The Immigration Rules recognise couples who are in long term relationships but are not married with the option to apply for an Unmarried Partner visa. The Unmarried Partner visa category is available for long term couples who wish to join or stay with their partner in the UK. In this post we provide answers to 10 of the questions that we are most frequently asked about the Unmarried Partner visa route.
1. What Are the Requirements for an Unmarried Partner Visa?
Appendix FM to the Immigration Rules sets out the requirements for an Unmarried Partner visa as follows:
- Your partner is a British citizen, or settled in the UK, holds indefinite leave to remain, limited leave to remain under Appendix EU or limited leave to remain under Appendix ECAA;
- You and your partner are over the age of 18;
- You have met your partner in person and have lived together in a relationship akin to marriage or civil partnership for at least 2 years;
- Your relationship is genuine and you intend to live with your partner permanently;
- Any previous relationships have broken down permanently;
- You will be adequately maintained in the UK without recourse to public funds;
- You will have adequate accommodation for you and any dependents;
- You speak and understand the English language to the required level.
2. What Is a Relationship Akin to Marriage and How Do I Prove a Relationship Akin to Marriage?
You must clearly show that you have been living together in a relationship akin to marriage with your partner for a period of at least 2 years prior. Please note that the 2 years of cohabitation need not directly precede the submission of your application as an Unmarried Partner, in other words there may have been a break or breaks but you should provide good explanations for the interruptions in cohabitation.
The Home Office guidance states that this can be evidenced with at least 6 pieces of correspondence addressed to you and your partner at the same address as evidence that you have been living together. You may also provide documentation addressed to you and your partner individually if they show the same address on both documents.
The Home Office provide examples of documentation to provide which includes:
- Joint commitments, (such as joint bank accounts, investments, rent agreements, mortgage, life insurance policy naming the other partner as beneficiary etc);
- Birth certificates or records of any children of the relationship, showing both partners as parents;
- Any official correspondence linking both partners to the same address, for example Council Tax, utility bills, Doctors records.
3. How Do I Prove That I Will Be Adequately Maintained Whilst Living in the UK?
This financial requirement requires you to demonstrate that your partner has a gross annual income of at least £18,600. If you are applying with any children other than British or settled children, you will need to show additional earnings of £3800 for the first child and £2400 for each additional child after the first child.
The financial requirement can be met through various means including employment, self employment, cash savings, property rental etc. You may wish to speak to our barristers for expert legal advice on how to meet the financial requirements based on your particular circumstances as the calculations can be complex.
4. How Do I Prove That My Relationship With My Partner Is Genuine?
The Home Office will refer to the Immigration Directorate Instructions when assessing the genuine and subsisting relationship requirement. Factors which will be considered by a Caseworker include, but are not limited to:
- Financial commitments shared with your partner;
- Letters of correspondence addressed to you and/or your partner at the same address;
- Evidence that the applicant and/or your partner have visited the other's home country and/or have established relationships with each other's family members can be used as evidence in your application.
5. What is the English Language Requirement for an Unmarried Partner Visa?
You will be able to meet the English language requirement for an Unmarried Partner visa if you:
- Are a national of a majority English speaking country (Antigua and Barbuda; Australia; the Bahamas; Barbados; Belize; Canada; Dominica; Grenada; Guyana; Jamaica; New Zealand; St Kitts and Nevis; St Lucia; St Vincent and the Grenadines; Trinidad and Tobago; United States of America.);
- Have a valid speaking and listening qualification in English at A1 CEFR or higher, that is on the Home Office's list of recognised tests and was taken at an approved test centre;
- Have a degree obtained in the UK;
- Have a degree that was taught or researched in a majority English speaking country and an Academic Qualification Level Statement (AQUALS) from UK NARIC confirming the qualification is equivalent to a UK qualification;
- Have a degree that was taught or researched in a non majority English speaking country and an Academic Qualification Level Statement (AQUALS) from UK NARIC confirming the qualification is equivalent to a UK qualification and an English Language Proficiency Statement (ELPS) from UK NARIC showing that your degree was taught in English.
6. How Do I Make an Application for an Unmarried Partner Visa?
An application for an Unmarried Partner visa must be made online. You will be required to attend a Visa Application Centre to enrol your biometrics and have your passport scanned as part of the application process.
Once your application form is submitted online, you will be able to upload your supporting documents online and book an appointment to enrol your biometrics.
7. How Much Are the Unmarried Partner Visa Application Fees?
The Home Office application fee for an Unmarried Partner visa depends on where the applicant is applying from. For an application submitted from a person applying from outside the UK, the cost is £1523. Applications submitted from inside the UK costs £1033. You may also be required to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) as part of your application.
8. How Long Will It Take to Receive a Decision on an Application for an Unmarried Partner Visa?
The official guidance says that an application for an Unmarried Partner visa submitted outside the UK will typically receive a decision within 12 weeks whilst applications from inside the UK typically receive a decision within 8 weeks. You will need to check if there are any priority visa services available to expedite the processing times. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, there may be delays in processing your applications and priority services services may be limited.
9. What Rights Do I Have as the Holder of an Unmarried Partner Visa?
As the holder of an Unmarried Partner visa, you will be free to work and study in the UK.
10. Can I Apply For Indefinite Leave to Remain as the Holder of an Unmarried Partner Visa?
Each grant of leave as an unmarried partner will be for 2.5 years (30 months). After holding an Unmarried Partner visa for 5 years, you may be eligible to apply for indefinite leave to remain in the UK. You will need to demonstrate that you still meet the requirements as the Unmarried Partner of a British citizen or settled person. Additionally, you will need to have sufficient knowledge of language and life in the UK.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.