Skip to navigation Skip to content Skip to footer

Check if your partner and children can get visas to live in the UK

This advice applies to England

Bringing family members from Ukraine to the UK

There are special rules for family members who are Ukrainian nationals. Check the rules about bringing family members from Ukraine to the UK.

Your partner might be able to get a partner visa to join you in the UK - or stay in the UK if they’re already here. 

If your partner has children aged under 18, your partner can usually also apply for them to get child visas. They don't need to be your biological children - for example, they can be your step-children. Your partner can:

  • apply for the partner and child visas at the same time
  • apply for the child visas when they already have a partner visa

Partner and child visas are types of family visa. It will cost over £1,500 for each person to get a family visa.

Your partner’s visa will usually last for 2 years and 9 months - or 2 years and 6 months if they’re already in the UK when they apply. Child visas will last until the partner visa ends - even if they start later. Your partner can usually apply:

  • to extend both types of visa before they end
  • for them and their children to stay in the country permanently after they’ve had a partner visa for 5 years

If your partner applies for a partner visa you’re called their ‘sponsor’. If they apply for visas for their children, you’ll also be the children’s sponsor.

If you only want to sponsor your children

Your children can usually only get child visas if their parent has a partner visa - or is applying for one.

You might be able to apply for your child to live in the UK permanently instead - this is called ‘indefinite leave’. Your child can get indefinite leave if either:

  • you have sole responsibility for them and you have a permanent right to live in the UK
  • you and their other parent both have a permanent right to live in the UK - you must both be in the UK or moving to the UK with your child

You have a permanent right to live in the UK if for example you’re a British citizen or you have indefinite leave.

Check if you can get indefinite leave for your child.

To work out if your partner and their children can get family visas, you’ll need to check:

  • if you can be a sponsor
  • who can apply for partner and child visas
  • if your partner needs to take an English language test
  • the rules about your income and savings
  • the rules about where you live

Check if you can be a sponsor

You can sponsor your partner and their children if you have one of the following:

  • British citizenship
  • Irish citizenship - you must be living or have lived in the UK
  • indefinite leave or right of abode
  • settled status from the EU Settlement Scheme
  • pre-settled status from the EU Settlement Scheme - you must have come to the UK by 31 December 2020

If you’re a refugee or have humanitarian protection, this also lets you sponsor your partner and their children. If your relationship with your partner started before you had to leave your country, your partner and children can apply to join you under the refugee ‘family reunion’ rules instead. It’s free and easier than applying for family visas. Check how your partner and children can apply for family reunion on GOV.UK.

If you have another type of visa

Your partner and their children can’t usually apply for family visas.

Your visa might let your partner and their children apply to join you as ‘dependents’. You’ll need to check the rules for your visa. For example:

If you’ve got another type of visa, you should be able to find the rules for your visa on GOV.UK.

If your child was born in the UK or one of their parents has British citizenship

Your child might have British citizenship automatically.

If your child isn’t already a British citizen, you might be able to apply for citizenship for them. It depends on where they were born and your immigration status. It costs less than applying for indefinite leave.

Check if your child has or can apply for British citizenship.

If you’re a citizen of the EU, Norway, Switzerland, Iceland or Liechtenstein

Your partner and children might be able to apply for pre-settled or settled status from the EU Settlement Scheme. It’s free and easier than applying for family visas.

Your partner and children can apply to the EU Settlement Scheme if you were living in the UK by 31 December 2020 and one of the following applies:

  • you and your partner got married or registered a civil partnership by 31 December 2020
  • you and your partner were living together for 2 years by 31 December 2020
  • you’re a Swiss citizen and you and your partner are married - this will apply if you get married at any point until 31 December 2025

You can check if your partner and children can apply to the EU Settlement Scheme.

You can check which countries are in the EU on GOV.UK.

If you arrived in the UK after 31 December 2020

If you applied and got pre-settled status as a family member, your partner and their children can’t apply for family visas or apply to the EU Settlement Scheme.

If you’re in this situation, you’ll need to wait until you get settled status before your partner and their children can apply for family visas. Check the rules about switching from pre-settled to settled status.

If you were born in Northern Ireland

Your partner and children might be able to apply for pre-settled or settled status from the EU Settlement Scheme. It's free and easier than applying for a visa. 

Your partner and children can apply for pre-settled or settled status if you have British or Irish citizenship - or both. When you were born one of your parents must have had either:

  • British or Irish citizenship - or both 
  • an immigration status that let them live in the UK permanently - for example, indefinite leave

You must have been living in the UK by 31 December 2020 and you and your partner must have either:

  • got married or registered a civil partnership by 31 December 2020
  • been living together for 2 years by 31 December 2020

If you were born in Northern Ireland, check how your partner and children should apply to the EU Settlement Scheme on GOV.UK.

Check if your partner can apply for a partner visa

Your partner can apply for a partner visa if they’re one of the following:

  • your husband, wife or civil partner
  • your fiancé(e) or proposed civil partner
  • your partner who you’ve lived with for at least 2 years

You must have met your partner in person, and you must intend to live together permanently. If they’re your fiancé(e) or proposed civil partner, it’s okay if you only intend to live together after your marriage or civil partnership.

If your partner is already in the UK, they can only apply if they have a visa that was for more than 6 months when they got it. They can’t apply if they’re in the UK on a visitor visa.

Your partner can’t apply if they owe £500 or more to the NHS.

You and your partner must have ended any past relationships with other people. If you were previously in a marriage or civil partnership with someone else, it must have legally ended.

If your fiancé(e) or proposed civil partner is applying

If you’ve lived together for at least 2 years, It’s usually best for your partner to use that as the basis for their application. This means they:

  • will get a visa for 2 years and 9 months - or 2 years and 6 months if they’re already in the UK
  • will be allowed to work in the UK
  • will not have to make another application and pay another fee after they get married

If you haven’t lived together for 2 years, your fiancé(e) or proposed civil partner can only apply to come to the UK for 6 months. You must get married or register a civil partnership in that time.

If your partner gets the 6-month visa, they won’t be allowed to work. After your wedding or civil partnership ceremony, they can apply for a partner visa as a husband, wife or civil partner - this will allow them to work.

Your partner can only apply for the 6-month visa if they’re outside the UK.

If you and your partner want to get married or register a civil partnership in the UK but you don’t plan to live here, they can come to the UK on a different kind of visa called a marriage visitor visa. This means they’ll have to leave the UK at the end of 6 months. Check how to get a marriage visitor visa on GOV.UK.

Check if your partner’s children can apply for child visas

When your partner applies for a partner visa, they can also apply for their children aged under 18 to get child visas at the same time.

If your partner has already got a partner visa, they can still apply for child visas for their children.

The child visas will last until the end of the partner visa.

If you aren’t a child’s other parent, your partner can only apply for a child visa if they have sole responsibility for them. They have sole responsibility if they’re the only person responsible for the children's upbringing and welfare.

Your partner can’t apply for a child who is independent, for example if they:

  • are living with a partner
  • have left home - unless they left home to study

Your partner doesn’t need to apply for children who already have a right to be in the UK - for example if they’re British citizens or they have indefinite leave.

Check the rules about your income and savings

You must show you have a certain amount of income or savings. This is called the ‘financial requirement’.

The normal way to meet the financial requirement is to show your income is at least a certain amount of money each year.

If your partner is already in the UK, you can add their income to yours. If they’re not in the UK yet, you can only include income they’ll still get after they move.

If your partner is applying for themselves and no children, you meet the financial requirements if your income is at least £18,600 each year before tax.

If your partner is applying for children, you can sponsor them if your income is £18,600 plus:

  • £3,800 for the first child
  • £2,400 for the second child and for each child after that

For example if your partner is applying for themselves and 2 children, you can sponsor them if you earn at least £24,800 each year. This is £18,600 plus £3,800 plus £2,400.

Your income doesn’t include benefits, but it does include:

  • earnings from employment or self-employment in the UK 
  • a pension
  • maternity, paternity, adoption or sick pay
  • other income - for example from rent or shares

Your partner doesn’t need to apply for children who already have a right to be in the UK - for example if they’re British citizens or they have indefinite leave.

If your income isn’t enough, you might still be able to meet the financial requirement if either:

  • you and your partner have over £16,000 in savings between you
  • you get certain disability benefits like Personal Independence Payment (PIP) or Carer’s Allowance

If you and your partner have over £16,000 in savings

You can top up your income with any savings you and your partner have over £16,000 - you must have had them for at least 6 months.

You’ll need £16,000 plus £2.50 for every £1 your income is below the financial requirement. This is because the partner visa is for 2 and a half years.

To check if you meet the financial requirement:

  1. Work out how much you’ve got in savings

  2. Take off £16,000

  3. Divide the amount that is left by 2.5

  4. Add the final total to your income

  5. Check if you now meet the financial requirement

Example

Erika’s wife is applying for visas for her and her child to come to the UK. The financial requirement for a partner and 1 child is £22,400.

Erika earns £20,000 per year - her income is below the financial requirement.

Erika has £18,000 in savings, which she’s had for the last 6 months. Erika’s wife has £8,000 in savings, which she’s had for the last 6 months.

£18,000 plus £8,000 is £26,000.

£26,000 minus £16,000 is £10,000.

£10,000 divided by 2.5 is £4,000.

Erika can add the £4,000 to her income. £20,000 plus £4,000 is £24,000.

£24,000 is more than £22,400, so Erika meets the financial requirement.

Talk to an adviser if you need help working out if you meet the financial requirement.

If you get disability benefits

Special rules apply if you get any of the following benefits:

  • Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
  • Attendance Allowance
  • Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
  • Carer's Allowance
  • Severe Disablement Allowance
  • Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit
  • Armed Forces Independence Payment or Guaranteed Income Payment under the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme
  • Constant Attendance Allowance, Mobility Supplement or War Disablement Pension under the War Pensions Scheme
  • Police Injury Pension

To meet the financial requirement, you only need to show you’ll have enough income to look after your partner and any children. This is called the ‘adequate maintenance’ test.

To check if you can pass the adequate maintenance test, you need to first work out how much income the government says you need each week. You then need to check if you have enough income.

Work out how much income you need each week

To work out how much income the government says you need each week, add together:

  • £121.05 - this is for you and your partner
  • £70.80 for each child aged under 18 who will live with you - even if they’re not part of the application
  • your housing costs - these are your rent or mortgage payments plus your council tax

When you’re working out your housing costs, don’t include any part of the costs that will be covered by Council Tax Reduction, Housing Benefit or the housing element of Universal Credit.

The Home Office will look at the council tax you’ll have to pay when your partner lives with you. For example, if you get a single person discount at the moment it will usually stop when your partner starts living with you.

Example

Henrik’s partner is applying for visas for her and her child to come to the UK. Henrik gets PIP.

The total weekly income Henrik needs to sponsor his partner and child is £121.05 plus £70.80 plus his housing costs.

Henrik’s rent is entirely covered by the housing element of Universal Credit. This means his only housing cost is council tax.

When Henrik’s partner and child live with him, his council tax will be £30 each week. He gets Council Tax Reduction of £10 each week. £30 minus £10 is £20. This means he needs £20 income for council tax each week.

The total income Henrik needs each week is £121.05 plus £70.80 plus £20. This is £211.85.

Check if you have enough income

Work out how much income you’ll get each week after tax. You can include earnings, pensions and income from things like rent or shares.

If your partner is already in the UK, you can add their income to yours. If they’re not in the UK yet, you can only include income they’ll still get after they move. If the extra income will make your benefits go down, you need to calculate your total income based on the benefits you will get when they live with you.

If you and your partner have any savings, you can add them to your income - you must have had the savings for at least 6 months. Divide the amount of your savings by 130 - this is how much you can add to your weekly income.

If your total income is high enough, you’ll pass the adequate maintenance test.

Example

Henrik’s partner is applying for visas for her and her child to come to the UK. Henrik gets PIP. The total weekly income he needs to sponsor his partner and child is £211.85.

Henrik’s weekly earnings after tax are £180.

Henrik and his partner have £6,500 in savings, which they’ve had for the last 6 months. £6,500 divided by 130 is £50. This is added to his income.

£180 plus £50 is £230. Henrik’s total weekly income is £230. This is more than the government says he needs, so Henrik can sponsor his partner and child.

If your total income isn’t high enough

When you work out your total income, you might be able to include other benefits you get - for example some parts of Universal Credit. It depends on your circumstances.

If you need help working out if you can pass the adequate maintenance test, talk to an adviser.

Check the rules about where you live

Your partner will have to show that where you live is safe, suitable and large enough for the number of people you want to live there with you. You don’t need to own your own home but you do need somewhere you can stay long term. For example you might have a tenancy agreement or a room of your own in your parents’ house.

If you live in council housing or your landlord is a housing association, you can check how many people are allowed to live in your home. This is called the ‘permitted number of persons’ (PNP). The PNP is usually on your tenancy agreement, or you can ask your landlord. Children under 1 year old aren’t included in the total, and children between 1 and 10 years old count as half a person.

If you’re not a council or housing association tenant, check your local council’s guidance about overcrowding. You can find your local council on GOV.UK.

If your partner applies for a 6-month visa as a fiancé(e) or proposed civil partner, you and your partner can live separately when they first arrive in the UK. Your partner will need to give evidence about both:

  • where they will live before the wedding or civil partnership ceremony - for example with family or friends
  • where they will live with you after the wedding or civil partnership ceremony

Check if your partner needs to take an English language test

Your partner usually needs to take an English language test before they apply for a partner visa. Their children don’t need to take an English language test.

Your partner doesn’t need to take a test if one of the following applies:

  • they’re a citizen of a country that’s exempt because English is an official or majority language there - for example Jamaica or the USA
  • they have a university degree that was taught or researched in English
  • they’re under 18 or over 65 years old

If your partner has a physical or mental condition that stops them passing the test, they might not have to do it. They’ll need to ask their doctor to confirm their condition:

  • is unlikely to change
  • makes it impossible for them to learn enough English - for example, a learning disability or brain injury that stops them learning the language

You can check the full rules about who needs to take an English language test on GOV.UK.

Taking an English language test

If your partner needs to pass a test, it must be at least level ‘A1’ on the ‘Common European Framework of Reference for Languages’ (CEFR) scale. This tests if they can speak in English and understand spoken English - it doesn’t test reading or writing in English.

They must use an approved test provider. You can find an approved English language test provider on GOV.UK.

If your partner can speak English well

It’s worth your partner taking a higher level test than A1 - this means they can use the result for later visa applications.

They will need to pass a test at:

  • level ‘A2’ when they apply to extend their partner visa
  • level ‘B1’ when they apply to live in the UK permanently - this is called ‘indefinite leave’

If your partner and children don’t meet the rules for family visas

Your partner and their children might be able to get a visa if an exception applies. The exceptions depend on whether they’re living inside or outside the UK when they apply.

If your partner and their children are already in the UK

Your partner and their children should be able to get family visas if there are ‘exceptional circumstances’. There are exceptional circumstances if any of the following apply:

  • not getting a family visa would cause ‘unjustifiably harsh consequences’ for you, your partner or a child under 18 years old - for example, if they need special care which they can only get in the UK
  • you would have difficulty living with your partner and children anywhere else in the world - for example if there’s no country where you’re both allowed to live
  • your partner has a child under 18 who is in the UK and is either a British citizen or has lived in the UK for at least 7 years

Your partner and their children should also be able to get visas if refusing their application would affect their ‘right to private or family life’. Their right to private and family life might be affected if any of the following apply:

  • it would be very difficult for them to live in the country they would have to return or move to - for example because of a lack of work, education, family or friends, or if they wouldn't be accepted back there
  • they’ve lived in the UK for 20 years or more
  • they’re aged 18 to 25 and they’ve lived in the UK for at least half their life

The child’s right to private life and family life might also be affected if they’ve lived in the UK for at least 7 years and it would be difficult for them to adapt to living somewhere else. The older they are, the easier it is to show this.

If your partner and their children get family visas based on exceptional circumstances or private and family life, they can only apply to stay in the UK permanently after 10 years.

When your partner applies for their visa, they can also ask for access to ‘public funds’ if they need it. This means they’ll be allowed to claim benefits and apply for council housing. It’s easier to show they need access to public funds if they’ll be living with their child.

Get help from a specialist adviser if your partner and their children need to apply based on exceptional circumstances or private and family life.

If your partner and their children are applying from outside the UK

Your partner and their children should be able to get family visas if there are ‘exceptional circumstances’.

There are exceptional circumstances if not getting family visas would cause ‘unjustifiably harsh consequences’ for you, your partner or a child under 18 years old. For example, your partner might need special care which they can only get in the UK.

If your partner and their children get visas based on exceptional circumstances, they can only apply to stay in the UK permanently after 10 years.

When your partner applies for their visa, they should also ask for access to ‘public funds’ if they need it. This means they’ll be allowed to claim benefits and apply for council housing. It’s easier to show they need access to public funds if they’ll be living with their child.

Get help from a specialist adviser if your partner and their children need to apply based on exceptional circumstances.

Check your partner’s rights if they get a visa

If your partner and their children get family visas, they will have the right to:

  • rent or buy somewhere to live
  • use the NHS
  • go to school
  • leave the UK and return as many times as they want
  • work or study - unless they have a 6-month visa as a fiancé(e) or proposed civil partner

Your partner and their children usually can’t claim most benefits or apply for council housing. This is called having a ‘no public funds’ condition. Check what benefits they can get while they have a ‘no public funds’ condition.

If your partner and their children get family visas based on exceptional circumstances or private and family life, they might be able to get benefits and council housing. If you’re not sure, check if it says ‘no public funds’ on their documents or their Biometric Residence Permit.

Check the rules about staying in the UK at the end of the visa

Your partner can apply to extend their visa and their children’s visas before they end. The extension will be for 2 years and 6 months.

If your partner got a 6-month visa as a fiancé(e) or proposed civil partner, they need to apply after your wedding or civil partnership ceremony.

If you can’t get married or register a civil partnership within 6 months, your partner can apply for a small extension. They’ll have to explain why the ceremony hasn’t happened yet and give evidence to prove it will happen soon. Get help from a specialist adviser if you need to extend a 6-month visa.

Staying in the UK permanently

When your partner has been in the country on a partner visa for 5 years, they can usually apply to stay in the UK permanently. This is called ‘indefinite leave’. The 5 years doesn’t include any time when they were in the UK on the 6-month visa as a fiancé(e) or proposed civil partner.

If your partner gets a partner visa based on exceptional circumstances or private and family life, they can only apply for indefinite leave after 10 years.

Your partner can apply for their children to get indefinite leave at the same time as them, or when they’ve already got it. It doesn’t matter how long their children have been in the UK.

Apply for partner and child visas

Check how your partner and children can apply for family visas.

Did this advice help?
Why wasn't this advice helpful?

Please tell us more about why our advice didn't help.

Did this advice help?

Thank you, your feedback has been submitted.

Additional feedback