Applying for family visas or indefinite leave

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

You or your family member will need to apply online if they want to get a family visa - or to extend it. Family visas include partner, child, parent and dependent adult visas.

You or your family member will also need to apply online if they want to get a permanent right to live in the UK for them - this is called ‘indefinite leave’.

If you haven’t already, you need to check if your family member can get the visa or indefinite leave. You can:

Check how much a visa costs

Your family member will need to pay a fee when they apply. They’ll have to pay it for each person applying with them - for example your partner will also have to pay for their children. There are different fees depending on whether your family member is applying from inside or outside the UK. 

You’ll also need to check if your family member has to pay an immigration health surcharge.

If you apply for a family member, you can pay the fees for them.

If your family member is applying from outside the UK

You can check how much the visa fees are on GOV.UK. You’ll need to check the fees in the ‘Route to Settlement’ visa categories:

  • ‘Route to Settlement’ - you can find the fees for most applications

  • ‘Route to Settlement - other dependent relative’ - you can find the fees if an adult family member who isn’t your partner is applying for a visa

  • ‘Route to Settlement - refugee dependent relative’ - you can find the fees if you’re a refugee or have humanitarian protection and your partner or child is applying for a visa

You can also check how much the visa will cost in another currency using the tool on GOV.UK.

If your family member is applying from inside the UK

You can check how much the immigration fees are on GOV.UK. You’ll need to check the fees for the following visa categories:

  • ‘Leave to remain - Other’ - you can find the fees if your family member is applying for their first visa or to extend their visa

  • ‘Indefinite leave to remain - main applicants and dependants’ - you can find the fees if your family member is applying for indefinite leave

Check the amount of the immigration health surcharge

Your family member will usually have to pay to use the NHS as part of their visa application. This is known as the ‘immigration health surcharge’. They won’t have to pay the surcharge if they’re applying for indefinite leave.

Your family member will have to pay the surcharge for each person applying with them - for example your partner will also have to pay for their children. You can check how much the immigration health surcharge is on GOV.UK.

If you and your family member can’t afford the fees or immigration health surcharge

In some cases your family member can apply for a ‘fee waiver’ - this means they will not have to pay. They can’t get a fee waiver if they’re applying for indefinite leave.

If your partner is applying for a partner visa, they can only apply for a fee waiver for themselves and their children if either:

  • they’re applying for a visa based on exceptional circumstances or private and family life

  • they only have to satisfy the adequate maintenance test

To apply for a fee waiver, they have to show they don’t have enough income and savings to pay for both the fee and essential costs like food and rent - even with your help. If they have a child, they can apply for a fee waiver if paying the fee would affect the child’s welfare.

You’ll need to send documents showing your income and spending for the last 6 months, for example your:

  • pay slips

  • bank statements for all your accounts

  • tenancy agreement

  • utility bills

You can apply for a fee waiver on GOV.UK.

Check if your family member needs a medical test

If your family member is moving to the UK, they might need to do a tuberculosis (TB) test before they apply. It depends on where they’ve been living.

Check if your family member needs a TB test and how to get one on GOV.UK.

Starting the application

Your family member can apply online - or you can apply for them.

If you apply for a family member, you must apply in their name. If they’re at least 16 years old, you should get them to check the application before you submit it - they will be responsible if it’s wrong.

You can print a copy of the application for your family member to check. You can also save the application and they can log in separately to check it.

What you or your family member need to do depends on whether they’re outside or inside the UK. They can:

Your family member will need to give the Home Office their email address when they apply. When they start their application, they’ll get an email from the Home Office - they’ll need to click a link in the email when they get it.

It’s important for your family member to check their emails often after they apply - the Home Office might send them important information.

If you need help applying online, check how to get help with your application on GOV.UK.

Booking an appointment

When your family member makes the application, they’ll usually need to book an appointment to have their photograph and fingerprints taken - these are called their ‘biometric information’.

If your family member is outside the UK, they’ll need to book an appointment at a visa application centre - find a visa application centre on GOV.UK.

If your family member is inside the UK, they’ll need to book an appointment on the UK Visa and Citizenship Application Service website

Uploading evidence

After your family member has applied, they'll need to upload scans or photos of their evidence. If you’re applying for them, you can also upload the evidence.

Your family member will be told:

  • how to upload their evidence

  • what evidence they need - they usually need to upload evidence to prove each thing they say in the application

If they don’t upload the right evidence, the Home Office will usually tell them what they need and give them one more chance to upload the right evidence before they refuse the application.

Check what evidence you need to upload on GOV.UK.

Proving your relationship

If your partner is applying, they'll need to upload evidence that you’re in a real and continuing relationship. For example, this could include documents that show that you:

  • have lived together

  • have children together

  • have a shared bank account or savings

  • have spent time together and are in frequent contact

If they need to prove another type of relationship, they can upload copies of birth certificates or adoption certificates. They'll need to include a translation if the documents aren't in English.

Proving you meet a financial requirement

Your family member will need to prove how much income and savings you have. For example, if you get benefits or a pension, they'll need to upload:

  • a letter from your benefits or pension provider that shows how you much you get

  • a bank statement from the last year for the account they’re paid into

If you’re employed, they'll need to upload payslips and bank statements for the account your wages are paid into. If you’ve been employed by the same employer for at least 6 months, your family member will need to upload documents for the last 6 months. If your employment started in the last 6 months they'll need to upload documents for the last 12 months.

If you’re self-employed, they'll need to upload the following documents showing your income for the last 2 years:

  • bank statements for your business bank account

  • audited accounts

  • tax returns

If you earned less money between 1 March 2020 and 31 October 2021 because of coronavirus, they should explain this in their application. The Home Office will usually ignore the income you lost - your family member might have to upload documents from before 1 March 2020.

Proving you have somewhere suitable to live

Your family member will need to upload a document that shows you have somewhere to live - for example:

  • a tenancy agreement

  • a mortgage statement

  • a letter from the owner - for example if you’re staying with your parents

They'll usually need to upload a report or document to prove that where they'll live is safe, suitable and large enough. They will not need this if you live in council housing or your landlord is a housing association.

You can get a report from a surveyor or an environmental health officer. Start by asking your local council if they can do a report. Find your local council on mygov.scot.

Your family member won’t usually need a report if they've already got a visa and they're applying to extend it or get indefinite leave.

If the application is rejected

Your family member can either:

  • appeal the decision - they’ll need to show the decision affects their ‘right to private or family life’

  • make a new visa application - they’ll have to pay the full application fee again

The rules are complicated. Get help from a specialist immigration adviser to check what your family member should do.

The decision letter from the Home Office should say what the time limit is for your family member to appeal. They need to appeal within 14 days if they’re in the UK or 28 days if they’re outside the UK.

If you can’t see an immigration adviser before the end of the time limit, your family member can start an appeal and then get advice. They will have to pay a fee of £80 or £120.

If your family member is outside the UK, you can find the appeal form and guidance on GOV.UK.

If your family member is inside the UK, you can find the appeal form and guidance on GOV.UK.

If the application is accepted

If your family member applied within the UK, they’ll be sent a biometric residence permit (BRP). This is proof of their right to stay in the UK.

If your family member applied outside the UK, they’ll get entry clearance that gives them 30 days to come to the UK. If they don’t arrive in the UK within the 30-day period, they’ll need to apply for another entry permit and pay a fee.

Once your family member arrives in the UK they’ll have to collect a BRP within 10 days. They’ll have to collect the BRP from a post office - they’ll have selected a post office as part of the application process. It’s important to collect the BRP within 10 days - they might be fined or have their visa cancelled if they don’t.

Apply for the visa or indefinite leave

What you or your family member needs to do depends on whether they’re outside or inside the UK. They can:

Page last reviewed on 11 July 2022