Family visas come under the Family Life Immigration Rules and also under the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) rules.
The great majority of migrants have already made their initial applications under the EUSS. The EUSS enables eligible migrants to acquire Pre-Settled Status, which is granted for five years, and after five years they may be able to apply for Settled Status, also known as Indefinite Leave to Remain, which enables the holder to live in the UK without time limit. Applications for Settled Status are still possible and in some cases Pre-Settled Status applications are also still possible.
The Family Life Immigration Rules are a different part of UK immigration law. Those who are British citizens, or who hold settlement, refugee or humanitarian protection status, qualifying Pre-Settled Status or leave under the Ankara Agreement may be able to sponsor family members to join them or remain with them in the UK as partners or children. Hence the terminology “applicant” (a person applying) and “sponsor” (the person’s partner/parent in the UK).
An applicant can submit a joint application with their child or children and it is also possible for a child to make an application by themselves to join a parent/parents in the UK. (See Child Visa)
These are the partner visa applications which are possible:
- Civil partner (same sex relationship)
- Unmarried partner (either same sex or different sex relationship)
- Proposed civil partner (same sex relationship)
The rules for spouse and civil partner applications are the same, and applications are potentially possible from outside or within the UK. There is – as with all partner visa applications – a requirement to show that the relationship is genuine and existing.
There is also in most cases a financial requirement to be met: there must be eligible earnings of at least £18,600 gross per year. If a child/children of the applicant are also applying the financial requirement is higher. There is also in most cases a requirement to show that the accommodation for the family will be adequate and sufficiently large.
There is also in most cases an English language requirement for partners, and for initial applications the required academic level is A1 (but in some cases the requirement can be met by nationality or by holding a relevant degree qualification).
If the visa application is successful leave will be granted for 30 months, and this may be extendable if the relevant requirements continue to be met, and there is a route to settlement. Those migrants who satisfy all the requirements of the rules will go on a five-year route to settlement, but those who meet only some of them will go on a ten-year route, and the rules about this are fairly complex.
The migrant is allowed to work, either in employment or self-employment, and is allowed to run a business.
The rules for unmarried partners are closely similar to the above, but with one important difference. The applicant must prove to a good standard that they have lived for at least two years with the sponsor (either in the UK or elsewhere) in a relationship akin to marriage.
The rules for fiancé/fiancée and proposed civil partner visas are the same, but the visa is granted on a different basis to that of other partner visas. The visa is granted for only six months, and the visa holder is not allowed to work. They are expected to get married to or form a civil partnership with the sponsor within that six-month period.
Once this has been achieved then the visa holder can apply in the UK to switch to a spouse or civil partner visa, and if the application is successful the visa will be granted on a standard basis, for 30 months, and applicant is then allowed to work.
A child (ie a person aged under 18) may be able to make an application to come to the UK, either with a parent(s) or by themselves so that they can join a parent(s) in the UK if the parent(s) already hold leave, either limited leave or settlement.
This application may be straightforward but it may be more complex if there are for example issues about sole responsibility for the child’s upbringing.
There are no English language tests for children but in every case financial and accommodation requirements must be met.
Extension may be possible and there is a route to settlement.
Pre-Settled Status is a status that corresponds with the old EEA Residence Card status under European free movement law. It is granted for five years, enables the holder to work or run a business , and provides a route to settlement after five years, ie Settled Status.
Settled Status corresponds with the old Permanent Residence status, and enables the holder to live in the UK without time limit, but if the holder stays outside the UK for more than five years they may lose Settled Status.
Indefinite Leave to Remain
Indefinite Leave to Remain is a generic term that includes Settled Status and also settlement under other parts of UK immigration law.
Adult Dependent Relative Visa
This visa is quite different from other types of family visa and it depends crucially on the applicant’s health situation. Applications can only be made from outside the UK and the applicant must be an adult parent, grandparent, sibling or child of the sponsor in the UK. Both parents or grandparents can submit a joint application.
The sponsor in the UK must be a British citizen or hold settlement, refugee or humanitarian protection status or qualifying Pre-Settled Status.
The applicant must as a result of age, illness or disability require long-term personal care to perform everyday tasks and must be unable, even with the practical and financial help of the sponsor, to obtain the required level of care in the country where they are living, because it is not available and there is no person in that country who can reasonably provide it or it is not affordable. (If the applicants are a couple then only one of them has to satisfy these requirements.)
The evidential requirements for this application can be difficult to meet, and the sponsor must show that they can adequately financially support the applicant and provide suitable accommodation for them.
There is no English language requirement.
If the application is successful the applicant will be granted either immediate Indefinite Leave to Enter the UK or limited leave to enter the UK, depending on the status of the sponsor.
Bereaved Partner Visa
If a migrant holds leave as the partner (but not fiancé/fiancée/proposed civil partner) of a British citizen or a person who holds settlement or qualifying Pre-Settled Status, and their sponsor should die, the rules operate in a flexible way to allow the migrant to stay in the UK if they want to.
Their leave as a partner will in this situation terminate but they may be able to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain as a Bereaved Partner, as long as they can show that, at the time of their sponsor’s death, the relationship was genuine and existing. If the application is successful then the applicant will be able to live in the UK without time limit and receive any state benefits they are entitled to.
There are no English language or financial requirements.
Parent of a Child in the UK Visa
The visas described above are visas where the applicant has a relationship with an adult sponsor in the UK, but the Parent of a Child visa works in such a way that the person in the UK is a child of the applicant.
These rules provide the possibility for a parent to join their child in the UK or remain with them in the UK if both child and parent meet the relevant requirements. The rules are different for in-country and out-of-country applications but in all cases the applicant must demonstrate certain facts about the relationship with the child; the rules surrounding this are fairly complex.
The child must be aged under 18 on the date of application and the applicant must be aged 18 or over. The child can meet the requirements by being a British citizen, holding settlement, holding qualifying Pre-Settled Status or – in the case of an in-country application – by having lived in the UK for the past seven years.
There is an English language requirement, and the applicant must show that their financial and accommodation situation would be adequate.
If the application is successful the applicant will be granted 30 months’ leave. The leave may be extendable and there is a potential route to settlement after five years.
Victim of Domestic Abuse
This is a very different kind of visa from the other types of family visa, and it operates in a situation where a migrant in the UK suffers violence or severe abuse from their sponsor. The definition of abuse in this situation is broad and could take various forms, and applications are possible from both women and men.
To potentially qualify for this visa the applicant must hold leave as a partner (but not fiancé/fiancée/proposed civil partner) of a British/settled or otherwise qualifying sponsor. They must show that the relationship with the sponsor has broken down permanently as a result of domestic abuse/violence.
There are no English language or financial requirements.
If the application is successful the applicant will be granted Indefinite Leave to Remain and their immigration status will no longer be dependent on their sponsor.