Family visas: apply, extend or switch

1. Overview

You’ll need a family visa to come to the UK and live with a family member for more than 6 months. If you’re outside the UK you can apply to live with your:

  • spouse or partner
  • fiancé, fiancée or proposed civil partner
  • child
  • parent
  • relative who’ll provide long-term care for you

If you’re already in the UK, you can apply to extend your stay with your family member. If you came to the UK on another visa, you may be able to apply to stay with your:

  • spouse or partner
  • child
  • parent

You might be able to apply to stay on the basis of your private life if you’ve lived in the UK for a significant amount of time.

If you’re visiting the UK for 6 months or less, check if you need a Standard Visitor visa or Marriage Visitor visa.

How long it will take

A decision will usually be made:

  • within 12 weeks if you apply outside the UK
  • within 8 weeks if you apply in the UK
  • on the same day if you use the premium service to apply in person

You’ll be contacted if your application is complex and will take longer, for example:

  • you don’t meet the minimum income requirement
  • you can’t prove your knowledge of English
  • you need to attend an interview
  • the Home Office has to write to you because you haven’t provided all the evidence they need
  • because of your personal circumstances, for example if you have a criminal conviction

When you can apply to extend or switch

The earliest you can apply is 28 days before your current permission (called ‘leave to remain’) expires. Any time you have left will be added to your new permission to stay, up to a maximum of 28 days.

Fees

How much it costs will depend on how you apply.

Your situation Apply outside the UK Extend or switch in the UK Extend or switch in person in the UK (premium service)
Joining your partner, parent or child £1,464 £993 £1,583
Each dependant added to your application £1,464 each person £993 each person £1,583 each person
Adult who needs to be looked after by a relative £3,250 £993 £1,583

You may also have to pay the healthcare charge as part of your application. Check how much you need to pay before you apply.

Let your bank know a large amount of money will be coming out of your account - otherwise they might cancel your payment.

Other ways to apply to stay

You may be able to apply in a different way in some circumstances.

You’re the victim of domestic violence or your partner has died

You may be eligible to settle in the UK if you’ve had permission to stay (‘leave to remain’) in the UK as a partner and in that time:

  • your relationship with your partner broke down because of domestic violence
  • your partner died

You want to reunite with a partner or parent who has refugee status or humanitarian protection in the UK

Check if you can apply for ‘family reunion’.

Your relationship must have started before your family member left their home country.

Your family member is from the European Economic Area or Switzerland

You can apply for a EEA family permit.

There will be no change to the rights and status of EU nationals living in the UK, nor UK nationals living in the EU, while the UK remains in the EU.

When you can’t apply for a family visa

Your family member has a temporary visa as a worker or student

Apply to stay with your family member as a dependant if they are in the UK on a work visa or student visa.

Your current visa is a visitor visa or for 6 months or less

You can’t usually switch to a family visa if:

  • you have permission to be in the UK as a visitor
  • your current visa is for 6 months or less - unless you got your visa to get married or become civil partners, or you were given permission to stay in the UK to wait for the outcome of a family court case or divorce

You’ll usually need to leave the UK and apply for a family visa from outside.