- Overview of the UK Family Reunion Visa
- What Are the Eligibility Criteria for the UK Family Reunion Visa?
- What May Affect My Family Reunion Application?
- What Documents Do I Need?
- How Do I Apply for Family Reunion?
- How Do I Include Children in the Family Reunion Application?
- What Additional Information or Resources Are Available for Partners Sponsoring Family Reunion?
- What Are the Fees and Processing Times for Applying for Family Reunion?
- Can Asylum Seekers Bring Family to the UK?
- My Application Has Been Successful, What Are the Next Steps?
- How Can Newcastle Immigration Lawyers Help
- Frequently Asked Questions
Overview of the UK Family Reunion Visa
If someone was forced to leave their country and has received a successful decision on their asylum claim in the UK, eligible family members may be able to join them under the Family Reunion visa.
In this case, immediate family members (partners and children under 18 years old) can come and settle in the UK, as long as they fulfil the eligibility requirements.
A lot of evidence will need to be collected to prove the relationship between the applicant and the refugee settled in the UK, and applicants can apply from both inside and outside the UK.
If their application is successful, they will be granted the same protection as the family member already in the UK.
The applicant may be able to join or stay with their family member in the UK if:
- They were part of a family unit before they were forced to leave their country
- The family member they are joining has been granted refugee status, 5 years of humanitarian protection, or settlement on protection grounds in the UK
- They’re currently in or outside the UK
There are different eligibility criteria depending on if the applicant is the partner or child of the refugee in the UK.
Applicants do not have to satisfy many conditions required for other visa applications, for example, financial, accommodation, or English language requirements. They do not need to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge and are exempt from the “knowledge of language” and “life in the UK” requirement if they successfully settle in the UK.
The partner must be someone who is in a genuine relationship with the settled refugee.
They must prove that they are either married or civil partners, or that there is evidence that they have lived together in a relationship similar to a marriage or civil partnership for a minimum of two years in the country of origin.
The marriage or civil partnership must have happened before the refugee left their country of origin.
It is possible for an unmarried partner to travel to the UK under a Family Reunion visa if they have not lived together in their country of origin because it would have put the same-sex or unmarried couple in danger.
If the refugee in the UK is applying for their children to join them in the UK, the child must:
- Be under 18 years old at the time of application
- Not be married or in a civil partnership
- Not have formed a separate family unit
- Have been born or conceived before the refugee fled their country
There are circumstances that a child over the age of 18 can apply for family reunion. There must be evidence as part of the application process that the child fulfils all of these criteria:
- The child is dependent on the parent’s financial and emotional support
- The child does not live an independent life and cannot afford essential living costs
- The child has no other relatives who can support them and can’t get support or employment in the country they are living in
- The parent is in the UK or they are eligible to come to the UK for family reunion and are planning on travelling to the UK
What May Affect My Family Reunion Application?
Please note, if the applicant did not form a family unit with the person settled in the UK before they left their country, or the applicant is not eligible, they must apply for another visa to join them in the UK.
The applicant will also not be able to join their family member if the person in the UK:
- Has not received a decision on their asylum claim
- Is under 18 years old
Often applications are refused because they have not provided appropriate identification or they were not mentioned in the initial asylum claim made by the settled refugee in the UK.
Please note, the Family Reunion visa does not apply to relatives abroad that are not classed as immediate, for example, siblings, parents or children over 18 years old. These family members must apply through other applications.
What Documents Do I Need?
In order to apply for a Family Reunion visa, you must provide personal documents for the person who is applying as well as evidence to show that your family is related to you. Each family member must make separate applications.
Typically, partner applications are refused because the couple cannot prove they were lawfully married before the refugee left the country of origin or in a genuine relationship.
The applicant must provide:
- Biometric information taken at a Visa Application Centre, which includes fingerprints and facial photographs
- Identity documents of the refugee settled in the UK and the family member, for example, passport or national identity card
As part of the application process, the Home Office asks that the applicant includes as many of the following documents as possible to confirm their relationship with the person granted refugee status:
- Marriage certificates or marriage ceremony documents
- Documents relating to accommodation or joint purchases
- Birth certificates or other documents proving parental relationship, for example, baptism certificates, taskeras or adoption paperwork
- Original letter from UKVI or Immigration Enforcement confirming the person settled in the UK has leave and status in the UK
- Information already given at any interviews with the Home Office during the asylum application process of the refugee in the UK. For example, the asylum interview, Statement of Evidence form or screening interview
- Family photographs or copies of phone messages to show ongoing family relationships
- Communication records, for example, telephone records, emails, letters or social media messages
- Proof of financial support, for example, money transfer receipts
- Some applicants choose to have DNA tests; this is optional and done at personal cost
- Written statements from the applicant and settled refugee
- A valid tuberculosis (TB) certificate for 6 months before their application (only for applicants applying from outside the UK if they have been living in one of the countries listed under ‘Immigration Rules Appendix T’ available on the gov.uk website)
In addition to the above documents, the family must prove their relationship will continue and they intend to live permanently with each other in the UK. Where a family has been separated for a long time or have not been in contact with one another, this can be a problem.
Any evidence of phone records, letters, cards, text messages, video call logs and any evidence of financial support can help to prove the relationship is genuine and means to continue.
Apply From Outside the UK
1. Complete an application online and submit documents to prove you are immediately related to your family
Each family member who wishes to be reunited with their family member who is settled in the UK must submit:
- A Family Reunion visa UK application form online. These are available on the Home Office website
- A ‘family settlement application form’ (VAF4A) and ‘Appendix 4’ of the same form
- All evidence collected to prove their family status (alternatively, these documents can be taken to the Visa Application Centre)
2. Make an appointment at a Visa Application Centre
Each family member applying for refugee family reunion must attend an appointment at a Visa Application Centre.
Biometric information and passports must be provided at the centre; Children under 5 years old are not required to provide the fingerprints but must still submit a photo of their face.
Most applicants will have to provide a TB certificate for 6 months before their application.
Applicants can have their supporting documents and evidence scanned for free at the Visa Application Centre.
In cases where it is too dangerous for an applicant to travel to a Visa Application Centre, legal advice can support them in exploring different alternatives.
Applicants must have passports if they are in their country of origin, as they may have trouble leaving the country without one. If they are not in their country of origin and do not have a passport, the UK Home Office might provide one-way travel documents.
Please note, once a decision has been received, the passports will have to be collected from the Visa Application Centre.
3. If the application is successful, all successful applicants must travel before their visas expire
The successful applicant will usually have 90 days to travel to the UK under their Family Reunion visa.
Apply From Inside the UK
1. Apply for permission to stay in the UK by email or letter to the Home Office
Applicants who are currently in the UK and want to stay with their family member can apply by email or letter directly to the in-country refugee family reunion team. All immediate family members applying for family reunion can be submitted together.
The emails or letter must include:
- Their sponsor’s (the family member who has been granted leave to remain under refugee status or humanitarian protection status in the UK) full name, date of birth, nationality and Home Office reference number
- Two passport photographs of each applicant
- A valid passport for each applicant, where possible
- A written statement from the sponsor explaining who is in their family (names and date of births), how they came to leave their family behind when they left their country to seek asylum in the UK, what contact they have had since their family was separated and what circumstances their family are living in
- Any evidence collected to support their family relationship
- The contact details of the sponsor and any legal representatives
2. Make an appointment at a UKVI Service and Support Centre
Once the Home Office has received your email or letter application, they will confirm the application is valid. The applicant must then make an appointment at a UKVI Service and Support Centre to submit their biometric information and have their supporting documents checked.
Children under 5 years old are not required to provide the fingerprints but must still submit a photo of their face.
3. If the application is successful, the applicant can stay in the UK
If the application is successful, the applicant will be able to stay in the UK with the same permission as the family member with refugee status or humanitarian protection in the UK.
How Do I Include Children in the Family Reunion Application?
An application must be submitted for each individual applying for a Family Reunion visa, including eligible children.
Evidence must be provided to prove the child’s relationship with the parent settled in the UK, as included in the required documents section above. Applicants could include any number of documents to support their relationship.
Children Who Have Formed a Separate Family Unit
Part of the eligibility criteria for children is that they:
- Were a part of the family unit when the family was separated by one or both of the parents becoming refugees
- Have not formed a separate family unit
However, there may be cases where a child is a part of two family units if their parents are divorced and they are in regular contact with both parents, or if a child under the age of 18 years old is a parent themselves.
Additional evidence will have to be submitted for consideration to show the relationship and dependency between the settled refugee parent in the UK and the child applicant, and to show that the child has not formed their own independent family unit.
What Additional Information or Resources Are Available for Partners Sponsoring Family Reunion?
For additional information and support with Family Reunion visa applications, there are a number of charities that can offer support, for example:
- The British Red Cross
- Sheffield Hallam Refugee Rights Hub
- Notre Dame Refugee Centre
- Other charities operating in your region
Newcastle Immigration Lawyers are also able to support applicants at any stage of their application process. Call us on 0191 303 8965, or contact us online today.
What Are the Fees and Processing Times for Applying for Family Reunion?
There is no fee for applying for a Refugee Family Reunion visa.
There is no fee for refugee family reunion applicants to use a Visa Application Centre or the UKVI Service and Support Centre.
There may be possible costs when applying for passports, translating documents, DNA and TB tests, travel costs to the Visa Application Centre or travel costs to the UK.
The family reunion process takes at least 3 months. The UK government website suggests if the applicant has not heard back after 9 months that they contact the UK Immigration and Visas team for help.
Newcastle Immigration Lawyers is also available to help with applications that have not yet received a decision. Call us on 0191 303 8965, or contact us online if you would like support with your visa application.
Can Asylum Seekers Bring Family to the UK?
When an asylum seeker applies for asylum in the UK, they are able to include a partner or children under 18 years old in their application as ‘dependents’.
Please note, there are some important restrictions and eligibility criteria separate to the Family Reunion visa that must be adhered to in order to support a UK asylum application.
Illegal Migration Bill 2023
Since the Illegal Migration Bill passed in July 2023, it is especially important that all asylum seekers pursue safe and legal routes to the UK. Anyone arriving to the UK illegally will be detained and removed and will have no right to re-entry, settlement or citizenship.
For specialist information on the asylum seeking process for the UK, please don’t hesitate to contact Newcastle Immigration Lawyers. Call us on 0191 303 8965, or contact us online today.
My Application Has Been Successful, What Are the Next Steps?
Family members who have successfully been granted a Family Reunion visa will be allowed to come to or stay in the UK with the same permission as the family member with refugee status or humanitarian protection in the UK.
If the applicant has applied from outside of the UK, they will typically have 90 days to travel to the UK.
Navigating the visa process when trying to reunite with your family can be complicated and it is especially important that the correct supporting evidence is submitted to support your application.
Whether you are a refugee settled in the UK, or an applicant outside of the UK hoping to be reunited with your family, we are available to provide further information or support you through your application journey, regardless of the complexity of your case.
We can also help if you are looking for support for another type of visa based on your personal circumstances. Our services include:
- Asylum Application
- Asylum Appeal
- Detained Casework
- Bail (SoS application)
- Bail (Tribunal)
- Bail Renewal
- Fresh Claims
- Permission to Work Application
- Travel Document
- BRP Issues (lost/stolen/error)
- Family Reunion Application (per applicant)
- Family Reunion Appeal (including dependents)
- Application for Permission to Appeal (FTT & UT)
- Error of Law Preparation and Hearing
We are experienced immigration lawyers who understand the challenges involved in reuniting a family that has been separated while fleeing persecution and are here to help with your application. For more information about our services and how we can help you, please contact us today. Call us on 0191 303 8965, or contact us online.
Last modified on October 6th, 2023 at 11:43 am
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If an applicant is refused, they can appeal the decision within 28 days from the date of decision. They can make an appeal online or by post.
The applicants joining their family in the UK is on the condition of the family’s relationship. If the relationship breaks down, this could affect their visas and it is best to seek legal advice urgently.
If the applicants can’t travel within 90 days due to circumstances out of their control and their visas expire, they can contact the UKVI Family Reunion team and they may be able to renew it.