If you are in a relationship with a British citizen or individual with UK indefinite leave to remain, you may be able to apply for the Unmarried Partner Visa, also known as the Family Visa.
What are the eligibility criteria and how do you apply?
Who is eligible for an Unmarried Partner Visa?
You can apply to live in the UK on the basis of family life as the partner of a person who 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 the date of the application for the unmarried partner visa.
If you plan to marry, you must demonstrate that 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.
What are the requirements for an Unmarried Partner Visa?
If you are applying as the partner of a person living in the UK, unmarried or otherwise, you must also satisfy the following requirements:
- You and your partner must both be aged 18 or over
- Your relationship must be genuine and subsisting
- You must intend to live together permanently in the UK
- You must meet the financial requirements
- You must pass the English language requirements
To satisfy the financial requirements for an unmarried partner visa you will need to demonstrate that you and your partner can support yourselves, as well as any dependent children, without recourse to public funds.
You can satisfy the financial requirement by meeting a minimum income threshold. As such, you and your partner must have a combined income of at least £18,600 a year (as at June 2019).
For any dependant child who is not a British citizen, an EEA national or permanently settled in the UK, you will need to prove an increase of £3,800, with an extra £2,400 for each additional child.
You will be exempt from meeting the financial requirement in the form of a minimum income threshold if your partner is in receipt of a specified benefit or allowance. Instead, you will need to provide evidence of adequate maintenance and accommodation for you and any dependents.
English language requirement
To satisfy the English language requirement for an unmarried partner visa you must 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, alternatively, take an approved English language test.
You will be exempt from meeting the English language requirement if you are aged 65 or over, you have a physical or mental condition that prevents you from meeting this requirement, or there are exceptional circumstances that prevent you from being able to meet the requirement prior to entry to the UK.
You will also be exempt if you are a national of a majority English speaking country, for example, Australia, New Zealand, Canada or the USA.
Ineligible for an unmarried partner visa?
If you are concerned you do not meet the eligibility requirements, take advice on your circumstances. You may be eligible under an alternative route or still be able to apply for a family visa where there are exceptional circumstances.
This could be, for example, where there would be very significant and insurmountable difficulties for you and your partner if you lived together as a couple outside the UK.
You could also be granted a visa in the following circumstances:
- It would be a breach of your human rights to stop you from coming to the UK or forcing you to leave.
- You have a child in the UK who is a British citizen, or has lived in the UK continuously for 7 years immediately preceding the date of the application, and it would be unreasonable to expect them to leave.
How do I apply for an unmarried partner visa?
To apply for a family visa, you have to complete the online application form and submit extensive documents in support.
The documentation will include proof of your relationship, ie that you have lived in a relationship akin to a marriage or civil partnership for at least 2 years prior to the date of the application. This may be in the form of utility bills or correspondence addressed to both parties.
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. You will be told how to make an appointment when you apply.
If your application is approved, you will be able to come to the UK to live with your partner. You will also be allowed to undertake paid employment or a course of study. Please note, you cannot work or study if you are applying for a visa to get married or become civil partners.
Can I extend an unmarried partner visa?
If you are granted an Unmarried Partner Visa from outside the UK, you will get permission to stay in the UK for 33 months, or 30 months from inside the UK, for example, if you are applying to switch from another visa.
Please note you will only be granted leave for 6 months if you’re applying as a fiancé(e) or proposed civil partner. After this you will need to apply to extend your stay.
The earliest you can apply to settle in the UK, ie for indefinite leave to remain, is after you have lived in the country continuously for 5 years with permission to stay as a partner. However, you cannot count any permission to stay in the UK as a fiancé(e) or proposed civil partner.
If you are applying for indefinite leave to remain, you must also satisfy what’s known as the KoLL requirement; the knowledge of the English language and about life in the UK.
This means that you must be able to demonstrate a commitment to respect its laws, values and traditions. The ability to communicate in English and have knowledge of life in the UK forms an integral part of this commitment.
Unless you are exempt by reason of age or otherwise, you can 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.
Do you need advice applying for a family visa?
There are various pitfalls when applying for an Unmarried Partner Visa, not least assessing that you qualify and submitting sufficient documentation to evidence your eligibility.
DavidsonMorris’ team of immigration specialists are on hand to support and guide you through the application process and give you the best chance of successfully securing permission to come to live in the UK with your loved one. Contact us for advice.