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Appendix FM for Spouse and Family Visas

If you wish to apply for a UK visa on the basis of having a British family member, you will need to do so under Appendix FM.

For more information about Appendix FM, UK Family visas, and how to apply, reach out to one of our immigration advice specialists on 0333 4149244, or contact us online today.

Overview of Appendix FM

Appendix FM is the name of the Home Office’s official guidelines on how to apply for a UK Family visa on the basis of your private and family life.

Generally speaking, only those who are in a relationship with, or related to, the following would be able to apply under Appendix FM:

  • British or Irish citizens
  • Individuals with settled status in the UK, such as through indefinite leave to remain or through the EU Settlement Scheme (either with settled status or pre-settled status if they’ve been living in the UK prior to 1 January 2021)
  • Individuals with a Turkish Businessperson visa or Turkish Worker visa
  • Individuals with refugee status or humanitarian protection in the UK

Individuals with any of the above statuses will normally act as sponsors for visa applicants applying under Appendix FM in most cases.

Appendix FM sets out, in great detail, what the immigration rules are for visa applicants applying under this basis, and how to apply.

It outlines the individual requirements for each visa category, as well as more general requirements that will apply to the majority of applicants, such as minimum language requirements.

Who is Appendix FM For?

Appendix FM is broadly aimed at foreign nationals who wish to come and settle permanently in the UK on the basis of their family and private life.

You will generally be eligible to apply under Appendix FM if you are related to, or in a relationship with, an eligible UK-based individual as their:

  • Partner (including as a spouse, civil partner or unmarried partner)
  • Fiance or proposed civil partner
  • Parent
  • Child
  • Adult dependent relative

Appendix FM also covers victims of domestic violence who wish to apply for permanent settlement in the UK.

Note that each of these pathways have their own specific eligibility requirements, restrictions and requirements. It’s important to know what these are for your chosen pathway before submitting your application for a visa.

What Are the Guidelines for Partners?

You may apply for a Spouse visaCivil Partnership visa or Unmarried Partner visa under Appendix FM if you’re the spouse, civil partner or the unmarried partner of an eligible UK-based sponsor.

If you wish to apply under this route, you will have to meet the following eligibility criteria:

  • You must be in a marriage or civil partnership (that is legally recognised in the UK) with an eligible UK sponsor (as outlined in the overview section above), or have been living with your partner for at least two years prior to the date of application
  • You and your spouse or partner must be over 18
  • You must be in a genuine and subsisting relationship with your partner
  • Any previous relationship of you or your partner must have broken down permanently
  • You and your partner must intend to live together permanently in the UK with adequate accommodation that doesn’t require access to public funds
  • You must meet the minimum income threshold
  • You must meet the minimum English language requirements

Applying under Appendix FM as a partner will initially allow you to stay in the UK for 2 years and 9 months. If you extend your visa, you may stay for another 2 years and 6 months.

What Are the Guidelines for Fiances?

You may apply for a Fiance visa under Appendix FM if you’re outside the UK and intend to marry or enter into a civil partnership in the UK with an eligible sponsor.

You will have to meet the following eligibility criteria to apply as a fiance or proposed civil partner:

  • You must intend to marry or enter into a civil partnership with an eligible UK sponsor (as outlined in the overview section above) within 6 months of arriving in the UK
  • You and your partner must be over the age of 18
  • You must be in a genuine and subsisting relationship with your partner
  • You and your spouse or partner must intend to live together permanently in the UK with adequate accommodation that doesn’t require access to public funds
  • You must meet the minimum income threshold
  • You must meet the minimum English language requirements

Applying under Appendix FM as a fiance or proposed civil partner will initially allow you to stay in the UK for 6 months. After you get married or enter into a civil partnership, you may then apply for further leave to remain as a spouse or civil partner.

What Are the Guidelines for Parents?

You may apply under Appendix FM if you wish to come to the UK to take care of your UK-based child.

In order to be eligible for this route, your child must either be under 18 on the date of application, or have been under 18 when you were first granted leave in the UK and not live an independent life.

Your child must also be one of the following:

  • A British or Irish citizen
  • A child with settled status in the UK, such as through indefinite leave to remain or through the EU Settlement Scheme (either with settled status or pre-settled status if they’ve been living in the UK prior to 1 January 2021)
  • If applying from within the UK, they must have lived in the UK for 7 years continuously and it would not be reasonable for them to leave the UK

You will also need to prove the following when you apply:

  • You have sole or shared parental responsibility for your child, or you have access rights to the child
    • If you have shared responsibility, the child’s other parent must not be your partner. They must also be a British or Irish citizen, or be settled in the UK
  • You’re taking an active role in your child’s upbringing and you will continue to do so
  • You meet the minimum English language requirements
  • You will be able to support yourself – and your child or dependents if they live with you – financially without claiming public funds

Applying under Appendix FM as a parent will initially allow you to stay in the UK for 2 years and 9 months. If you extend your visa, you may stay for another 2 years and 6 months.

What Are the Guidelines for Children?

A Child may apply under Appendix FM if they are the child of an eligible UK parent.

If you were born in the UK, you will generally be eligible to receive the same permission to stay in the UK as your parent.

If you were born outside the UK, your eligibility will depend on how old you are and what sort of permission to stay in the UK your parent has.

If you’re under 18, you must meet the following eligibility criteria:

  • You must not be married, in a civil partnership or living an independent life
  • You must be financially supported without claiming public funds
  • One of your parents must also be applying or have applied for a visa or to extend their permission to stay as either a:
    • Partner (and the partner they’re joining is your other parent)
    • Parent (and they have sole parental responsibility for you)

If you’re over 18, your parent may be able to add you as their dependent when they apply for leave under Appendix FM.

However, you may apply separately if you previously received permission to stay in the UK on a Family visa when you were under 18, or you do not live an independent life.

What Are the Guidelines for Adult Dependent Relatives?

Adult dependents may apply under Appendix FM if they are outside the UK and they require long-term care from a parent, grandchild, brother, sister, son or daughter who may also act as an eligible sponsor (as outlined in the overview section above).

To apply through this route, you must meet all of the following eligibility criteria:

  • You are 18 or over
  • You need long-term care to do help you perform everyday personal and household tasks due to illness, disability or your age
  • The care that you require is not available or affordable in the country you live in
  • The person you’ll be joining in the UK will be able to support, accommodate and care for you without claiming public funds for at least 5 years

How long you’ll be able to stay in the UK will depend on the status of your family member.

If your family member is a British or Irish citizen, or settled in the UK, you’ll be able to stay in the UK indefinitely without having to apply to extend or settle.

If your family member has pre-settled status and started living in the UK before 1 January 2021, or refugee status or humanitarian protection, you’ll be able to stay for as long as your family member stays. You’ll have to apply to extend or settle when they do.

What Are the Guidelines for Victims of Domestic Abuse?

You may apply under Appendix FM if you’re inside the UK and you’ve been the victim of domestic violence or abuse.

You will be eligible to apply if your partner was one of the following:

  • A British citizen
  • A person settled in the UK (including as a refugee)
  • A member of the UK armed forces who has served for at least 4 years

You should apply for indefinite leave to remain in the UK under Appendix FM as soon as your relationship breaks down.

If your application is successful, you will be able to settle in the UK indefinitely.

You will also have access to support through the Victim of Domestic Violence Concession if you need a place to stay or if you need to claim benefits.

You may also apply to have your application fee waived if you’re unable to pay it due to reasons such as not being able to afford essential living costs.

Contact us today if you require assistance with your Appendix FM application.

What Are the Financial Requirements?

If you’re applying under Appendix FM as a partner, you may have to demonstrate that you are able to financially support yourself and/or any dependent children who will be coming with you to the UK.

If you’re applying as a partner, this will involve meeting a combined minimum income threshold. In most cases, this will be £18,600, which will increase by £3,800 if you need to add a dependent child to your application, and an extra £2,400 for each additional child.

You will be able to meet this minimum income threshold through a variety of ways, such as income from employment, cash savings, passive income or pensions.

Note that you will be exempt from meeting the financial requirement if your partner in the UK is in receipt of certain benefits, such as:

  • Severe Disablement Allowance
  • Personal Independence Payment
  •  Industrial Injury Disablement Benefit
  • Constant Attendance Allowance
  • Armed Forces Independence Payment or Guaranteed Income Payment under the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme

If this applies to you, then you will have to prove that you meet the adequate maintenance requirement.

You will not be able to claim any public funds when you come to the UK after applying under Appendix FM, so it’s important to confirm that you will be adequately supported financially before you submit your application.

What Are the Language Requirements?

When applying under Appendix FM, you may also have to prove that you can speak and understand English to the minimum expected levels.

This will normally involve taking an approved English language test at a certified test centre close to where you live.

You will be exempt from the language requirement when applying under Appendix FM if any of the following apply to you:

  • You’re applying as a child
  • You’re applying as an adult dependent relative
  • You’ve been in the UK on a family visa for 5 years and you’re extending it as a partner or parent
  • You’re over 65
  • You have a physical or mental condition that prevents you from meeting the requirement
  • You’re from a majority English-speaking country

If you need to take an English language test, you must normally pass it at A1 level or higher on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) in order to be granted entry clearance to the UK.

Note that this minimum pass grade will rise when you apply to extend your visa, or when you apply for permanent settlement in the UK.

How Do I Apply Under Appendix FM?

Whether you’re applying from inside or outside the UK, you must apply online through the Gov.uk website.

When you apply, you must ensure that you have specified which pathway you wish to apply through, as the eligibility criteria and information you must provide will differ between each one.

You will also have to fill in the specific application form intended for your pathway.

You will be informed during the application process which documents and evidence you have to upload for your application, as well as the various fees you may have to pay.

What Information Will I Have to Provide?

Applying under Appendix FM will mean that you’ll have to provide a range of information about yourself and your family.

This will include (but not be limited to) the following:

  • Your name and date of birth
  • Your current passport or other valid travel ID, as well as copies of the photo page and any visa or entry stamps in your previous passports
  • A copy of your biometric residence permit, if you have one
  • Details of any previous immigration applications you’ve made
  • Details of any criminal convictions
  • Your national insurance number, if you have one
  • Your parents’ date of birth and nationality if you’re applying from outside the UK
  • Your partner’s personal information, including details of their previous relationships
  • Your child or children’s personal information, even if they’re not a part of your application
  • Details of countries you’ve lived in and visited

How Much Does it Cost to Apply Under Appendix FM?

The fees for applying under Appendix FM vary depending on where you are and what you’ll be applying for.

The various fees are outlined below:

Applying from outside the UKApplying from inside the UK
Cost if joining your partner, parent or child£1,538£1,048
Cost for each dependant added to your application£1,538 for each person£1,048 for each person
Cost for an adult dependent relative£3,250£1,048

If you’re applying as a victim of domestic abuse, you will pay the standard fee for indefinite leave to remain, which is £2,404.

Note that Appendix FM applicants may also have to pay the immigration health surcharge. This is a fee that will allow you to access the NHS and NHS services while in the UK.

The surcharge costs £624 a year for applicants over 18, and £470 for applicants under 18.

What Are the Processing Times?

In most cases, applications under Appendix FM made outside the UK will take around 24 weeks or less to be processed.

Applications made from inside the UK will normally take around 8 weeks or less.

Your application may take slightly longer if there are additional complications that need to be taken into account, such as if you don’t meet the minimum income threshold, need to attend an interview, or have a criminal conviction.

The best way to prevent delays on your application will be to ensure that you’ve provided as much detailed information and evidence as possible for the Home Office to make an informed choice about your visa application.

Note that if you need to receive a decision on your application quickly, you may be able to use the Home Office’s super priority service. This service will normally process your application one or two working days after you’ve attended your appointment at a local visa application centre.

However, note that the super priority service may not be available for all applicants or all regions.

How Can I Apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain Through Appendix FM?

Appendix FM normally presents two main pathways towards becoming eligible for indefinite leave to remain (ILR).

These are the 5 year route and the 10 year route.

The 5 year route will be the standard default for most Appendix FM applicants, such as those applying as partners or parents. This route will require you to build up 5 years’ worth of qualifying residence in the UK before being able to apply for ILR.

The 10 year route will normally be reserved for applicants who will be granted leave under exceptional circumstances due to being unable to meet certain eligibility requirements, such as financial requirements.

Similar to above, you will have to build up 10 years’ worth of qualifying residence in the UK before being able to apply for ILR.

Both pathways will require you to fulfil the eligibility criteria for ILR to be eligible to apply. This will include meeting the minimum language requirements and also passing the Life in the UK test.

How Can IAS Help?

Appendix FM is one of the most common pathways for foreing nationals to come and settle in the UK.

It encompasses a variety of different routes for different people, and outlines exactly what the immigration rules are that enable people to come to the UK to join family members, or to continue living in the UK.

If you require any additional assistance with your Appendix FM application, whether you’re applying as a partner, parent, child or other, IAS can help.

We are expert, professional and friendly immigration advisers with decades’ worth of experience of working within UK immigration and law. We are dedicated to providing the highest quality service for our clients, doing everything we can to help you with your immigration or visa issue.

Whether you’re unsure about how to apply for a UK visa under Appendix FM, what you need to do in order to be eligible, or need additional assistance with ensuring that your application will be approved, we can help.

For more information about the services we provide and what we can do for you, get in touch with us today on 0333 4149244, or contact us online.

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