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Unmarried Partner Visa UK

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Some people assume that unless they are married, they can't sponsor their overseas partner to come to the UK to live with them. That’s incorrect. You can sponsor your civil partner if you are in a civil partnership. You may also be able to sponsor an unmarried partner so they can make an application for an unmarried partner visa.

In this blog, our immigration solicitors take a look at the unmarried partner visa UK.

UK Online and London-Based Immigration Solicitors 

For immigration law advice call London-based OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or contact us online.

Who can sponsor an unmarried partner on a UK partner visa?

If you have limited leave to remain in the UK the likelihood is that you won't be able to sponsor your unmarried partner to come to the UK. However, they may be eligible to come to the UK on a dependent visa.

You can sponsor your unmarried partner to come to the UK on an unmarried partner visa if you are:

  • A British citizen
  • An Irish citizen
  • An overseas national who has indefinite leave to remain in the UK
  • A person with pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme
  • In the UK on a Turkish business person visa
  • A person with refugee status or humanitarian protection

If you want to sponsor an unmarried partner on a partner visa and you are in the UK on a time-limited visa our immigration solicitors can advise you on whether you are eligible to apply for indefinite leave to remain and help you with your settlement application. They may then be able to apply for their family visa.

If you are a British citizen living overseas with your unmarried partner then you can sponsor your partner provided you plan to return to the UK with your partner to live.

If you are not sure if you qualify as a sponsor or if your partner qualifies for a visa our specialist unmarried partner visa solicitors can help. Call us on 0203 959 9123 or contact us online.

The unmarried partner visa criteria

An unmarried partner needs to meet all of these requirements to qualify for an unmarried partner visa:

  • Their unmarried partner is a qualifying sponsor (see above)
  • They and their sponsor are both over the age of 18 at the date of the visa application
  • They and their sponsoring partner have met in person
  • They and their sponsoring partner have lived together in a relationship that is akin to marriage or a civil partnership for at least 2 years
  • The relationship with the sponsor is genuine and subsisting (it is not a sham)
  • They and their sponsoring partner intend to live together permanently in the UK
  • Previous relationships have broken down permanently
  • They and their sponsor satisfy a financial requirement and have adequate accommodation
  • They meet the English language requirement

The requirements can sound onerous but many are not difficult to meet. If you want to discuss the eligibility criteria call us on 0203 959 9123 or contact us online.

Your relationship as an unmarried partner

Proving your relationship as an unmarried partner is often the most difficult aspect of a nonmarried partner visa application. That’s because most people do not conduct their lives to prove that they are in a genuine relationship or keep evidence to prove the loving nature of their relationship.

Immigration solicitors say that it is easier to apply for a spouse visa or a civil partner visa because your certificate is evidence of your relationship although even with a spouse visa or civil partnership visa you still need to show that your relationship is genuine.

It is best to look carefully at this relationship requirement because if you don’t do so your visa application may be refused. That may result in you having to appeal the decision or make a fresh application. That will cost you more and take longer so that’s why it pays to get a specialist immigration solicitor to advise you on the relationship criteria and the evidence you need to send the Home Office in support of your application.

The relationship requirement means you must:

  • Be in a genuine and ongoing relationship
  • Any previous relationship must have broken down permanently – you or your sponsor should not still be married to a previous partner or if you are still married you must be separated permanently
  • Have met your sponsoring partner in person – internet relationships or Zoom meetings are not sufficient
  • Have lived together with your partner in a relationship akin to marriage or civil partnership for at least 2 years
  • Intend to live together permanently with your partner in the UK – you can't plan on returning overseas to live once you have got your visa

The 2 years living together relationship akin to marriage

To obtain an unmarried partner visa you must prove you have lived with your unmarried partner for at least 2 years as husband and wife. You can't have been in a landlord and tenant relationship for 18 months and then become close and romantically involved for 6 months. The whole 2 years need to have been spent living together as if you were husband and wife.

The 2 years don’t have to be immediately before your visa application. For example, you may have been in a relationship for 10 years but your partner came to the UK on a work visa and has now got indefinite leave to remain so can sponsor you on an unmarried partner visa.

However long ago you lived with your partner you need to supply evidence of living together in the visa application. This could be in the form of a joint tenancy agreement or bank statements sent to the same home address or utility bills addressed to you as a couple or sent to both of you at the same address.

If you lived together for 2 years a while ago, you will also need to show that the relationship is ongoing and that you plan to live together. This criteria applies to all applications but where you cohabited together some years ago the likelihood is that Home Office officials will look more closely at this aspect of the criteria.

If you are worried about the 2-year requirement and proving your 2-year relationship is genuine or if you think that you don’t meet the 2-year rule but your case justifies the Home Office exercising discretion because of exceptional circumstances then our Spouse Visa Solicitors can advise you on the Home Office requirements. Call us on 0203 959 9123 or contact us online.

Our individual immigration solicitors specialise in family visa applications and can talk you through what types of evidence will best support your unmarried partner visa application. If your circumstances are complicated it’s best to explain why in your application. For example, you may have lived together for over 4 years but the tenancy agreement and all bills were in your partner’s name. You may be able to show the relationship was genuine and that you did live together by contacting the HR department of your former employer and asking them to confirm your home address on your old employment contract. Every application is different and our Spouse Visa Solicitors will work hard with you to uncover the evidence needed to support your genuine application.

You should remember that you also need to show that you intend to live together permanently in the UK. You should therefore not focus all your evidence gathering on the past but also look at what plans you have made to live together in the UK. For example, your partner may already own a home in the UK or you may have started to look at moving to work for your current employer at their UK branch of the business or to remote work for them from the UK.

The financial and accommodation requirement for the unmarried partner visa

The financial requirement for the unmarried partner visa is the same as the financial requirement for a spouse visa or family visa, namely you or your sponsor must have a gross annual income of at least £18,600. The figure rises by:

  • £3,800 for your first child if the child is not a British citizen and does not have settled status and
  • £2,400 for each additional child if the child is not a British citizen and does not have settled status

The financial requirement rules are complicated as some sponsoring partners are exempt from meeting the requirement if they are on specified UK state benefits. Others can meet the financial requirement entirely from evidence of cash savings if they have £65,000 or more and others can meet the financial requirement through a combination of cash savings and income.

In some situations, it is relatively easy to prove that you or a sponsoring partner meets the financial requirement. For example, if your sponsoring partner is employed by a large company and earns more than £18,600 and has bank statements and salary slips to prove their income. In other scenarios, it can be more complex. For example, if your sponsoring partner is self-employed or a company director or gets income from a buy-to-let property portfolio or a pension, or wants to use savings but the money is not held in an investment that falls within the immigration rules.

If you are uncertain about whether you will meet the financial requirement or the evidence you need to prove it call our Spouse Visa Solicitors on 0203 959 9123.

In addition to meeting the financial requirement, you need to be able to show that you will have adequate accommodation available to you in the UK and that you won't have to rely on public funds to provide accommodation or to support yourselves. This requirement doesn’t mean that your sponsoring partner has to be a homeowner but you will need to have somewhere to live in the UK and be able to evidence it.

The English language requirement

Meeting the English language requirement is an essential part of many UK visa applications unless you fall within an exempt category. For example, if you are over 65 or you suffer from a physical or mental disability preventing you from meeting the English language requirement.

The English language requirement does not necessarily mean that you have to sit and pass an English language test. You will be exempt from passing the test if:

  • You are a national of a majority English-speaking country and the country is on the Home Office list
  • You have an academic qualification taught in English – the immigration rules set out the qualifications that are accepted by the Home Office

Documents needed for an unmarried partner visa UK

The documents needed to support your visa application will depend on your personal and financial circumstances and those of your sponsoring partner. You should not assume that Home Office officials will just waive your application through because your partner earns well more than £18,600 per year or owns their own home. Nor should you bombard the Home Office with all your photo albums and text messages to your partner sent and received over the 10 years of your relationship. Spouse Visa Solicitors can guide you on what paperwork you need to locate and send with your application to give it the best chance of success.

Appealing against the refusal of an unmarried partner visa UK

If the Home Office refuses to grant your visa application you may be able to ask for an administrative review of the decision or appeal. These 2 options take time so Spouse Visa Solicitors stress that it is best to make a compelling application with all the right information and supporting paperwork the first time around.

If you have had your application for an unmarried partner visa refused you can call OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or contact us online. Our expert immigration solicitors have substantial experience in advising on appeals or advising you on how best to make a fresh application or an application for a different type of visa.

Staying in the UK on an unmarried partner visa

An unmarried partner visa is valid for 33 months if you applied for the visa from overseas or 30 months if you made your application from within the UK. Before the initial visa expires you must apply to renew it if you want to stay in the UK. If you don’t then you will be classed as an overstayer and the Home Office will require you to leave the UK.

You can apply to extend your unmarried partner visa for up to 30 months. Once you have lived in the UK for 5 years you can apply to settle in the UK provided you meet the residence requirement rules and the other eligibility criteria for an indefinite leave to remain application.

It is best to speak to your Spouse Visa Solicitors about your planned indefinite leave to remain application once you get your first unmarried visa. That way you will understand and be able to follow the 5 year residence requirement rules so you can obtain indefinite leave to remain as soon as possible.

How can OTS Solicitors help with your unmarried partner visa application

At OTS Solicitors our spouse visa lawyers have a great reputation and some excellent client reviews. We are often called in to help in the most difficult of cases after you have made an application without the help of a solicitor or had an application refused. We provide clear legal advice so you know what we need to build your case for you.

If your situation is complex, we can advocate that the Home Office should use its discretion to grant you a visa. For example, if there would be very significant difficulties for you and your sponsoring partner that could not be overcome if you lived together as a couple outside the UK or it would otherwise breach your human rights to prevent you from coming to the UK or to make you leave the UK.

Our Spouse Visa Solicitors are professional but also friendly and approachable. We understand that making an unmarried partner visa application is stressful and we will do our very best to help you.

UK Online and London-Based Immigration Solicitors 

For immigration law advice call London-based OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or contact us online.

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