National Statistics

Family

Published 23 February 2017

Valid: 23 February 2016 to 24 May 2017

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

Back to Immigration Statistics October to December 2016 content page.

1. Key facts

The combined total number of family-related visas granted, including European Economic Area (EEA) family permits granted, and visas granted to dependants of other visa holders (excluding visitors) fell by 1,526 to 135,144 (1%) in 2016.

In the year ending September 2016 (the latest provisional data available), estimates from the International Passenger Survey (IPS) showed that 45,000 non-European Union (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 not a statistically significant change on the previous year (43,000). 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 intending to stay for a year or longer, as explained below.

In 2016, the number of people issued registration certificates and registration cards rose by 34,458 to 74,516, a rise of 86% from 40,058 in the previous year, the highest recorded annual figure. Most of the rise in 2016 related to EU nationals rather than non-EEA family members.

In 2016, the number of issues of permanent residence documentation to EEA nationals who have been resident 5 years or more (and their non-EEA family members) more than trebled (261%) to 65,195 from 18,064 in the previous year, an increase of 47,131 and, again, the highest recorded annual figure. This indicates EEA nationals are seeking documents to confirm their situation in the UK.

  2015 2016 Change Percentage change
Family-related visas granted 37,719 38,119 +400 +1%
of which:        
Partners 29,521 29,090 -431 -1%
Children (1) 3,067 2,661 -406 -13%
Other dependants 5,131 6,368 +1,237 +24%
         
All dependants on other visas (excl. visitor visas) 68,649 63,907 -4,742 -7%
         
EEA family permits granted 30,302 33,118 +2,816 +9%
Total (family-related visas granted, all dependants on other visas excl. visitor visas, EEA family permits granted) 136,670 135,144 -1,526 -1%
         
  Year ending September 2015 Year ending September 2016 Change Percentage change
ONS estimates for non-EU long-term immigration to accompany or join others (2) 43,000 45,000 +2,000 +5%

Table notes

Source: Home Office, Immigration Statistics October to December 2016, Visas table vi 01 q (Visas volume 1), Office for National Statistics (ONS), 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 IPS. Latest 12 months for long-term immigration to accompany or join others data are to the year ending September 2016 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.

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 generally fallen over the long term since the year ending 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 now stands at an estimated 45,000 in the year ending September 2016.

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).

The chart shows the trends in visas granted and IPS estimates of immigration for family reasons / to accompany or join others between the year ending December 2005 and the latest data published. The visa data are sourced from Visas table vi 04 q.

Chart notes

Source: Home Office, Immigration Statistics October to December 2016, Visas table vi 04 q (Visa volume 1); ONS (provisional estimates for year end to September 2016), Migration Statistics Quarterly Report.
(1) Includes all dependants (eg dependants for work and study), but excludes visitors.

4. Visas

There were 38,119 family-related visas granted in 2016. This number does not include dependants of other migrants who are discussed below. The number of family visas (38,119) show a slight (1%) increase compared with the previous year of 37,719. Over three-quarters (76%) were granted to partners. Five nationalities accounted for almost two-fifths (39%) of family visas (see table below).

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

  Total Partner Partner (for immediate settlement) Child (1) Child (for immediate settlement) Other (2) Other (for immediate settlement)
Family-related visas granted 38,119 28,318 772 36 2,625 6,224 144
of which:              
Pakistan 6,051 5,735 5 6 97 196 12
India 3,031 2,788 4 1 216 4 18
Syria 2,113 99 0 1 0 2,005 8
United States 2,067 2,033 6 1 20 6 1
Nepal 1,738 617 424 0 692 0 5

Table notes

Source: Home Office, Immigration Statistics October to December 2016, Visas table vi 06 q f (Visas volume 3).
(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.

In addition to a family visa, other dependants of 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 2016, 63,907 of these dependant visas (excluding visitors) were granted, a decrease of 7% compared with the previous 12 months (68,649) and 40% lower than the peak of 106,723 in the year ending March 2007. Of the 63,907 visas granted, 68% (43,225) were to dependants of workers, 20% (12,592) to dependants of students, and 13% (8,090) to other dependants accompanying or joining a migrant already in the UK.

There was also an increase of 2,816 (9%) in EEA family permits issued abroad to 33,118, facilitating entry of non-EEA family members, with most of the increase before the third quarter of 2016.

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.

Details of the application process and eligibility criteria for family reunion visas are given at Family reunion guidance.

Entry clearance visa applications and resolution: Family, other

Year Applications Resolved Granted % Refused % Withdrawn or lapsed
2012 5,135 5,318 3,710 70% 1,479 28% 129
2013 6,064 6,108 4,211 69% 1,797 29% 100
2014 5,639 6,658 4,596 69% 1,931 29% 131
2015 8,477 8,283 4,887 59% 3,267 39% 129
2016 8,703 9,952 6,224 63% 3,678 37% 50
Change: latest year +226 +1,669 +1,337   +411    -79
Percentage change +3% +20% +27%   +13%   -61%

Table notes

Source: Home Office, Immigration Statistics October to December 2016, Visas table vi 01 q (Visas volume 1).

The top 5 nationalities accounted for 74% of visas granted in the ‘Family: other’ category 2016.

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

Ranking 2016 (2015) Nationality 2015 2016 Change: latest 12 months Percentage change
  *Total 4,887 6,224 +1,337 27%
  of which:        
1 (1) Syria 1,806 2,005 +199 11%
2 (3) Eritrea 459 961 +502 109%
3 (2) Sudan 554 858 +304 55%
4 (4) Iran 360 564 +204 57%
5 (6) Sri Lanka 250 245 -5 -2%

Table notes

Source: Home Office, Immigration Statistics October to December 2016, Visas table vi 06 q f (Visas volume 3).

5. Admissions

Admissions for family reasons were slightly higher at 20,900 in the year ending June 2016 (compared with 20,600 in the previous 12 months). This follows a general downward 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 61,258 grants of extension for family-related reasons in 2016, an increase from 44,523 in 2015, which was accounted for by a rise of 11,672 grants to partners and a rise of 5,027 in the Family life (10-year) category. 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 2.5 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.

  2015 2016 Change Percentage change
Total grants of extension for family-related reasons (1) 44,523 61,258 +16,735 +38%
of which:        
Family life (10-year route) (2) 19,102 24,129 +5,027 +26%
Partner 25,362 37,034 +11,672 +46%

Table notes

Source: Home Office, Immigration Statistics October to December 2016, Extensions table ex 01 q.
(1) Total grants also include fiancé(e)s, UK-born children and other relatives.
(2) 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.

Dependants of migrants in other routes, for example workers and students, excluding visitors, can also apply to extend their stay in the UK. In 2016, 42,196 extensions were granted to dependants (excluding visitors), a decrease of 6,359 (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.

Data for grants by previous category in 2016 are planned to be published in May 2017.

7. Settlement

Family-related grants of settlement (to allow individuals to stay permanently) fell by 10,160 (60%) to 6,648 in 2016. This continues the overall downward trend since the year ending March 2010 (75,852). The majority (79%) of settlement grants were for partners (5,262), with the remainder for children (1,296 or 19%), parents and grandparents (14 or 0%) and other or unspecified dependants (76 or 1%).

There were decreases in all the family categories; a 63% fall of 8,832 in grants to partners, and reductions in the numbers of grants to children (down 1,134), parents and grandparents (down 50), and to other or unspecified dependants (down 144).

These decreases are likely in part to 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

In February 2017 the Home Office published ‘Statistics on changes in migrants’ visa and leave status: 2015’, which shows how non-European Economic Area (EEA) migrants change their immigration status or achieve settlement in the UK.

The analysis shows that most people who arrive on a family visa end up applying for and being granted settlement. Around 4 out of 5 people (80% or 32,377) issued a family visa in the 2010 cohort had been granted settlement 5 years later, with a further 5% recorded as still having valid leave to remain in the UK. This 85% total with legal leave to remain 5 years after arrival is an increase from 2004 when the equivalent figure was 75%.

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%) and Somali (76%) nationals were settled after 5 years, compared with Bangladeshi (91%), Pakistani (87%) and Indian (86%) nationals.

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. Although EEA nationals do not need to confirm their residence rights, most of the rise in 2016 related to EU nationals, rather than non-EEA family members, indicating that EEA nationals are seeking documents to confirm their situation in the UK.

In 2016, there were 74,516 issues of registration certificates and registration cards made, 76% of decisions (excluding invalid applications, see user guide and an 86% rise of 34,458, compared to the 2015 (40,058 issues and 70% of decisions). This is the highest recorded annual figure. Nationals of Italy and Portugal were issued the most registration certificates in 2014 to 2016 (13,367 and 13,053 respectively in 2016; both 18% of total issues).

Also in 2016, 65,195 issues of documents certifying permanent residence and permanent residence cards were made, representing an issue rate of 77% (excluding invalid applications, see user guide). This is the highest recorded annual figure and with an increase of 47,131 is more than treble (261%) the figure for 2015 (18,064 issues and an issue rate of 75%). Since 2010, Polish has been the top nationality issued documents certifying permanent residence (15,241 in 2016 and 23% of total issues).

The increase indicates that EEA nationals are seeking documents to confirm their situation in the UK and may in part be due to changes in the rules. After 12 November 2015 a person applying for citizenship who is claiming to have permanent residence as an EEA national, or the family member of an EEA national, must provide a permanent residence card or a document certifying permanent residence as evidence that they meet the requirement to be free of immigration time restrictions. Additionally, from 19 May 2016 a person in the UK with a right of permanent residence under EU law must hold a document certifying permanent residence or a permanent residence card in order to show they meet the requirement of being ‘present and settled in the UK’ if they wish to sponsor an application under the family Immigration Rules.

Issues of residence documentation to EEA nationals and their family members

  Registration certificates and residence cards issued of which: EU nationals Documents certifying permanent residence and permanent residence cards issued of which: EU nationals
2014 Q1 12,879   4,711 5,238   2,904
2014 Q2 10,925   3,986 4,392   2,132
2014 Q3 9,410   3,642 4,546   2,243
2014 Q4 9,424   3,598 5,573   2,465
2015 Q1 10,941   4,563 5,723   2,855
2015 Q2 8,483   3,310 3,417   1,714
2015 Q3 9,730   4,518 4,000   2,427
2015 Q4 10,904   4,481 4,924   2,541
2016 Q1 12,507   5,671 8,173   5,197
2016 Q2 14,416   7,873 10,069   7,262
2016 Q3 24,707   17,337 14,472   11,281
2016 Q4 22,886   15,879 32,481   29,558

Table notes

Source: Home Office, Immigration Statistics October to December 2016, European Economic Area (EEA) table ee 02 q .

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 (EEA): table ee 02 q
Family: tables fa 01 to fa 04

10. 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 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.

EEA family permits are similar to, but not the same as, entry clearance visas. An EEA family permit is a document that is issued to enable non-EEA family members of EEA nationals to travel with their EEA national sponsor or to join them in the UK. EEA family permits are issued under the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2006 and not the Immigration Rules. The permit is issued ahead of a person’s travel to the UK and is valid for 6 months. If they intend to stay in the UK in accordance with the EEA Regulations, EEA nationals and their non-EEA family members can apply in the UK for a registration certificate (issued to EEA nationals), residence card or derivative residence card (issued to non-EEA family members) to confirm rights of residence.

After living in the UK for a continuous period of 5 years in accordance with the EEA Regulations, an EEA national and any family members will acquire the right of permanent residence in the UK and may request a document certifying permanent residence (issued to EEA nationals) or a permanent residence card (issued to non-EEA family members).

Data include dependants unless stated otherwise.

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 ONS publishes estimates of those coming to join or accompany others in their Migration Statistics Quarterly Report.

10.1 Migration transparency data webpage

A range of key input and impact indicators are currently published by the Home Office on the Migration transparency data webpage.