Wed | Nov 21, 2018

Immigration Corner | Visiting the UK for longer than six months

Published:Tuesday | June 19, 2018 | 12:00 AM
John Bassie

Dear Mr Bassie:

I have quite a bit of vacation leave available to me, and I plan to spend a few months with family in the United Kingdom. I would like to know if I will need a special visa if I plan to spend longer than six months there.


Dear D.E.:

Persons will need a family visa to live with a family member in the United Kingdom, if they plan to spend more than six months.

If a person is outside of the United Kingdom, he/she can apply for a family visa to live with their: spouse or partner; fiancÈ, fiancÈe or proposed civil partner; child; parent; relative who will provide long-term care for him/her. It is advisable that if visiting the United Kingdom for six months or less, persons should check if they need a standard visitor visa or marriage visitor visa.

If persons are in the United Kingdom, they can apply to extend their stay with a family member if they are already over there on a family visa. However, if they went to the United Kingdom on a different visa, they might be able to switch to a family visa to stay with their: spouse or partner, child or parent. Also, persons might be able to apply to stay on the basis of circumstances in their private life if they have lived in the United Kingdom for many years already.

The earliest that persons can apply is 28 days before their current permission to stay in the United Kingdom expires. If they are extending their visa to stay with the same family member, any time that they have left will be added to the new stay, up to a maximum of 28 days.

A decision will usually be made within 12 weeks if an application is made from outside the United Kingdom and within eight weeks if the application is made in the United Kingdom either online or by post. A same-day decision will be made if a person applies in the United Kingdom using the premium service.

Please note that the processing time might take longer if the application is complex, For example, if persons do not meet the minimum income requirement; cannot prove knowledge of English, need to attend an interview, have not provided all the evidence that the Home Office needs, or have a criminal conviction or other personal circumstance that needs to be reviewed. The cost of the application will depend on the situation and whether the application originates outside or from within the United Kingdom. If it originates within, then it will cost more to use the premium service for a same-day decision. Just for completeness, persons might also need to pay the immigration healthcare charge as part of their application.

There are some circumstances where a person cannot apply for or switch to a family visa. For example, a person cannot apply for a family visa if their family member is in the United Kingdom temporarily on a work visa or student visa.

However, he/she can apply to stay with them as a dependent instead.

If a person has a visitor visa or a visa for six months or less, he/she will usually need to leave the United Kingdom to apply for a family visa if either he/she has permission to be in the United Kingdom as a visitor or the visa is for six months or less.

However, a person might be able to switch to a family visa in the United Kingdom if he/she has either a six-month family visa as a fiancÈ, fiancÈe or proposed civil partner or permission to stay in the United Kingdom for the outcome of a family court case or divorce.

I hope this helps.

John S. Bassie

- John S. Bassie is a barrister/attorney-at-law who practises law in Jamaica. He is a justice of the peace, a Supreme Court-appointed mediator, a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, a chartered arbitrator and a member of the Immigration Law Practitioners Association (UK).