For years many couples have become frustrated by the requirements for a spouse visa as the rules and guidance are difficult to understand. A significant amount of applications are rejected on the basis of the applicant not providing the adequate documents to evidence the relationship requirement. The Home Office guidance states, “an applicant and their partner must provide evidence that they are in a genuine and subsisting relationship” But what does this mean?
The guidance is unclear on what documents are suitable to evidence this requirement, apart from confirming that the marriage or civil partnership certificate is mandatory. Unfortunately, it is not enough to simply provide the Home Office with a marriage or civil partnership certificate to evidence the relationship. Thus, it is not surprising that applicants fail to understand the number of documents they need to submit as evidence of their relationship.
There are certain situations where it may be difficult to prove that a couple are in a genuine and subsisting relationship due to cultural or religious differences or practices. For example, in certain cultures it is unacceptable to cohabit prior to marriage or because the marriage was arranged, there was no opportunity to cohabit. Consequently, the applicant and the sponsor would not have cohabited at all or even have known each other for a long period of time, but this does not necessarily undermine the genuineness of their relationship. It is important to explain these cultural differences to avoid the entry clearance officer doubting the authenticity of the relationship.
There are a number of documents a couple can provide to evidence their relationship; examples include:
- Photographs of applicant and sponsor at their wedding/civil partnership or on holidays
- Wedding/civil partnership invitation card
- Flight and hotel bookings with names of both the applicant and the sponsor
- Statements from friends and family to evidence relationship is genuine and subsisting
- Evidence of communication between applicant and sponsor such as emails, calls logs, WhatsApp messages, Skype logs and other social media correspondence
- Evidence of joint finances, such as joint bank account
- Evidence of cohabiting such as tenancy agreements with names of both the applicant and sponsor
- Testimonial from applicant and sponsor explaining the development of their relationship
- Letters of correspondence addressed to the applicant and the sponsor at the same address
- Evidence that the Applicant and the Sponsor have visited each other’s home countries
To conclude, it is highlighted that a marriage or civil partnership certificate is not sufficient on its own to prove that a relationship in genuine and subsisting. This may seem unusual, but routinely the Home Office have to distinguish between sham marriages and genuine relationships, especially with the increase in the number of sham marriages. Although a genuine couple who have entered into a marriage or civil partnership for the convenience of immigration will not be seen as a sham. It is strongly advised to seek legal advice before submitting an application to avoid a rejection.