK.
Why Write an Invitation Letter for a Family Visa
Since there is a lot of documental evidence that needs to be provided by the applicant when they apply for or renew a Family visa, it may seem unnecessary to write an invitation letter. While they are not strictly necessary, they can benefit your family member’s application.
When your family member submits their application, they need to demonstrate that they have suitable accommodation with their sponsor (family member resident in the UK) for the duration of their visa. An invitation letter from the family member with their address clearly on the letter and a copy of their rental contract or housing contract and information on the space available in the home e.g. the number of bedrooms, bathrooms and other occupants, can help show that the applicant will be suitably accommodated during their stay.
Applicants must also show that they have sufficient finances for the duration of their stay. If they do not have the minimum requested sum in their account, they can show that their sponsor will cover the majority of their costs. In this way, writing an invitation letter for a Family visa can help to show the sponsor’s salary, bank statements or other financial records that show sufficient funds to cover their and their dependent’s living costs.
What Rights Do Your Family Members Have in the UK?
If your family member’s visa application is successful, they will be granted residence in the UK for up to 2 years and 9 months. During this time, they are free to leave and reenter the UK as they please, work as an employee or self-employed person or study at a relevant institution. If courses or work contracts last for more time than the visa is issued, they may have to reapply for a study visa or work visa.
When the visa is due to expire, applicants can renew their Family visa online and receive their Family visa for up to 2 years and 6 months. The visa can be extended indefinitely, however, after 5 years in the UK on a Family visa, visa holders are eligible to apply for indefinite leave to remain (ILR) also known as permanent residency. After 12 months with permanent residency, you are then eligible to apply for British citizenship if desired.
With British citizenship, you are eligible to apply for a British passport and will have the same right to remain and vote as British nationals.
Are There Other Ways of Bringing Family to the UK?
Family visas are not the only option for bringing your close family with you to the UK. Some work permits also permit close relatives i.e. partners or children to come to the UK with the work permit holder. Some student visa holders can also bring their partners or children to the UK with them, however, they must be conducting postgraduate research or an equivalent level of study.
You can also bring your family members to the UK for a short-term visit. Standard Visitor visas are for foreign nationals applying to visit the UK for up to 6 months. If your family wants to visit you, they can apply for this visa and you can help their application with an invitation letter.
Need Help with Your UK Visa Application?
If you or your loved one are applying for a visa to the UK, it can be a great help to employ the services of an expert visa agency such as Synergy Immigration Solutions. We have a team of UK immigration experts ready to help anyone understand the application process, collect the necessary documents and go through the application with much higher chances of success. Need help with your visa application? Contact Synergy Immigration Services today!