Living together, marriage and civil partnership in UK
A ‘Family of a Settled Person’ (more commonly known as a spouse visa) allows nationals from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland who are married (or in a Civil Partnership) to British nationals or those who hold indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK to enter or remain in the UK with their partner. Whether you are residing in the UK and want to switch or extend your visa or outside the UK and would like to enter the UK our lawyers can ensure your case is presented to UK Visas And Immigration in the best manner possible.
Your family member or partner can:
- be a British citizen
- have settled in the UK
- be your partner who has asylum or humanitarian protection in the UK
You may also be able to apply to remain with your child if they have lived in the UK for at least 7 years.
Eligibility Requirements For UK Fiancé(E)/Proposed Civil Partner Visa:
Before a foreign national and their intended can reunite and marry in the UK, there are certain requirements that must be met. In order to obtain a UK Fiancé(e)/proposed Civil Partner visa, the couple must satisfy the UKBA’s Entry Clearance Officer that certain circumstances exist.
The Sponsor must be ‘Present and Settled’ – That the sponsor (the partner resident in the UK) is entitled to live and work in the UK with no restrictions on their stay. This ordinarily means that they are a British Citizen (either by birth, descent or nationalisation) or that they are a permanent resident holding indefinite leave to remain. The sponsor must also be either permanently resident in the UK (or, if overseas on a temporary basis, they must intend to return to the UK before or with their Fiancé(e)/proposed Civil Partner).
Both parties must be Free to Marry – The sponsor and the foreign Fiancé(e)/proposed Civil Partner must be legally capable of marrying at the time of the Fiancé(e)/proposed Civil Partner visa application. If one or both are still wed to another, they must be able to demonstrate that divorce proceedings (or an equivalent process to annul their previous marriage) are underway. Normally, the UKBA will reject a Fiancé(e)/proposed Civil Partner visa application if they are not satisfied that both parties are going to be able to wed within six months of the application.
Both parties must be of the legal age to marry – Both the sponsor and the Fiancé(e)/proposed Civil Partner must be at least 18 at the time of the application. The Entry-Clearance officer has discretion if the Fiancé(e)/proposed Civil Partner/applicant is about to turn 18 years of age.
The parties are required to have met – The couple must produce documentary evidence to establish that the UK-resident sponsor and their foreign Fiancé(e)/propsed Civil Partner have met in person prior to making the application. Obviously, the best prospects of success in this regard exist for those couples who have spent significant time in in each other’s company.
Wedding Arrangements – Obviously, the parties must seriously intend to wed. Again, the best prospects of success in a Fiancé(e)/proposed Civil Partner visa application exist for those couples who are able to produce documentary evidence of their planned wedding. The marriage must take place in the United Kingdom.
The parties must be in a ‘Bona Fide’ relationship – The Entry Clearance Officer must be satisfied that the couple are in a genuine relationship. The couple must be able to demonstrate that they are in a committed relationship and that they intend to continue this following their wedding.
The Applicant must be able to speak English – Applicants who are not citizens of a country which is predominantly English speaking must pass a mandatory English test before making their application for a Fiancé(e)/proposed Civil Partner visa, for entry as a proposed civil partner or spouse visa. Applicants who have studied to degree level are normally exempt, provided certain criteria can be met.
Accommodation and Financial Arrangements are in place – The sponsor (the partner already in the UK) must be financially secure and be able to provide suitable accommodation in the UK for their partner. The sponsor must earn a minimum of £18,600 p/a, and have done so for the 6 months (12 months if self-employed) leading up to the date of the application. If the sponsor is not earning this amount in work, then they can rely on other sources of income or financial support such as savings and investments, provided these are sufficient to support the Fiancé(e) without recourse to public funds. The UKBA may also consider the applicants personal wealth when making a determination.
If a third country is involved (i.e. one which is not the applicants country of origin or the UK) then additional checks may be put in place. Some countries including the Philippines, Thailand, India, Pakistan, Kenya, Uganda, Ghana etc. impose mandatory medical tests for tuberculosis.
If the Fiancé(e)/proposed Civil Partner is in another country temporarily, then proof of residence in that country may be required e.g. residence cards, visas or work permits. If these cannot be provided then it may be necessary to return to their country of origin to begin the application process from there.
UK Marriage/Civil Partner Visa
A spouse visa is required for anyone who wishes to become resident in the UK by virtue of their marriage to a British Citizen or person legally resident in the UK. Permission to reside in the UK will be granted if certain criteria are met.
Those from non-EEA.EU countries should apply for a settlement visa to the British Consulate, Embassy or High Commission in their place of permanent residence. If successful, applicants will be granted a multiple entry visa (or entry clearance) valid for two and a half years. There is an option to apply for further leave to remain before the end of this period.
If you are in the UK on a visa which is valid for more than 6 months, then you can apply for a spousal visa from within the UK. This is also the case for those in the UK on a Fiancé(e)/proposed Civil Partner visa who have married their spouse and who intend to reside permanently in the UK following their marriage.
A UK settlement visa or further leave to remain gives the spouse the right to reside and work in the UK for up to two and a half years. This is the first step to being granted indefinite leave to remain in the UK.
The requirements for being granted a UK settlement visa are:
Present and Settled – The sponsoring spouse must be resident in the UK, with no restrictions on their stay. This means, in practice, that they must either be a British Citizen or be permanently resident in the UK (i.e. have indefinite leave to remain). If the sponsor is abroad for whatever reason, they must
The Marriage must be Valid – The parties must be legally married. The marriage must be valid according to the law of the country where it took place and must be recognised under UK law. If a marriage certificate is in a foreign language it must be translated into English.
The parties must have reached the age of 18 – Both parties must be 18, or be about to turn 18. If one or both parties are about to turn 18 then the UKBA is not bound to grant a visa, but they may do so on a discretionary basis.
The marriage must be genuine.
The parties must be able to demonstrate to the satisfaction of the UKBA entry clearance officer that the marriage is genuine and the relationship is ongoing. In short, the Entry Clearance Officer must be satisfied that the marriage has been entered into genuinely and that it is not an attempt to subvert UK immigration law.
Finance and Accommodation – The sponsor must be capable of financially supporting their new foreign spouse and dependants without relying on public funds. The sponsor must also provide suitable accommodation for their spouse and dependants, and this must not be overcrowded.
The sponsor must earn a minimum of £18,600 p/a, and have done so for the 6 months (12 months if self-employed) leading up to the date of the application. If children are involved, the threshold amounts are as follows:
- £22,400 if there is one child/dependant
- £24,800 if there are two dependants
- £27,200 if there are three dependants
- And £2,400 more for each additional child.
Requirement to speak English – Most visa applicants are required to speak English. To demonstrate this, they must pass a mandatory English Language Test in advance of their application. Only nationals of English-speaking countries and those who have been educated to degree level in English are exempt.
Other requirements – If the application originates from a third country, then the applicant must provide proof of legal residence in that country. Otherwise, they may be asked to return to their country of origin to submit an application through the British Embassy, Consulate or High Commission located there.