Differences Between Family Visa and Dependant Visa

Differences Between Family Visa and Dependant Visa in the UK

Understanding the differences between Family Visa and Dependant Visa in the UK is crucial for individuals planning to bring their loved ones to the country. Both visas have distinct intentions and include particular eligibility criteria, benefits, and conditions. 

The Family Visa is intended for those with a family member who is a British citizen or settled in the UK, while the Dependant Visa is for family members of individuals holding a temporary visa, such as a student or worker visa. 

In this post, we’ll outline the key distinctions between these visa categories, their benefits, and the specific conditions attached to each.

What Are the Main Differences Between UK Family Visa and Dependant Visa?

The UK Family Visa and the Dependant Visa accommodate various requirements and interpersonal connections. Both visas allow family members to join their loved ones in the UK, but the eligibility criteria, benefits, and conditions vary significantly. Recognising these distinctions assists applicants in selecting the appropriate visa category and meeting all requirements.

Dependant Visa

A Dependant visa allows family members to join someone already in the UK on a temporary visa, such as a skilled worker visa or student visa. The primary visa holder’s status directly influences the conditions and duration of the dependant’s stay.

Dependant Visa eligibility necessitates that the applicant be the spouse, civil partner, unmarried partner, or child under the age of 18 of the primary visa holder. The primary visa holder is responsible for providing adequate financial resources to sustain their dependants without recourse to public funds. Dependants can work and study in the UK, contributing to household income and educational advancement.

Also Read: Settling in the UK on a Dependant Visa: Explained

Family Visa

The Family Visa is intended for individuals with a close family member who is a British citizen or has Uk permanent residency. Its purpose is to streamline the process of reuniting families and guarantee that family members can reside together in the UK. 

Eligibility for a Family Visa includes spouses, civil partners, unmarried partners, children, parents, and other close relatives. Applicants must prove their genuine relationship with the UK-based family member through documentation such as marriage certificates, photographs, and correspondence. The UK sponsor has to have a certain income level to demonstrate their ability to support the applicant financially.

Read about: UK Family Visa Financial Requirements 2024

What Are the Benefits of Having a UK Family Visa?

A UK Family Visa offers several benefits that make it an attractive option for individuals looking to join their family members who are British citizens, settled in the UK, or have refugee status. These benefits vary depending on the relationship between the applicant and the UK-based family member, covering spouses or partners, parents, and children.

Benefits for Spouses or Partners

Spouses or partners of UK citizens or settled persons enjoy several advantages with a Family Visa. They have the privilege of working and living in the UK, providing significant flexibility and possibilities for integration. They can also receive academic benefits by studying in the UK. 

After five years of residing in the United Kingdom on a Family Visa, spouses or partners can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR), which provides them with permanent residency status. This pathway to settlement ensures that families can stay together in the UK in the long term.

Benefits for Children

Children under 18 of UK citizens or settled persons can be included in the Family Visa application, allowing them to live in the UK with their parents. They have access to the UK’s educational system, which is renowned for its quality. 

Additionally, they can receive healthcare and other essential services to secure their health. Once they reach adulthood, they can apply for their visas, depending on their circumstances, or continue their pathway to settlement.

Rights Granted to UK Dependant Visa Holders

Dependant Visa holders are granted several rights that ensure their stay in the UK is both productive and fulfilling. These rights cover various aspects of daily life, allowing dependants to integrate fully into UK society.

Working Rights

Dependants of primary visa holders, such as those on a skilled worker visa or student visa, are allowed to work in the UK. This allows them to pursue career opportunities and contribute to the family revenue. There are generally no restrictions on the type of work they can do, providing significant flexibility in their employment options.

Education Rights

Dependant Visa holders can also study in the UK, which opens up opportunities for educational advancement. They can attend schools, colleges, and universities, benefiting from the UK’s high-quality education system. This right is particularly advantageous for children of primary visa holders, as it ensures continuous educational development.

Healthcare Access

UK’s public healthcare system, the National Health Service (NHS), is accessible to dependent visa holders. This ensures they can receive medical care and treatment as needed, which is crucial for maintaining their health and well-being during their stay in the UK.

Settlement Route

Dependents can apply for ILR when they have resided in the UK for at least five years. This gives them permanent residency in the UK and the opportunity to become citizens.

Duration and Conditions of Stay in the UK

The duration and conditions of stay in the UK vary significantly between Family Visas and Dependent Visas. Understanding these specifics is essential for applicants to ensure compliance and to plan their long-term stay effectively.

For Family Visa

Family Visas are typically issued initially for a duration of 2 years and 9 months. After this period, the visa holder can apply for another 2 years and six months extension, provided they continue to meet the relevant requirements. 

For Dependant Visa

The duration of a Dependant Visa is directly tied to the primary visa holder’s status. Depending on the main visa holder’s status, dependents can stay in the UK.  Dependants can also apply for visa extensions if the main visa holder does so.

Also Read: A Guide to UK Dependant Visa Fees in 2024

Do You Need UK Visa Application Help?

The UK visa application route can be complicated or intimidating for you. At Spouse Visa Lawyers, we specialise in helping individuals navigate the intricacies of UK visa applications with ease and confidence. Our expert legal team provides personalised support, guaranteeing you fulfil all prerequisites and submit an effective application. 

Whether you need help understanding eligibility requirements, gathering the necessary documentation, or submitting your visa application, we offer professional assistance to ensure the process goes smoothly. Contact us today to schedule a consultation, and let our professional team support you in securing your UK Family or Dependent Visa. 

You Ask, We Answer


Yes, individuals on a Family Visa can work in the UK. This applies to all employment sectors, allowing visa holders to seek job opportunities and contribute to the household income.

The required documents for a Family Visa application commonly include a valid passport, proof of relationship (such as marriage certificates for spouses), proof of sufficient income or savings, and evidence of accommodation in the UK. 

Yes, dependents of students with a Dependant Visa can work in the UK, except professional sportspersons and doctors/dentists.

Yes, it’s feasible to transition from a Dependant Visa to a Family Visa while in the UK, provided that the individual satisfies the eligibility requirements for the Family Visa. This includes proving a genuine family relationship with a UK citizen or settled person and meeting financial requirements.

Processing times for Family Visas and Dependant Visas can vary. Generally, Family Visa applications take around 8-12 weeks when applied for within the UK, while applications from outside the UK may take up to 24 weeks. Dependant Visa processing times align with the primary visa holder’s application timeline.

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The information provided in our articles is intended solely for guidance and should not be considered legal advice. We do not assume responsibility for any liabilities arising from the information in written articles and recommend that all readers seek professional advice before taking any action. For those wishing to discuss their case with a professional, please feel free to contact us directly.

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