What is a Family Visa?
UK Family Visas are a broad term used to describe a category of UK visa which lets family members be united in the UK. There is no one set Family Visa. Instead, there are different types of visas for family members of British citizens and people who are settled in the UK who wish to accompany or join them. These include Spouse Visas and Partner Visas, Proposed Civil Partner/Fiance Visas and Child Dependent Visas.
For each of these categories, there are different requirements, application processes and costs involved. In most cases, visas in this category require the UK relative to act as a ‘sponsor’ for non-UK relative. Some types of Family Visa let family members go on to become settled in the UK too and can be used as a route to Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR).
This information has been compiled by our team of expert Birmingham-based immigration lawyers. It takes into account all the latest information and updates on the eligibility requirements and application processes for each category of Family member visa. Call us on 020 3883 6530 if you have any specific questions about your situation or need immigration advice/application guidance.
Different types of Family-based Visas
It’s important to note that there is no set visa called a ‘Family Visa’. If you wish to join or accompany your family member or partner to the UK, you must apply under a specific route within this category.
The main types of visa under the ‘family’ category include:
- Spouse, Partner, and Fiancé
- Dependent partners
- Dependent children
- Dependent adult relatives (in need of care)
- Family visitors
- EEA family members
These different types fall under different categories of visa law. For example, Partner and Spouse Visa UK applications are made under the FL M route and dependent children and partners fall under the PBS route (which varies depending on the person being accompanied to the UK, e.g a Tier 2 worker or a Tier 4 student.) UK Family Visit Visas fall under the ‘Standard Visitor’ category. EEA Family Permits come under EEA law rather than UK law.
Some of these categories are long-term, and others are temporary. Spouse and Partner, Ancestry, and Dependent Visas are all eligible for ILR. Each visa type also has its own set of requirements, application processes, costs and lengths of stay.
Family Visa requirements
In order to be eligible for a UK Family-based Visa, you must fulfill one of the following criteria:
- You are a married or long-term unmarried partner of a British or settled person (this includes civil partners)
- You are the fiancé of a British citizen or settled person
- You are the dependent spouse/partner or child of someone with valid entry clearance to the UK (like a Tier 2 worker)
- You are an adult in need of long-term constant care from a relative who is a British citizen or settled in the UK
- You are a Commonwealth citizen with a grandparent who was born in the UK
The requirements for Family Visas involve the applicant demonstrating that their relationship to the named relative, whoever that may be, is genuine. To show this, you must include evidence which proves this. For example, this could marriage or birth certificates, photographs, proof of your communication, cohabitation, and shared finances. The types of documents you must include vary depending which category of leave you are applying for.
In cases where the UK-based family member acts as the applicant’s sponsor (as with Spouse, Unmarried Partner, and UK Fiance Visa applications) you may also need to include a letter of sponsorship. This is written by the British member of the family. It should include information about how long you have known eachother, and how often you see eachother at the time of writing. It should also include evidence which proves you are who you say you are and that you are either British, settled or have a valid form of entry clearance. This depends on the type of application being made.
Visas for partners
Partner Visas are used by partners of Brits and people who hold Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK.
To be eligible for a visa under this category, you must be:
- A spouse of a British citizen or settled person, who has met their partner in person at least once
- A long-term unmarried partner who has lived with a British person or settled person in a relationship ‘akin to marriage’
- The fiancé or proposed civil partner of a British person or settled person
To meet the requirements for a Partner Visa, you must show that you:
- Are in a ‘genuine and subsisting’ relationship with your British/settled sponsor
- Meet the combined financial requirement of £18,600 per year
- Have met your husband/wife at least once in person
- (If applying as an unmarried partner instead of spouse) You have lived with your partner for at least two years in a relationship which is ‘akin to marriage’
A Spouse/Partner Visa applications costs £1,464 if made from within the UK, and £1,573 if made from outside it.
You must include documents which demonstrate the following:
- You pass the ‘genuine relationship test’. You should provide documents which show that your relationship with your partner is real. This could be transcripts from conversations, photographs, videos, messages, tickets from events you’ve attended together, shared finances (like a shared bank account), or evidence of cohabitation (like a shared tenancy agreement).
- You plan to live together in the UK. If you are applying for a Spouse Visa, you need to include documents which show you have accommodation arranged for the non UK partner’s arrival. You must live together. You can use a tenancy agreement, mortgage payment, house deeds, or temporary accommodation booking (like an AirB&B) to show this.
- You meet the financial requirements. You must prove that you and your partner will have a shared annual income of at least £18,600 when living together in the UK. To show this, you can show bank statements, job contracts, or proof of turnover if you are a business owner.
Ancestry Visas can be used by a person whose grandparent was a British citizen (by birth). To be eligible for an Ancestral Visa, you must be:
- A citizen of a Commonwealth country
- Able to demonstrate your relationship with your grandparent is genuine
- Planning to get a job in the UK
- Applying from outside the country
- 17 years old or over
You must meet several specific requirements to be eligible for this kind of entry clearance. These include:
- That you’re from a Commonwealth country. You must be from a Commonwealth country in order to e eligible for this type of visa. Commonwealth countries include Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Barbados, Bangladesh, Jamaica and India, among many others.
- That you’re genuinely planning on working when you come to the UK. You need to show that you legitimately plan to find work in the UK. This can include full or part time employment, self-employment, or setting up/running a business.
- That you have enough money to support yourself without public funds. You must demonstrate that you can support yourself in travelling to and living in the UK before you generate an income here.
The Ancestry Visa application fee is £516. You must make this from outside the UK.
You will need to include several documents to prove you meet the requirements for a UK Ancestry Visa. These include:
- Your birth certificate
- The birth certificate of the parent and grandparent you are making a claim under
- The marriage certificates of your parents and grandparents
- Proof that you plan to find work/that you have work lined up in the UK (e.g job application or offers, or a business plan if you plan to be self-employed)
The Ancestry Visa lasts for five years.
After this time, you can either extend it or apply for ILR, provided you meet the settlement requirements.
Child Dependent Visas
Children and partners can accompany you to the UK if you are entering on a certain type of Points-based system visa. If successful, their visa is classed as a Dependent Visa. Child Dependent Visas are used by children who accompany their parent to the UK on a valid form of entry clearance.
To be eligible for this type of Family Visa, the parent must be applying for/already have entry clearance under the Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 4, or Tier 5 categories.
To make a Child Dependent Visa application, you must show that you have enough funds to support all the family members you wish to accompany you to the UK. These funds can be made up by your prospective salary (if applying as a Tier 2 or Tier 5 worker). However, you must also have savings/another regular income to properly support yourself and your dependents when you first get to Britain.
A dependent is classed as any of the following:
- A husband, wife, or long-term (two years or more) unmarried partner
- A child who is 18 years old or younger
- A child who is over the age of 18 if already residing in the UK as your dependent (for example, this applies if you are making an application to extend your visa after having lived in the UK for a certain number of years, during which the child had their 18th birthday).
Dependent Visa costs vary depending upon which form of UK entry clearance the parent/partner has. The 2020 costs are as follows:
- Dependents under the Tier 1 category: £608 under the ‘exceptional talent’ route, £1,878 under the ‘entrepreneur/innovator’ route, and £1,623 under the ‘investor’ route
- Dependents under the Tier 2 category: £610, and £464 for shortage occupations
- Dependents under the Tier 4 category: £475
- Dependents under the Tier 5 category: £244
There are several types of documents you need to submit to be eligible for a Family Dependent Visa. These include the following:
- A copy of the applicant’s passport or travel document
- A colour photo for their visa
- Birth certificates
- Prove of TB testing
- Previous passports and travel documents
- Proof of visa-holding parent’s/family member’s income or savings
Adult Dependent Visas
Adult Dependent Relative Visas are very difficult to apply for and have granted. They are used by people who need long-term, daily care from their UK-based relative. To be eligible, they must be unable to receive this care in their home country.
An adult dependent can be an adult child, grandchild, parent or sibling. The carer (called the sponsor) must be either a British nation or settled person.
To meet the requirements for this UK visa, the applicant must be able to demonstrate that:
- They are unable to complete everyday tasks, including household and personal care tasks without help
- This inability must come from a long-term disability or illness, or age
- Be unable to receive the care they need in their home country because it either doesn’t exist or they cannot afford it
The UK family member must show that they are able to financially support you and provide the care you need while you are in the UK.
This is a permanent type of family-based visa. If granted, the adult dependent relative is able to live in the UK indefinitely without having to extend their visa or apply for settled status.
People applying to take care of an adult relative in the UK must pay a fee of £3,250.
Applicants (or those applying on their behalf) should provide extensive documents which show the relative needs long-term care, and that they are unable to access this in their own country. Examples of these documents include:
- Medical evidence. This must prove that the applicant have a long term condition, disability, or illness which makes it impossible for them to complete everyday tasks by themselves. This could be note from a doctor or health professional, proof of examinations, prescriptions, test results, X-rays, etc.
- Proof that care is unavailable or inaccessible. This must come from either a local health authority, a doctor/health professional, or a local authority in general. Proof of finances can also be used to prove that they are unable to afford care, if this is the basis of the application.
- Documents that show the UK-based relative is able to provide this care. This could be bank statements, payslips, a job contract. A letter should also be included which shows the British relatives care plans and willingness to support their relative.
Family Visa Advice Package
Our advice package is conducted by our team of Brimingham immigration lawyers and is specifically tailored for those who need advice about joining or accompanying their family to the UK.
This involves you being paired up with a caseworker, who will assess your eligibility and advise you on your best route and course of action. If you have a specific question or issue, they will work through this with you too. All our advice sessions are untimed, and can take place at our offices in Birmingham, or remotely. As part of our immigration advice service, your lawyer will put you at ease, and explain any legal jargon you are confused or concerned about.
After the session has finished, you will receive a written documents which details the advice given. This means you will be able to focus on the session and listening to your adviser for its duration. You will also have an opportunity to ask your lawyer any follow-up questions you have once the session has finished, for up to a week afterwards. If you want to find out more, or book in your advice session with us, call us on 0121 718 7022.
Family Visa Application Package
Our application package is comprehensive and extensive. One of our Birmingham lawyers will be paired with you. This person will be selected based on their knowledge and experience to ensure that we best match the needs of your type of enquiry. Your lawyer will begin by drawing up a plan of action after having an initial session with you.
They will then oversee your entire Family Visa application process – from start to finish. They will help you source, gather and order your supporting documents. They will then compile them into an Evidence Portfolio for you. This is a bundle which helps to present your full case to UKVI and it highly improves your chances of a smooth and stress-free application. Your Birmingham-based lawyer will complete all your application forms on your behalf and write up a Letter of Representation. In this letter, your lawyer argues your case to UKVI, which improves your chances of a successful outcome. Once this has been written, it will filed with your Evidence Portfolio and application forms, which your lawyer will submit on your behalf. If you would like to arrange a session with us, and make the first steps towards making an application to be united with your family in the UK, call us on 0121 718 7022 .
EEA Family Permits/EU Settlement Scheme Permits
If you are a national of a country outside the EEA, and you have a family member who is from the EEA, you can apply to join them if they’re based in the UK. To do this, you can use an EEA Family Permit. To be eligible for this, you must be either a close or extended relative of an EEA national (this excludes British nationals). This can be a sibling, parent, child, uncle, aunt, cousin, nephew or niece.
In light of Brexit, it is important to note that the EU Settlement Scheme’s Family Permit will take over this permit in full once the implementation period has ended. This functions in the same way, but it does limit the applicant relationship to ‘close’ relatives. These include siblings, parents and children.
Both these routes are free.
To make an application for either of these routes, you will need to submit documents which prove:
- Your nationality (for example your passport)
- Proof of your relationship to the UK-based EEA family member (for example, a birth certificate)
- Proof that you have enough money to support yourself in the UK (for example, a bank statement, wage slip, or other form of proof of earnings)
Family Visit Visas
If you need to come to the UK to visit a family member for a temporary period, you may be able to apply for a Family Visitor Visa.
This type of entry clearance falls under the ‘Standard Visitor Visa’ category.
This type of visa is temporary, and it lets the holder visit their UK-based family for a specified period. This is usually 6 months or less. During their visit, the visa holder cannot work or conduct business, and they cannot switch onto any other visa category.
A UK Family Visit costs £95. In some specific circumstances, this can be higher. This is the case if it needs to be extended. This usually happens when you need to visit a family member for ongoing medical reasons, over a period of years.
The documents you need to submit for a Visit Visa are as follows:
- Your passport/a valid travel document
- Financial documents that prove you can support yourself in the UK (like bank statements, wage slips, proof of income etc)
- Proof that you will return to your home country (e.g a mortgage, a job, a place on a course, a family etc).
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The answer to this question depends on the type of Family Visa you are applying under.
You can work if you live in the UK as a partner or family member of a British citizen or settled person.
You can also work if you are here under an ancestry claim.
You are also eligible to take on work if you live in the UK as a dependent of someone with valid entry clearance.
However, you cannot work as a doctor or nurse on a dependent visa
You can work, study or jobseek in the UK as a relative of an EEA national.
You cannot work while in the UK as a visitor.
You can make a UK Family Visa application online or by post. To do this, you will need to ensure you submit your supporting documents in the crrect format. You wil also need to download or get a copy of the correct application form. This varies depending on which of the types of Family Visas you apply for.
You can bring your elderly parent/parents to the UK, but only if they are in need of long-term care which only you can provide. This process is called an Adult Dependent Visa application. This application process is very complicated and competitive. This is because you need to prove that not only is your parent in need of this care but that they absolutely cannot receive this in their home country.
A UK Spouse Visa is used by people who are married to a person with British citizenship or UK settled status. A Dependent Partner Visa is a route used by people who want to accompany their non-EEA partner to the UK, when that partner has valid entry clearance under the points-based system (like a Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 4, or Tier 5 visa).
The answer to this question depends on your situation and the situation of your UK relative.
You may be able to be granted humanitarian protection or asylum if you can prove that you are unable to live in your home country because you are being persecuted. This persecution can come in the form of religious, racial, political, gender, or orientation-based discrimination and violence. For a successful asylum or humanitarian protection claim, you must be unable to seek protection from your own government.
If your relative has been granted with leave to remain as a refugee, you may be able to join them under the refugee family reunion route. If not, you can make a separate asylum claim by coming to the UK and lodging one at any port.
There are limitations to each type of entry clearance, so what you can and cannot do depends on which one you are granted.
With a Spousal Visa (or any of the visas in this category) you can work (and switch jobs) and study.
You can also work if you are the dependent on someone else who works in the UK – like a Tier 2 worker. You are permitted to work for as long as your relative (the person with the sponsoring entry clearance) is allowed to work, according to the terms of their legal right to remain. For instance, once their visa expires, if they do not renew it, then you will not be able to continue working.
If you are visiting a member of your family in Britain as a temporary visitor, then you must only conduct the actions which you specified in your application. That will be visiting your relative (either for social purposes, a specific event (like a wedding) or to care for them). You cannot work or study while you are on your visit and you must return once the specified time period is over (this is usually up to 6 months).
We offer a full range of services, which vary depending on your situation.
It’s okay if you have know how idea to join your family in Britain. Our tailored advice sessions are applicable to everyone, whether you know the type of visa you want to apply for or you just want to know your options.
If you’re not sure, a member of our Birmingham-based team of lawyers can help you by going through your different options. Perhaps you know that you want to join your spouse, fiancé, parent or sibling, but you don’t know where to start. Our advice package is the perfect way to learn more about all your options, which one of our caseworkers will go through and lay out for you.
They will talk you through your different options, as well as the requirements you personally need to meet to be eligible for them. They will then discuss your next steps with you, and advise you on what they thing the best course of action(s) for you are.
Our lawyers are well-versed in legal jargon, and are up-to-date with ever-changing immigration laws and legislations. This includes a thorough knowledge of immigration appendixes, application forms, requirements, costs, and next steps.
No matter what your situation is, we can help you. Call us today on 0121 718 7022.
If you think you may be ready to start an application, we can set you up with one of specialist family law caseworkers. They can work with you closely and arrange every aspect of your application.
As part of this service, the lawyer will assist you with sourcing and arranging all your documentation. To do this he/she will create something called an Evidence Portfolio. This is a bundle which is used to present your entire case to the Home Office. This means that your whole application will be shown to the person who reviews your case in a way that is easy to understand.
As part of this service, your lawyer will also write you a detailed cover letter which accompanies your case. This will greatly improve your chances of success.
As well as this, your lawyer will complete and submit all the relevant application forms along with your Evidence Portfolio and cover letter. They will also correspond with the Home Office on your behalf, and they will let you know as soon as a decision has been reached on your application.
To make the first steps towards making an application, call us on 0121 718 7022.
If you have had an application for a Family-based Visa denied, we can assist you.
We offer a complete appeal service. In this, one of our highly-trained immigration lawyers will assess your grounds of appeal and work with you to create a detailed plan of action.
They will determine how you should proceed, whether this be an appeal, administrative review, judicial review, or fresh application.
Depending on the outcome of this decision, they will support you in whatever way they see fit.
If you lodge an appeal, they will represent you – either by creating a detailed cover letter and documentation bundle, or physically at a tribunal hearing.
They will also liaise with the upper tier tribunal and the Home Office on your behalf, as well as any immigration judges involved in reviewing your case.
Once a decision has been reached, your lawyer will inform you of the decision immediately.
If you want to find out more about our appeal package, get in touch with us by calling us on 0121 718 7022.