Family Visa – what you need to know banner


Family Visa – what you need to know

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The UK’s family visa covers a number of different visa routes, familiar to the best Immigration solicitors in London, including the UK fiancé visa and UK spouse visa. It can be confusing to understand the different visa routes and the requirements for each, so our Immigration lawyers have put together an easy to understand guide to the UK family visa.

Who is the ‘family visa’ for?

The UK’s family visa is available for individuals to come to the UK to live with a family member who is already in the UK. They must either be a British citizen or be settled in the UK (with Indefinite Leave to Remain or evidence of permanent residence. However, in some cases – where the family member has permission to be in the UK on a temporary work visa or a student visa, the correct application to make is as a dependant, and not as a family member.

Broadly speaking the family visa is available for those intending to come to the UK as a spouse or partner; a fiancé, fiancée or proposed civil partner; a child; a parent; a relative of someone who will provide long term care for you.

It is also possible to apply for a family visa on the basis of your right to a private life under the European Convention on Human Rights and the UK’s Human Rights Act.

family visa for a spouse/partner

The spouse/partner category of family visa also covers those who are looking for a fiancé/fiancée/proposed civil partnership visa. As well as applying to be with a partner who is a British citizen or settled status, you can apply for this type of visa if your spouse/partner has refugee status in the UK or been granted humanitarian protection by the UK Government. Our London immigration solicitors can advise you further on this.

You must be able to show that you are either married or in a civil partnership that is recognised in UK law, or have been living together for 2 years when you make your application. If you’re applying as a fiancé/fiancée/proposed civil partner, you must be able to demonstrate that you are a fiancé/proposed civil partner, and that all other marriages/civil partnerships have ended. You must also show that you intend to marry or enter a civil partnership within 6 months of arriving in the UK.

The family visa is granted to a spouse/civil partner for 2.5 years, but only for 6 months for a fiancé/proposed civil partner. Once the marriage/civil partnership has taken place, you can then apply to extend your stay as a spouse.

family visa for a parent

The parent of a child in the UK can apply for a family visa as a parent to join a child who is under 18, or who was under 18 at the time the application was made and is not living an ‘independent life’ (for example has not left home, married, had their own children).

The child must be living in the UK and must either be a British citizen or be settled in the UK if you’re applying from outside the UK. If you are applying for your family visa within the UK, you can also apply on the basis that your child has lived in the UK for 7 years and it would be unreasonable for them to leave. Again, this can cause complications, so taking advice from an experienced Immigration lawyer is vital if you are considering a family visa application on this basis.

You must also have parental responsibility for your child. If you share parental responsibility you must be able to show that the other parent is not your partner, and that he or she is either a British citizen or has settled status in the UK. If the child lives with the other parent, you must be able to show that you have access to the child through a court order. Along with parental responsibility/access you must show that you are and intend to be involved with the child’s life.

If you are eligible to apply for a spouse/partner visa you should do this rather than applying for a parent visa.

family visa for a child

Applying as a child depends to a large extent whether you were born in the UK or outside the UK and on your parents’ Immigration status. We recommend talking to an expert on the UK Immigration rules on family settlement to get a clearer picture of how the rules around applying for a family visa as a child will work in your particular case.

family visa as the relative of someone who will provide care for you

Perhaps the most complex of all the family visa categories, and the hardest to obtain, the adult dependant relative scheme offers the opportunity to come to the UK to be cared for by a relative, but in reality, the bar is set very high. To succeed, you must prove that you need long term care to carry out daily and personal tasks because you’re too ill, old or disabled to do them yourself. You must also show that appropriate care is not available or affordable in your home country, and that the person you are joining in the UK can support you for 5 years.

As our Immigration solicitors in London are well aware, it can be hard to prove that care is not affordable if you can also show that your relative can support you for 5 years in the UK. However, it is not impossible, as our recent success in obtaining an adult dependant relative family visa demonstrates.

Are there any alternatives to a ‘family visa’?

If you don’t meet the criteria for a spouse/partner visa or a parent visa, you may still be able to stay in the UK if your child is a British citizen or has lived in the UK for more than 7 years, and it would be unreasonable for them to leave the UK.

It is possible for spouse/partners to argue that either there would be very significant difficulties for you and your partner if you lived together as a couple outside the UK that could not be overcome; or that it would breach your Human Rights to stop you coming to the UK to join your spouse/partner or make you leave.

If you are already living in the UK, there is the possibility of applying for a family visa on the basis of your private life in the UK. Again, this can be complex, so using a solicitor with experience of Human Rights law and Immigration law is vital.

OTS Solicitors are recommended in the Legal 500 for Immigration and Human Rights law, and will be pleased to discuss your Immigration status, and family visa application, in more detail to establish the best course of action and how we can help. Call 0203 959 9123 in confidence for more information.

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