UK Family Visa – Things you must know

UK Family Visa

If you wish to join your family member in the UK who is a UK resident and you intend to join them for more than 6 months, you need to apply for a visa in a relevant category. If you are outside the UK you can apply to join your UK resident family member provided you meet the requirements of relevant Immigration Rules. If you are already in the UK on a family visa, you can apply to extend your stay before the time allowed for you to stay in the UK gets over.

 Who can you join in the UK on Family Visa?

You can apply for the UK family visa if you want to live with the following:

  • Your spouse or partner who is British or holds Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK
  • Your fiancé, fiancée, or your proposed civil partner who is British or holds Indefinite Leave to Remain.
  • Your child under 18 who is British.
  • Your relative/ parent/ Grandparent who will take care of you for the long term if you are sick, disabled or simply aged and they are joining a person in the UK who is British or holds Indefinite Leave to Remain.
  • Your spouse/partner present in the UK on a Point Based System category – you will need to make a dependent application for this category
  • EEA/EU family members can apply under the Appendix EU of the Immigration Rules

Apart from these, you can also apply based on private or family life if you have lived in the UK for several years already provided there are insurmountable obstacles or compassionate and compelling circumstances. You can also apply as a widowed partner of a former UK National if you were granted leave to enter or remain as a spouse previously.


For a successful family visa application, you need to prove the followings:

  • You have a genuine relationship with your family member in the UK.
  • The relationship is legally recognized in the UK
  • You intend to live permanently with your family in the UK.
  • You have a good knowledge of the English language. However, in some cases, you are exempted from this condition such as you are under 18 or over 65 or you have long term physical or mental health problems;
  • You will need to meet the maintenance and accommodation requirement;
  • Your criminal record is clean and there is no serious or outstanding conviction against you; and
  • You meet the relevant requirements of the Immigration Rules

Apart from these general eligibility conditions, you also need to prove different conditions about the specific family visa category. For example, if you are joining as a partner you need to prove that you both are above 18 and you are either married, civil partners, engaged with an intention to get married within 6 months or you both have been living together in a relationship for more than 2 years. You may also need to fulfil the financial requirement in some cases, unless you are exempt due to the partner receiving PIP, DLA or Carer’s allowance

How long it takes to get a decision?

Usually, it takes 8 to 12 weeks from the application date to get a decision from outside the UK and from 8 weeks to 6 months from inside the UK. You can also get a faster decision by using the super-priority service.

What you can do and you cannot do after the visa is granted

Once you get a successful decision on your UK family visa application you are allowed to work and study in the UK. However, if the purpose of your visa application or extension of your stay in the UK is to get married or become civil partners, you cannot work or study in the UK unless you are granted leave to remain in a relevant category.

You are generally not allowed to seek any benefit or public funds to meet the financial requirements of your own or any dependent.




Unmarried Partner Visa – Two Years Relationship Requirement

One who is looking to enter or remain in the UK as an unmarried partner of a person present and settled in the UK, need to apply for an unmarried partner visa. Unmarried partner visa is also known as the UK defacto visa. Heterosexual and homosexual, both can apply for unmarried partner visa provided they can prove that they are in a relationship for two years or more and their relationship is subsisting. Partner in the UK needs to sponsor the applicant.


You must meet the following requirements for a successful unmarried partner visa:

  • You and your British partner must be 18 years of age or above.
  • Your partner must sponsor you.
  • You and your British partner must have lived together in a relationship ‘akin to marriage’ for at least 2 years. This needs to be evidenced by supporting documents.
  • You and your British partner must show the intention to live together permanently.
  • You must show that any previous marriage / civil partnership or similar relationship you or your British partner was involved in, has permanently broken down.
  • You must be able to support yourself or be supported by your partner without access to public funds.
  • There must be adequate accommodation available for you, your partner and any dependents.
  • You must also meet the English language requirements.

Duration of stay

Generally it is expected that you should have lived together with your partner for two years before you make the application. However, the law has developed over the years and now the duration of two years living together is interpreted by the courts in cases such as

Fetle (Partners: two-year requirement) [2014] UKUT 00267 (IAC). It was decided by the Upper Tribunal that – In contrast to the requirement of para GEN 1.2(iv) of Appendix FM, a requirement (such as in paragraph 352AA of the Immigration Rules) that “parties have been living together in a relationship akin to either a marriage or a civil partnership which has subsisted for two years or more” does not require two years cohabitation, but two years subsistence of the relationship.  Whether the relationship still subsists, as required by the tense of that requirement and as may be separately required, is a different issue.

The findings in YB (EEA reg 17 (4) proper approach) Ivory Coast [2008] UKAIT 00062, it was held that being in a durable relationship does not even entail cohabitation.

So if you have strong evidence of your relationship continuing over two years and have lived together on different occasions such as holidays and other, then your circumstances may be able to meet the requirement of having two years of genuine and subsisting relationship.

Evidence of ‘living together’

The best way to prove that you both were living together is to produce correspondences addressed to the applicant and the British partner as proof. It would be an ideal situation that such correspondences are addressed the couple jointly, but if there is no such document of correspondence, the applicant can submit correspondences addressed to the applicant or British partner. The dates of such correspondence should be spread over the entire period in which the applicant claims to have lived together with their British partner.

If you are looking to apply for an Unmarried Partner visa consult Visa and Migration Ltd for professional service and expert guidance.