Check if your adult family member can get a visa to join you in the UK

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

Bringing family members from Ukraine to the UK

There are special rules for family members who are Ukrainian nationals. Check the rules about bringing family members from Ukraine to the UK.

Your adult family member can only apply to join you in the UK if they have long-term care needs and they can show they need your support in the UK.

They’ll need to apply for an ‘adult dependent relative visa’. These visas are very hard to get and they cost over £3,000 - your family member won’t get their money back if their application is refused.

The rules are different if you want to sponsor your partner. Check if your partner can get a visa to live in the UK.

If your family member applies as an adult dependant you’re called their ‘sponsor’.

If their family member’s application is successful, they’ll usually get the right to stay in the UK permanently. This is called ‘indefinite leave’.

You’ll need to check:

  • if you can sponsor your adult family member

  • who can apply as an adult dependant

  • if you have enough income and savings to sponsor your adult family member

  • if you have somewhere suitable for your adult family member to live

Check if you can sponsor an adult family member

You can sponsor your adult family member to apply as an adult dependant if you have one of the following:

  • British citizenship

  • Irish citizenship - you must be living or have lived in the UK

  • indefinite leave to remain or right of abode

  • settled status from the EU Settlement Scheme

  • pre-settled status from the EU Settlement Scheme - you must have come to the UK by 31 December 2020

  • refugee status or humanitarian protection

If you’re a citizen of the EU, Norway, Switzerland, Iceland or Liechtenstein

Your parent, grandparent or child might be able to apply for pre-settled or settled status from the EU Settlement Scheme. It’s free and easier than applying for an adult dependent relative visa.

They might be able to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme if you were living in the UK by 31 December 2020.

You can check if your adult family member can apply to the EU Settlement Scheme.

You can check which countries are in the EU on GOV.UK.

If you arrived in the UK after 31 December 2020

If you applied and got pre-settled status as a family member, your adult family member can’t apply as an adult dependant or apply to the EU Settlement Scheme.

If you’re in this situation, you’ll need to wait until you get settled status before your adult family member can apply as an adult dependant. Check the rules about switching from pre-settled to settled status.

If you were born in Northern Ireland

Your parent, grandparent or child might be able to apply for pre-settled or settled status from the EU Settlement Scheme. It's free and easier than applying for a visa. 

Your adult family member might be able to apply for pre-settled or settled status if you have British or Irish citizenship - or both. When you were born one of your parents must have had either:

  • British or Irish citizenship - or both

  • an immigration status that let them live in the UK permanently - for example, indefinite leave to remain

You must have been living in the UK by 31 December 2020.

If you were born in Northern Ireland, check how your adult family member should apply to the EU Settlement Scheme on GOV.UK.

Check who can apply as an adult dependant

Your adult family member can only apply as an adult dependant if they’re your:

  • parent

  • grandparent

  • brother or sister aged 18 or over

  • child aged 18 or over

Your adult family member must need long-term care. For example they might need someone to cook them meals or help them get dressed.

Your adult family member must not be able to get or afford the care they need in the country they live in - even with your help. There must be no-one else who could reasonably care for them, like a partner or close relative.

Your adult family member can’t apply if they owe £500 or more to the NHS.

Your adult family member can only apply for a dependent adult visa if they’re outside the UK. Get help from a specialist adviser if they’re already in the UK.

Check the rules about your income and savings

You must show you’ll have enough income to look after your adult family member. This is called the ‘adequate maintenance’ test.

You’ll need to sign a form that says you’ll support your adult family member - this is called a ‘maintenance undertaking’. If you’re a refugee or you have humanitarian protection, you only have to sign a maintenance undertaking if you have indefinite leave.

You can get a copy of the maintenance undertaking on GOV.UK.

To check if you can pass the adequate maintenance test, you need to first work out how much income the government says you need each week. You then need to check if you have enough income.

Work out how much income you need each week

To work out how much income the government says you need each week, add together:

  • £77 if you’re single or £121.05 if you live with a partner

  • £77 if your adult family member is aged 25 or over, or £61.05 if they’re aged under 25

  • £70.80 for each child aged under 18 who lives with you

  • your housing costs - these are your rent or mortgage payments plus your council tax

When you’re working out your housing costs, don’t include any part of the costs that will be covered by Council Tax Reduction, Housing Benefit or the housing element of Universal Credit.

The Home Office will look at the amount of benefits you’ll get and the council tax you’ll have to pay when your adult family member lives with you.

When your adult family member lives with you, a ‘non-dependant deduction’ will be taken off your benefits. If you get the housing element of Universal Credit, the non-dependent deduction is £17.97 each week. If you get Housing Benefit, the non-dependent deduction is at least £16.45 - it will be more if your adult family member will be earning when they live with you. 

If you get a single person discount on your council tax at the moment, it will usually stop when your adult family member moves in.

Example

Monique’s father is applying for a visa to come to the UK - he is 65 years old. Monique lives with her wife and their son, who is aged 8.

The total weekly income Monique needs to sponsor her father is £121.05 plus £77 for her father, plus £70.80 for her son, plus her housing costs.

Monique’s rent is entirely covered by the housing element of Universal Credit. When her father lives with her there will be a non-dependant deduction - this means she’ll have to pay £17.97 of her rent each week.

Monique’s council tax is £30 each week. She gets Council Tax Reduction of £10 each week. £30 minus £10 is £20. This means she needs £20 income for council tax each week.

Monique’s housing costs are £17.97 plus £20. This is £37.97.

The total income Monique needs each week is £121.05 plus £77 plus £70.80 plus £37.97. This is £306.82.

Check if you have enough income

Work out how much income you’ll get each week after tax. If you live with a partner, you can add their income to yours. You can include earnings, pensions and income from things like rent or shares.

If you have any savings, you can add them to your income - you must have had the savings for at least 6 months. Divide the amount of your savings by 52 - this is how much you can add to your weekly income.

If your total income is high enough, you meet the adequate maintenance test.

Example

Monique’s father is applying for a visa to come to the UK. The total weekly income she needs to sponsor her father is £306.82.

Monique’s weekly earnings after tax are £120. Her wife’s weekly earnings after tax are £150. They have no other income.

£120 plus £150 is £270.

Monique and her wife have had £2,600 in savings for the last 6 months. £2,600 divided by 52 is £50. This is added to their income.

£270 plus £50 is £320. Monique’s total weekly income is £320. This is more than the government says she needs, so Monique can sponsor her father.

If your total income isn’t high enough

When you work out your total income, you might be able to include other benefits you get - for example some parts of Universal Credit. It depends on your circumstances.

If you need help working out if you meet the adequate maintenance test, talk to an adviser.

Check the rules about where you live

Your adult family member will have to show that there’s somewhere they can live in the UK that is safe, suitable and large enough for them and anyone they will live with.

Your adult family member needs somewhere they can stay long term. For example they might have a tenancy agreement or a room of their own in your home.

If you live in council housing or your landlord is a housing association, you can check how many people are allowed to live in your home. This is called the ‘permitted number of persons’ (PNP). The PNP is usually on your tenancy agreement, or you can ask your landlord. Children under 1 year old aren’t included in the total, and children between 1 and 10 years old count as half a person.

If you’re not a council or housing association tenant, check your local council’s guidance about overcrowding. You can find your local council on GOV.UK.

Check how long your adult family member’s visa will last

If your adult family member’s application is successful, they’ll usually get ‘indefinite leave’. This means they can stay in the UK permanently.

They will usually only lose their indefinite leave if they’re outside the common travel area for more than 2 years in a row. The common travel area is the UK, Ireland, Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man.

The rules are more complicated if both of the following apply:

  • you have refugee status or humanitarian protection

  • you don’t have indefinite leave

In this situation, your adult family member will get a visa which lasts until the end of your leave. When you’re able to apply for indefinite leave, your adult family member can also apply - it doesn’t matter how long they’ve been in the UK. They’ll need to show exactly the same things as when they first applied for their adult dependent relative visa. You’ll have to sign a maintenance undertaking.

Check your adult family member’s rights if they get a visa

Your adult family member will have the right to:

  • work or study

  • rent or buy somewhere to live

  • use the NHS

  • leave the UK and return as many times as they want

Because you have to sign a maintenance undertaking, your adult family member will not be able to claim most benefits or apply for council housing for 5 years after they arrive. They can claim earlier if their sponsor dies.

If your adult family member has indefinite leave, they’re allowed to apply for Personal Independence Payment or Attendance Allowance. They usually need to have lived in England, Wales or Scotland for 2 out of the last 3 years to apply.

Check which other benefits your adult family member will still be able to claim.

Applying for a dependent adult visa

Check how your adult family member can apply as an adult dependant.

It can be very difficult to get an adult dependent relative visa. Get help from a specialist adviser before applying.

Page last reviewed on 11 July 2022