Applying for a family visa in the UK

If you want to join a family member in the UK for an extended period of time you can apply for a one of the UK family visa categories. These include visas for spouses, civil partners, unmarried partners, children, and grandchildren.

In order to apply and get accepted for any of these visa categories you will need to provide documents which support your application form. You will often need to prove your relationship with whoever is sponsoring you i.e. your husband or wife if you are applying for a spouse visa.

You cannot apply for any sort of family visa if you are in the UK on a visitor visa, but can apply if you are in the UK on any other visa. You might be able to switch your current visa to a family visa category, but you will need to act before the date that your current visa expires.

Spouse visas

If your partner is:

  1. A British citizen
  2. Settled in the UK with indefinite leave to remain
  3. Living in the UK with refugee status or humanitarian protection,

then you may be eligible to apply to join them in the UK.

You will have to provide the Home Office with evidence that your relationship is genuine. They will need to be satisfied that one of the following applies to you:

  • You are in a marriage or civil partnership recognised by UK law
  • You have been living together (cohabiting) for at least two years whilst also in a relationship with each other
  • You are engaged to be married or enter a civil partnership within six months of your arrival in the UK

You will also have to prove that you personally have good knowledge of the English language and that you or your partner meets the minimum income requirement of £18,600 per year. If you have a child this goes up to £22,400. If you have any more children, the minimum you or your partner can earn per year goes up by £2,400 per child. For help with your UK spouse visa application it is recommended to speak with an expert immigration solicitor.

Child visas

You may be able to bring your child or children to the UK, as long as they and you meet the requirements set out by the Home Office. You will have to apply for a dependant visa on their behalf. One of the following must be true if you are to be successful in your child’s application:

  • Both parents are present in the UK and the child is joining them from abroad
  • The entire family are applying for UK visas simultaneously and will enter the UK at the same time
  • One parent is currently in the UK and the other is applying for their visa from abroad at the same time as the child

If you are a one-parent family, exceptions can be made, for example if you are the only surviving parent or have sole responsibility for the child.

You and/or your child’s other parent do not need to be UK citizens in order for your child or children to qualify for a visa. You can be in the UK on a visa or hold indefinite leave to remain, but there are certain circumstances where it might be tricky to obtain your child’s visa this way.

Ancestry visas

You may be eligible to gain entry to the UK by applying for an ancestry visa. This will only be an option for you if one of your grandparents was born in the UK, Channel Islands, the Isle of Man or Republic of Ireland before 31 March 1922. You’ll have to be able to prove this and provide evidence to the Home Office in order for them to grant you an ancestry visa, for example you could send a birth certificate as proof.

If you are granted an ancestry visa you will be able to live and work in the UK for up to five years. After this period is over, you might be able to apply for permanent residence so long as you meet all the necessary requirements.

As well as being able to prove that one of your grandparents was born in an eligible location, you have to meet the following requirements:

  • Be 17 or over
  • Have enough money to support yourself whilst in the UK
  • Are able to work in the UK and fully intend to do so

You will have to give the Home Office a passport sized photo, a valid travel document or passport, previous passport and evidence of funds.

Applying for a UK on the basis of your relationship with a partner, parent or grandparent can allow you to enjoy life in the UK, and even make your way to gaining permanent residence. It is important to make sure that you meet all of the requirements for the visa you are applying for and submit all relevant evidence to the Home Office so you hold the best chance of success.