National Statistics

Family

Updated 26 May 2016

Valid: 26 May 2016 to 24 August 2016

Data relate to the year ending March 2016 and all comparisons are with the year ending March 2015, unless indicated otherwise.

Back to ‘Immigration Statistics January to March 2016’ content page.

1. Key facts

There were 38,274 family-related visas granted in the year ending March 2016. This is an increase of 11% compared with the year ending March 2015 (34,592).

There was a 15% decrease in the number of visas granted to dependants (excluding visitor visas) joining or accompanying other migrants in the UK (65,556) compared with the previous 12 months (77,577).

There were 49,944 extensions of stay for family reasons in the year ending March 2016. Of this total, 21,661 (43%) were granted under the Family Life (10-year) category and 28,207 (56%) were granted under the partner category.

Family-related grants to stay permanently (for settlement) fell by two thirds (-66%) to 10,841 from the previous 12 months, continuing the downward trend since the year ending March 2010 (75,852). This sharp fall reflects lower numbers granted family visas with a direct route to permanency and changes to the qualifying period for settlement. There were notable decreases in grants to partners (-68% to 8,879) in the last 12 months.

In the year ending December 2015 (the latest provisional data available), estimates from the International Passenger Survey (IPS) showed that 42,000 non-EU nationals immigrated long-term to the UK to accompany or join others, that is with the intention of staying for a year or more. This was an 8,000 decrease from 50,000 in the previous 12 months. Those arriving to accompany or join are not directly comparable with visa categories but will include both family-related migration and potentially dependants of other migrants, as explained below.

  Year ending March 2015 Year ending March 2016 Change Percentage change
Family-related visas granted 34,592 38,274 +3,682 +11%
of which:        
Partners 27,211 29,414 +2,203 +8%
Children (1) 3,031 3,040 +9 +0%
Other dependants 4,350 5,820 +1,470 +34%
         
All dependants on other visas (excl. visitor visas) 77,577 65,556 -12,021 -15%
         
EEA family permits granted 26,390 30,879 +4,489 +17%
         
  Year ending December 2014 Year ending December 2015 Change Percentage change
Long-term immigration to accompany or join others (2) 50,000 42,000 -8,000 -16%

Table notes

Source: Home Office, Immigration Statistics January to March 2016 Visas table vi 01 q, Office for National Statistics, Migration Statistics Quarterly Report.
(1) This category does not include children of a parent given limited leave to enter or remain in the UK for a probationary period. They are included in ‘All dependants on other visas (excl. visitor visas)’.
(2) Immigration to accompany/join others data are estimates of the number of non-EU nationals intending to change their residence to the UK for at least 12 months based on the International Passenger Survey. Latest 12 months for long-term immigration to accompany or join others data are to the year ending December 2015 and are provisional.

IPS estimates of non-EU immigration of those accompanying or joining others in the UK include those arriving on family visas, as well as persons accompanying those who are arriving for other reasons, such as for work or study. In the year ending December 2015, IPS estimated that 42,000 non-EU nationals immigrated to the UK to accompany or join others.

The chart below shows that IPS estimates of immigration to accompany or join others have over the long term followed a broadly similar trend to the total number of visas granted by the Home Office through the family route and to other dependants. IPS estimates are substantially lower as they exclude people who come to the UK but intend to stay for less than a year. Both measures of immigration for family reasons/to accompany or join others have fallen over the long term since March 2007, albeit with short-term increases in 2010 and again in 2013. The estimate of long-term immigration to accompany or join rose from 35,000 in the year ending June 2013 to 54,000 in the year ending September 2014 and has since fallen to 42,000 in the year ending December 2015 bringing it more back into line with trends for visas.

The trend for IPS estimates has previously appeared to be broadly similar to figures for family visas alone; however, this is to some extent likely to be coincidental given the IPS category includes all migrants intending to stay for a year or more who describe their main reason for migration as to ‘accompany or join’, regardless of the type of visa they hold (so this would tend to include dependants of those arriving).

Shows the trends in visas granted and International Passenger Survey (IPS) estimates of immigration for family reasons between the year ending December 2005 and the latest data published. Visa data are sourced from Table vi 04 q.

Chart notes

Source: Home Office, Immigration Statistics January to March 2016, Visas table vi 04 q; Office for National Statistics (provisional estimates for YE December 2015), Migration Statistics Quarterly Report.
(1) Includes all dependants (e.g. dependants for work and study), but excludes visitors.

4. Visas

There were 38,274 family-related visas granted in the year ending March 2016. This number does not include dependants of other migrants who are discussed below. The number of family visas show an 11% increase compared with the previous year (34,592). Over three-quarters (77%) were granted to partners. Compared with the year ending March 2015, the number of family visas granted to partners has increased by 8%. Forty per cent of family visas are accounted for by five nationalities (see table below).

Nationalities with the highest number of visas granted for family reasons, year ending March 2016

  Total Partner Partner (for immediate settlement) Child (1) Child (for immediate settlement) Other (2) Other (for immediate settlement)
Family-related visas granted 38,274 28,726 688 27 3,013 5,623 197
of which:              
Pakistan 5,591 5,220 2 4 61 285 19
India 3,529 3,192 7 0 285 10 35
Syria 2,081 88 0 0 5 1,980 8
United States 2,022 1,977 7 1 27 6 4
Nepal 1,928 620 433 0 866 2 7

Table notes

Source: Home Office, Immigration Statistics January to March 2016 Visas table vi 06 q f.
(1) This category does not include children of a parent given limited leave to enter or remain in the UK for a probationary period.
(2) Includes family reunion cases (pre-existing partners and minor children of persons granted refugee status or humanitarian protection). The relatively high numbers for Syrian nationals (more than one third of all ‘other’ cases) reflects large numbers of family reunion cases for that nationality.

Other dependants on non-family-related visas can be granted a visa to join or accompany migrants who have been granted the right to enter the UK for other purposes, such as to work or to study. In the year ending March 2016, 65,556 of these visas (excluding visitors) were granted, a decrease of 15% compared with the previous 12 months (77,577) and 39% lower than the peak of 106,723 in the year ending March 2007. Of the 65,556 visas granted, 64% (42,218) were granted to other dependants of workers, 21% (14,085) to other dependants of students and 14% (9,253) to other dependants accompanying or joining a migrant in the UK.

Within the visa tables, family reunion applications from dependants of those with refugee status or humanitarian protection in the UK (made under Part 11 of the Immigration Rules) are included in the ‘Family: other’ category.

Whilst this ‘Family: other’ category includes a small number of other applications, the vast majority relate to family reunion and hence the published figures provide a good indication of trends for family reunion cases. A brief summary of the application types included in the ‘Family: other’ category can be found in the Visas and Sponsorship section of the ‘User Guide to Home Office Immigration Statistics’.

There was a 50% increase in visa applications resolved in the ‘Family: other’ category in the year ending March 2016 (9,733) compared with the previous 12 months (6,498). Of the 9,733 decisions, 58% (5,623) were granted.

Details of the application process and eligibility criteria for family reunion visas are given at Settlement: refugee or humanitarian protection.

Entry clearance visa applications and resolution: Family other

Year ending Applications Resolved Granted % Refused % Withdrawn or lapsed
Year ending March 2012 4,857 5,037 3,904 78% 980 19% 153
Year ending March 2013 5,477 5,459 3,759 69% 1,586 29% 114
Year ending March 2014 5,957 6,706 4,802 72% 1,796 27% 108
Year ending March 2015 6,085 6,498 3,997 62% 2,355 36% 146
Year ending March 2016 8,881 9,733 5,623 58% 4,006 41% 104
Change: latest 12 months +2,796 +3,235 +1,626   +1,651   -42
Percentage change +46% +50% +41%   +70%   -29%

Table notes

Source: Home Office, Immigration Statistics January to March 2016 Visas table vi 01 q.

Over a third (35%; 1,980) of the visas granted in the year ending March 2016 in the ‘Family: other’ category were to Syrian nationals.

The top 5 nationalities accounted for 72% of visas granted in the ‘Family: other’ category in the year ending March 2016 compared with 58% in the previous 12 months.

Entry clearance visas granted by top 5 countries of nationality: Family other

Ranking Year ending March 2016 (Year ending March 2015) Nationality Year ending March 2015 Year ending March 2016 Change: latest 12 months Percentage change
  Total 3,997 5,623 +1,626 +41%
  of which:        
1 (1) Syria 1,005 1,980 +975 +97%
2 (2) Sudan 360 702 +342 +95%
3 (5) Eritrea 290 616 +326 +112%
4 (4) Iran 313 472 +159 +51%
5 (3) Pakistan 342 285 -57 -17%

Table notes

Source: Home Office, Immigration Statistics January to March 2016 Visas table vi 06 q f.

5. Admissions

Admissions for family reasons fell to 20,500 in the year ending June 2015 (compared with 24,600 in the previous 12 months), continuing the overall trend since 2006.

6. Extensions of stay

Statistics on extensions of stay relate to people wishing to extend or change the status of their stay in the UK. One of the ways that people can do this is for family reasons, including by applying to remain through the Family Life (10-year) route.

There were 49,944 grants of extension for family-related reasons in the year ending March 2016, an increase from 38,621 in the year ending March 2015, which was accounted for by rises in grants to partners (+7,725) and in the Family Life (10-year) category (+3.609). These increases likely reflected both a longer residence eligibility period before an individual can apply to stay in the UK permanently (settlement) and a requirement for individuals to renew their temporary leave after two and a half years under the new family Immigration Rules implemented from 9 July 2012. Those granted an extension will therefore include those granted an initial period of limited leave to remain in the family route as well as those granted a subsequent period of limited leave to remain. For further details see the family section of the user guide.

  Year ending March 2015 Year ending March 2016 Change Percentage change
Total grants of extension for family-related reasons 38,621 49,944 +11,323 +29%
of which:        
Family Life (10-year route) (1) 18,052 21,661 +3,609 +20%
Partner 20,482 28,207 +7,725 +38%

Table notes

Source: Home Office, Immigration Statistics January to March 2016 Extensions table ex 01 q.
(1) Partners and parents who apply in the UK and are granted leave to remain on a 10-year route to settlement on the basis of their family life where the relevant provisions in Appendix FM to the Immigration Rules apply, Immigration Rules Appendix FM: family members.
(2) Total grants also include Fiancé(e)s, UK Born children and Other relatives.

Dependants of migrants in other routes, for example workers and students, excluding visitors, can also apply to extend their stay in the UK. In the year ending March 2016, 46,436 extensions were granted to dependants (excluding visitors), a decrease of 6,781 (-13%) from the previous 12 months.

Analysis of extensions of stay by previous category shows that the 40,958 extensions granted in 2015 for family reasons (to main applicants only) included 20,215 people previously in the family route (49%), 3,141 former students (8%), and 2,189 previously in the work category (5%). Of the other family extensions, in most cases the previous category was unknown or unrecorded.

7. Settlement

Family-related grants of settlement (to allow individuals to stay permanently) fell by two thirds (-21,217), to 10,841 in the year ending March 2016. This continues the overall downward trend since the year ending March 2010 (75,852). The majority of settlement grants were for partners (8,879; 82%), with the remainder for children (1,786; 16%), parents and grandparents (39; 0%) and other or unspecified dependants (137; 1%).

There were decreases in all the family categories: a 68% fall (-19,131) in grants to partners, a 51% fall (-1,857) in grants to children, a 74% fall (-109) in grants to parents and grandparents and a 47% fall (-120) in grants to other or unspecified dependants.

These sharp decreases are likely to in part reflect changes to the family Immigration Rules in July 2012, which extended the length of time before which partners could qualify for settlement, as well as reflecting changing levels of grants for entry clearance visas and of extensions in earlier years. Details of the July 2012 rule changes are included in the family section of the user guide.

8. Staying in the UK

Analysis of administrative records for migrants granted visas in 2009 is presented in the Migrant Journey Sixth Report and shows that around three-quarters of people (77%) issued a family visa in the 2009 cohort had been granted settlement 5 years later, with a further 4% recorded as still having valid leave to remain in the UK. This is an increase from 2004 when 68% of migrants granted family visas still had legal leave to remain 5 years after their arrival.

The proportion who had achieved permanent settlement within 5 years of being issued a family visa also differs by nationality. For example, a lower proportion of American (63%) or Somali (62%) nationals were settled after 5 years, compared with nationals from Bangladesh (92%), Pakistan (86%) and India (84%). Further information can be found in the Home Office ‘Migrant journey: sixth report’.

9. Residence document decisions

Under European law, EEA nationals do not need to obtain documentation confirming their right of residence in the UK. However, if they want to support an application for a residence card for any non-EEA family members, they must provide evidence to demonstrate they are residing in the UK in accordance with the Immigration (EEA) Regulations 2006.

In 2015 there were 92,289 decisions on applications for EEA residence documents, 8% lower than in 2014 (100,677).

Grants of documents certifying permanent residence and permanent residence cards fell by 9% (-1,685) to 18,064 in 2015. Since 2010 Poland has been the top nationality granted documents certifying permanent residence (2,399 in 2015). Before 2010 Portugal was the top nationality.

Grants of registration certificates and registration cards fell by 6% to 40,058 in 2015. The number is low relative to the peak number of grants in 2007 (67,584). Nationals of Portugal were granted the most registration certificates in 2012 to 2015 with nationals of Poland granted the most in 2005 to 2011.

10. Data tables

Data on family immigration, sourced from Home Office administrative systems, can be found in the following tables:

Visas vol. 1: tables vi 01 q, vi 04 and vi 04 q
vi 01 q Entry clearance visa applications and resolution by category
vi 04 Entry clearance visas granted by category
vi 04 q Entry clearance visas granted by category

Visas vol. 3: table vi 06 q f
vi 06 q f Entry clearance visas granted by category and country of nationality: Family

Admissions: tables ad 02, ad 02 q, ad 03 and ad 03 f Extensions: tables ex 01, ex 01 q, ex 02, ex 02 f and expc 01 f
Settlement: tables se 02 to se 04
European Economic Area: table ee 02 Family: Tables fa 01 to fa 04

11. Background information

This section includes figures on family-related visas granted, passenger arrivals, extensions granted and permissions to stay permanently (settlement) for non-EEA nationals. It also includes estimates of long-term immigration (i.e. those intending to stay for at least 12 months) from the ONS International Passenger Survey (IPS) and on residence document decisions covering EEA nationals and their family members.

People can come to the UK for a range of family reasons, such as to join or accompany family members who are either British citizens or settled in the UK, mainly partners, as ‘other dependants joining or accompanying’ those working or studying in the UK, or as visitors.

Data include dependants unless otherwise stated.

More detailed analysis on family visas and extensions and additional tables for years ending June were included in the ‘Immigration Statistics July to September 2014’ release to assist users in understanding the trends in family data before and after the changes to the Immigration Rules in July 2012. Updates of the additional tables and analysis were included in the ‘Immigration Statistics April to June 2015’ release.

The Office for National Statistics publishes estimates of those coming to join or accompany others, Migration Statistics Quarterly Report.