Home Office guidance says that “the key feature of a marriage, civil partnership or durable partnership of convenience is that there is no genuine relationship between the parties.”
Many couples have become frustrated with the requirements for a UK Partner visa as the rules and guidance are difficult to understand. A significant number of applications are refused based on failing to provide adequate documentation to evidence the relationship requirement.
Applicants must provide satisfactory evidence that they are in a genuine and subsisting relationship with their partner. What exactly does this mean?
Genuine and subsisting
When determining whether a relationship is genuine and subsisting, the Home Office will consider all evidence provided and the applicant’s individual circumstances, using the following factors to assist in their assessment:
- Are the couple currently in a long-term relationship?
- Do the couple currently cohabitate, and have they been living together? (For unmarried partners, the minimum length of time is two years)
- Does the couple have shared responsibility for any children together (biological, adopted, or step-children)?
- Do the couple share financial responsibilities?
- Have both parties to the relationship visited each other’s home countries and families?
- Have living arrangements been made for when the applicant comes to the UK?
- In the case of an arranged marriage, do both parties consent to the marriage?
There are certain situations where it may be difficult to prove that a couple are in a genuine and subsisting relationship due to cultural and religious differences or practices. For example, in certain cultures it is unacceptable to live together prior to marriage or due to the marriage being arranged by family members, there was no opportunity to cohabit.
Consequently, there may be no co-habitation or existing relationship to evidence, however this does not necessarily undermine the genuineness of their relationship.
Home Office guidance acknowledges that in ‘many faiths and cultures, marriage marks the start of a commitment to a lifelong partnership and not the affirmation of a pre-existing' partnership, however it is vitally important to explain the absence of existing co-habitation or relationship to avoid any doubt as to the relationship’s authenticity.
The guidance is unclear on what documents are suitable to evidence the ‘genuine and subsisting’ requirement, apart from confirming that for married couples or those in a civil partnership, a marriage or civil partnership certificate is mandatory.
Unfortunately, this document alone is not in itself sufficient to satisfactorily establish a ‘genuine and subsisting’ relationship.
There are several documents a couple can provide to evidence their relationship. Examples include, but are not limited to the following:
- Wedding/civil partnership and holiday photographs
- Wedding/civil partnership invitations
- Flight and hotel bookings with names of both the applicant and the sponsor
- Statements from friends and family to evidence the relationship is genuine and subsisting
- Communication between the applicant and the sponsor such as emails, phone and video call logs, WhatsApp messages, and other social media correspondence
- Evidence of joint finances, such as a joint bank account
- Tenancy agreements in joint names
- Testimonial from the applicant and the sponsor explaining the history and current status of their relationship
There is no room for error or omission with UK visa applications. The Home Office is under no obligation to request additional evidence or information when considering an application, and normally assess and decide an application with what has been provided.
With costly and non-refundable application fees, it is strongly advised to seek UK immigration advice before applying to enter the UK as a Partner or when applying for an extension of stay in the UK as a Partner.