Family Visas in the United Kingdom 2023: If you want to visit relatives, you can get a family visa in the UK. Learn all about the different types of visas and how to apply. Some relatives may become UK residents if they apply for a family visa. However, different conditions apply depending on the nature of the relationship. Partners and dependent children can also accompany UK visa applicants, although they must apply for their own visas separately.
Find out what you need to know about applying for a family visa in the UK by exploring the following topics:
- Family Visa in UK
- Who can go to the UK to join a family?
- Spouse or partner visa in the UK
- Child Visa in UK
- Parent visas in the UK
- Family visa in the UK for dependent relatives in need of long-term care
- Short-term visits from family members in the UK
- Joining family members who only have a temporary visa in the UK.
- EU family permit to join those who have applied to the EU settlement scheme.
- Family visa to join refugees and asylum seekers in the UK
- When family members arrive in the UK
- Divorce or death of a family member in the UK
- UK Family Visa Complaints and Appeals
- Useful resources
Family Visas in The UK
The UK Home Office Visas and Immigration is the government department that deals with all UK visas, including family visas.
You can come to the UK to visit certain family members who live there. However, this process depends on the nature of the relationship, their residency status, and how long they intend to stay. In other words, the UK family visa is for relatives who come to join long-term UK residents and citizens for more than six months.
Family visas make up 4% of UK visas in 2020/21, although this rises to around 24% when you include dependents of other UK visa holders. The UK has similar laws to many EU countries, although immigration controls have generally been tightened since the implementation of Brexit.
Who Can Move to The UK to Join Family?
You will not need a family visa if you are coming to the UK with relatives for less than six months. Instead, you may need a short-stay UK visa.
If you live in the UK and are registered with the EU Settlement Scheme to live in the UK, you can apply for an EU family permit if your relative is from the European Union (EU), EEA (European Economic Area) or is swiss Citizen EEA countries include Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. Irish citizens are exempt from UK visa or permit requirements.
Citizens of British Overseas Territories and citizens of Commonwealth countries who are eligible for UK Right of Abode (ROA) through UK-born parents do not need a visa to join their family.
Partners and dependent children of people living in the UK on a work or study visa should apply for a dependent visa instead of a family visa if they want to join or travel with their relatives.
Who Needs a Family Visa to Join Family in The UK?
The UK has four separate family visas for people from other countries who want to visit relatives for more than six months. These are:
- Spouse or partner visa
- Child Visa
- Parental Visa
- Family visa for a dependent relative in need of long-term care
- In most cases, you will need one of these visas to live long-term with visiting family members who are settled in the UK. Check your exact UK visa requirements here.
Spouse or Partner Family Visa in The UK
Who Can Apply?
You can apply for a spouse or partner visa if you are aged 18 or over and:
- Are married or engaged to a UK resident.
- Have been in a relationship with a UK resident for at least two years.
- In addition, you will need sufficient knowledge of the English language and a combined income of at least £18,600. This income requirement increases if you have dependent children. In some cases, visa authorities may waive the income requirement if you have dependent children living in the UK long-term.
A spouse and partner visa is valid for two years and nine months. If you apply as a fiancé, the visa is valid for six months. If you meet the criteria you can extend the visa and eventually apply for permanent residence or UK citizenship.
Child Family Visa in The UK
Who Can Apply?
You can apply for a UK child visa if your parents are already resident in the UK. In addition, you will generally need to be under 18 and considered dependent (ie unable to support yourself financially independently, married or living in a partnership). You can apply when you are 18 years of age or over if you are still financially dependent on your parent(s) and you came to or stayed in the UK when you were under 18. It was allowed.
Most UK child visa applications are made alongside spouse or partner visa applications when they bring a child or children for a family reunion.
A minor applicant does not need to prove their English language abilities for a UK child visa. However, parents applying for a spouse or partner visa and bringing children to the UK must show proof of income to support them in addition to the standard income requirements. Currently, it is £3,800 for a first child and £2,400 for a subsequent child.
A UK child visa is usually valid for the same period as the accompanying parent’s spouse or partner visa, with the same extension rights. If you apply independently of either parent, the length of the visa will depend on the parent’s type of UK residence.
Parent Family Visa in The UK
You can apply for a UK Parent Visa to come and stay in the UK to look after your dependent children (under 18). Your children may be older if they are not financially independent or married and are under 18 at the time of application.
To apply, you must either have full custody of your child or share custody with another parent who is a UK resident but is no longer in a relationship. You will need to prove that you have sufficient English language skills and enough income to support yourself and your child if you are financially responsible for them. Currently, it is at least £18,600 a year.
This visa is valid for two years and nine months, but you can extend it if you meet the eligibility requirements, eventually applying for permanent residence or UK citizenship.
When Family Members Arrive in The UK
Some people arriving in the UK are required to register with the police within seven days. Your UK visa should tell you if you need to do this. If so, you will need to go to your local police station. This registration currently costs £34.
Other things you may want to consider when coming to the UK on a family visa are:
- Registering with a local doctor so you can access healthcare in the UK through the NHS
- Applying for a National Insurance (NI) number to work in the UK and claim certain benefits
- Opening a UK bank account
- Getting a UK SIM card for your mobile phone
In The Event of Divorce or Death of a Family Member in The UK
You may be able to stay in the UK if your circumstances change due to death or divorce. However, you will need to follow certain procedures.
In the event of a divorce or separation from your partner, you need to inform the UK Home Office as soon as possible if you are on any type of family visa or permit. You should send an email including details of yourself, your ex-partner, and any children in the UK, attaching the completed form. You can then choose to switch to another type of visa, become a UK resident if you are eligible, or leave the UK.
If your spouse or partner dies, you can apply for settled status or indefinite leave to remain in the UK (IRL). You will need to use the UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS). This is only possible if your partner is a UK citizen, has settlement status, or already has settled status under the EU settlement scheme. You can also apply to include any dependent children living with you if they were under 18 when they applied for their UK visa or permit.
Of course, you can apply for this online, with your photo ID, partner’s death certificate, proof of your relationship, and that you were living together (with any children included in the application). Its fee is £2,389. You will also need to visit a UK visa center to submit your biometric details for your settlement permit.
Family Visa Complaints and Appeals in The UK
If your UK work visa application has been refused, you can apply online for an administrative review. It costs £80. If you are told that you are not eligible for a full review, you can request a review from the UK immigration authorities.
Keep in mind that an administrative review can be a lengthy process and can take up to six months.
For general complaints about services provided by UK visa and immigration authorities, you can lodge a complaint online. If the complaint is considered serious or complex you will normally receive a response within 20 working days or 12 weeks.
If you are not happy with the results, you can ask for a review which may take another 20 days. Furthermore, if you are still not satisfied you can take the matter to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman.
It is worth noting that appealing a visa decision can sometimes be an expensive and lengthy exercise. Because of this, it is wise to get a free consultation before proceeding. Citizens Advice can provide you with support and signpost you to free or low-cost legal services.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does a UK family visa take?
Join the family in the UK.
If you are the spouse, partner or family member of someone who has British citizenship or is settled in the UK, you should receive a decision within 24 weeks of attending an appointment at a visa application centre.
Can I work in the UK with a family visa?
A family permit makes it easier to travel to the UK with your family member or to join them there. This allows you to stay in the UK for up to 6 months. You can work and study, and come as often as you like before the permit expires.