If you are in a committed relationship, akin to marriage, with a British/Irish citizen or a person in the UK with Settlement (Indefinite Leave to Remain or Settled Status), you may be able to join your partner in the UK via the Unmarried Partner Visa route.
What is the Unmarried Partner Visa?
The Unmarried Partner Visa (a subcategory of the Partner Visa) allows non-British/Irish nationals to join their British/Irish/Settled partners in the UK, provided certain criteria are met. This visa offers a lifeline to couples who are not married but are in a genuine, committed, and lasting relationship. It can also lead to becoming eligible for Settlement in the UK after a continuous period of 5 years.
As with the Fiancé Visa, to obtain an Unmarried Partner Visa, certain requirements must be met:
- The applicant and their partner must be at least 18 years old
- The partner is either a British or Irish citizen or has obtained Settlement in the UK
- They have lived together in a relationship akin to marriage or civil partnership for at least 2 continuous years
- The relationship is genuine and subsisting
- They intend to live together permanently in the UK
- Any previous relationship has broken down permanently
- They satisfy the ‘financial requirement’
- There is adequate accommodation for both the applicant and the partner
- The applicant speaks and understands English to the required level
The financial requirement for an applicant and partner without dependent children, is £18,600 per year (before tax). To fulfil the financial requirement, the partner may rely on a variety of income sources:
- income from salaried or non-salaried employment
- non-employment income, for example, income from property rental or dividends from shares
- cash savings of £62,500 or above, held by the partner and/or the applicant for at least 6 months immediately before the application date
- income from self-employment
To be eligible for an Unmarried Partner Visa, an applicant and their unmarried partner must have lived together in a relationship similar to marriage or civil partnership for at least two years prior to the date of the visa application. Documents must be provided establishing that they’ve shared the same address for this duration.
The two-year period should be continuous, but if the couple is not currently living together, they can still qualify if they met the two-year requirement in the past. However, they must convince the Home Office that their relationship is genuine and ongoing at the time of application.
Evidence can include the following:
- Utility Bills
- Telephone bills or statements
- Joint bank statements
- Letters or other documents addressed jointly from government departments or agencies, for example HM Revenue and Customs, Department for Work and Pensions and etc.
Assessing a durable relationship
An applicant can demonstrate cohabitation through various forms of evidence that indicate shared living arrangements. This might include documents like bank statements, tenancy agreements or utility bills, all of which should reflect that both partners have been residing at the same address for the requisite period of time.
A relationship can still be considered a durable relationship even if the couple is not currently living together for a legitimate reason. For instance, couples might be living apart due to one of them pursuing education in another country, work-related obligations that require separation, or while awaiting immigration permission in another country. In such scenarios, a durable relationship can still meet the requirements, but it's essential to establish that the relationship is genuine, enduring, and still in effect despite the physical separation. This could be substantiated by evidence suggesting that, though they are currently living apart, they have previously cohabited in a durable relationship and intend to do so in the future.
If the couple has never lived together, Home Office caseworkers must be satisfied that the relationship is equivalent to a marriage or civil partnership and has persisted for more than two years.
In some countries, unmarried partners may not have the opportunity to live together. In these instances, an assessment of whether the relationship resembles a marriage or civil partnership, rather than a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship, becomes necessary. In certain other countries, same-sex relationships may not be legally recognised or accepted, potentially making it challenging or impossible for same-sex partners to live together.
Under these circumstances, Home Office caseworkers will initially consult the relevant Country Policy and Information Notes to ensure that their approach is consistent with the available information. Instead of relying solely on evidence of cohabitation, they will look for other indications of an ongoing relationship, such as regular communication, visits, shared holidays, attendance at events, financial support, or any other supporting evidence demonstrating the continuity of the relationship. Typically, when the couple has initiated their relationship in the UK or in a country where same-sex relationships are recognised, they will be expected to have cohabited, unless there are valid reasons for living apart.
The UK’s Unmarried Partner Visa is a beacon of hope for unmarried couples. Our immigration solicitors have a proven track record of obtaining fiancé, spouse and unmarried partner visas for applicants wishing to come to the UK as the partner of a British/Irish citizen or person present and settled in the UK.
We can advise you on the eligibility requirements for a Partner Visa application and once instructed will inform you of the documents required which would demonstrate you meet the relationship, financial, English language and suitability requirements.
In the end, the UK Unmarried Partner Visa creates a way for couples to conquer the hurdles of immigration. Love, after all, knows no borders.