The rules on applying for visas to bring extended family to live in the UK vary according to the nature of the relationship and the family member’s country of origin.
Nationals of countries in the European Union (EU), the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland generally have the right to live and work in the UK. This right is dependent on the European national being able to show that they will either be working in the UK or that they will otherwise be able to support themselves and their family without having to rely on public funds.
European nationals who satisfy the above criteria may bring with them to live in the UK the following family members:
- Their spouse or civil partner;
- Children or grandchildren of the European national or their spouse / civil partner – the children must be under 21 or dependent on the European national;
- The parents or grandparents of the European national or of their spouse / civil partner – but not if the European national is a student.
European nationals may also be able to bring the following family members to the UK:
- Unmarried partner – they will have to be able to prove that they are in an enduring relationship;
- Extended family – brothers, sisters, cousins etc. may be eligible but only if they can prove that they are dependent on the European national.
Family members of European nationals who are not themselves nationals of the EU, EEA or Switzerland will have to apply for an EEA family permit before coming to the UK.
Children of Nationals of Other Countries
Children under the age of 18 may usually join their parent or parents to live in the UK if the parents are or will be legally settled there. The parents must be able to support their child without relying on public funds and must have sufficient accommodation for the child. The child must also be financially dependent on the parents, not be married and not have previously been living apart from their parents.
Extended Family Members of UK Residents
In some circumstances foreign nationals may be able to bring the following extended family members to the UK: parents, or widowed parent, where at least one is over the age of 65; grandparents, or a widowed grandparent, where one is over the age of 65. To qualify:
- The relative must be financially dependent on their UK resident family member;
- The relative must not have any other close family members who could look after them; and,
- The UK resident must be able to support and house their relative without having to rely on public funds.
Parents or grandparents under the age of 65 may be able to qualify to live in the UK if the above conditions are satisfied and they live “in the most exceptional compassionate circumstances”.
Children over the age of 18, siblings, aunts, uncles or any other relative may also be able to qualify to live in the UK with their resident family member if they satisfy all of the previous conditions and live alone.
Applications for settlement visas for family members are generally made on form VAF 4 – Settlement or may be made online at the UK Border Agency’s website.
A foreign national who has been granted refugee status or exceptional leave to remain in the UK may be able to bring their spouse, civil partner or unmarried partner and any dependent children under the age of 18 to the UK. These family members may qualify for UK “family reunion” entry clearance. Other extended family members do not necessarily qualify on this ground but may be given permission to come to the UK on compassionate grounds if they are dependent on the refugee.