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Visitors: Visiting family

Last updated 19 November 2010


This is internal guidance for use by entry clearance staff on the handling of applications made outside the United Kingdom (UK) for visit and transit visas. It is a live document under constant review and is for information only.

Entry Clearance Guidance - Recent updates



Further information

VAT2.1 What are the requirements

Immigration Rules for visitors: Paragraphs 40 and 41

The main points on which an ECO must be satisfied:

  • that the applicant is giving a true account of what he / she intends to do during his/her stay in the UK and the length of time he / she will stay in the UK; and
  • that, during his / her stay, he / she does not intend undertaking any activity which is not allowed by the Rules relating to visitors; and
  • that there are sufficient funds available to finance the stay (and that of any dependants) and the onward or return journey.


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VAT2.2 What is a family visitor?

Under the Immigration Appeals (Family Visitor) Regulations 2003, a family visitor is defined as someone who intends to visit someone who is related to them in the following way:

  1. the applicant's spouse, father, mother, son, daughter, grandfather, grandmother, grandson, granddaughter, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, nephew, niece or first cousin (note: "first cousin" means, in relation to a person, the son or daughter of his uncle or aunt);
  2. the father, mother, brother or sister of the applicant's spouse;
  3. the spouse of the applicant's son or daughter;
  4. the applicant's stepfather, stepmother, stepson, stepdaughter, stepbrother or stepsister; or
  5. a person with whom the applicant has lived as a member of an unmarried couple for at least two of the three years before the day on which his application for entry clearance was made.

In addition:

  • Children adopted under an adoption order recognised in UK law are treated as if they are the natural children of the adoptive parents; and,
  • The Immigration Appeals (Family Visitor) Regulations 2003 pre-date The Civil Partnership Act (2004). Civil partners are considered “a member of the applicant’s family” in the same way as a spouse for the purposes of the Family Visitor Regulations.
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VAT2.3 What is the visa endorsement for a family visitor?

C: VISIT- FAMILY VISIT LTE 6 months Code 3

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VAT2.4 Do family visitors have full rights of appeal (FRA)?

The burden of proof is on the applicant to demonstrate that they, 1) have a qualifying family member in the UK and 2) intend to visit that family member.

If refused an applicant is entitled to a FRA if they demonstrate all of the following:

  • the application submitted falls to be assessed under all of the requirements of Paragraph 41 of the Immigration Rules or for Child Visitors under Paragraph 46A;
  • the intention is to visit a qualifying family member in the UK as defined in the Immigration Appeals (Family Visitor) Regulations 2003; and
  • the main purpose for the visit is to visit a qualifying family member.

The ECO should assess all the information provided to determine whether the main purpose of the visit is to visit a qualifying family member. The relationship stated on the VAF and / or supporting documents should be accepted unless one of the following scenarios apply:

  1. the applicant has submitted a Family Visitor application but the main purpose of the visit is to engage in an activity not provided for under Paragraph 41 of the Rules (that is, Business Visitor, Sports Visitor, Entertainer Visitor, Medical Visitor, Visit for Marriage or Civil Partnership and Student Visitor); or
  2. the applicant has not fully completed the relevant sections of the VAF and no evidence has been submitted which suggests that the visit is for the purpose of visiting a qualifying family member; or
  3. no evidence has been submitted with the application which demonstrates that a family visit is intended; or
  4. the applicant and / or sponsor does not detail what their relationship is either on the VAF or supporting documents.

Where sponsorship documents have been submitted and the ECO has reason / grounds to doubt the relationship, a telephone call should be made to the sponsor in the UK and clarification sought. A DVR should be completed in all cases to justify the refusal and to support the ECOs decision to only refuse on a LRA.  

Clear reasons should be provided on the refusal notice to why a FRA was not given. For example, "You have applied to visit xxxx but he / she does not qualify as a family member under the Immigration Appeals (Family Visitor) Regulations 2003 because xxxx.”

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VAT2.5 Group applications

All applicants must be served with individual refusal notices. However, a child visitor’s notice of refusal should be served on the parent or guardian.  It is inappropriate to give a teenage child a notice of refusal that makes negative references to their parent’s circumstances or financial information. However, if the family group has provided one set of financial documents to support all the applications, it is appropriate to refer to these in each notice. Equally, when refusing other, non related groups, for example, a tour group, ECOs must take care to ensure that no applicant receives inappropriate information about another group member on their notice of refusal.
Sometimes members of the same family group who have been refused visit entry clearance will have different rights of appeal under The Immigration Appeals (Family Visitor) Regulations 2003. For example if the family (mother, father and 2 children) are visiting the mother’s aunt, the mother will have a full right of appeal but not the father or children, who as dependents of the main applicant will have only a limited right of appeal. The individual refusal notices must reflect the correct rights of appeal for each individual. However any appeal should reflect the fact that all applicants were refused and if the appeal of the main applicant is allowed then it follows that all should be issued entry clearance in line.

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