Skip to content

Family Visas in the United Kingdom- All You Need To Know

Family Visas in the United Kingdom
Share This & Enjoy Fast Connection:

You can get a family visa in the UK if you want to join relatives. Learn all about the different visa types and how to apply. Certain relatives can join 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 separately for their visas.

--Advertisement--

Discover all you need to know about applying for a family visa in the UK by exploring the following topics:

  • Family visas in the UK
  • Who can move to the UK to join the family?
  • Spouse or partner visas in the UK
  • Child visas in the UK
  • Parent visas in the UK
  • Family visas in the UK for dependent relatives needing long-term care
  • Short-term visits to 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 visas to join refugees and asylum seekers in the UK
  • When family members arrive in the UK
  • In the event of divorce or death of a family member in the UK
  • Family visa complaints and appeals in the UK
  • 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 join certain family members living there. However, the process depends on the nature of the relationship, their residence status, and how long they plan to stay. In other words, the UK family visa is for relatives coming to join long-term UK residents and citizens for longer than six months.

Family visas made up 4% of UK visas in 2020/21, although this increases to nearly 24% when you include dependents of other UK visa holders. The UK has similar rules in place to many EU countries, although immigration controls have become generally stricter since the implementation of Brexit.

Who Can Move to The UK to Join Family?

Who Does Not Need a Family Visa to Move to The UK?

If you come to the UK to stay with relatives for less than six months, you won’t need a family visa. Instead, you may need a UK short-stay visa.


If you live in the UK and have registered with the EU Settlement Scheme to remain in the UK, you can apply for a free EU family permit, if your relative is a European Union (EU), EEA (European Economic Area), or 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 those from Commonwealth countries who qualify for UK right of abode (ROA) through a parent born in the UK, do not need a visa to join their family.

Partners and dependent children of those in the UK on a work or study visa must apply for a dependant visa rather than 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 those from other countries wanting to join relatives for longer than six months. These are:

  • Spouse or Partner visa
  • Child visa
  • Parent visa
  • Family visa for dependent relative needing long-term care

In most cases, you will need one of these visas to come and live long-term with family members who are settled UK residents. Check your exact UK visa requirements here.

Spouse or Partner Family Visa in The UK

Who Can Apply?

You can apply for the spouse or partner visa if you are aged 18 or over and:

  • are married or engaged to a settled UK resident
  • have been in a relationship with a settled UK resident for at least two years

In addition to this, you will need to have 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 certain cases, the visa authorities can waive the income requirement if you have dependent children who have been living in the UK long-term.

Visa Length

The 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. You can extend the visa and eventually apply for permanent residence or UK citizenship if you meet the criteria.


Visa Entitlements

This visa entitles you to work and study in the UK, although you cannot work during your engagement period. You cannot get state benefits such as unemployment assistance in most cases. However, you will be able to access UK healthcare services through the NHS.

How to Apply

You can apply for this visa online inside or outside the UK. You will need to provide:

  • Valid photo identification (ID) for both you and your partner or spouse
  • National Insurance (NI) number for your partner if they have one
  • Proof of relationship, for example, marriage certificate or proof of shared address
  • Proof of residence status of your partner
  • Evidence of English language skills to at least A1 level on the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) scale, unless you are from an English-speaking country
  • Proof of finances, for example, bank statements
  • Sponsorship form completed by your spouse or partner
  • Details of any criminal convictions
  • Details of any previous marriages, along with proof that they have legally ended
  • Tuberculosis test results if you are travelling from a high-risk country

You’ll also need to submit your biometric data at a visa application centre or scan your ID documents online or via the UK Immigration: ID Check the app to get your biometric residence permit (BRP).

Decisions on UK family visas can take up to eight weeks, or 12 weeks if applying from outside the UK.

Visa Costs

UK spouse or partner visas cost £1,523 or £1,033 if you apply from within the UK. You may also have to pay the healthcare surcharge cost plus around £20 for expenses associated with the BRP. You can request a visa fee waiver if you are experiencing financial hardship.

Child Family Visa in The UK

Who Can Apply?

You can apply for a UK child visa if your parent is already a settled resident in the UK. In addition to this, you will typically also need to be under 18 and considered a dependant (i.e., unable to independently support yourself financially, be married or be in a partnership). You can apply when you’re aged 18 or over if you’re still financially dependent on your parent(s) and had permission to come or stay in the UK when you were under 18.

Most UK child visa applications are done concurrently with spouse or partner visa applications when they bring a child or children for a family reunion.

The minor applicant does not need to prove their English language capabilities for the UK child visa. However, parents applying for a spouse or partner visa and bringing children to the UK will need to show proof of income to support them in addition to the standard income requirements. Currently, this is £3,800 for the first child and £2,400 per subsequent child.

Visa Length

The UK child visa is usually valid for the same length of time as the spouse or partner visa of the accompanying parent, with the same rights to extend. If you apply independently from any parent, the visa length will depend on the UK parent’s type of residency.


Visa Entitlements

This visa entitles you to work and study in the UK. Typically, you cannot access state benefits such as unemployment support. However, you will be able to access UK healthcare services through the NHS.

How to Apply

In most cases, the accompanying parent applying for a UK spouse or partner visa will make the UK child visa application on their child’s behalf. However, children of UK residents can also apply separately. Applications can be made online from outside or inside the UK.

The documentation requirements are primarily similar to that of the spouse or partner visa, except for the proof of English language skills. You’ll need to show proof of relationship, for example, a birth certificate.

Visa Costs

Like the spouse or partner visa, UK child visas cost £1,523 or £1,033 if you apply from within the UK. Again, you may also have to pay the healthcare surcharge and around £20 for expenses associated with the BRP. You may be able to request a visa fee waiver if you or your accompanying parent are unable to pay due to hardship.

Parent Family Visa in The UK

Who Can Apply?

You can apply for a UK parent visa to come and live in the UK to look after your dependent children (under 18). Your children can be older than this if they are not financially independent or married and were younger than 18 at the time of the application.

To apply, you must either have sole responsibility for your child or share custody with the other parent who is a UK resident but no longer in a relationship. You’ll need to prove that you have adequate English language skills plus sufficient income to support yourself and your child if you are financially responsible for them. At present, this amounts to at least £18,600 per year.

Visa Length

This visa is valid for two years and nine months, but you can extend it if you meet eligibility requirements, eventually applying for permanent residency or UK citizenship.

Visa Entitlements

This visa entitles you to work and study in the UK. Unfortunately, you cannot claim unemployment benefits but can access UK healthcare services through the NHS.

How to Apply

You can apply for the parent family visa online from inside or outside the UK. If applying from outside, you will also need to complete the Appendix 5 (VAF4A) and provide the same documents as for the other visa applications:


  • Valid photo ID
  • Proof that you will have involvement in your child’s upbringing or care, for example, a letter from the child’s school, doctor, or local authority
  • Evidence of English language skills to at least A1 level on the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) scale, unless you are from an English-speaking country
  • Proof of finances, for example, bank statements
  • Details of any criminal convictions
  • Tuberculosis test results if you are travelling from a country with a high prevalence of TB

You’ll also need to submit your biometric data at a visa application centre or scan your ID documents online or via the UK Immigration: ID Check app, to get your biometric residence permit (BRP).

Decisions on these visas usually take up to eight weeks, or 12 weeks if you apply from outside the UK.

Visa Costs

UK parent visas cost £1,523 or £1,033 if you apply within the UK. Also, remember the healthcare surcharge cost and about £20 for the BRP. Of course, if you are destitute you can request a visa fee waiver.

UK Family Visa For Dependent Relative Needing Long-Term Care

Who Can Apply?

You can apply for this visa if you are 18 or over and need long-term, day-to-day care from a parent, child, sibling, or grandchild who is a settled UK resident. In addition to this, you need to show that you cannot access or afford this care in your home country and that the carer can support you for at least five years.

Visa Length

The length of this visa depends on the residence status of the family member caring for you. For example, if they are UK citizens, your stay will be unlimited.

Visa Entitlements

As with the other family visas, it also entitles you to work and study in the UK. Again, you cannot access state benefits such as unemployment grants, but you can use healthcare services through the NHS.

How to Apply

You can apply for this visa online. You will also need to complete the Appendix 1 (VAF4A) and provide the following paperwork:

  • Valid photo ID
  • Proof of residence status of the relative caring for you
  • Sponsorship form (SU07) completed by the carer
  • Proof that you need long-term care, for example, a letter from a medical professional
  • Evidence that you cannot access or afford care in your home country
  • Proof that the family member caring for you can support you without claiming public funds, for example, evidence of their income or your savings to cover financial costs
  • Details of any criminal convictions
  • If you are from a country with a high prevalence of TB, you may need to show clear test results

For your biometric residence permit (BRP), you’ll also need to submit your biometric data – in person – at a visa application centre. Alternatively, you can enter your ID documents online or via the UK Immigration: ID Check app.

Decisions on these visas usually take up to eight weeks, or 12 weeks if you apply from outside the UK.


Visa Costs

The cost of this visa is £3,250 or £1,033 if you apply from within the UK. Extra charges may include the healthcare surcharge plus around £20 for the BRP.

Short-term Visits to Family Members in The UK

If you want to visit relatives for less than six months, you can apply for a short-stay visitor visa. However, you will only need a visa if you’re from a country with visa entry requirements for the UK. Nationals from several countries, including EU/EEA countries, Switzerland, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and the United States (US), don’t need visas for stays shorter than six months in the UK.

This visa costs £95. You can also get long-term visitor visas that allow repeated stays of up to six months at a time. These are available to cover two years (£361), five years (£655), and ten years (£822). You cannot work or claim public funds on a short-term visa. On the government website, you can check if you need a visa and apply online.

Joining Family Members Who Only Have a Temporary visa in the country

Partners and dependent children can join family members on temporary visas such as work visas or study visas in the UK. Be aware that relatives can only join those on a UK student visa if their course is nine months or longer. However, they need to apply for a dependant visa rather than a family visa. You cannot work or study on this visa and must demonstrate that you have enough funds, either through savings or family income, to cover your living expenses during your stay.

The duration and cost of dependant visas are generally the same as for the visas of family members already living in the UK. Usually, you also have to pay the healthcare surcharge fees and BRP costs.

EU Family Permit to Join Relatives Who Have Applied to The EU Settlement Scheme

If you lived in the UK, on or before 31 December 2020, and you have applied for settled or pre-settled status through the EU Settlement Scheme, your relatives from the EU, EEA, or Switzerland can apply for a free family permit rather than a UK family visa. This is valid for up to six months, during which time they can work and study in the UK. There is no limit on how many times they can leave and return to the country, while their visa is valid. They can apply to the EU Settlement Scheme to stay in the UK after the permit expires within three months of their arrival.

Note that it is only open to EU, EEA, and Swiss citizens living in the UK and the relationship must have started before the end of 2020.

Relatives who can apply for this free permit are:

  • Spouse or partner
  • Children and grandchildren under 21 (including adopted children)
  • Children and grandchildren 21 and older, if they are still dependent
  • Dependent parents and grandparents

You can apply for the family permit online. To do this, you will need to provide:


  • Valid photo ID
  • EU Settlement Scheme application number of the UK resident
  • Proof of relationship to the UK resident, for example, marriage or birth certificate

The EU family permit is also available to certain other groups of people:

  • Relatives who are living with British citizens in an EU/EEA country or Switzerland
  • Relatives of nationals from Northern Ireland
  • Those who have retained the right of residence

However, if you have a family member in the UK who is an EU, EEA, or Swiss national and hasn’t applied to the EU Settlement Scheme, you will have to apply for a standard UK family visa to join them.

Family Visas to Join Refugees or Asylum Seekers in The UK

Asylum seekers in the UK can include their spouse or partner and any dependent children in their application as dependants. Alternatively, these relatives can make their asylum applications separately.

The spouse, partner, and children of successful applicants given refugee status and indefinite leave to remain (ILR) in the UK can apply for their family to join them (i.e., family reunion). This is possible if the relationship began before the person granted refugee status fled their home country due to persecution. You can apply online by completing the VAF4A form, including Appendix 4. The application is free. If you make the application from inside the UK, you’ll need to contact the UK Family Reunion Team.

If the relationship started after the person left their home country, they will have to apply for the relevant UK family visa(s) through the standard route and pay the necessary fees.

When Family Members Arrive in The UK

Some arrivals to the UK need to register with the police within seven days. Your UK visa should tell you if you are required to do this. If so, you’ll need to visit your local police station. The cost for this registration is currently £34.

Other things you may want to consider when arriving on a family visa in the UK are:

  • Registering with a local doctor so that you can access healthcare in the UK through the NHS
  • Applying for a National Insurance (NI) number to work and claim certain benefits in the UK
  • 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 might be able to stay in the UK if there is a change in your circumstances due to death or divorce. However, you will need to follow specific procedures.

--Advertisement--

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’re on any kind of family visa or permit. You should send an email that includes your details, your ex-partner’s, and any children in the UK, attaching the completed forms. You can then choose to switch to another type of visa, become a settled UK resident if you’re eligible, or leave the UK.

If your spouse or partner dies, you can apply for settled status or indefinite leave to remain (IRL) in the UK. You will need to use the UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS). This is only possible if your partner was a UK citizen, had settlement status, or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme. You can also apply to include any dependent children living with you if they were younger than 18 when they applied for their UK visa or permit.

Of course, you can apply for this online, providing your photo ID, partner’s death certificate, proof of your relationship, and that you had been living together (along with any children included in the application). The fee for this is £2,389. You’ll also need to visit a UK visa centre to submit your biometric details for your settlement permit.

Family Visa Complaints and Appeals in The UK

If your UK work visa application is refused, you can apply online for an administrative review. This costs £80. If you are told you’re not eligible for a full review, you might be able to make a reconsideration request to the UK immigration authorities.

Bear in mind that the administrative review can be a lengthy process and can take up to six months.

For general complaints about services provided by the UK visa and immigration authorities, you can file a complaint online. You will generally receive a response within 20 working days or 12 weeks if the complaint is considered serious or complex.

If you’re not happy with the outcome, you can ask for a review which can take up to another 20 days. Furthermore, you can take the matter to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman if you are still unsatisfied.

It’s worth noting that appealing a visa decision can sometimes be a costly and lengthy exercise. Because of this, it’s wise to get free advice before proceeding. Citizens Advice can provide you with support and signpost you to free or low-cost legal services.

Useful Resources

Share This & Enjoy Fast Connection:

1 thought on “Family Visas in the United Kingdom- All You Need To Know”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Would you like to receive daily scholarships updates + job offers & including special opportunities?

X