What are UK Family Visas?
The UK has a number of immigration routes designed to ensure married couples, parents and children are able to remain in the UK or move to the country in order to maintain relationships. This resource page outlines several UK family visas in detail in the following order:
- Spouse Visa including FLR(M) and SET(M)
- Parent of a Child Visa
- Marriage Visitor Visa
- Additional Family Visa Routes
1. Spouse Visa: including FLR(M) and SET(M)
The UK Spouse Visa, also known as a Partner Visa, is a route designed to enable couples to live together in the UK.
How do you Qualify?
To be eligible for a UK Spouse Visa, you will need to meet the following requirements:
- Partner's status: Your partner must be one of the following:
- A British or Irish citizen.
- Have settled in the UK, through either indefinite leave to remain (ILR), settled status or proof of permanent residence.
- Be from the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein and have started living in the UK before 1 January 2021.
- Possess either a Turkish Businessperson visa or a Turkish Worker visa.
- Have received either refugee status or humanitarian protection in the UK.
- Your current relationship status: You will then need to prove the nature of your current relationship. This proof can be for any one of the following three situations:
- You're married, or in a civil partnership with this person, in a way that is legally recognised in the UK.
- You and your partner have lived together, in a mutual relationship, for at least 2 years before you make your application.
- You plan to marry your partner within 6 months of arriving in the UK and are currently a fiancé, fiancée or proposed civil partner. If you are applying through this option, you will not be able to take up employment in the UK during your engagement period. The 6 months spent on this visa also do not count towards ILR, and you will need to make another application once you're married.
How Long is a Spouse Visa Granted For and How is it Extended?
A UK Spouse Visa is granted for 2 years and 9 months, or 6 months if you are applying as a fiancé, fiancée or proposed civil partner.
The initial process of extending a Spouse Visa is known as FLR(M), which stands for Further Leave to Remain (Marriage). FLR(M) applications will require you to prove that your relationship with your partner is genuine and subsisting, and you will again need to meet the financial requirement. The English Language requirement is increased to Level A2.
Successful FLR(M) applications grant an additional 2 years and 6 months.
Does the UK Spouse Visa Lead to Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)?
After a successful FLR(M) application, and after you've spent your 5 years in the UK, you should be eligible to apply for settlement in the UK through SET(M), which stands for Settlement (Marriage).
You will again need to prove that your relationship is genuine and subsisting. SET(M) applications also require the applicant to meet the financial requirement, and a further improvement in English Language ability is needed, this time to level B1. You must also have passed the Life in the UK Test.
A successful SET(M) application will result in a grant of Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK.
Can You Include Other Family Members on a Spouse Visa?
Yes, you are able to bring children with you as dependants on a UK Spouse Visa, provided that you can demonstrate sole parental responsibility. They must be under the age of 18 when you apply, or they must have been under the age of 18 when they were first granted leave. If over the age of 16 they must also demonstrate that they are not leading an independent life.
2. Parent of a Child Visa
The UK Parent of a Child Visa is designed to ensure parents are able to come to the UK to care for their children.
If you are eligible to apply as a partner/spouse, you must do that instead of applying as a parent.
How do you Qualify?
To receive a Parent of a Child Visa you must meet the following requirements:
- Your child's status: Your child or children must be under the age of 18 at the time you make your application. They must also be living in the UK, either as:
- A British or Irish citizen
- A settled person in the UK with proven status like ILR
- A person with pre-settled EU status.
- If you're applying from within the UK, you may also apply if your child has been living in the UK for 7 years continuously and it's unreasonable for them to leave.
- Parental responsibility: you must be able to prove you have sole or shared parental responsibility for your child. If responsibility is shared, then the child's other parent must not currently be your partner, and they have to meet one of the same status requirements listed above.
- Documents evidencing parental responsibility: to prove parental responsibility you will need to provide documents as evidence that you take, and plan to take in the future, an active role in your child's upbringing. Some examples of this evidence can include letters from their school, doctor's letters of support, letters from your local authority and court order paperwork.
- English Language requirement: you'll also need to meet the English Language requirement by proving a level of English at Level A1 initially.
- Financial Support: you won't need to meet the same income requirement as with a spouse visa, but you must still prove you can financially support yourself whilst in the UK without claiming public funds. If your child lives with you, you'll also need to prove you can support them financially, and this also cannot be through claiming public funds.
How Long is a Parent Visa Granted for and How is it Extended?
As with several other UK family visas, the Parent Visa is initially granted for 2 years and 9 months. You must then apply to extend the visa and will need to meet the same eligibility requirements as your first application, along with showing an improvement in your level of English. Successful extensions will be granted for an additional 2 years and 6 months.
Does a Parent Visa Lead to ILR?
Yes, if you've received an extension on your UK Parent Visa, and spent a total of 5 years continuously in the UK, you will be eligible to apply for ILR. You will need to show English Language at Level B1 and also have passed the Life in the UK Test.
Please note that if you are unable to meet the English language or financial requirement, or if you are already in the UK but your immigration status is precarious, you may still be able to qualify for this visa. However you will be placed on a ten year route to ILR instead of a five year route.
Can You Include Other Family Members on a Parent Visa?
Yes, you can include additional children on your application as dependants, provided that you can demonstrate “sole parental responsibility”. They must be under the age of 18 when you apply, or they must have been under the age of 18 when they were first granted leave. If over the age of 16 they must also demonstrate that they are not leading an independent life.
3. Marriage Visit Visa
The UK Marriage Visit Visa is designed to allow people to come to the UK solely for the purpose of getting married, and not for remaining in the UK afterwards.
You are already eligible to come to the UK to get married without applying for a Marriage Visit Visa if you have pre-settled status through the EU settlement scheme, or if you're an Irish citizen.
If neither of these applies, you must apply for this visa if you want to get married or register a civil partnership in the UK, you want to give notice for this arrangement in the UK, and you don't intend to stay in the UK afterwards.
How do you Qualify?
To be eligible for a UK Marriage Visit Visa you must meet the following requirements:
- Genuine Relationship: you must prove you're in a genuine relationship, and that you're at least 18 years old.
- Proof of Marriage Intentions: you must provide evidence that you are planning a marriage or civil partnership in the UK. This can be through documents like proof of payment for venues, booking confirmations or correspondence between you and a licensed venue.
- Short visit: you must leave the UK within 6 months, and you must not intend to make the UK your permanent home.
- Financial Support: you must evidence that you can financially support yourself during your trip and that you can afford to pay for your return flight or onward journey out of the UK.
- Legal right to marry: if you've been married previously, you'll need to provide additional evidence that proves you are legally free to marry or enter into a new civil partnership.
How Long is a Marriage Visit Visa granted for?
A marriage visit visa is only granted for 6 months in total as it is a specific form of visitor visa. If you wish to stay in the UK as a married couple after your wedding, you will need to consider alternative UK Family Visas like a UK Spouse Visa.
Does a Marriage Visit Visa lead to ILR?
No, a Marriage Visit Visa is only valid for a visit to the UK and doesn't lead to ILR.
Can You Include Other Family Members on a Marriage Visit Visa?
No, a Marriage Visit Visa only applies to the main applicant. This means that both individuals must make separate applications if intending to get married in the UK. If you have any children who also require a visa, they will need to also make a separate application for a standard UK Visitor Visa.
4. Additional Family Visa Routes
In addition to the above visa routes, there are a number of other UK Family Visas for specific situations including:
- Child Visas: these are visas designed to ensure children can join their parents in the UK. Applications for Child Visas can be made on a parent's application as a dependant, or separately and depend on the parent's current status.
- Private Life Visas: if you're already living in the UK, you may be able to apply for a visa based on your private life. You'll need to prove that you've lived in the UK for a significant amount of time depending on your current age, such as spending more than half your life in the UK if you're aged 18-24. These visas are granted for 2 years and 6 months, can be extended, and lead to ILR after 5 years.
- UK Ancestry Visa: if you're a citizen of the Commonwealth, a British overseas citizen, a British overseas territories citizen, a British national (overseas) or a citizen of Zimbabwe you can apply for a UK Ancestry Visa. You will need to prove that one of your grandparents was born in the UK (or the Isle of Man or the Channel Islands) and you'll need to be able to financially support yourself whilst in the UK, including the intent to work in the country. This visa is granted for 5 years, after which you will be eligible to apply for settlement.
Additional information regarding all of the above UK Family Visas can be found on the gov.uk website.
How Can We Help?
Here at White Rose Visas, we've supported hundreds of different applications for UK Family Visas and subsequent ILR applications. Our support includes assessing your situation and advising on the best option for you. We will then thoroughly review and advise on supporting documents, including items which prove genuine relationship and financial circumstances, which form an essential part of ensuring a successful application.
If you have any questions or you're looking for assistance with your application, please do contact us directly.