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Unmarried Partner Visa – We Answer All Your Questions

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Unmarried partners, also known as cohabiting couples, are now the fastest growing family type in the UK according to data from the Office for National Statistics, released in late 2015.

The numbers show that cohabiting couple families grew by 30% between 2004 and 2014. These include an estimated 90,000 families consisting of a same sex cohabiting couple - a significant increase from around 16,000 same sex cohabiting couples in 1996.

The UK is following a similar trend to most Western countries around the world such as the America, Australia and South Africa. This has led to an increase in enquiries to Immigration lawyers from people settled in Britain wanting to know the best way to bring their unmarried partner to the UK to live.

Most couples enquiring about visas for unmarried partners tend have a lot of questions. For your benefit, we have collated some of these and provided answers. These answers should not be taken as legal advice, if you wish to instruct us you can contact our office on 0203 959 9123.

What are the main eligibility criteria for a UK unmarried partner visa?

To successfully apply for an unmarried partner visa, you and your sponsoring partner need to show evidence that;

  • you have been cohabitating with your partner in a relationship akin to marriage for at least two years
  • your sponsoring partner can financially support you and any children you have (also referred to as meeting the financial threshold)
  • you plan to live together permanently in the future
  • have suitable accommodation in the UK
  • you meet the English language requirements

What is the definition of a sponsoring partner?

A sponsoring partner is the partner who is either a British Citizen or who has Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK.

What are the financial requirements to obtain a unmarried partner visa?

According to the best Immigration solicitors, the financial threshold set by the UK Government can often be hard to meet. In fact, statistics show that up to 40% of British people do not earn enough to meet the requirements.

To bring an unmarried partner into the UK, the sponsoring partner must be earning a minimum of £18,600 per year, rising to £22,400 if they have a child who does not have British Citizenship, and an additional £2,400 for each subsequent child.

Can I use savings to make up any shortfall in earnings?

Savings may be taken into account but any shortfall from the income threshold must be multiplied by 2.5 and added to the sum of £16,000.

For example, if the sponsoring partner earns £15,000 per year the sum would look like this:

£3,500 *2.5 + £16,000 = £24,750.

Can my earnings in my home country be taken into account?

No. The sponsoring partner must meet the income threshold with their own earnings.

What documentation does the Home Office require to prove we are in a relationship akin to marriage?

There are a number of different documents you can provide proving your cohabitation and relationship. Your Immigration lawyer will advise you on the best ones to include in your application.

Common documents provided include:

  • utility bills covering two years
  • tenancy or mortgage agreements
  • letters from family and friends
  • photographs documenting your relationship
  • records of Skype and/or phone calls showing you are in touch when you are apart

Can I work if I hold an unmarried partner visa?

Yes, you are free to work and/or study once you enter the UK. However, you will not be permitted to access public funds.

How long does an unmarried partner visa last?

The initial visa is granted for 30 months and can be extended for another 30 once the initial period expires.

If I am successful in obtaining a visa for an unmarried spouse, can I get permanent residence?

Yes. Once you have completed five years on an unmarried partner visa you can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK and eventually, should you so choose, British Citizenship.

OTS Solicitors is one of the most respected immigration law firms in London. Our immigration team dealing with family visas comprises of Smit Kumar, Hans Sok Appadu and Maryem Ahmed, all of whom would be happy to talk to you about applying for an unmarried partner visa.

By making an appointment with one of our Immigration solicitors, you can be assured of receiving some of the best legal advice available in the UK today.

If you wish to discuss any of the points raised in this blog, please phone our London office on 0203 959 9123.

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