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How to Bring My Family to The UK After Gaining Indefinite Leave to Remain?

If you have recently been awarded Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) in the UK, many congratulations. Having worked towards meeting the continuous-time in the UK requirement (typically five years), you now have the right to live and work in the UK free of immigration control or restrictions and no longer will you have to pay to use the NHS and you have recourse to public funds if you ever need it. Your next priority will likely be to bring your family members to join you in the UK if they have not already done so. In this article, we will outline how you can bring your family to the UK now you have ILR, including the application process, eligibility requirements, and costs.

Are my family members eligible to join me in the UK?

Under the family immigration route, partners, spouses, dependent children, and dependant relatives of a settled person in the UK can apply to the Home Office for a visa to join them. Even though they are a member of your family, they must still meet strict eligibility criteria in order to apply and receive a UK family visa, as outlined below.

Partner/spouse visa eligibility

In order for your non-EEA spouse or partner to apply to join you in the UK, you must both be at least 18 years old, and:

  • be in a civil partnership or marriage that is legally recognised in the UK, or;
  • have been living together in a relationship for at least two years prior to making your application, or;
  • be planning to get married in the UK within six months of your partner arriving

Your partner/spouse will also need to prove they meet the English language requirement and that you can both financially support yourselves and any dependent family members.

If the above requirements are not met, your spouse or partner may be considered eligible to join you if one of the following applies:

  • they have a child already living in the UK and it would be unreasonable for them to leave the UK – in this case, the child must be a British citizen or have resided in the UK for at least seven years
  • there will be significant difficulties for you and your partner which cannot be overcome if you have to live together outside of the UK
  • it would breach your human rights to stop you coming to the UK or make you leave

Child visa eligibility

A child born and residing overseas who has a parent with ILR in the UK may be eligible to apply for a family/child visa to enter and remain in the UK on an indefinite basis.

If the child is under the age of 18, they must:

  • not be living an independent life – i.e. married or in a civil partnership
  • be financially supported in terms of maintenance funds and accommodation without the need to seek recourse to public funds

If your child is over the age of 18, you can include them in your ILR application as a dependant, or they can apply separately, if they previously gained permission to stay in the UK when they were under 18 and they currently do not lead an independent life.

Adult dependant relative visa

If a family member living outside of the UK requires long-term care from you (as a person with ILR in the UK), they may be able to apply for an adult dependant relative visa to join you. This scheme is open to close relatives who require care from a parent, grandchild, brother, sister, son or daughter living in the UK. In order to be eligible, the following must apply:

  • they must be over 18 years
  • the relative must be able to prove they need long-term care for activities of daily living – due to illness, disability or age
  • the care needed is not available (or affordable) in their home country
  • as the person providing care to your relative, you must be able to support and accommodate them without claiming public funds for at least five years

Under this scheme, if your relative is successful in gaining a visa, it will typically be provided on an unlimited basis, and hence will not require an extension.

How do I apply to bring a family member to the UK to join me?

All applications for family visas are completed online, on the Home Office website. The forms, evidence, and fee will vary depending on the type of visa being applied for. A partner, parent, or child applying to join you from outside of the UK will each need to pay an application fee of £1,523. If dependant children are being added to a parent’s application, an additional fee of £1,523 will be charged for each. The adult dependant relative visa attracts a fee of £3,250 if applied for outside of the UK.

As part of the application process, your family member may also be required to pay the immigration healthcare surcharge, which will allow them access to access NHS services. Once they have ILR, they will no longer need to pay this charge.

The information and documents you need to provide will be outlined when you complete your online application. Furthermore, your family member will need to make an appointment with a local immigration office in their region to have their photo and fingerprints taken.

Final words

The UK immigration system provides multiple routes to enable family members to join those who have secured ILR. If your family member is not immediately eligible for ILR, they should be able to extend their visa before it expires, which will allow them to settle permanently in the UK after five years of continuous residence. If you are in any way unsure of the best option to pursue to ensure your family members can join you in the UK, it is highly recommended that you speak to a specialist in immigration law. They will explain the optimal route based on your circumstances, meaning that your family will be by your side as soon as possible.

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