How to RENEW your UK Family Visa

As a Canadian living in the UK, I’ve just completed renewing my Family Visa and I wanted to share everything with you – what to expect, timeframes and how to complete this process without having a mental breakdown.

Let’s dive in!

First: the online application

The first part of the renewal process is completing the online application

  • I would recommend starting the application early, save your answers and return to it later
    • Starting early also gives you a good idea of what information you’re currently missing, so you can go away and collect those details rather than waiting until the last minute and realising you don’t have everything you need
  • From my memory, the renewal application is the same as the first application, but you’ll answer a particular question that this is not the first application you’re making with this partner
  • Most questions are pretty straightforward but sometimes the language they use is awkward
    • When in doubt, I would Google the question and it always came up on immigration forums where people had the same question and gave their opinion about what they chose and why
    • Reddit is also helpful as so many of us have the same questions
  • Overall the online application is fine – start early, take your time, answer to the best of your ability.
How to renew your UK Family Visa

Should I get a lawyer?

If your application is straightforward, such as you’re still married and you still live together, I would not recommend getting a lawyer. You can do this yourself. It’s overwhelming, but totally possible.

If your case is weird, you know you’re missing information or something has happened within the last 2.5 years which makes your application awkward, I would think about speaking to a lawyer.

I’ve used an immigration solicitor for an application in the past that was really weird and while I’m glad I had professional help, it ended up costing over £2,000 and was a bit of a nightmare. If you choose to go this route, I hope you have a better experience!

What documents do you need for a UK Family Visa renewal?

This is always the hardest part – providing all the documents.

When you start the application online, there’s a step at the end about documents and it gives you a checklist. I copy and pasted that list onto my computer and turned it into my own checklist.

I then started gathering everything on the list and checked it off once I had it.

You’ll need everything scanned into your computer electronically. If you don’t have a scanner (I didn’t) use a “Photo Scanner” app on your phone – the free ones work fine. You take a photo of the document and the app turns it into a proper document which you can send to your computer.

Save all your documents in a folder on your computer with very simple and straight-forward names. This helps keep everything organised for when you need to upload it later.

For document submissions, PDFs are ideal but JPEGS will also be accepted.

If you’re really uncomfortable with scanning, you can pay for professionals to do it for you as part of your upcoming Biometrics Appointment.

Do I need original documents?

Years ago, you had to submit only original documents. Thankfully now that so much of the process and the application is online, things don’t have to be certified original documents.

In my case, I included mail I received to the house (which would be considered original ) but I also included PDFs of banking statements that were not stamped and verified from the bank, just downloaded from my account.

I also used downloaded PDFs from various accounts like our electricity to help prove our address and I downloaded things like my Tenancy Agreement which was a PDF emailed me to by our letting agency when we moved here.

When it’s time to submit your application…

The guidance says you should apply for your renewal about one month before it expires. In the end, I applied like a month and two days early.

Go over your saved online application very carefully and then finally, follow the end steps to submit. It’s very clear so just follow the instructions on the screen.

Once your application is submitted, you can’t change your answer and you’ll then be prompted to pay.

Costs for the UK Family Visa renewal

Application = £1,048 (with standard processing times, not Priority)

  • If you wanted to get your application with Priority, it was about £1,800 but you’d get a result within one business day of your Biometrics Appointment. Once you select Standard or Priority in this section, you cannot change your answer

NHS fee = £1,560

Biometrics Appointment = £139

Your figures will be more expensive if you have any dependant children.

Booking your Biometrics Appointment

Once you pay, you’ll be prompted to book and pay for your Biometrics Appointment. This appointment is where they take your photo, digital signature and fingerprints as part of your application. While booking appointment, you can pay for on additional services like Scanning if you want them to upload your documents for you.

Next: upload your documents

After you’ve submitted your application, paid for it and booked your Biometrics appointment, now it’s time to start uploading your documents.

You’ll be emailed a link to their portal, make an account and sign in. You can add as many documents as you want and you can save and sign out then return to it later whenever you need to.

You can only “SUBMIT” everything once, so wait until you’re ready.

  • If you SUBMIT and then realise you forgot something, you can still upload documents until 48 hours before your Biometrics Appointment. At your appointment, they will submit everything one last time and that is the final time.

EXPAT TIP – You need to upload your Checklist that is emailed to you after you submit your application. I’ve forgotten this twice myself. It doesn’t seem important, but it’s necessary.

The portal itself doesn’t really give you guidance on what you upload, but use the checklist that’s emailed to you for what your particular visa requires.

The portal also provides generic “categories” like “financial” or “education” but it’s not very clear where you should upload your particular documents. I’ve heard that these categories are more for the applicant to help organise their documents and at the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter for the Home Office reviewing your application – just do your best!

At your Biometrics Appointment

When you attend your Biometrics Appointment, you must bring:

  • your passport
  • your appointment confirmation (comes with a QR code)
  • all your documents if you have paid for them to upload them for you

How long does it take until you get a result?

I submitted my renewal application early May 2023. The earliest Biometrics Appointment I could get was about 1.5 weeks later. The countdown to your result really starts after your Biometrics – for me, it was 17 business days after my appointment. I receive an email from the Home Office that my application was approved! A few days later, I received my newest Biometrics Residence Permit (BRO) in the mail.