Continuing its tough stance on immigration, the Conservative government recently announced plans to make changes to some visa processes and requirements to cut down on the number of immigrants coming to the UK.
The headline for those wishing to apply for a Family visa is that the minimum income for UK residents wishing to bring family members to the UK is going to rise steeply, from £18,600 a year to £38,700. This will have a great impact on the number of people in the UK who are eligible to bring their dependents to live in the UK with them, although it is not likely to affect those who are already in the UK on Family visas.
This sum, which is due to come into effect in Spring 2024, is much greater than the minimum wage in the UK, and just over the national average salary so is sure to mean that many UK residents can no longer bring family to the UK with them – especially if they live outside of London.
Who is Eligible for the UK Family Visa?
There are four types of Family visa in the UK:
- Partner or Spouse visa
- Parent visa
- Child Dependent visa
- Adult Dependant Relative visa
You can bring family to the UK if you’re a student visa holder or a skilled worker, although the terms for these visas are also changing for only certain students and skilled workers with a minimum wage of £38,700. You can also move to the UK with the UK Ancestry visa if your parents or grandparents were born in the UK, Ireland or a former Commonwealth country. However, Family visas are strictly for dependents of UK residents.
The Adult Dependant Relative visa is strictly for close relatives who have a disability, or due to their age, cannot look after themselves and require long-term care that can only be provided by the relative in the UK. Applicants must be:
- 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, you can bring your parent to the UK permanently with a Family visa if you are over 18 and they have a long-term health condition. To bring parents for a visit, they can simply apply for a Standard Visitor visa, although they cannot switch from a visitor visa to a Family visa, and you cannot apply on your parents behalf.
While the applicant must meet specific eligibility requirements, so must the family member who is already resident in the UK.
Who Can Sponsor a Family Visa?
To sponsor a Family visa i.e. bring a family member to the UK with you or to join you later, you need to have:
- Irish or British citizenship
- Permanent residency in the UK i.e. settled status or indefinite leave to remain (ILR)
- Protected status in the UK i.e. as a refugee
- A Turkish Businessperson or Turkish Worker visa
If you do not have one of the above forms of staying in the UK long-term, you cannot bring a family member to the UK. However, if you are in the UK on a valid work permit, after 5 years of living in the UK, you can apply for indefinite leave to remain which would then enable you to bring family to the UK, provided you meet the income requirements.
How Much the Family Visa Costs
When completing your Family visa application, you’re required to pay the application fee as well as the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS).
The Family visa application fee for partners, parents and children is:
- £1,846 to apply from outside the UK
- £1,048 to apply from inside the UK
The initial IHS is:
- £1,872 for the initial application
- £1,560 for any extensions
For Adult dependant relatives, the Family visa application fee is:
- £3,250 to apply from outside the UK
- £1,048 to apply from inside the UK, or
- £404 to apply from outside the UK if your sponsor has protected status
As well as paying the application fee and IHS, the sponsor of each applicant also has to meet income requirements to be able to sponsor their family member to the UK.
Family Visa Income Requirement
To apply for a Family visa, you need to meet certain financial requirements before applying. The financial requirements are having a minimum bank balance, or an income over a certain amount. If you do not have sufficient funds for your application, you can also show the financial status of your sponsor and an invitation letter from your sponsor showing that they will cover your costs while you are in the UK. You may also work on a Family visa, so your sponsor only needs to show sufficient funds for your first month in the UK, as well as to cover their living costs and any other dependents you have.
If you are applying as a partner or spouse and wish to settle in the UK after 5 years, you currently need to have a combined income of £18,600, or savings of at least £16,000. If you have children, you also need to show:
- An extra £3,800 per year for the first child
- An extra £2,400 per year for each other child
As of Spring 2024, the government plans to raise this income requirement to £38,700, however it is not clear on the amount of savings that would be required. If applying as a parent or are sponsoring a child or adult dependant relative’s visa, you will need to show you have sufficient funds to cover your and your relative’s living costs.
To prove your income or savings, you can provide 6 months of payslips, bank statements, pension documents, self-assessment tax returns or savings account statements
The 28-Day Rule
If you are demonstrating sufficient funds by providing bank statements or savings account statements, your documents must not be older than 28 days when you start your Family visa application. This is to show that your records are up to date and you will have sufficient funds when you intend to come to the UK.
How Long It Takes to Get a Family Visa
After you have applied for your visa, the Home Office can take up to 24 weeks to respond. If your application is unsuccessful, you can appeal the decision, or reapply with the necessary documents when you meet the eligibility requirements. If your application is successful, you’ll be required to attend an appointment at your nearest embassy to have your biometric photo and fingerprints taken for your biometric residence permit to be given to you.
Once you have your permit, you can reside, work and study in the UK for as long as your permit allows. You should not overstay your visa as you will be required to leave the country and potentially pay a fine.
Extending Your Stay in the UK
Before your visa expires, if you wish to stay longer, you should apply to extend your Family visa. Your first permit will usually be given for 2 years and 9 months, and if you renew your visa, you’ll be given an additional 2 years and 6 months. If you are in the UK on an Adult Dependant Relative visa, you may stay as long as your sponsor, i.e. indefinitely.
After 5 years in the UK, you may be eligible to apply for indefinite leave to remain, which grants you permanent residency in the UK. If you do not meet the financial requirements, you’ll be eligible to apply after living in the UK for 10 years. After 12 months of having ILR, you may then be eligible to apply for British citizenship.
Need Visa Help? Contact Synergy Immigration Solutions
Ready to apply for a Family visa but not sure if you meet all the requirements or have all the necessary documents? Synergy Immigration Solutions are here to help! With our team of UK immigration experts, we’ve got what it takes to increase your chances of a successful response on your visa application. Contact us now to find out more!