During the former Prime Minister’s government, Theresa May, it was announced that a legislation would be introduced to enable same sex couples to enter into civil partnerships. This meant that after the legislation was passed, opposite and same sex couples would have the same right to enter into civil partnerships. The former Prime Minister’s announcement lead to a surge of enquiries to top London Family Solicitors about civil partnerships but also enquiries to the best London immigration solicitors about proposed civil partnership visas to enter the UK.
Theresa May’s comments followed a widely publicised media campaign to end discrimination after the implementation of the 2004 Civil Partnership Act. The Act limited civil partnerships to same sex couples. The rationale for the restriction to single sex couples was that, at the time, same sex couples could not legally get married in the UK and so a new style of legal relationship recognition limited to single sex partners was appropriate.
After a court ruling this year that decided that the current civil partnership law does discriminate, change was inevitable. The only question was whether civil partnerships would be scrapped for all couples or extended to all, which Theresa May provided an answer to.
Civil partnership rights
If a couple decide to enter into a civil partnership, then it is like getting married but without the name tag of “marriage”. For some couples marriage is currently their only route to follow in order to bring a loved one to live in the UK because a fiancé is not a British citizen or does not have the right to live or work in the UK. With the forthcoming new legislation there may well be an increase in requests for civil partnership visas from both same sex and opposite sex couples.
What is a proposed civil partnership visa?
A civil partnership visa allows someone who is:
• In a same sex relationship; and
• Who is not an EEA national
To settle and live in the UK with their British citizen same sex partner or their EEA
national same sex partner.
Entry clearance requirements
If you are a non EEA
national you cannot enter the UK with the intention of registering a civil partnership with your same sex partner unless you have been granted entry clearance by successfully applying for the correct visa prior to your arrival in the UK.
Eligibility criteria for a civil partnership visa
To be eligible for a proposed civil partnership visa you must be able to show that:
• You want to enter a civil partnership in the UK;
• You plan to enter into the civil partnership within 6 months of your arrival in the UK;
• You and your proposed civil partner are at least 18 years old;
• You and your proposed civil partner have previously met in person (online contact, skype etc. does not meet this test);
• You and your proposed civil partner are in a committed monogamous relationship;
• There are no impediments to either one of you entering into a civil partnership (if either of you has previously been married or has previously registered a civil partnership, then the earlier relationship must have been legally dissolved to allow you to legally enter into the civil partnership);
• You must both intend to set up a permanent home together after your civil partnership;
• You speak English to the required level.
Qualifications for a civil partnership visa
In addition to satisfying the eligibility criteria you also need to be able to show that:
• You have adequate accommodation or housing in the UK;
• You will be able to look after or maintain yourself in the UK without having to apply for state or public funds (whilst you are in the UK on a proposed civil partnership visa you cannot work in the UK);
• Your proposed civil partner must meet the income or savings sponsorship eligibility criteria (the income requirement can be met through a variety of different means including salary, pension income, share dividends or trust distributions).
How long does a proposed civil partnership visa last for?
The visa lasts for 6 months. If the civil partnership ceremony does not take place within 6 months you can apply for an extension of the visa if you can provide a good explanation as to why the civil partnership ceremony has not taken place and evidence that the civil partnership ceremony is planned to take place within the next 6 months.
What happens after the civil partnership is registered?
Once the civil partnership has been registered you will be able to apply for a civil partner visa. After a civil partner has lived in the UK for 5 years they can apply for settlement.
Civil partnership agreements
If you sponsor a fiancé to enter the UK on a proposed civil partnership visa and go onto register a civil partnership, and if things do not work out and you separate from your civil partner, you will each have potential financial claims against the other (for example for maintenance, transfer of property or a share of a pension). If you are anxious to avoid financial claims being made or to limit the extent of any financial claims on dissolution of the civil partnership, you can enter into a civil partnership agreement with your fiancé setting out how your property will be split up and how any maintenance claims will be resolved.
A civil partnership agreement is just like a prenuptial agreement made in contemplation of marriage. The agreement is designed by top London Family Solicitors
to govern how finances will be sorted out in the event of a separation
or dissolution of your civil partnership and is intended to give piece of mind.
How can OTS Solicitors help?
If you are thinking of applying for a proposed civil partnership visa or sponsoring a fiancé, our leading London immigration solicitors
can help with the application and advise you on the complex Immigration
rules and regulations, particularly the documents you will need to produce and how to establish that you meet the financial circumstances test.
OTS Solicitors are Legal 500 recommended immigration solicitors who also specialise in all aspects of family and civil partnership law. Our specialist approachable solicitors are able to provide seamless immigration and civil partnership and family law advice. Please get in touch with us on 0203 959 9123 to arrange an appointment to speak to one of our experienced London immigration solicitors and expert civil partnership solicitors.