If you are looking to apply for a partner visa to join your loved one in the UK, read on for a summary of the eligibility requirements you will need to meet and an overview of the process for making an application.
The UK immigration rules don’t make it easy for families to stay together. With so much at stake, if you have a question about a partner visa application, get in touch.
What is a Partner Visa UK?
A Partner Visa UK is the permission given by the Home Office to a foreign national from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland to come to the UK to be with their spouse, civil partner, fiancé or cohabiting partner.
In legal terms, this permission is based on an individual’s right under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights to respect for private and family life. Accordingly, you can apply to live in the UK on the basis of family life where your partner is either:
- A British citizen; or
- Present and settled in the UK, ie; with indefinite leave to remain; or
- In the UK with refugee status or humanitarian protection.
A partner includes a fiancé(e) or proposed civil partner, a spouse or civil partner, as well as an unmarried or same-sex partner. An unmarried partner includes anyone who has been living in a relationship akin to a marriage or civil partnership for at least 2 years prior to applying for a Partner Visa UK.
Eligibility criteria for a Partner Visa UK
To be eligible for a Partner Visa UK, you must be able to prove one of the following:
- You are in a civil partnership or marriage that’s recognised in the UK or
- You have been living together with your qualifying partner in a relationship for at least 2 years prior to the date of the application or
- You and your fiancé(e) or proposed civil partner will marry or enter into a civil partnership in the UK within 6 months of arriving.
The following criteria must also be satisfied:
- You and your partner must both be aged over 18
- Your relationship must be genuine and subsisting
- You must intend to live together permanently in the UK
In most cases, to be eligible to come to live with you in the UK, your partner must also meet the following financial and English language requirements:
The financial requirement
Under the financial requirement, you and your partner will need to show that you can support yourselves, as well as any dependent children, without recourse to public funds in the UK.
The minimum income threshold is set at £18,600 per annum, with an increase of £3,800 where your partner is applying with one dependant child, and thereafter an extra £2,400 for each additional child. This can be made up of your combined income.
In the event that you are in receipt of a specified benefit or allowance, your partner will be exempt from meeting the financial requirement in the form of the minimum income threshold. Instead, they will need to provide evidence of adequate maintenance and accommodation.
The English language requirement
If your partner is a national of a majority English-speaking country, such as Australia or America, s/he will be exempt from the English language requirement. Otherwise, they will need to provide evidence that they have an academic qualification that was taught in English and is recognised as being equivalent to a UK bachelors degree, masters degree or PhD, or have passed an approved English language test.
Your partner will also be exempt from meeting the English language requirement in the following circumstances:
- They are aged 65 or over
- They have a physical or mental disability that prevents them from meeting this requirement
- There are exceptional circumstances that prevent them from being able to meet the requirement prior to entry to the UK.
In the event that you and your partner are looking to set up life in the UK on a more permanent basis, you will eventually need to apply for settlement, known as indefinite leave to remain (ILR). You may become eligible for ILR after 5 continuous years in the UK during which time the relationship must have remained genuine and subsisting.
On application for ILR, you will also need to satisfy the KoLL requirement. This evidences your knowledge of the English language and about life in the UK.
Unless you are exempt, for example by reason of age, you must satisfy the KoLL requirement by proving your knowledge of English (as above) and passing a‘Life in the UK test at an approved test centre.
Partner Visa UK application process
To obtain a Partner Visa UK, you will need to submit an online application, together with extensive documents in support.
This should include proof of your relationship, ie; if you are not married, that you have lived in a relationship akin to a marriage or civil partnership for at least 2 years prior. Where required, you must also provide documentary proof of your knowledge of English, as well as the financial requirement.
As part of the application process, you will need to attend an appointment to provide your biometric information, ie; a scan of your fingerprints and a digital photo.
If you are already in the UK on a different type of visa, you may be able to switch to a Partner Visa UK in-country. Take advice to confirm whether your current visa or immigration status is permitted to allow a switch to the partner visa. If allowed, you will need to make the application to switch prior to expiry of their existing permission to stay in the UK.
If you are applying from outside the UK, a decision will usually be made within 12 weeks.
To make an application, you will need to pay the Home Office processing fee, as well as an additional charge to enrol your biometric information. You may also need to pay the immigration healthcare surcharge to be able to access all NHS services.
What if there are exceptional circumstances?
In the event that you do not meet the eligibility criteria for a Partner Visa UK, there are exceptional circumstances that may still be taken into account. You may still be entitled to live with you in the UK where:
- There would be significant difficulties for you both if you lived together as a couple outside the UK that could not be overcome.
- You have a child who has lived in the UK continuously for 7 years immediately preceding the date of the application, and it would not be reasonable to expect them to leave.
- It would be a breach of your human rights to be prevented from coming to the UK or forcing you to leave.
Do you have a question about a partner visa for the UK?
DavidsonMorris is a law firm specialising in UK immigration. We help individuals with their UK immigration needs, and can guide and support you through any Home Office process, including an application to live with a loved one in the UK. If you have a question about a Partner Visa, please contact us.