Check if you can extend your family visa

This advice applies to England. See advice for See advice for Northern Ireland, See advice for Scotland, See advice for Wales

You can apply to extend a family visa before it ends. A family visa is any of the following:

  • a partner visa

  • a child visa

  • a visa as the parent of a child living in the UK

It will cost over £1,500 to apply to extend your visa.

Your visa will usually be extended for 2 years and 6 months. In some cases you can apply to live in the UK permanently instead - this is called ‘indefinite leave to remain’.

You should apply to extend your visa in the 28 days before it ends.

If your visa ends before you apply

This is called ‘overstaying’ - you’ll lose your right to work in the UK. If your visa has already ended, check what you can do if you’ve overstayed.

Check if you should apply for indefinite leave to remain

You can usually apply for indefinite leave to remain if you’ve been in the UK on a partner or parent visa for 5 years in a row. This is called the ‘5-year route’.

If you got a partner or parent visa based on exceptional circumstances or private and family life, you can only apply for indefinite leave to remain after you’ve been in the UK for 10 years in a row. This is called the ‘10-year route’. If you’re not sure, check the letter you got from the Home Office when you got the visa - it will say if you’re on the 10-year route.

If your visa is ending and you haven’t been in the UK for long enough to get indefinite leave to remain, you should apply to extend your visa. If you’ve been in the UK for long enough, check if you can apply for indefinite leave to remain.

If your child has a visa

You can apply for them to get indefinite leave at the same time as you apply for yourself - it doesn’t matter how long they’ve been in the UK.

Check if you meet the rules to extend your visa

To extend your visa, you normally need to meet the same rules as when you first got the visa.

If your child has a child visa, you can apply to extend their visa at the same time as your visa.

If you have a partner visa

You’ll need to show:

  • you’re still living with your partner in the UK

  • you and your partner still have enough income and savings to meet the financial requirement

  • where you live is safe, suitable and large enough for you to live there

You can’t extend your visa if you owe £500 or more to the NHS.

These rules are the same as when you first got a partner visa. Check the full rules you need to meet to get a partner visa.

If you’re on the 10-year route, you don’t need to show you meet the financial requirement or that where you live is safe, suitable and large enough. If you’re not sure, check the letter you got from the Home Office when you got the visa - it will say if you’re on the 10-year route.

If your relationship with your partner has ended

If you’ve separated from your partner, check how you can stay in the UK without your partner.

If your partner has died, you can apply for indefinite leave - it doesn’t matter how long you’ve been in the UK. Check how to apply for indefinite leave.

If you have a visa as the parent of a child in the UK

You’ll need to show:

  • your child is still in the UK

  • you’re still responsible for your child or you have access rights and you’re visiting them regularly

  • you can still afford to live in the UK without using public funds

  • where you live is safe, suitable and large enough for you to live there

You can’t extend your visa if you owe £500 or more to the NHS.

These rules are the same as when you first got a parent visa. Check the full rules you need to meet to get a visa as the parent of a child in the UK.

If you’re on the 10-year route, you don’t need to show you can afford to live in the UK without public funds or that where you live is safe, suitable and large enough. If you’re not sure, check the letter you got from the Home Office when you got the visa - it will say if you’re on the 10-year route.

If the child’s other parent is now your partner

If your partner can sponsor you to get a partner visa, you must apply for a partner visa instead of extending your parent visa. Check if you can get a partner visa.

If you’re on the 5-year route to get indefinite leave, the 5 years starts again when you move to a partner visa.

If you’re on the 10-year route, you can add together time you spent on both types of visa.

If you’ve spent time outside the UK

You can extend your visa unless the Home Office don’t believe you really intend to live in the UK. This will only be a problem if you’ve spent more than half your time on the visa outside the UK.

Get help from a specialist adviser if you’re not sure if you can extend your visa.

Check if you need to take an English language test

You usually need to take an English language test before you can apply to extend your visa. You don’t need to take a test if one of the following applies:

  • you’re a citizen of a country that’s exempt because English is an official or majority language there - for example Jamaica or the USA

  • you have a university degree that was taught or researched in English

  • you’re under 18 or over 65 years old

  • you want to extend a child visa - even if you’re now over 18 years old

  • you’re on the 10-year route to get indefinite leave

If you have a physical or mental condition that stops you passing the test, you might not have to do it. You'll need to ask your doctor to confirm your condition:

  • is unlikely to change

  • makes it impossible for you to learn enough English - for example, a learning disability or brain injury that stops you learning the language

You can check the full rules about who needs to take an English language test on GOV.UK.

Taking an English language test

If you need to pass a test, it must be at least level ‘A2’ on the ‘Common European Framework of Reference for Languages’ (CEFR) scale. This tests if you can speak in English and understand spoken English - it doesn’t test reading or writing in English.

You must use an approved test provider.

If you passed a test when you first applied for your family visa, check what level it was. If it was at level ‘A1’, you’ll still need to take a test at level A2. If you passed a test at level A2 or level ‘B1’, you don’t need to take another one.

You can find an approved English language test provider on GOV.UK.

If you can speak English well

It’s worth taking a level B1 test instead. You can use the result of your B1 test when you apply for indefinite leave, but you can't use an A1 test.

If you don’t meet the rules to extend your visa

You should be able to extend your visa if there are ‘exceptional circumstances’. There are exceptional circumstances if any of the following apply:

  • not getting a family visa would cause ‘unjustifiably harsh consequences’ for you, your partner or a child under 18 years old - for example, if you need special care which you can only get in the UK

  • you and your partner would have difficulty living together anywhere else in the world - for example if there’s no country where you’re both allowed to live

  • you have a child under 18 who’s in the UK and is either a British citizen or has lived in the UK for at least 7 years

You should also be able to extend your visa if refusing your application would affect your ‘right to private or family life’. Your right to private and family life might be affected if any of the following apply:

  • it would be very difficult for you to live in the country you would have to return or move to - for example because of a lack of work, education, family or friends, or if you wouldn't be accepted back there

  • you’ve lived in the UK for 20 years or more

  • you’re aged 18 to 25 and you’ve lived in the UK for at least half your life

If you get a visa based on exceptional circumstances or private and family life, you can only apply for indefinite leave to remain after 10 years.

Get help from a specialist adviser if you want to apply based on exceptional circumstances or private and family life.

Apply to extend your visa

Check how you can apply to extend your visa.

Page last reviewed on 11 July 2022