UK family visas are a category of permission to enter and stay in the UK issued to those who wish to establish a permanent family life with their family members resident in the UK.
There are a few ways through which you can get a UK family visa:
- As a spouse or partner of a UK resident.
- As a parent of a UK resident.
- As the child of a UK resident.
- As a sick, disabled or elderly relative requiring long-term care from a UK resident.
- Based on a private life.
- As a widowed partner of a former UK resident.
- As a spouse or separated partner.
The UK Family Visitor Visa is the same as the Standard Visitor Visa and allows foreign nationals to visit family members in the UK for up to 6 months. For example, if you have overseas parents, they may be able to apply for a family visitor visa which allows them to visit you in the UK. You can apply for a Family Visitor Visa/Standard Visitor Visa up to 3 months before traveling to the UK.
If you plan to travel to the UK frequently to visit family, consider applying for a standard long-term tourist visa. Long-term standard visitor visas are granted for 2, 5 or 10 years. Holders can enter and stay in the UK as many times as they wish during the visa period, but only for a maximum of 6 months at a time.
Visa requirements for visiting family in the UK
To qualify for a UK family visitor visa, you must meet the following UK family visitor visa requirements:
- Possess a valid passport which will be valid for the duration of your stay in the UK.
- Have proof that you truly intend to leave the UK at the end of your visit.
- Have sufficient funds to support yourself and your dependents during your stay in the UK.
- Be able to pay for return or onward travel.
- You must not intend to live in the UK or to make the UK your principal residence by making frequent or return visits.
If you do not have the funds to support yourself and your dependents while you are in the UK or to cover the cost of your onward travel, you can ask your UK-based family member to cover the costs.
Documents required for UK Family Visitor Visa
As part of the process of applying for a family visitor visa to the UK, the Home Office will ask you to provide certain information and documents.
Documents required for the UK family visitor visa may include:
- Your employer’s contact details
- Contact details of your family members in the UK
- Details of any criminal, civil or immigration offences
- Details of family members covering travel and onward travel costs
- Details of your parents (e.g. name and date of birth)
- Details of your planned trip to the UK (i.e. when you intend to arrive and depart)
- Estimated costs while staying in the UK
- Evidence of sufficient funds to support yourself and your dependents (e.g. bank statements)
- TB test certificate, if required
- Travel history of the last 10 years
- Where you will stay during your visit
- Your annual income
- Your home address and length of residence
- Your return travel ticket
- Your partner’s details (i.e. name, date of birth and passport number)
Sponsor Requirements for Family Visitor Visa
If you are sponsored by another person to come to the UK, you may be asked to provide evidence of:
- the support they are providing (e.g. accommodation, support funds and funds for onward travel)
- how this support is provided (e.g. bank statement showing savings or details of accommodation provided)
- the relationship between you and your sponsor (e.g. a family member)
- your British passport or proof of residence from your sponsor
How to apply for a family visitor visa in the UK
To apply for a family visitor visa in the UK, you must complete the following steps:
- Complete and submit the online application form2
- Pay the registration fee (see below)
- Book and attend an appointment at your nearest UK Visa Application Center (VAC) to provide your biometric details (fingerprint scan and photo)
- Upload any documents required by the Ministry of the Interior
In most cases, family visitor visas to the UK are processed within 3 weeks. You may be able to request a quicker decision: the priority service costs £500 and provides a decision within 5 working days, while the super priority service costs £800 and provides a decision within 1 working day.
Application fees for UK family visitor visa
- UK family visitor visa £100
- 2-year long-term UK family visitor visa £376
- 5-year long-term UK family visitor visa £670
- 10-year long-term UK family visitor visa £837
Extend your family visitor visa to the UK
You may be able to extend your family visitor visa if you have permission to stay in the UK for less than 6 months and wish to extend your stay for up to 6 months, e.g. if you have been in the UK for 2 months, you can extend your stay for a further 4 months, but no more than 6 months in total.
You can only extend a visitor visa if you are an academic or graduate who is retaking the Professional and Linguistic Assessment Board (PLAB) test or doing a clinical attachment.
It is also possible to extend the visit for medical reasons. See our UK medical visa guide for more information.
How can Reiss Edwards help?
Reiss Edwards is a family immigration specialist based in central London. Our team of family immigration lawyers can handle all aspects of the family visitor visa and can help you with:
- Preparation and management of all aspects of the UK Family Visitor Visa
- Overcoming any problems with your UK family visitor visa application, including UK visa refusal
- UK Family Visa Application
- Explain any other UK immigration options available to you
What are the requirements for a spouse visa in the UK?
The requirements for UK partner visas are similar for each type. These include the spouse visa, unmarried partner visa and fiancée visa.
Eligibility requirements include:
- An income threshold of at least £18,600
- Proof of knowledge of the English language
- Evidence of suitable accommodation for you and your spouse
- Pass the “genuine relationship test” (for example, being in a civil partnership)
- These requirements will vary depending on your spouse’s situation or if you are applying with dependent children.
Can I apply for a UK Spouse visa?
If you and your spouse meet the strict requirements to remain in the UK, you will be able to submit an application for a Marriage Visa UK. The application can be made in the UK or from your current country of residence.
You will need to show a substantial amount of evidence about your relationship to prove you are eligible to come to the UK on this permit.
If you’ve been living with your spouse in another European country outside of the UK, you may also be eligible through the ‘Surinder Singh’ route rather than a traditional permit.
To apply for a Spouse Visa, you can inquire with us online or over the phone.
What is the minimum income I need to sponsor my spouse/partner to join me in the UK?
The minimum income required to sponsor your spouse or partner to come to the UK was set in July 2012 by the Home Office at £18,600. This income requirement increases to £22,400 for one dependent child and £2,400 for each further child.
However, following a ruling by the UK High Court, MM (Lebanon), it was decided that the minimum income requirement was “unjustified and disproportionate” if applicants are married to a refugee, settled person or citizen British. This ruling came in July 2013 and since then all decisions relating to sponsors who do not meet the criteria have been suspended until further notice.
What happens if my UK spouse visa is refused?
If you receive a letter telling you that your spouse visa has been refused, you will usually have the right to appeal if you feel it was unfair. Your denial letter will inform you if you are eligible to appeal. You will be able to submit new evidence if it shows that you were eligible when you initially applied.
If you are already in the UK, you will need to act quickly to appeal the decision or apply for another permit. Overstaying an expired immigration status can be very problematic and should be avoided.
Can I still get a spouse visa if I don’t meet the financial requirements?
From 10 August 2017 decisions relating to these applications must take into account other funding arrangements.
This could include self-sustainability, self-employment, or ongoing financial support from a relative. These changes will offer some hope to those who have previously been refused marriage visas or those who have put off applying.