Family members

In most cases your family members should be allowed to join you when you come to the UK. There are several visa options which may be suitable.

Find out how the dependant visa and EEA permit systems work and what is required of you and your family members.

As immigration regulations are subject to change at short notice the information provided is for general guidance only.  You should check the UK Visas and Immigration website for the most up-to-date information.

 

Dependant visa

If you have a tier 1, tier 2 or tier 5 visa you may apply to bring your family to the UK with you as your dependants.  For applications under the Points-Based System (PBS), the Immigration Rules define ‘dependants’ as your husband, wife civil partner, unmarried or same-sex partner; and your child(ren) aged under 18 at the time of application.

Your dependants will need to apply for a visa if they are from outside the European Economic Area or from Switzerland.

Your dependants can apply to extend or switch their visas to stay with you if they are already in the UK, but they will not be able to apply in the UK if they hold a visitor visa; if they are, they will need to leave and apply from outside the UK.

There are a number of requirements that your dependant must met to be eligible for a dependant visa:

 

Spouse or civil partner, unmarried or same-sex partner:

  • Needs to be present in the UK and hold valid leave as a relevant points-based system migrant, or,
  • Is, at the same time, applying for leave, either inside or outside the UK, as a relevant points-based system migrant.

Note that unmarried and same-sex partners will need to have been living together in a relationship akin to marriage/civil partnership for at least two years.

 

Children:

  • The whole family needs to apply for visas at the same time, and if applying from abroad will enter the UK at the same time, or,
  • Both parents are present in the UK with the children applying to join them from abroad, or,
  • One parent is present in the UK and the other parent is applying for a visa from abroad at the same time as the children.

Note that exception applies when there is only one parent in the family.  You will need to provide documentary evidence that you:

  • Are the sole surviving parent of the child(ren), or,
  • Hold ‘sole responsibility’ for the child(ren), or,
  • Have serious or compelling family considerations.

If you have children while you are in the UK you can apply for permission for them to stay and you will need to do this if you intend to travel in and out of the UK with your child.

You can find guidance on how to apply for a dependant visa in the points-based system (dependant) policy.

 

Maintenance requirements:

The UK Visa and Immigration (UKVI) requires you to be able to financially support your family members for the duration of their stay in the UK without needing help from public funds.

To prove this, at the point of application, a certain level of funds must be held by either you or your dependants, to demonstrate that this requirement has been met.  The UKVI maintenance criteria provides further guidance.

 

Conditions of leave:

Dependent visas, once issued, are valid for the same length of time as your visa, and allow multiple entry into and exit from the UK.

Dependant visa holders will have conditions attached to their leave, details of which can be found on the UK Visas and Immigration website.

 

EEA family permit

If you are an EEA national under European law you can bring your non-EEA family members; husband, wife, civil partner or partner, children or grandchildren, and parents or grandparents; into the UK to join you by applying for a EEA family permit.

You can apply for an EEA family permit at any British Consulate outside the UK, once issued, the permit will be valid for six months.  Before the permit expires your family members will be expected to apply for an EEA residence card, which is valid for five years.

Although there is no legal requirement to hold a residence card they can help your family members travel in and out of the country with easy, show employers that they are allowed to work in the UK, and provide proof that they qualify for certain benefits and services.

UKVI currently take up to 6 months to issue EEA residence cards, but once the application is approved your family members will be issued with a ‘certificate of application’ letter, which provides proof of their right to work in the UK.

Once issued the EEA residence card may take the form of an endorsement in a passport, or it may be a separate immigration status document.

Note that there are separate rules for British citizens who wish to bring their non-EEA family members to the UK, they must apply for a family of a settled person visa, details of which can be found on the UKVI website.