UK Family Visa

If you, your partner or a family member wish to come to the UK to live as a family, there may be a UK family visa immigration route that suits your circumstances.

What is a UK family visa?

There is no single form of family visa for the UK, but rather refers to a number of different visa types relating to the family category. This includes people applying for a visa for a spouse, fiancé, unmarried partner, child or dependent adult.

There are also routes available for people applying based on UK origins. If you have a long-stay visa, you can also request permission to be joined by your family member or dependents, including dependent children. This may include some T1, T2, T4 or T5 visas.
In most cases, the UK resident family member will be the applicant’s sponsor. In addition to the eligibility criteria required by the family visa applicant, the UK family visa sponsor will also need to demonstrate that they are an eligible sponsor.

Each family visa application is different and requires the submission of different forms of proof. The process of applying for a family visa in the UK can be long and expensive.

Who can apply for a UK family visa?

Not everyone who wishes to apply for this UK visa is eligible to obtain one. Some of the most common eligibility criteria for these UK family visas include:

  • You are the legal spouse, civil partner, unmarried partner, fiancé or close relative of a British citizen or a person with settled status resident in the UK (including some forms of refugee status or humanitarian protection)
  • You are the dependent spouse, civil partner, unmarried partner or close relative of a British citizen or person with settled status resident in the UK
    You are a citizen of a Commonwealth country whose grandparents were born in the United Kingdom
  • In terms of the specific eligibility requirements for each UK family visa category, it depends on the specific application that applies to your circumstances.

The website outlines the eligibility criteria for each visa category. As part of your family visa application, you will be required to submit evidence highlighting how you qualify for the family visa.

Adult dependents on a family visa

There is a route through which eligible applicants can be granted a UK visa as an adult dependent of a family member resident in the UK. The application must demonstrate that the individual is unable to live independently and receive adequate care in their home country.

It is possible for an adult grandchild, child, parent or sibling to apply for this form of family visa. The sponsor must be a UK-based resident (citizen or person with permanent status) who is able to provide care for the adult family member.

Dependent Adult Visa Requirements

The criteria applicants must meet include:

Have a long-term disability or illness or are otherwise unable to live independently (for example, due to their age or level of ability)
I am unable to complete daily tasks without assistance

They are unable to receive care in their home country (due to inaccessibility or unaffordability)
It is the sponsor’s responsibility to demonstrate that they can financially support the applicant and the time needed for her care. If this visa is granted, the adult can live in the UK permanently without restrictions.

Dependent adult visa processing time and cost

As one of the most expensive visa categories, applying for an adult-dependent visa costs £3,250.
It can take an average of 12 weeks to process your dependent adult visa application. For some candidates, the waiting times will be longer.

Documents required for Dependent Adult Visa

Numerous documents are required to complete this family visa application. Some of the following documents will be required:

  • Proof of relationship between applicant and sponsor (e.g. birth certificates)
  • Proof of sponsor eligibility (e.g. valid passport or regular status documents)
  • Independent medical evidence relating to the applicant’s physical or mental condition
  • Evidence that the applicant cannot receive adequate medical care in their home country
  • Evidence of the sponsor’s ability to support the applicant financially and with the appropriate level of assistance

Dependent children on a family visa

Children are commonly accepted in applications to join their parents in the UK. There are several ways in which children can be given permission to enter the country and remain in the UK.

In most cases, children are included in applications as dependents and will usually not need to file a separate application.
Some of the most common categories in which children are accepted include spouse, fiancé, and unmarried partner visas, as well as T1, T2, T4, and T5 visas.

Visa Requirements for Dependent Children

In addition to the eligibility criteria of each individual dependent child visa application, the parent of the dependent child must demonstrate that he or she has the financial ability to support the child.

For all spouse and partner visas, parents must demonstrate a gross annual income of at least £18,600 + £3,600 for the first dependent child and £2,400 for each child after the first.

Dependent child visa processing time and cost

The Home Office fees for a child visa are £1,538 (application outside the UK) or £1,048 (application within the UK). The immigration health surcharge will also need to be paid, at a cost of £1,200 (or £1,000 if the application is made within the UK).

In most cases, a visa for dependent children will be processed within 30 days and the applicant will be informed of the decision via official communication from the Home Office.

Documents required for dependent child visa

Some of the most common documents you will need to send include:

  • Your passport and the child’s passport
  • Passport-size photographs
  • Evidence of suitable accommodation arranged in the UK
  • Evidence that you can meet the category’s financial requirements (e.g., bank statements, six months of employer pay stubs, a letter from your employer, etc.)
  • Depending on your individual circumstances, additional documentation may be required.
  • Parent of a British child

In some circumstances, it is possible for a non-UK resident parent to come to the UK on one of the UK family visas. There are strict eligibility criteria.

Visa requirements for a parent of a UK child:

The child must hold British citizenship or settled status, be under 18, or be under 18 when granted indefinite leave to remain in the UK. For the parent to qualify for the benefit, the child does not have to live independently.

A requirement for this UK family visa is to demonstrate that you play an active role in the care of your child. You should demonstrate that you are the only parent or that you share care responsibilities with the other parent.

It is also necessary for the parent to demonstrate that they have direct access to the child, in agreement with the parent or guardian in the place where the child usually resides, or as ordered by a UK court.

Visa processing cost and time for a parent of a British child:

The cost for this UK visa application is £1,538 (or £1,048 if applying from within the UK) and there are also UK family visa requirements relating to the Immigration Health Surcharge to cost of £500 for the duration of your stay.
You should receive a decision on your application within 8-12 weeks of submission. If you are granted this UK family visa, you will be able to stay in the UK for 2.5 years and after this period you can renew it if you qualify.

Documents required for a visa for a parent of a British child:

Below is a list of some of the documents needed to apply:

  • Test of English language level (A1 on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages)
  • Evidence that your child has been resident in the UK for at least seven years
  • Evidence of your relationship with the child (e.g. birth certificate)
  • Evidence of suitable living arrangements
  • Evidence of financial maintenance ability
  • Proof that you have parental responsibility and direct access to the child

Who can apply for a family visitor visa?

The Family Visitor Visa falls under the Standard Visitor Visa category and does not fall directly into the UK Family Visa category.
It is a short-term (non-permanent) British visa that allows you to come to the UK for up to six months to visit a member of your family. That doesn’t give you permission to stay.

Family Visitor Visa Requirements

The visitor visa rules make it clear that you are not permitted to work or undertake any business while in the UK on this visa.
It is also necessary for the applicant to demonstrate that you intend to leave the UK at the end of the visit and that you intend to do so.

Family Visitor Visa Cost and Processing Time

The cost of a standard tourist visa application is £100. If an applicant applies for a long-term standard tourist visa, there is an additional fee depending on the duration of the visa.

In most cases, applicants will receive a decision on their application within three weeks.

Documents required for Family Visitor Visa

As part of the application process, you should submit a number of documents that provide evidence of your eligibility.
These include:

  • Valid passport or travel document
  • Evidence that you can support yourself financially for the duration of the visit (for example, this could include bank statements or your employment contract)
  • Proof that you have reasons/connections to your home country that demonstrate that you will return once your trip is over
  • Proof of return travel (e.g. airline tickets, travel plans, etc.)
  • Evidence of the relationship between you and the family member you will visit

Ancestry visas

The Ancestry visa is an immigration route that allows some descendants of British citizens to come to the UK. It applies to citizens of Commonwealth countries who can demonstrate that they have a grandparent born in the UK.

It is a form of UK family visa and if your application is successful, you will be given permission to remain in the UK. Furthermore, you can live, work or study in the UK for five years, without many restrictions. After this period, you may be able to apply for an indefinite residence permit.
Applications for the Ancestry visa can only be made outside the UK and not whilst the applicant is in the UK.

Ancestry Visa Requirements

To be eligible for this UK visa, you should be prepared to provide proof of the following:

  • You are 17 years old or older
  • You have adequate financial resources to support yourself (including housing) without resorting to public funds
  • You have the ability and intend to work in the UK

You must provide proof that you had a grandparent born in one of the following places:

  • In the UK, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man
  • On a ship or aircraft owned or registered in the UK
  • In Ireland before 31 March 1922

If you are granted the five-year Ancestry visa, you will have broad freedom to work and study in the UK. You cannot switch to a different UK visa category or access public funds as a holder of this visa.

Ancestry Visa Processing Cost and Times

To apply for an Ancestry visa to the UK, there is a fee of £531 payable to the Home Office. There is an additional Immigration Health Surcharge charge of £400 per year.

As the visa is granted for five years, the cost of healthcare costs is £2,000 in total.

The average time for a decision on your application is between three and eight weeks. You can choose a priority service to receive a faster decision on your request, which incurs an additional cost.

Documents required for Ancestry visa

There are several documentation forms required as part of the Ancestry visa submission process. These include:

  • Your passport or valid travel document
  • Your full (or long-form) birth certificate.
  • The birth certificate belonging to the grandparents on whom the request is made
  • Your grandfather’s marriage certificate (if applicable)
  • Any evidence you have of your intention to work in the UK
  • Evidence that you can support yourself financially in the UK (e.g. bank statements, savings, etc.)

Spouse and Partner Visas

As one of the most popular family visa categories, spouse and partner visas are designed for partners of people living in the UK who are British citizens or hold valid settled status.

The main categories of visits to meet and partners include:

  • Visa for spouse
  • Seen engaged
  • Visa for unmarried partner

Partner Visa Requirements

While each of these UK visas is different in terms of who can apply for a family and the role requirements, there are some commonalities that they share. These include:

  • A requirement to demonstrate that you and your partner have a combined annual income of at least £18,600
  • You and your partner can demonstrate that you have an “authentic and subsisting” relationship.
  • You meet other criteria, including accommodation requirements, English language level, etc.
  • You and your partner intend to live together permanently in the UK
  • Partner visa cost and waiting time
  • The cost of applying for a partner or spouse visa in the UK is £1,538 if applying from outside the UK and £1,048 if applying from within the UK.
    Most applications will be decided within 12 weeks of the application being submitted and all applications will need to be returned with a decision within 24 weeks.

Documents required for a partner visa

Depending on the specific type of partner visa, you will be required to submit specific documents to prove your eligibility and receive permission to remain in the UK.

In general, some of the documents you will be asked to submit to prove that your relationship is genuine will include the following:

  • Letter of support outlining the nature of your relationship, its development, and your future plans for the relationship
  • Evidence of the relationship between you and your partner (e.g. photographs, recorded phone calls, text messages from different points in your relationship, cards showing trips taken together, events they attended together, etc.)
  • Proof that each partner has visited the other in their home country
  • Evidence of shared financial responsibilities (e.g., financial statements, mortgage, lease, invoice, etc.)

Can I work on a UK family visa?

Depending on the specific category of your UK family visa, you may be eligible to work. In most cases, the following categories of UK family visas will allow you to work in the UK:

  • Visa for spouse
  • Visa for unmarried partner
  • Some forms of dependent visas
  • Ancestry visa

You are not entitled to work in the following UK family visa categories:

  • Visa for family visitors
  • Seen engaged


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