Partner and Family Visas
If you wish to join your partner in the UK and they are either a British citizen or are settled in the UK, then you can apply for a family visa as a partner.
What is a partner?
A ‘partner’ is a:
- civil partner or proposed civil partner
- unmarried partner (where a couple have been living together akin to marriage for two years)
How long can you stay?
Spouse, civil partner or unmarried partner
Application made outside the UK
A partner visa when granted is issued for 33 months (2 years 9 months). A visa will be issued in your passport for a three month period to allow you to enter the UK and thereafter commence living in the UK for two and a half years.
Extending your partner visa
Before the expiry of the first partner visa you will need to apply to extend your stay for an additional two and a half years.
Settling permanently in the UK as a partner
After a five year period of living in the UK on a partner visa, you can apply for settlement (indefinite leave to remain) in the UK if you meet the relevant requirements. After you have been granted indefinite leave to remain in the UK you can immediately apply to become a British citizen.
Applications made in the UK
Apart from when in the UK as a visitor, if you are in the UK on another type of visa you may be eligible to ‘switch’ to the partner visa route. If eligible to do so, the first visa is granted for two and a half years and you can extend for a further two and a half years and after a five year period of living in the UK on a partner visa you can apply to settle.
Fiancé(e) or proposed civil partner
First, you will need to apply for a fiancé(e) or proposed civil partner visa in order to enter the UK for the purpose of entering into a marriage or civil partnership. A visa will be granted for six months if you are applying as a fiancé(e) or proposed civil partner to permit the marriage or civil partnership to take place during this six month period. After the marriage or civil partnership has taken place and before the expiry of the six month visa, you must apply to extend your stay under the partner visa route. The first visa is granted for two and a half years and you can extend for a further two and a half years. When you have spent five years on the partner visa route you can apply to settle.
What are the main eligibility requirements for a partner visa?
- you and your partner must both be 18 or over
- your partner must also either:
- be a British citizen
- have settled in the UK
- have refugee status or humanitarian protection in the UK
- you must be able to prove you are in a genuine relationship
- you need to prove you have a good knowledge of English by passing an exam
- you need to prove there is adequate accommodation available for you to live with your partner in the UK
- you and your partner must meet the strict financial requirements to show you can be financially supported when you come to live in the UK
How do you meet the financial requirements?
Meeting the very strict financial requirements is always the most complex aspect of preparing a successful visa application. For most people applying they seek to satisfy the financial requirements by relying on the income of their UK based partner’s employment. To do so it must be shown that the UK based partner has an annual gross income (before income tax and national insurance) of £18,600. If a partner is applying to enter with one child a gross annual income of £22,400 must be shown and for any additional children an extra £2,400 for each child.
It is important to note that different types of evidence will require to be shown depending on how long the UK based partner has been in the employment being relied upon.
If the UK based partner is not in employment or in employment but earning less than the minimum income specified, other forms of income from non-employment can be relied upon. This can include, e.g. rental payments from property, interest from investments etc. Cash savings, pensions, earnings from self-employment or by being a director of a company can also be relied upon.
The numerous ways to calculate income, the number of sources that can be used or combined, and the very strict evidence required in respect of each type makes this process complex and why seeking expert advice is recommended.
Can the financial requirement be met if both parties are returning to the UK at the same time?
Often applications for a partner visa are necessary when a British citizen or other settled person is living outside the UK with their partner and the intention is for both to relocate to the UK at the same time. The financial requirement can potentially be met by employment income depending on the employment that is ongoing or has been ongoing outside the UK and employment that is due to commence upon return to the UK. Meeting the financial requirement based on overseas income when both parties are returning is particularly complex and obtaining expert legal advice is advisable. Other forms of income and savings can also be used to meet the financial requirement.
Partner visa: conditions and entitlements
A partner visa allows you full employment rights in the UK.
Most visas that eventually lead to settlement are subject to a strict requirement that the visa holder is not outside the UK for more than 180 days in any 12-month period throughout their visa period. The partner visa is not subject to this strict requirement but instead requires that you can demonstrate you and your partner intend to live together permanently in the UK at the point you apply for settlement. A decision maker will wish to see evidence that you have lived together in the UK or there is good reason, consistent with a continuing intention to live together permanently in the UK, for any period in which you or your partner have not done so. There is no strict rule but each case will be judged on its own facts.
The flexibility of the partner visa in respect of absences from the UK does allow for either you, your partner or both to live overseas if there is a good reason for doing so and still satisfy the Home Office you and your partner intend to live together permanently in the UK.
Absences from the UK can however impact on satisfying the residency requirements to successfully apply for British citizenship after granted settlement and this will need to be considered when making decisions on spending time outside the UK during periods spent on a partner visa.
How can we help applying for a partner visa?
We can provide a full service to apply for a partner visa from determining eligibility to apply, to assisting you all the way until a visa decision is issued. Our service includes:
- meeting with you to obtain all relevant information about your family circumstances and to advise if you meet the strict Immigration Rules to apply for a partner or family visa.
- If you are eligible to apply for a partner visa, advising you in detail of the specific evidence you require to obtain.
- When you have obtained all the evidence we will ensure the evidence is complete and in the format required. If necessary, we will correspond with your employer, accountant, landlord and any other person or organisation to make sure the correct evidence is obtained.
- We will prepare the visa application through the Home Office Online system and when you are happy it is complete and accurate we will submit the application on your behalf.
- We will assist you in processing payment for the fees charged by the Home Office for the visa application including the Immigration Health Surcharge.
- We will book an appointment for you at a visa centre in the country where you live and make sure they have all the documents required for your appointment.
- We will prepare all the evidence to support the application and submit this to the Home Office online.
- We will keep you updated in respect of the progress of the application, carry out all relevant correspondence with the Home Office and inform you immediately when we receive a decision.
For families relocating from overseas, issues in respect of purchasing property, transferring assets and tax matters can be relevant. We have relevant experts who can provide advice in these important areas.
If relocation services are required to assist with all aspects of settling in the UK, including sourcing property, schools etc we have good relationships in the Scottish relocation services sector and can make appropriate referrals.
Fixed fee consultations
Partners and families considering relocating to the UK, or people in the UK considering switching from their existing visa to the partner visa, often have particular circumstances to consider and wish to have a consultation in the first instance to receive advice at an early stage.
In a fixed fee consultation we can discuss and advise on all available options, the eligibility requirements that require to be met and relevant timeframes. We highly recommend advance ‘Immigration planning’ and are happy to arrange fixed fee consultations.
Speak to our Immigration team
For expert advice on partner and family visas, please get in touch today.
Contact us by filling out the enquiry form or emailing Mark below.