Keeping Families Together

17th August 2023

Do you have a family you want to join in the UK?

Normally, any visit to the UK for less than 6 months is permitted on a visitor visa. But what if you want to be with a family member for longer? For visits over six months, overseas nationals who wish to join a family member in the UK must obtain a UK Family Visa.

The family member you are joining must be a British citizen; settled in the UK or holding Indefinite Leave to Remain; have been granted asylum in the UK; an individual in the UK with refugee status or have Humanitarian Protection status.

The overseas family member must apply to join their relatives in the UK. You can apply for a family visa to live with your:

  • Spouse or partner
  • Fiancee, fiance or intended civil partner
  • Child
  • Parent (if you are under 18 years old)
  • Relative who will provide long term care for you


Family Visa – Spouses/Partners

Spouses and partners are given permission to stay in the UK for up to 2.5 years under the terms of the UK Family Visa. Once you have spent 5 years in the UK, you can apply to extend your stay and earn eligibility for indefinite leave to remain.

The maximum stay for fiancé(e)s is 6 months.

If you’re a partner of someone who is applying for a UK Family Visa, you must meet the following criteria:

  • Both you and your partner must be at least 18 years old.
  • Your connection must be sincere and ongoing.
  • You both must want to live together in the UK long-term.
  • Children who are dependent on you may also be listed on your application.
  • You will be required to determine that both you and your partner can support yourselves financially, as well as any dependent children, without recourse to public funds. You will also need to meet the English language requirements.

Family Visa – Children

Children may apply independently to join a parent in the UK or as dependents on a parent’s application. However, they must meet the following criteria:


  • They must be under 18 years old when they submit their application.
  • They can’t be married, and they cannot have their own separate family unit.
  • They cannot have an independent life.
  • One of the child’s parents must have been granted entry clearance or leave to remain as a parent under a UK Family Visa (holding limited leave to enter or remain in the UK) or be in the process of making such an application.
  • You will be required to show you can meet the financial requirements without the use of public funds. There is no English requirement for children.
Family Visa – Parents

You must meet the following criteria if you are applying for a UK Family Visa to join your child who is a resident of the UK:

  • You must be at least 18 years old or above.
  • Your child must be under 18 years old when you submit the application.
  • You must have a child staying in the UK.
  • If you are seeking indefinite leave to remain, your child must either be a British citizen, be a permanent resident, or have resided in the UK for at least 7 years prior to the application date.

You will need to show proof that you are the child’s only parent, the child generally lives with you, or alternatively, that you have joint parental responsibility for the child.

You will be required to show you can meet the financial requirements without the use of public funds. You must also meet the English language requirements.

If you share parental responsibility with your partner, you must check if you are eligible to apply as a partner before applying as a parent.

An applicant applying under the partner or parent of a child route under Appendix FM of the Immigration rules is required to demonstrate that they meet the English Language requirement. The English language requirement must be demonstrated for both entry clearance and leave to remain applications under these routes.


The required English level is A1 of the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) in speaking and listening skills.


How can the English language requirement be demonstrated?


This can be demonstrated in the following ways:


  1. Passing an approved Secure English Language Test (SELT) with an approved provider at the required level
  2. Being a national of a majority English speaking country (add link to list? Agree)
  3. Having an academic qualification at Bachelor level or above which was taught/researched in English and can be confirmed at level A1 of the CEFR by an ECCTIS certificate

An applicant will be exempt where:


  1. They are aged 65 and above at the date of application
  2. They have a disability, either mental or physical, which prevents them from meeting the requirement
  3. There are exceptional circumstances which prevents them from meeting the requirement


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