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Home » Immigration Law » Spouse, dependent and family visas

Family Immigration into the UK

Families are meant to be together – whether you have been granted access to live in the UK as an investor, entrepreneur, skilled worker or otherwise, if you have a wife/husband or children or other dependant family members, if you will be living in the UK for an extended period and possibly want to live here indefinitely, you will certaanly want your family to join you. Understanding the complex rules and what can go wrong is essential.

At Darlingtons, we offer experienced, affordable help.

Sponsoring family members to enter the UK

If you are in the United Kingdom and you have indefinite leave to remain or are a British National you can sponsor family members living abroad to join you in the UK. In addition to this if you have limited leave to remain in certain categories you can also bring family members to join you in the United Kingdom.

Appendix FM of the Immigration Rules details the requirements which must be met in the event you wish to sponsor family members to join you such as a Partner, dependent adult relative, and parent of a child or child of a parent with limited leave.

Spouse – requirements to join spouse/civil partner in the UK.

There are a number of technical legal requirements to satisfy to be able to join a spouse/civil partner in the UK. If successful, your hi=usband or wiofe will initially be granted a visa lasting for either 30 or 33 months.

You need to have the right evidence and the application must be completed correctly and in the most advantageous way – mistakes are very costly, inmcluding tyhe fcat that there is an expensive application fee payable to the Government which is currently and an experienced lawyer can help ensure that the application has a good chance to succeed.

The husband or wife applying to enter the UK will need to demonstrate that:

  • Both of you are at least 18 years of age.
  • You have met your spouse or civil partner previously.
  • You are legally married to your spouse or you are in a civil partnership recognised in the UK.
  • Your spouse or civil partner is present and settled in the UK.
  • Both of you intend to live together permanently.
  • You have the financial means to support yourselves (and dependants) without assistance from UK public funds.
  • You have adequate owned or rented accommodation without needing assistance from UK public funds.
  • You can satisfy the English language requirement.

Indefinite leave to remain for a spouse

Under the 5-year partner route, where you are applying for indefinite leave to remain having been in the UK for 5 years already, you must meet all of the suitability and eligibility requirements at every application stage. Failure to do so will result in your application being refused.

Fiance or civil partner immigration into the UK

In fiancé(e) and proposed civil partner applications leave will be granted for up to 6 months after which you can apply for further leave to remain once in the UK.


There are various provisions under the Immigration Rules whereby children can be considered for entry to the UK either for immediate settlement or with a view to settlement. The two most popular routes are as follows:

  • A child who wishes to join or accompany a parent, parents or a relative who is either present and settled in the UK or will be admitted for settlement on arrival.
  • A child who wishes to join or accompany a parent when the parent has limited leave to enter or remain in a category leading to settlement.

Children gaining entry to the UK with a single parent who has limited leave to enter or remain

This route is intended for a parent who has responsibility for or access to their child following the breakdown of their relationship with the child’s other parent.

The route is for single parent applicants who:-

  • have sole parental responsibility for their child; or
  • do not live with the child (who lives with a British or settled parent or carer), but they have direct access (in person) to the child, as agreed with the parent or carer with whom the child normally lives, or as ordered by a court in the UK; or
  • (for a leave to remain application) are the parent with whom the child normally lives, rather than the child’s other parent who is British or settled.

Joining or accompanying a parent, parents or a relative who is either present and settled in the UK or will be admitted for settlement on arrival.

The requirements to be met and to succeed under this category are :-

  • accompanying or joining both parents who are entering to settle at the same time; or
  • where a parent is settled in the UK and the other parent is entering the UK at the same time; or
  • one parent is present in the UK and settled and the other parent is deceased; or
  • one parent is settled in the UK and has sole responsibility for the child ;or
  • one parent or relative is settled in the UK or being admitted and there are serious and compelling family or other considerations which make exclusion undesirable and suitable arrangements have been made for the child’s care.

This is the starting point of any application for a child to enter the UK for settlement purposes after which you will have to show that the child:-

  • is under the age of 18
  • is not living independently and is not married
  • will be maintained and accommodated adequately without recourse on public funds
  • is not subject to refusal under the general grounds for refusal

Applying for a dependant adult relative such as parents to be admitted into the UK

The legal test under this category, which typically is made for parents, is based on demonstrating dependence due to age, illness or disability. The person must need long-term personal care which can only be provided in the UK by a relative here and without recourse to public funds.

In addition, there are financial and care requirements whereby, in essence, it is necessary to demonstrate to the Government’s satisfaction that the there are sufficient funds and provisions in place so that the sponsor can adequately maintain, accommodate and care for the applicant without needing public funding. Where the sponsor is a British citizen or settled in the UK, he or she will need to give a formal undertaking, lasting 5 years, making the formal commitment described above and this must be given at the entry clearance stage.

We are able to advise on all aspects of family migration matters. It is very important to get this process right.