How to join family in the UK

Living overseas is an exciting adventure and one that many people around the world embark upon each year, whether for study, work or for love.

There often comes a time though when people want to be reunited with their families, which means researching immigration options and applying for a visa.

In the year ending March 2020, there were 56,908 visas granted for family reasons in the UK, with partners accounting for 40,784 visas. The remaining visas were granted for children and other dependents.

For people outside of the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland looking to join family in the UK, there are four main visa routes to consider in the family category.

  • Partner/spouse visa
  • Parent visa
  • Dependent children
  • Dependent adult relatives

The right visa will depend on your relationship to the family member in the UK and your own personal circumstances. To provide a little more clarity on the options available, this article offers an overview of what is required for each visa category.

Spouse/Partner Visa

A Spouse or Partner Visa is granted to those in a genuine relationship with either a British citizen, a permanent resident, someone with refugee status or humanitarian protection in the UK. It is open for applications from people that are married, engaged, in a civil partnership or a long-term relationship.

For the visa to be granted, both parties need to be over the age of 18 and will need to provide evidence that the relationship has been ongoing for at least two years, with a clear intention to live together in the UK.

For a fiancé(e) visa, you must plan to get married within six months of entering the UK and prove that any previous marriages or civil partnerships have ended. It’s also important to note that those applying via a fiancé(e) visa will not be able to work during the engagement.

Other requirements for a spouse/partner visa are:

  • A combined minimum annual income of £18,600.
  • An extra £3,800 per year for the first child, and an additional £2,400 for each other child.
  • Proof of income, such as bank statements, pay slips and letters from employers.
  • English language skills at level A1 (for the applicant).

Approved visas come with permission to stay in the UK for 2.5 years. For the fiancé(e) visa, the initial leave to remain is six months, which can then be extended following the marriage. After five years, there is the option to apply for indefinite leave to remain.

Parent Visa

The Parent Visa is a category aimed at parents seeking to care for a child in the UK. An example of this is shared parental responsibility following the breakdown of a relationship with the child’s other parent who is a British citizen or settled in the UK.

The child must be under the age of 18 and be a British citizen, a settled resident, or have lived in the UK for a minimum of seven years.

The Parent Visa can be a complicated category and there are some specific requirements for a visa to be granted.

First, it must be proven that the parent has sole responsibility for the child or direct access that has been granted through a court order. Evidence also has to be provided to show how the parent will take an active role in the child’s upbringing, such as letters from the child’s school or dentist.

Next, the applicant must have English language skills at level A1. And finally, the parent must be able to financially support themselves without claiming public funds.

Visas are initially granted for 2.5 years but can be extended for longer.

Child applications

Sometimes a child wants to join a parent who is already living in the UK. As with all visas, there are certain conditions that must be met for a successful application.

  • Evidence that the parent has sole responsibility for the child’s upbringing.
  • Proof that the parent’s annual income meets the minimum amount of £18,600 to support themselves.

Successful applicants are granted a visa in line with the parent’s leave to remain. So, if the parent has a two-year visa, the child will be granted the same. After five years in the UK, there is the option to apply for indefinite leave to remain.

Dependent Adult Relative Visa

Responsibilities change over the years, and many people end up caring for loved ones, such as parents, siblings, sons or daughters. For British citizens, and those with settled status, permanent residence, refugee status or humanitarian protection, there is the possibility to bring dependent adult relatives to the UK.

To apply, there must be evidence that the family member requires long-term care and support for everyday tasks due to illness, age or disability, that can’t be provided in their home country. There must also be proof that the family member can be supported financially in the UK without requiring access to public funds for at least five years.

Once a visa is granted, dependent adult relatives are given unlimited leave to remain with the option to apply for settled status after five years.

Other ways to join family in the UK

The above visa categories are just some of the options available for people from outside of the EEA and Switzerland to join family members in the UK, but they are not the only routes available.

Moving to the UK to work or study are the two most popular immigration paths for the UK, and if the visa options in this article don’t suit your circumstances, then working or studying could be viable options.

Planning to move abroad to join family, or to bring family from overseas is a big decision, but with the right information, the process can be simplified.



Article Created By Hayley Maguire

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