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What is the difference between immediate family and extended family?

You may be able to immigrate to the UK if you have family members who are already resident in the country. Find out more about which types of family members are eligible for a UK family visa.

For assistance with your family visa application get in touch with our immigration lawyers today on 0333 305 9375, we are here to help in person, over the phone or via video call.


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    What is the difference between immediate family and extended family?

    The difference between your immediate family and extended family is simply how closely related they are to you.

    An immediate family member is someone who is a family member who is closely associated with you. Generally, your siblings, parents, spouse and children are considered immediate family.

    Your extended family is defined as the family members that exist outside of the nuclear family including your grandparents and more distantly related family members such as cousins, aunties and uncles.

    When it comes to immigration law the difference between your immediate and extended family is important to acknowledge. This is because all though some types of visas and immigration status’s allow you to bring your family members to the UK, this does not mean that you can bring your entire family, only certain family members can join you in the UK and sometimes particular family members can only join you in certain circumstances.

    family visit visa

    Which type of family members are eligible for a UK visa?

    Usually, only your immediate family members are eligible for a UK family visa or to be included on your UK visa application. The types of family members that are often able to join you in the UK are called your dependents, this includes your:

    • Spouse, partner or unmarried partner
    • Your children under the age of 21, this includes step-children and adopted children
    • Your children over the age of 21 if they are already living in the UK as your dependent and are not leading an independent life

    These types of family members may be able to join you in the UK if you are applying for a visa, this dependents on the type of visa you are applying for. If you are a British citizen or you have Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK then these family members can apply for one of the family visas to join you in the UK. There is a specific visa for each of these family members, they include the Spouse Visa, Fiance Visa, Unmarried Partner Visa and Dependent Child Visa.

    Although your parents and siblings can be considered immediate family, they are not eligible to join you in the UK if you are coming here on a visa. There is also no designated visa types for the parents or siblings of British citizens and settled persons. However, it is still possible for your parents and siblings to join you in the UK on an Adult Dependent Visa but this visa is only for very specific circumstances and is difficult to qualify for.

    Can an extended family member come to the UK?

    In some cases grandparents and grandchildren can also be eligible for a UK family visa.

    Grandchildren can be eligible for an Ancestry Visa if they have a grandparent who was born in the UK. The Ancestry Visa is a 5-year visa that can also be used as a route towards permanent settlement in the UK.

    Your grandparents may be able to join you in the UK using the Adult Dependent Visa. The Adult Dependent visa allows a sick family member of a British citizen or settled person to come to the UK. The visa is for parents, grandparents and adult children of UK citizens and settled persons who need to come to the UK to receive long-term care from their family member in the UK. The Adult Dependent visa grants an indefinite stay in the UK but is very difficult to obtain.

    Do you need help applying for a family visa? Our lawyers can assist you. Get in touch

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      dependent family members

      How to apply for my family to join me in the UK

      The process of applying for your family to join you in the UK depends on which family members you are applying for and the route that they are using to join you.

      If you are applying for a visa yourself and the visa allows you to bring family members with you then you can apply to bring your family members with you as dependents. They can submit their application either at the same time as your visa application or after you have submitted it. There is a separate application fee for each family member. Only spouses, partners and your children are eligible to join you as dependents.

      If you are a British citizen or settled person then your family members could be eligible to apply for their own visa through one of the family visa routes. All family visa applications can be made online on the website. As well as completing the application form your family members will need to provide documents to prove that they meet the requirements. For example to apply for a spouse visa your spouse will need to provide your marriage certificate and proof that your relationship is genuine.

      How can IAS help?

      We know that it can be difficult to be away from your loved ones, that’s why here at IAS, we are passionate about helping families to reunite in the UK. If you want to join family in the UK then we can help you. We can provide you with information about the routes available to you and can assess your eligibility for a family visa.

      Once you have decided which visa to apply for we can support you throughout the entire application process. Our lawyers will help you to complete the application, gather your supporting documents and will be there to answer any questions that you may have about the visa application process.

      To get started on your family visa application today get in touch with our immigration lawyers on 0333 305 9375.

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      We can help you if you need help with your family visa application. Call us now

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