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Updates to the UK family visa

The Covid-19 pandemic has inevitably caused the postponing or cancellation of many weddings both in the UK and all over the world. Families are slowly being reunited following the global roll-out of the Covid-19 vaccine and subsequent lifting of travel restrictions.  

The Home Office has implemented special concessions for UK family visa holders who have been unable to return to the UK due to reasons surrounding Covid-19.  

One concession is for foreign nationals (outside the UK) with a UK family visa which expired between 1 March 2020 and 19 July 2021. These individuals are permitted to return to the UK despite their visas expiring, with the expectation that they will submit a visa application upon their return. When considering their new applications, the Home Office will disregard absences from the UK of up to six months which occurred during the pandemic. 

Another concession in place is for those foreign nationals who have entered the UK on a fiancé/proposed civil partner visa. This type of visa is valid for six months, with the main requirement being that a marriage/civil partnership takes place in the UK within those six months. Under this concession, it is possible to apply for an extension of a fiancé/proposed civil partner visa if the wedding or civil partnership ceremony was cancelled due to Covid-19.  

There are strict financial requirements which must be met to be granted with a UK family visa, which can be satisfied through employment or non-employment income, earnings through self-employment, cash savings, or income from pension. There are now financial concessions in place for UK family visa applicants in response to the economic hardships resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic.  

If, due to Covid-19, there has been a loss of income from employment on or before 31 October 2021, the Home Office will accept and consider employment income for the six-month period immediately preceding the loss of income start date.

The Home Office has implemented special concessions for UK family visa holders who have been unable to return to the UK due to reasons surrounding Covid-19.  

Visa applicants or their sponsors who have a reduced income from employment due to being furloughed are viewed as having been paid 100% of their normal salary for the purposes of meeting the financial requirements for their family visa application. A decrease or loss in income from self-employment from the onset of the pandemic in March 2020 to 31 October 2021 will normally be disregarded by the Home Office under these concessions.  

Despite the UK officially having left the EU, it remains possible for non-EU nationals to apply for an EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) Family Permit from outside the UK to join a family member who is an EU national (including Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein) and who began their residence in the UK on or before 31 December 2020. An EUSS Family Permit may also be an option for non-EU family members of British citizens (under the ‘Surinder Singh’ category), provided the family lived together in an EU country (prior to 1 January 2021) and before returning with the British family member to the UK.  

An EUSS Family Permit must be applied for from outside the UK and if granted, it is valid for 6 months, during which time it may be possible to regularise your stay by applying to the EU Settlement Scheme.  

The UK’s immigration rules are quite convoluted and can be difficult to decipher, which can result in the wrong type of application being submitted or an application being refused due to failing to meet the requirements. 

For further information contact our UK immigration lawyers.

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This information is for guidance purposes only and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice. Please refer to the full General Notices on our website.

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