Family Visa UK Guide

Family Visa UK illustration

Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

This is a guide to the Family Visa UK for visiting and staying with family in the United Kingdom for a long-term stay.

Partners and children must have a family visa to join their loved ones for a stay of more than six months in Britain.

This guide takes you through the steps you need to follow to successfully apply for a UK family visa.

A Standard Visitor Visa or Marriage Visitor Visa are for stays of less than six months.

Besides allowing a longer stay, you can extend a family visa and apply for indefinite leave to remain.

Family visa applications are accepted from outside the UK if you want to join your:

  • Husband, wife or civil partner
  • A partner with whom you are not married but have had a relationship for at least two years
  • Child
  • Parent
  • Any relative who is your long-term carer

However, family visa rules are strict, and it’s easy to slip up when making an application.

If you are not looking for a UK family Visa, make sure to read the Complete Guide to UK Visa.

Extending A Family Visa

If you are staying in the UK on a family visa, you can apply to extend the time you are allowed to remain.

You can extend a family visa that still has time to run, but only for 28 days. You can check if you can ask for indefinite leave to remain with an online tool. Indefinite leave to remain means you can stay in Britain for an unlimited time.

Your personal circumstances may allow you to apply for indefinite leave to remain if you can show you are:

  • Under 18 years old and you have lived continuously in the UK for seven years or more, and asking you to leave would be unreasonable
  • Ages between 18 and 24 years old and have spent more than half your life in the UK
  • Aged over 18 and have spent fewer than 20 years in the UK, but you would have problems returning to another country, like not speaking the language
  • Aged 25 or over and have spent 20 years continuously in the UK

Switching To A Family Visa

If you have a different visa, you could switch to a family visa to remain with a spouse, partner, child or parent.

You must apply for a family visa before the original visa runs out.

You cannot switch to a family visa if the person you want to join is already in the UK on a visitor visa, temporary work visa, student visa or a visa lasting six months or less.

Family Visa Costs

The family visa fee depends on where you are and your relationship with the person you want to stay with in the UK:

Apply outside the UKApply in the UK
Joining a partner, parent or child£1,523£1,033
Fee for each dependant added to your application£1,523 each£1,033 each
Fee for an adult who needs care from a relative£3,250£1,033
Source: Home Office

Besides the visa cost, you must pay:

  • A biometric identification fee of £19.20 to cover the cost of taking your photo and fingerprints for a residence card

In some cases, you can fast-track your family visa decision by paying an £800 fee if you apply from within the UK.

Coming from another country, it is important to understand the difference between expat healthcare and the UK’s NHS.

How Long A Family Visa Decision Takes

Family visa decision timescales vary:

  • Up to 12 weeks if you apply from overseas
  • Up to eight weeks if you apply from the UK
  • If you pay extra to fast-track your application:
  • Before the next working day ends, when you give biometric information on a weekday
  • Within two working days, if your biometric information is taken on a weekend

Making Your Family Visa Application

The family visa application process is different depending on your relationship with the person already in the UK.

The maximum term of a family visa is 33 months without any extension.

Applications are made online – through this link from in the UK and this link from outside.

Partner or spouse applications

You can only qualify for a family visa if:

  • You and your partner are both aged at least 18 years old
  • Both intend to live together in the UK

And your partner meets at least one of the following:

  • Is a British or Irish citizen
  • Has indefinite leave to remain, settled status or permanent residence in the UK
  • Is from a European Economic Area country living in the UK before January 1, 2021
  • In the UK on a Turkish Businessperson visa or Turkish Worker visa
  • Is a refugee or in the UK for a humanitarian reason

You also need to show:

If you can’t prove both of these, you can still apply if:

  • You have a child who has lived in Britain for seven years who is a British or Irish citizen, and making them leave would be unreasonable
  • Living together as a couple outside the UK is not possible
  • Stopping you from coming to the UK would breach your human rights

If you are engaged to marry

Partners engaged to marry must show:

  • Any earlier marriages or civil partnerships are over
  • You will marry within six months of coming to Britain

If you have children under 18

You can add dependent children to your application if they:

  • Are under 18 years old, or were when first granted leave to stay in the UK
  • Do not live independently

Family visa applications as a parent

To apply for a family visa this way, you must have sole or shared parental responsibility for a child.

If your child lives with someone else, you must have access agreed with them or through a court order.

If you share parenting, the other person should not be your partner, but they should be:

  • British or Irish
  • Settled in the UK with indefinite leave to remain or permanent residence status
  • From the European Economic Area  and made the UK their home before January 1, 2021

Applying for a family visa as a child

Children can apply for a family visa to join a parent in Britain.

The rules differ depending on if you were born in the UK or not.

If you are UK born and under 18

Either apply yourself or include your application as a dependent with your parent’s

If you are UK born and over 18

Your parent can only include you as a dependent on their application if you:

  • Have gained indefinite leave to remain when you were under 18
  • Are not independent
  • Applying from the UK

If you were born outside the UK and under 18

Any family visa application depends on your age and your parent’s immigration status.

  • You must be single
  • Have enough financial support not claim benefits

If you were born outside the UK and over 18

You can make your own visa application, or your parent can add you to their’s as a dependent if you:

  • Have indefinite leave to remain granted when you were under 18.
  • Are not independent.

Proving Your Income For A Family Visa

If you and your partner have no children, together you must earn at least £18,600 a year.

If you have children, you must show you earn an additional £3,800 for the first child on your application and £2,400 for each other child.

Proof of income is from providing bank statements, payslips for the six months before the visa application or an employer’s letter.

Wealthy investors can also look at the Tier 1 Investor Visa who wants to make a financial investment into the UK and, in return, get permanent residency status in Great Britain.

Family Visa FAQ’s

Can I work or study in the UK with a family visa?

Yes, a UK family visa entitles you to work or study unless the visa application is to get married or become a civil partner.

Can I claim benefits in the UK with a family visa?

No. You cannot claim benefits while in the UK on a family visa

What information do I need to provide with my family visa application?

The list of supporting information for a family visa is extensive and depends on your personal circumstances and if you have children.
A detailed list is available online covering most circumstances.

Can I apply for a family visa in person?

You cannot usually apply for a family visa in person. Instead, the application is made online.
Follow this link and scroll to the bottom of the page to start a family visa application by clicking the ‘Apply Now’ button.

How long do I have to stay in the UK to apply for indefinite leave to remain?

In most cases, you have to stay in the UK on a family visa for five years before you can apply to settle with indefinite leave to remain.

Below is a list of some related articles, guides and insights that you may find of interest.

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