When Switching From A UK Fiance To A Spouse Visa, Can I Include My Children On My Application?
If you are planning to get married or enter into a civil partnership in the UK on a fiance visa and then switch to a spouse visa, you may be assessing your immigration options for your children. In this article, we will explain the eligibility rules for children of a parent applying for a spouse visa as a partner of a person who is a British citizen, or who has settled in the UK.
Can I Add My Child(Ren) To My Spouse Visa Application?
Yes, Appendix FM of the immigration rules confirm that you can add your children to your spouse visa application as your dependants if the following apply:
- they are under the age of 18 at the date of application, unless applying to extend leave granted as a child under Appendix FM in cases where the applicant has subsequently reached the age of 18 but not yet obtained settlement
- they are not married or in a civil partnership
- they have not formed an independent family unit
- they will not be leading an independent life
Section E-ECC.1.6 of the immigration rules defines the relationship requirements which must be met. It confirms that one of the child's parents must be in the UK with limited leave to enter or remain, or be being granted, or have been granted, entry clearance, as a partner or a parent, and the following must apply:
- the child's parent's UK based partner must be a parent of the child; OR
- the child's parent has had and continues to have sole responsibility for the child's upbringing; or
- there are serious and compelling family or other considerations which make exclusion of the child undesirable and suitable arrangements have been made for the child's care.
In addition to these relationship criteria, the spouse visa applicant will also need to meet a higher financial requirement. As stated in Appendix FM 3.1, If the higher financial requirement and other requirements are met, the child can be granted leave in line with their migrant parent. If the migrant parent and child are applying together, and the higher financial requirement and other requirements are not met, all the applicants will be refused.
The immigration rules also state in general dependants have near full access to the UK labour market and can work at any skill level. School-age children accompanying a migrant are entitled to state education. Dependants must also pay the Immigration Health Surcharge. This latter point is an important consideration, as not only will the parent applying for a spouse visa need to pay an additional application fee for each child, they will need to pay the healthcare surcharge for each child.
What Is Meant By Living An Independent Life?
Under Appendix FM of the immigration rules, only dependant children under the age of 18 (when first entering the UK) can be included on a spouse visa application. In order to qualify as a dependant, the child cannot:
- be married or in a civil partnership
- have formed an independent family unit (i.e. living with a partner, or have children of their own)
- living away from the family home (this does not include if the child is living away for education such as attending a boarding school or University)
- working in full-time employment, or where the child appears to be financially independent (i.e. if income exceeds their expenditure).
What Are The Additional Financial Requirements Of A Spouse Visa If Including Children?
In addition to the annual gross income of at least £18,600, as a spouse applicant you will also need to show evidence of £3,800 for the first child; and £2,400 for each additional child. This may be met by annual income alone, or in conjunction with savings of over £16,000 (divided by 2.5).
There are some exceptions to this requirement. The financial requirement does not need to be met where the sponsoring partner of the spouse visa applicant is receiving one or more of the following:
- disability living allowance;
- severe disablement allowance;
- industrial injury disablement benefit;
- attendance allowance; or
- carer's allowance.
If the sponsoring partner is receiving any of these benefits, the Home Office will request evidence that the child's parent's partner can adequately maintain and accommodate themselves and any dependant children in the UK without seeking recourse to public funds.
How Do I Add My Children To My Spouse Visa Application?
Depending on your circumstances, you can apply online from outside the UK or inside the UK. You will need to pay an application fee of £1,523 (if applying outside the UK) or £1,033 (if applying inside the UK) for each person included on the application form. You will also need to pay the healthcare surcharge of £400 per person per year, and £19.20 each to have your biometric information scanned and uploaded.
If the application for leave to remain as a child is successful, it will be granted to expire at the same time as the leave granted to their parent (i.e. the spouse visa applicant).
The main way in which a child of a spouse visa applicant would apply for leave to remain in the UK is to be included on their parent's application. Other rules will apply if the child was born in the UK to a British parent, or if they have already lived in the UK for seven or more years. If you are unsure of the best route to secure your child's immigration status in the UK, it is always recommended that you speak to immigration Solicitors who will be able to assess your options. They will also be able to assist you with your application and handle any enquiries raised by the Home Office on your behalf.