Spouse, Unmarried partner, Civil partner, Fiancé(e) & Settlement visas

For living with your spouse in UK

Man kissing his spouse

Read on to learn more about the spouse, partner or settlement as well as fiance(e) visas and how to make an application.

Most importantly, consider getting specialist legal advice and representation for your visa application. This is because the underlying rules and process are complex and you, as a layperson, may not be able to interpret the rules and apply them to your circumstances correctly.

A refusal with prejudice may make a future application much more complex or even impossible in certain circumstances. Getting specialist legal advice and representation at an early stage is therefore advisable to maximize the prospects of success.

1. What is a spouse/partner visa?

Spouse visa, also known as partner, marriage or settlement visa, allows married, civil and unmarried partners of British citizens, and those with Indefinite Leave to Remain, pre-settled status, settled status or humanitarian or refugee status, to settle in the UK.

2. What is a fiance(e) visa?

If you want to solemnize your marriage or civil partnership in the UK, you can apply for a Fiance(e)/Proposed Civil Partner visa.

3. Can unmarried partners apply for a settlement visa?

Unmarried partners may also apply for a settlement visas provided that they’re able to demonstrate cohabitation as partners for at least 2 years.

4. What are the eligibility, suitability and relationship requirements for the partner, spouse, unmarried partner or settlement visa and fiance(e) visa?

Yes, you can apply for the spouse, partner, unmarried partner or settlement visa and for the fiance(e) visa from outside the UK. To succeed in this application you’ll need to demonstrate that you:

♠ are outside the UK;
♠ made a valid visa application;
♠ meet suitability requirements in Section S-EC Appendix FM; and
♠ meet the following additional legal requirements:

Relationship requirements

You must be aged 18 or over and your partner, spouse, unmarried partner or fiance(e) must be:

♠ under 18;
♠ living in UK; and
♠ a British Citizen, settled in UK, or

they’re in the UK with pre-settled, settled, ECA, humanitarian or refugee status.

 The couple must not be within the prohibited degree of relationship;
 They must have met in person;
 Their relationship must be genuine and subsisting;
♠ If they’re married, the marriage or civil partnership must be valid and recognised in the UK;
 The previous marriage or partnership, if any, must have permanently broken down; and
 They must intend to live together permanently in the UK.

Bear in mind that some of these requirements are subjective and burden of proof is on the applicant.

Applicants for Fiance(e), Proposed Civil Partner, or Marriage Visitor Visas must evidence that they are seeking entry to the UK to get married or to enter civil partnership within six (6) months of arrival. 

Applicants for Fiance(e) or Marriage Visitor visas must also evidence that they will leave the UK after their intended marriage.

Applicants on Fiance(e) Visas may however apply to switch into the Spouse visa after getting married in the UK to remain here permanently.

Applicants for UK Marriage, Spouse, Fiance(e) Visa must also check, in addition to these requirements, whether they are applying from a country where a TB certificate is required.

Suitability requirements

‘Suitability’ deals with issues of criminal conduct, ‘bad character’ and adverse immigration history. The applicants must demonstrate that they meet the suitability requirements outlined in Appendix FM at S-LTR and S-EC under the heading ‘Family Life with a partner’.

For those applying for a visa (entry clearance), they must also consider whether their application may be refused under paragraph 320 (11) of the immigration rules.

Immigration status requirement

For in-country applications, the applicant must not be in the UK:
 as a visitor; or
 on a visa for 6 months or less, unless it’s a fiancé(e) or proposed civil partner visa, or was granted pending family/divorce proceedings’ outcome; or
 on immigration bail or in breach of immigration laws (disregarding any period of overstaying for a period of 28 days or less), unless paragraph EX.1. applies. (read on to learn abour EX.1.)

5. What are the financial requirements for the partner, spouse or settlement visa, the unmarried partner visa, and the fiance(e) visa?

In a nutshell, the financial requirement for partner, spouse, fiance(e) and unmarried partner is to have at least £18600 in annual income from a job in the UK or £62500 in cash savings.

The financial requirement is In most cases it is the Sponsor’s employment or savings in the UK that are relevant. However, that is not always the case and the applicant’s finances may also be considered if, for example, the applicant is also in employment in the UK or if the applicant has access to savings in excess of £16,000 which can be combined with the eligible earnings to meet the financial requirement. There are other circumstances in which the sponsor’s income abroad can be relied upon.

The Immigration Rules prescribe a gross annual salary of at least £18,600 as the minimum income threshold.

The income must be from one of the following sources:

 Salaried Employment
 Pension Income of either the applicant or the sponsor
 Maternity allowance or bereavement benefit
 Other specified income of the applicant and partner (in some cases)
 Cash savings of at least £16,000 held for six months combined with income from salaried employment in the UK if less than £18,600 income threshold (or higher in case of children)
 Cash savings of £62,500 where there is no salaried income

The amounts required to meet the financial requirement are:

 Applicant alone: £18,600
 1 child: £22,400
 2 children: £24,800
 3 children: £27,200
 Increase of £2,400 for each additional child.

The applicant also must show that the sponsor can provide adequate accommodation without recourse to public funds.

The said accommodation must also not breach health regulations and must not result in overcrowding if the applicant is granted the visa.

In short one room for the exclusive use of the applicant and sponsor (even a living room) will suffice.

That is if there are no children involved in the application as the children will also need to be accommodated adequately in compliance with the applicable regulations.

6. What is the English language requirement for the partner, spouse or settlement visa, the unmarried partner visa, and the fiance(e) visa?

The applicant is not required to meet the English language requirement if the applicant is from a majority English speaking country or has completed a degree which was taught in English or is over age 65 or have a physical or mental condition which prevents you from meeting this requirement or there are exceptional circumstances which would prevent you from meeting it.

For all other applicants, valid evidence of his/her proficiency in English language at A1 level is required.

7. What if I cannot meet the financial requirement for partner, spouse, settlement, unmarried partner o fiance(e) visa?

The financial requirement is waived where the sponsor is in receipt of a specific Disability living allowance Severe disablement allowance, Industrial injury benefit, Attendance allowance, Carer’s allowance, Police Injury Pension. The couple, however, will have to provide specified evidence that the settled partner is able to maintain and accommodate themselves, the applicant and any dependents with adequate maintenance without recourse to public funds. The adequate maintenance which has been interpreted by the British courts as a level of income which is equivalent to or greater than the “income support” level.

If you are applying from within the UK, you may be able to switch into Spouse/Marriage visa without having to meet the financial requirement. You will however need demonstrate that there are insurmountable obstacles to your return to your country of origin with your partner. If successful, you will be put on a ten (10) year route to settlement requiring extension of stay every two and a half (2.5) years. Such applications are based on paragraph EX.1., of the Immigration Rules.

8. Can I rely on a family member’s income to meet the financial requirement for the partner, spouse, settlement, unmarried partner or fiance(e) visa?

Following the judgement in MM v SSHD – the test case challenging income threshold of £18600 for spouse visa applicants – the UKVI has issued some amendments to the rules for cases involving children and new guidance on the assessment of other sources of income.

If you wish to switch into spouse visa but don’t meet the income requirement, you may still be able to make an application. Book an online, phone or office consultation to get advice on your specific circumstances.

9. What would be the length of the spouse, partner, unmarried, civil partner, or fiance(e) visa?

If you succeed in your application you will get a visa for an initial period of 33 months (overseas applications) subject to a condition of no recourse to public funds. For in-country applications, you’ll get leave to remain for 2.5 years. Fiance(e) visa gives you the permission to live in the UK for 6 months. If however you do not meet the requirements your application will be refused.

10. Can I apply for the ‘spouse, partner, unmarried partner, settlement visa’ from inside the UK?

Yes, you can switch into the ‘partner visa’ visa or extend your visa in this category if you are in the UK on a valid visa and meet all the above-mentioned legal requirements.

You must not be in the UK:
♠ as a visitor;
♠ with leave for a period of 6 months or less, unless it’s granted pending family or divorce proceedings’ outcome;

♠ on immigration bail unless you arrived more than 6 months ago and paragraph EX.1 applies;
♠ in breach of immigration laws (except that, where paragraph 39E of these Rules applies, any current period of overstaying will be disregarded), unless paragraph EX.1. applies

11. What would be the length of the ‘spouse, partner, settlement, unmarried partner’ visa if I apply from inside the UK?

If you meet all the requirements and do not fall under the EX1 exception, you will get a 30 month visa, subject to no recourse to public funds, and will be eligible to apply for indefinite leave to remain (permanent residence or settlement) after a continuous period of at least 60 months spent in the UK on this visa.

This means if you are granted this visa for the first time, you will need to apply for an extension meeting the same requirements, and after 60 months you will be able to apply for permanent residence in the UK.

12. How much time will I need to spend on the ‘spouse, partner, unmarried partner, settlement’ visa in the UK before I qualify for permanent residence?

You will need to spend 5 years in the UK on this route before you can qualify for an application settle in the UK permanently. This means that you’ll need to apply to extend your visa before it expires, by meeting the applicable requirements.

13. What if I do not meet the English requirement or if I do not have the funds or income with which to maintain and accommodate myself?

If you meet all the other requirements except for the ‘maintenance and or English requirement’, you will be able to rely on the EX.1 route. The downsides of this route are that you’ll be placed on a 10 year route to settlement which means you’ll need to spend 10 years on this route before you can apply for permanent residence in the UK.

This also means you will need to make the same application every 2.5 years before your visa expires which will mean additional cost and stress. You will also need to jump an extra hoop of proving that “there are insurmountable obstacles to your family life continuing overseas”. That additional requirement means your application will not be a straightforward one, and so you’ll need to provide additional evidence. You will also be subject to a condition of no recourse to public funds unless the Home Office deems such recourse to be appropriate.

You should also get advice on whether you can rely on a third party’s support to meet the financial requirement.

14. Can I apply for a ‘parent of a child’ visa instead?

You cannot make an application for the parent of a child visa if you’re eligible for the partner visa.

15. Can I apply for the ‘partner visa’ as an overstayer or on temporary admission?

You may be able to apply to switch into this category under paragraph EX.1 of the Immigration Rules if you don’t have a valid visa in the UK, or have overstayed for more than 28 days or are here on immigration bail and you arrived in the UK more than six months ago.

16. Is there anything else I should consider when applying for parent of a child visa?

If you’d like to apply for the parent of a child visa please be aware that applicants can be refused even where they appear to meet the applicable legal requirements. Such refusals are attributable to the applicant’s failure to provide evidence in the format required by the rules or them being legally illiterate failing to properly interpret and apply the law to their own circumstances.

An application may be refused even when the applicant appear to meet all these legal requirements.

The reason behind refusal is mostly that the applicants fail to observe and comply with strict evidential requirements. In other words, they fail to provide the supporting evidence in the prescribed format. Some of the consequences of such refusal are:

 that the applicants lose the application fees
 that the applicants have to spend much more on appeals with little or no prospects as the law prohibits applicants to rely upon new evidence at appeal which wasn’t submitted with the original application;
 that they might have to apply again with more fees to pay
 that the future applications might become complicated or even impossible, in certain unfortunate cases

The applicant, as a result, not not only loses the application but also the application fees. It is therefore critical that proper immigration law advice and representation is sought before you submit your case to the Home Office to ensure you meet all applicable rules and policy guidelines increasing your prospects of success.

It is therefore in your best interest to seek legal advice and representation prior to making an application for your Spouse, Marriage, Fiance(e), Civil partner or Proposed civil partner visa.

Spouse Visa FAQs

Looking to make an application for the partner, spouse, fiance(e) or unmarried partner visa?

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