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Family Visa

Our team of immigration lawyers offers bespoke advice service for families of UK citizens or settled persons.

Call us on 0333 305 9375 for immediate help & assistance with your situation. We’re here to help you in person, via the phone or online.


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    Who is eligible for a Family Visa?

    If you’re a non-EEA national and want to live and work in the UK for an extended period of time, you will need to make a UK Visa application.

    There are different types of visas available depending on your circumstance. A Family Visa is needed to join family members in the UK for a period longer than 6 months.

    If you’re living outside of the UK, you can apply to a Family Visa to join your spouse, fiancee, partner, child, parent or relative who will provide long-term care for you.

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    What are the UK Family Visa types?

    If you are a non-EEA national and intend to stay in the UK for a period that exceeds 6 months, you will need to make a Family Visa application if you are meeting one of the following requirements:

    • Your family member/spouse is a British citizen
    • Your family member/spouse has ILR or settled status
    • You have an eligible relationship with an individual in the UK with refugee status or humanitarian protection

    If you are currently living in the UK on a different visa, you may be able to switch to a family visa in order to stay with your child, fiancee or partner. There are many variations of a UK Family Visa, all of which depend on the relationship that you have with the UK settled person.

    Below, you’ll find information on the different types of UK Family Visas that are available for no-EEA nationals.

    family member arrives

    Spouse Visa

    Under the UK Family Visa, partners and spouses are eligible to remain in the UK for up to 2.5 years. After this time, you can apply for a further extension, which will take you to a total of 5 years remaining in the UK.

    As you may know, you will become eligible to apply for indefinite leave to remain if you have lived in the UK for more than five years.

    In order to apply for a Family Visa as a partner or spouse, you will need to adhere to the following requirements:

    • You and your partner must be over the age of 18 years old to qualify for a Family Visa
    • You must be involved in a genuine relationship
    • You must intend to live in the UK (for a minimum of 2.5 years)

    If you apply for a UK Family Visa as a fiancee, then your time living in the UK on this visa will be limited to 6 months. During this time, you will have to marry your fiancee, or you may face the risk of being deported as you have failed to meet the visa requirements.

    You will also be able to include dependent children in your spouse or fiancee visa application.

    In order to be eligible for a fiancee or spouse visa, you will also need to meet the following financial requirements. As a single applicant, the minimal age threshold is set at £18,600, and with a child, this will increase by £3800. Any additional children after this will be set at an extra £2,400 each.

    You will also need to meet one of the following language requirements in order to be eligible for a Family Visa in the UK:

    • You will have to pass the approved language test
    • You have a qualification from an English-speaking course
    • You are from a national or majority English-speaking country to qualify for a Family Visa

    These language requirements are exempt from individuals who have a mental or physical disability that prevents them from meeting this requirement or are 65 years or older when applying for a Family Visa.

    Child Dependent Visa

    Children who are overseas nationals can apply for a UK Family Visa either on their parent’s application or as a separate application.

    In order to qualify for a Family Visa, they must be under the age of 18 when the application was made. In addition to this, the child must also still be living and a dependent and can’t have formed an independent family unit.

    In order to bring children to the UK to live, the parent or carer must also be financially eligible.

    Similarly to the spouse visa applications, the child will be eligible to apply for British naturalisation after 5 years of residing in the UK after the Family Visa runs out.

    two children holding books on their head and smiling

    UK Ancestry Visa

    A UK Ancestor Family Visa is a unique visa type.

    If your grandparents were born in the UK, you could be eligible for a five-year UK Ancestry Visa.

    This allows you to work, live and study in the UK and after the five years are up, you will be eligible to apply for settled status.

    Adult Dependent Visa for South Africans

    Adult Dependent Visa

    If you’re over the age of 18 and would like to live and work in the UK on a Family Visa, you may be eligible for an Adult Dependent Visa. This is reserved for individuals who want to enter the UK as a parent, grandparent or adult child of a British Citizen.

    You can apply to live in the UK under an Adult Dependent Visa under exceptional circumstances. This Family Visa is reserved for those who are in need of long-term care, which can be provided by your relative in the UK.

    Unlike the majority of Family Visa types, the Adult Dependent Visa allows you to remain in the UK indefinitely, as long as the UK relative is a British Citizen or has settled status in the UK. In addition to this, you are enabled to remain in the UK on this visa if your relative has refugee status or humanitarian protection in the UK.

    This visa is reserved for special circumstances and is quite difficult to obtain. In order to be accepted, you must satisfy the following:

    • You must provide a large amount of evidence that you don’t have adequate care in your country of origin for an Adult Dependent Family Visa
    • You must be over the age of 18
    • You must be related to the individual who has British Citizenship or settled status in the UK

    Family Visa appeal

    There is no single version of a UK Family Visa, rather there are a number of visas that are grouped in this category.

    The application process and the appeals process vary depending on the type of visa you have applied for.

    Below are the ways that you can appeal a refused Family Visa application (please note that the exact steps will vary depending on the type of visa).

    1. Speak with a qualified immigration lawyer to discuss the options available to you
    2. Carefully read your letter of refusal to identify what your next steps are (appeal or review)
    3. Check the length of time you have to submit your request for appeal or review
    4. Address the reasons for refusal so that you can maximise your chances of the decision being overturned
    5. If it is possible to request a reconsideration of the application owing to a clear error on behalf of UKVI, this could be an option
    6. Submit the relevant documents (where required)
    7. Wait for a decision to be issued

    Where you receive an unsuccessful decision, it may be more valuable to resubmit a fresh application, although this will mean having to pay the application fee again.

    Reasons why a Family Visa might be rejected

    Some of the most common reasons for having a Family Visa rejected include the following:

    • The applicant failed to demonstrate how they met the requirements
    • Adequate supporting information was not submitted
    • The applicant is considered a risk to UK public good or public health
    • False or misleading information included in the application

    How can IAS help you apply for a Family Visa?

    At IAS, we know that being close to family is important and obtaining a Family Visa can ensure that you don’t have to split up from your family. Our team of dedicated immigration lawyers can help you with applications for all types of Family Visas. We will work with you to assess your different options, check your dependent’s status and perform a thorough document check for you.

    One of our lawyers will prepare a Letter of Representation, which will provide evidence of the merits of your application and supporting UK immigration laws, to be submitted with your Family Visa UK application.

    Your lawyer will also liaise with the Home Office throughout your Family Visa application until a decision is reached and complete your application form using their experienced knowledge. This service will improve your chances of receiving a Family Visa.

    You can contact us at our offices in LondonManchester, or Birmingham, or use our office finder to find your closest branch.

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              Related pages for your continued reading.

              Frequently Asked Questions

              The dependent child of a British Citizen or a person with settled status can apply for permission to enter and remain in the UK temporarily or permanently. To qualify, the Home Office must be satisfied that the child is:

              • under the age of 18;
              • not leading an independent life;
              • not married or in a civil partnership; and
              • has not formed an independent family unit.

              There are several additional requirements, with more for adopted children.

              If the parent of the dependent child applies to enter or remain in the UK as a partner or parent, they must meet a financial requirement. In all other cases, the parent will need to show they can accommodate the child without help from public funds. In some cases, depending on the status of the parent(s) settlement, the child may need to apply as a points-based system (PBS) dependent

              More information on Child Dependent Visas

              As the parent, grandparent, sibling or child over the age of 18 of a British citizen or a person with settled status in the UK, you can only apply for permission to come here in exceptional circumstances, ie; where you need long-term personal care that your UK sponsor can provide.

              The application must be made from outside the UK and your visa must be obtained before travelling.

              More information on Adult Dependent Visas

              You may be eligible for a British Ancestry Visa if you are a citizen of a Commonwealth country and one of your grandparents was born in either the UK, before March 1922 in what is now the Republic of Ireland or on a British-registered ship or aircraft.
              You cannot claim UK ancestry through step-parents.

              A British Ancestry Visa allows holders to live, work and study in the UK for a period of up to five years, at which point they may be eligible to apply for a renewal or apply for settled status in the UK.

              Find out more about UK Ancestry Visas

              As the partner or dependent child (under 18) of a migrant who is in or coming to the UK under most categories of the points-based system, you can apply for a visa to join them here as a PBS dependent.

              You will need to show that:

              • you intend to live with the migrant worker, and
              • your relationship is genuine.

              Or for children:

              • you have not formed an independent family unit, or
              • are leading an independent life.

              The migrant worker will also need to prove that they can support you without relying on public funds.

              As as the parent of a child who is a British citizen or settled in the UK, you can apply for permission to enter or stay here. You will need to show that:

              • you have sole responsibility for the child, or at the very least access rights;
              • you can maintain yourself without relying on public funds;
              • you meet the suitability and English language requirements.

              If you meet all the requirements you will be given temporary permission to remain in the UK for 30 months. You will be eligible to stay for a further 30 months if you continue to meet the requirements and after five years you can apply for ILR (Indefinite Leave to Remain).

              If you are outside the UK you must obtain your visa before travelling.

              If you are already in the UK you will be eligible so long as you are not on a Visitor Visa or on temporary admission, permission to stay was not given for a period of less than six months (unless as a fiancé(e) or proposed civil partner) and you are not in breach of the Immigration Rules (overstaying for less than 28 days will not be taken into account).

              Yes, generally your family members will be able to join you if you are in the UK on a visa under the Points Based System. For further information, you may want to take a look at Spouse/Partner Visas, as well as Dependent Visas, or speak to one of our immigration experts.

              As the law currently stands, you will be able to appeal in the event that your UK Family Visa is refused.

              In the event that your application is refused, there may be other options even after the refusal. Speak to an immigration lawyer to get the best and most up to date advice.

              The law at the present time in respect of Visit Visas does not allow for a full right of appeal. You can only appeal such visas on very restricted grounds. If you have been refused a Family Visit Visa it is advisable to speak to one of our experts to advise on your options.

              With our team of expert immigration lawyers, we will be able to assist you with any type of Family Visa application.

              We will:

              • assess your eligibility for a Family Visa;
              • assess whether your UK relative is eligible to act as your sponsor;
              • help you make sure you have acceptable proof of your relationship to your relative for your application;
              • perform a full document check to ensure that they are sufficient;
              • confer with you in person, via phone or Skype at a suitable time for you;
              • prepare a Letter of Representation to accompany your application. This is a document containing information about your case and its merits. It will also reference all relevant UK immigration laws that might support your application;
              • liaise with the Home Office throughout the process;
              • complete each part of your application in full and to a professional standard.

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