Family Reunification in the UK can be done when refugees granted protection in the UK sponsor their family members to join them under specific conditions. Bringing children under these rules is particularly simple.
However, the rules are strict and applicants must prove that they couldn’t live without their family member in their country of origin for “insurmountable obstacles.” In exceptional circumstances, refugee family reunion applications can be supported by legal aid.
Overview of Family Reunification in the UK Visas
There are many different routes to bringing your spouse or children into the UK as part of family reunification. There are also varying requirements that must be met depending on the specific visa route you choose.
The most common UK Family Reunification Visa is the Refugee Family Reunion policy. Which allows refugees who have been granted refugee status or humanitarian protection in the UK to bring their immediate family members into the country to join them. This includes spouses, minor children, and parents.
Spouse visa holders must be able to prove that they can offer and fund adequate accommodation for their spouse and any dependent children. This can be in the form of owned, mortgaged or rented accommodation. In addition, they must be able to prove that they have enough income to cover living costs. And not rely on benefits or state support.
UK dependent visas are available for spouses, partners and children of migrants who have been granted UK citizenship or Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR). They must meet the same English language, financial and accommodation requirements outlined above.
Spouse Visas: Requirements and Application Process for Family Reunification in the UK
If you are already living in the UK and wish to bring your spouse to live with you in the country, you may do so through a spouse visa (also known as a partner and spouse visa). This will give your spouse the right to remain in the UK indefinitely.
You will need to provide proof of your relationship with your spouse or partner. This can include documents such as a shared bank account, tenancy agreement, and joint utility bills. It is also important to provide evidence that your relationship is a ‘genuine and subsisting’ one.
If you have children, it is vital to make sure that the application includes adequate financial support for them. If you are unable to provide this, your application may be refused. As a result, it is essential that you seek legal advice from a qualified immigration lawyer before beginning your application process. In the event that your spouse or partner visa is rejected, you will have the right to appeal the decision through the First Tier Tribunal. This will be a human rights appeal and your case will be heard by a judge.
Dependent Visas: Bringing Family Members to the UK
If your family member is on a UK visa and you want to join them. You may need to apply for a dependent visa. These visas allow spouses, partners, and children to move to the UK with family members already living there under a Tier 2 or other work-based route.
Refugees granted indefinite leave to remain (ILR) are allowed to sponsor their immediate family members under the UK’s Refugee Family Reunion policy. Whether or not the family member can be brought to the UK will depend on their relationship to the person who was granted asylum and whether they meet the suitability requirements, such as not having committed crimes that disqualify them from being a refugee.
Dependent visa holders can extend their stay or apply for settlement when the main visa holder does. Though there are English language and financial requirements they must meet. In exceptional cases, it may be possible to apply for a dependent visa under Exceptional Case Funding. So that you can have a lawyer assist you with your application without paying any fees upfront.
Financial Support and Accommodation Requirements
The spouse, civil partner or fiance(e) of a UK citizen or settled person; children (including adopted and stepchildren); and in a small number of cases, adult dependent relatives can apply for dependant visas to live with their sponsor(s) in the UK.
Dependent visa applicants must demonstrate that they have sufficient income to support themselves and any dependents who will join them in the UK. The income threshold can be met through a combination of sources. Including employment, self-employment, pensions, non-employment earnings like rental income and savings.
In a recent case, the High Court ruled that although there may be individual human rights violations caused by refusing a visa on financial requirement grounds. The principle of having a rule requiring those applying for a spouse visa to show that they have enough income to maintain themselves. And their dependents is lawful. In addition to the income requirements. Dependent visa applicants must prove that they have suitable accommodation that will meet UK living standards and can house their entire family. If this is not possible, the dependant(s) will be able to apply for welfare benefits to cover their basic needs.
Common Challenges and Tips for a Successful Application
Applicants should be prepared to present a number of supporting documents, including proof that the sponsor and the dependent are in a relationship. That they live together and have joint finances (tenancy agreements, utility bills, shared bank accounts). And that the sponsor can support the dependent financially. They should also prepare to provide medical certificates. And a letter from their doctor explaining why they cannot take up employment in the UK. For example, due to health issues.
It is worth noting that if the sponsor already has leave to remain in the UK on another basis, they will have to cancel that. And apply for a spouse visa if they want their dependent family members to join them. They will need to show that they have a clean criminal record. Also, that they are able to maintain a life in the UK without relying on public funds and that their children’s needs can be met. They will also need to provide a medical certificate. And evidence of their ability to speak English at a level required for independent living.
FAQs and Answers:
- FAQ: Can I apply for a spouse visa if I am in a civil partnership or unmarried partnership?
- Answer: Yes, you can apply for a spouse visa if you are in a civil partnership or unmarried partnership that is recognized under UK law. You will need to provide evidence of your relationship and meet the relevant requirements.
- FAQ: Is there an income threshold for spouse visa applications?
- Answer: Yes, there is an income requirement for sponsoring a spouse. The specific income threshold may vary depending on your circumstances, such as whether you have dependent children.
- FAQ: How long does it take to process a family reunification visa application?
- Answer: Processing times can vary, but it’s advisable to apply well in advance. Generally, it can take several weeks to several months to process family reunification visa applications.
- FAQ: Can dependent children attend school in the UK on a dependent visa?
- Answer: Yes, dependent children can attend school in the UK while on a dependent visa. They should meet the age and educational requirements set by UK schools.
- FAQ: What types of accommodation are acceptable for family reunification visa applications?
- Answer: Acceptable accommodation varies by visa type, but generally, it should be suitable, safe, and not overcrowded. It’s essential to provide evidence of appropriate accommodation with your application.
- FAQ: Can family members already in the UK switch to a family reunification visa?
- Answer: In some cases, family members already in the UK can switch to a family reunification visa. But they must meet the eligibility criteria for the specific visa category and apply within the UK.