Partner Visa UK (Eligibility Requirements!)

partner visa uk


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 to come to the UK to live with their spouse, civil partner, fiancé or cohabiting partner. It is part of the Family visa category, which also offers children, parents and relatives who will provide long-term care a route to the UK.

In legal terms, the permission for families 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
  • You and your partner must have met in person
  • Your relationship must be genuine and subsisting
  • You must intend to live together permanently in the UK
  • Any previous relationship must have broken down permanently


Additional partner requirements

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

Unless exempt, you must meet the financial requirement in the form of a minimum income threshold to show that you and your partner can support yourselves, as well as any dependent children, without recourse to public funds in the UK.

For a partner applying under Appendix FM, without dependent children, the threshold is a gross annual income of at least £18,600 for applications submitted before 11 April 2024. From 11 April 2024, the financial threshold for the UK spouse visa is increasing from £18,600 to £29,000, and will rise again to £38,700 by early 2025.

The minimum salary threshold also increases for every dependent child you have who is not a British or Irish citizen or is not permanently settled in the UK. If you are applying with a dependent child, you must prove an additional £3,800 for the first child, together with an increase of £2,400 for each additional child.

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, they 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.


KoLL requirement

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.

From within the UK, processing should take around 8 weeks when using the standard service, unless you pay for an expedited premium service.

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.


Need assistance?

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.

Last updated: 17 February 2024


Founder and Managing Director Anne Morris is a fully qualified solicitor and trusted adviser to large corporates through to SMEs, providing strategic immigration and global mobility advice to support employers with UK operations to meet their workforce needs through corporate immigration.

She is a recognised by Legal 500 and Chambers as a legal expert and delivers Board-level advice on business migration and compliance risk management as well as overseeing the firm’s development of new client propositions and delivery of cost and time efficient processing of applications.

Anne is an active public speaker, immigration commentator, and immigration policy contributor and regularly hosts training sessions for employers and HR professionals

About DavidsonMorris

As employer solutions lawyers, DavidsonMorris offers a complete and cost-effective capability to meet employers’ needs across UK immigration and employment law, HR and global mobility.

Led by Anne Morris, one of the UK’s preeminent immigration lawyers, and with rankings in The Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners, we’re a multi-disciplinary team helping organisations to meet their people objectives, while reducing legal risk and nurturing workforce relations.

Legal Disclaimer

The matters contained in this article are intended to be for general information purposes only. This article does not constitute legal advice, nor is it a complete or authoritative statement of the law, and should not be treated as such. Whilst every effort is made to ensure that the information is correct at the time of writing, no warranty, express or implied, is given as to its accuracy and no liability is accepted for any error or omission. Before acting on any of the information contained herein, expert legal advice should be sought.

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