The UK Unmarried Partner Visa
The Unmarried Partner Visa, otherwise known as the de facto visa, is applicable to genuine couples who have been in a long-term relationship that is considered akin to marriage.
The Unmarried Partner Visa route falls under the Family Visa category and therefore requires a UK ‘sponsor’ to act as an anchor for his/her foreign partner. This means that one of the participants must be a British Citizen, whether by birth or naturalisation, or someone with a form of Settled Status such as Indefinite Leave to Remain. In addition, the partner may also have gained humanitarian protection in the UK such as Refugee Status.
This visa applies to you whether you are in a homosexual or heterosexual partnership, providing that you are not married or engaged. If you are in a civil partnership or you are married, the UK Spouse Visa might be best applicable to you. Alternatively, if you are engaged and intend on being married, the UK Fiance Visa is a better route.
Unlike the Spouse Visa and Fiance Visa, the Unmarried Partner Visa does not require you to be married or have the intention of marriage in order to qualify and remain in the UK. However, this means that the requirements and eligibility criteria are slightly more stringent.
About the UK Unmarried Partner Visa
The Unmarried Partner Visa route allows foreign nationals to enter and remain in the UK with their other half providing that their partner is either a British citizen or someone who is settled in the UK, such as under Indefinite Leave to Remain status or Refugee Status.
The main prerequisite to be wary of when you come to apply for this visa is that you must outline that you and your partner intend to live together in the UK and that you have been in a relationship for at least two years. In order to satisfy the lengthy requirements, you must provide substantial evidence that proves your relationship with your partner is genuine.
The length of permission largely depends on where you are applying from. If you are applying for this visa within the country, your right to remain in the UK will last up to 30 months. If you are applying from outside the UK, you will be able to live together in the country for 33 months.
Once you have accumulated five years of residency in the UK, you can seek to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) and then ultimately full British Citizenship.
Ring us today on 0121 667 6530 for legal guidance on your Unmarried Partner Visa application.
The Key Requirements of the Unmarried Partner Visa
The rules for each visa category are designed by the Home Office’s immigration department, UKVI. In order for you and your unmarried partner to live together in the UK, you must meet each requirement to the satisfaction of UKVI.
The key requirements to consider are as follows:
- You must be in a committed relationship/civil partnership with someone who is British or who has settled in the UK
- Your British/Settled partner must act as the ‘sponsor’ for your visa
- You must have been together for at least two years
- You must have cohabited together for at least two years
- You must provide evidence that you meet the ‘Genuine Relationship’ test which includes detailing the end of all other previous engagements, marriages and partnerships
- You both must be age 18 and over
- You must have suitable accommodation arrangements set up in the UK where you both intend to live
- You must satisfy the English Language requirement which may include sitting an exam
- Your ‘sponsor’ must meet the Financial Requirement which may mean having a certain amount in savings or earning an annual income
Passing the Genuine Relationship Test
Arguably the hardest requirement to meet when you come to apply for any Married or Unmarried Partner Visa is passing the ‘genuine relationship’ test.
The Home Office combs through each Spouse, Fiance and Unmarried Partner Visa with particularly scrutiny in order to crack down on ‘sham marriages’. Applicants are considered fraudulent or engaged in a ‘sham’ arrangement if they are to be found deliberately deceiving the Government and are pretending to be in a relationship for the sole purpose of immigration advantages.
As a result, you must provide extensive documentation and evidence that you and your partner are in a genuine, long-lasting and subsisting relationship. You must have met at least once before and have a portfolio that demonstrates you are in a loving relationship. There is no set checklist of evidence that you can attend to as each relationship is different and will be assessed on a case by case basis.
However, some pieces of evidence you could submit include:
- Photographs of you together
- Emails, text messages, letters and any other ongoing correspondence
- Written accounts by family and friends
- Receipts from gifts you have bought one another
- Tickets from events you have attended together
- Aeroplane tickets from visiting one another
- Birth certificates of any children you may have together
- Tenancy/property arrangements or utility bills with both your names on from previous accommodation that you have lived in together
- Any other forms of proof that demonstrate you are in a relationship that is akin to marriage
Contact us today on 0121 667 6530 to see how we can help you build a portfolio of evidence.
The Minimum Income Requirement
It is important to note that the Unmarried Partner Visa prohibits you from accessing public funds while in the UK. This is because it is a temporary form of Leave to Remain and that you must have settled in the UK permanently in order to access welfare support.
As a result, you must provide evidence that you are able to financially support yourself while you live in the UK.
The rules are as follows:
- Your British/settled partner must earn a minimum of £18,600 per year either through employment or self-employment
- If any children or dependents are joining you in the UK, your sponsor must earn an additional £3,800 for the first child and £2,400 per every child after
In the event that the Minimum Income Requirement is out of reach, it can be met through other means such as having £16,000 in cash savings that have been in your sponsor’s bank account for at least six months.
In addition, you can also satisfy the financial requirement through property and rented income or via maternity, paternity, adoption, pension and sick pay.
The English Language Requirement
In order to apply for the Unmarried Partner Visa, you must prove that you can speak and understand English. This is vital if you are to remain in the UK as you will need to understand the language to a certain degree in order to get by.
This may entail sitting an English Language test in a designated testing centre. You will need to apply to sit the test prior to making your visa application as you will need to submit your certificate for proof.
However, you are exempt from sitting the English language test if you originate from an English speaking country or if you have a degree that was taught in English.
The Accommodation Requirement
In order to apply for an Unmarried Partner Visa, you must also provide evidence that you and your partner have cohabitated together prior and that you intend to live together in the UK with suitable accommodation arrangements.
The cohabitation rule stipulates that you must have lived together for 2 years or more. It doesn’t matter if you lived together outside the UK in order to satisfy this requirement.
The accommodation requirement means that both you and your sponsor – your partner with British Citizenship or Indefinite Leave to Remain – must provide evidence of your property arrangements in the UK. This must already be arranged by the time you come to apply.
Your accommodation in the UK must have adequate room for you and your partner. If you intend on bringing any children to live with you, the accommodation must expand accordingly. For instance, per each child, you will require an additional bedroom in your property arrangement. In addition, the property must meet UK living standards and your sponsor may be required to provide photographic and/or written proof that details the accommodation thoroughly.
Get in touch with our Birmingham immigration lawyers on 0121 667 6530 to see how we can help you meet the stringent accommodation and cohabitation requirements.
A Document Checklist
Although you must provide a plethora of documents to satisfy the requirements, a general document checklist for the Unmarried Partner Visa looks as follows:
- A copy of your passport
- A copy of your partner’s passport and/or immigration status that proves he/she has a right to remain in the UK
- A portfolio of evidence proving you meet the Genuine Relationship Test
- Proof that any previous relationships have come to an end
- Details of your accommodation arrangements such as a Housing Report
- Your English Language or degree certificate that was taught in English
- Bank statements/payslips from your sponsor that proves you meet the Minimum Income Requirement
Unmarried Partner Visa Fees
If you are applying from outside the UK, the Unmarried Partner Visa costs £1,523
If you are applying from inside the UK, the fee is £1,033
You must take note that you will need to pay this fee again when you come to seek an Unmarried Partner Visa extension.
This fee does not include the additional costs such as the Immigration Health Surcharge, document translation services, the English language test, lawyer fees and the fee to register your biometric information.
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In order for the Home Office to thoroughly check your application, the UKVI department aims to deliver a decision on your verdict within 8 to 12 weeks.
However, this is not always the case and it is best to prepare for delays. Not only could postal difficulties affect your application but if there are any discrepancies found in your application, this could significantly add delays onto the processing time. If you need your visa to be processed in a faster turnaround, you can opt for a Priority Visa service with the Home Office, but this does come with an additional cost. We can also book you in with our Fast-Track Premium service where you can even meet your lawyer for advice in 24-hours.
It is of utmost importance that you ensure your application meets all the Unmarried Partner Visa requirements in full. Contact Birmingham Immigration Lawyers if you need assistance with compiling your portfolio of evidence of if you require a trained eye to check over the documents you have already compiled.
Our highly trained and OISC-qualified immigration lawyers in Birmingham are able to assist you throughout your visa queries from start to finish. This means we can help you gain entry into the UK and provide ongoing assistance that ensures you can remain in the country.
We offer a full and comprehensive Application Service. In this service, your personally assigned immigration expert will help you fulfil your application to the highest standard. We also offer a unique and untimed Advice Session in which your lawyer will answer any questions or concerns you may have around your Unmarried Partner Visa application with no time restraints.
Our services include:
- Verifying that your documents, application and portfolio of evidence is sufficient
- Ensuring that your unmarried partner is able to sponsor you
- Liaising with the Home Office on your behalf throughout the process
We also provide a Letter of Representation from a legal expert which highlights the merits of your case and character.
However, there are stringent rules that you need to be wary of when you come to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain. For instance, you must ensure that you have not left the UK for a period of 180 days in the last 12 months of your application date. In addition, you must have legally resided in the UK for a period of five years. Usually, this means people apply for an Unmarried Partner Visa which lasts two-and-a-half years and then seek an extension. This will bring the total accumulated time of remain in the UK up to the required five years.
It is important to note that there must be no gaps in your immigration history. Any days spent ‘overstaying’ your visa permission – that is, remaining the UK under an expired visa – may jeopardise your case and all future UK visa applications. For this reason, it is crucial that you seek to extend your visa before your current Leave to Remain meets its expiry date.
If your application for an Unmarried Partner Visa has been successful, you will be granted the opportunity to work in the UK labour market.
You can even consider taking up a course or higher education in the UK.
However, only once you apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain and are successful are you considered to have the same full residency rights as a British person which includes access to public funds.
In the event that UKVI refuses your Unmarried Partner Visa, you can decide to appeal the decision. You may need to attend a Tribunal and court hearing in order to do so.
Applicants are refused for a wide range of reasons. However, most commonly, people are rejected because they have submitted either suspiciously high volumes of evidence or not enough.
Our Birmingham immigration lawyers offer a comprehensive Appeal Support Package. Your personally assigned immigration lawyer can even represent you in your Tribunal hearing.
At Birmingham Immigration Lawyers, we are proficient in all areas of UK family immigration law. Since the Unmarried Partner Visa is deemed especially difficult to obtain, it is best practice to seek legal guidance and a pair of trained eyes to go over your application to maximise your chances of success.
Our immigration lawyers offer full and comprehensive application support as well as face-to-face advice sessions. Whatever your query or concern, we are here to help you. Contact us today on 0121 667 6530 to start your UK Unmarried Partner Visa application with confidence.