UK Immigration – Spouses, Civil Partners, Unmarried Partners, Fiancé(e)sUK Immigration – Spouses, Civil Partners, Unmarried Partners, Fiancé(e)s


We have many years experience in assisting migrants to obtain UK visas as Spouses, Civil Partners, Unmarried Partners, Fiancé(e)s.

Such applicants will be sponsored by a UK citizen or person settled in the UK (i.e. who has indefinite leave to remain - ILR) or returning to settle in the UK. Different rules apply to EEA applicants sponsoring a family member – see our EEA section for more information.

Who can apply

The UK permits many different types of relationships to apply under these categories, including;

Married spouses (opposite sex) 

Civil partners (same sex) 

Unmarried partners (i.e. same sex or opposite sex spouses living together but not married or in a civil partnership)

Fiancé(e)s - those who intend to marry or register a civil partnership in the UK and apply for a visa to remain in the UK after marriage.

In all cases, applicants need to show that there is a genuine and continuing relationship. Many applications are delayed or even refused for want of sufficient evidence on this point. Regardless of the length of the relationship, this point is crucial.

A common error is for applicants to apply with their marriage certificate and no proof of relationship. This may show you are legally married but it does not show a genuine relationship.

Increasingly, the UK Border Agency is requiring applicants to show that their relationship is genuine and case officers are on the lookout for “sham marriages”. It is crucial to avoid any chance of a negative inference by addressing this issue. 

Unmarried partners

The UK has for many years recognised a relationship where the parties are unmarried. In order to qualify as “unmarried partners” (either through a same sex or opposite sex relationship), the parties must show the existence of such a relationship for the 24 months period immediately before the application.

UK Border Agency guidance does permit short periods of living apart as long as the separation is temporary.

The guidance on proving an unmarried partner relationship stipulates that it only includes;

“genuine long-term relationships” and not just a “cohabiting relationship”

Unfortunately, many applicants are rejected on this point by confusing an unmarried partner relationship with cohabitation. Applications are frequently submitted with evidence just showing cohabitation for 24 months and then expecting approval. This approach is not likely to receive approval without more evidence.

The UK Border Agency guidance to its caseworkers provides instruction on the type of documents that should be provided to show “sufficient conclusive evidence of the relationship”.

Cohabitation is just one component of proving the relationship. Unless, you can provide sufficient evidence to demonstrate all the components of an unmarried partner relationship, then there is little point in applying.

The UK is generous compared to many other countries (such as the USA) that only recognise married spouses. However, the evidence required for unmarried partners is not something that is viewed lightly. Each application needs to be carefully assessed to ensure the key components are met.

We regularly assist applicants to show that all the key components of an unmarried partner relationship are being met.


Previously, the UK government passed controversial legislation requiring both parties to be at least 21 years old before applying for any visas in this category.

This was overturned by a 2011 court case and the government has now reverted to a minimum age of 18 years for both parties. 


Contact us

Commonwealth Immigration Consultants Ltd.

based in London and Cambridge

Tel. +44 (0) 1223 830 916

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Financial Maintenance - new rules introduced in July 2012

In July 2012 comprehensive changes were introduced by the UK government to the Financial Maintenance criteria for spouses and partners of UK citizens and of those settled in the UK.

These changes affect husbands, wives, unmarried partners, civil partners and fiancés.

As well as extending the probationary period for settlement from 2 to 5 years, the new rules introduced stringent new financial maintenance requirements.

Many applicants are struggling to meet the requirements and many families have been separated as a result. A recent report by the UK All-Party Parliamentary Group on Migration condemned the “anguish” caused by the new rules.

However, the new rules seem set to remain in one shape or another. An immediate reduction in family visas of 16% is the first indication that these rules will help the government to meets its target of reducing net migration.

So, how does one meet the financial requirement? Currently, this can be met through income or savings (or a combination of the two).
In short – an annual income of GBP 18,600 is needed by the UK sponsor or total savings of GBP 62,500 (held either by the UK sponsor or applicant). These amounts are increased if children are to be included.

But the new rules are incredibly complicated and the documentary evidence to support an application needs to be almost perfect – case officers are rejecting applications without asking for clarification.
Income can be met through employment, self-employment, pension, investment, property rental.

Savings can be met through “cash funds” held in a bank account or similar.

The following are some of the main issues that arise;

* What sources of income and savings can be combined together? For instance employment and pension income can be combined but self-employment and savings cannot be combined.

* The rules have introduced a new formula for using savings to top up an income shortfall.

* The rules differ greatly depending on whether the applicant and / or sponsor are in the UK or outside the UK

* Applicants outside the UK can only rely on the employed income of the UK sponsor but pension income can be from either party.

* Applicants employed outside the UK must have an offer of employment in the UK. Self-employed applicants must show an intention to continue self-employment.

* Only savings held in cash funds can be counted – property equity, shares and stocks are all irrelevant. Savings must be held for 6 months.

* The specified evidence for self-employment and employment is very difficult to meet and many applicants (especially outside the UK) struggle to satisfy the requirements.

We are seeing many applicants coming to us who have been refused and are trying to submit an appeal. The reality is that an appeal is difficult unless you can show that the case officer made a basic error (which does happen of course).

It really is vital to prepare an application thoroughly and well in advance. We advise applicants to contact us early in their plans to move to the UK.

These new rules are complex and applications need to fit in exactly with one of the permitted categories for financial maintenance. The new approach is very different from the previous more flexible system that was in place before July 2012.

English language ability

Changes introduced in November 2010 introduced an English language requirement for all Spouses, Civil partners, Unmarried Partners, Fiancé(e)s.

This can be shown through either;
- An approved English language test
- A Degree taught in English
- Proof of citizenship of a majority English speaking country 

Switching in the UK

All of the visas in these categories can be applied for outside the UK.

However, there are restrictions on applying for these visas in the UK – i.e. switching your immigration category.

In most situations your visa needs to be one that is issued with at least 6 months validity before you can switch. This doesn’t mean that your visa has to have 6 months remaining but that it was issued for a period in excess of 6 months.

However, there are exceptions to this rule in certain situations. Please contact us so we can see if you can switch in the UK or if you must apply outside the UK.

Visa Issuance and Applying later for ILR

Visas for fiancé(e)s or proposed civil partners are issued for 6 months to allow the parties to marry or register a civil partnership in the UK.

Spouses, civil partners and unmarried partners are issued visas usually for 27 months. Then after living in the UK for 24 months, an application for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) can be made.

See our ILR webpage for more information.

Our service - Visas for Spouses, Civil Partners, Unmarried Partners, Fiance(e)s

We have many years experience in securing visas in these categories for our clients. The process can be complicated and is not granted easily by the UK government – it does, after all, lead to permanent residence and eventually to British citizenship.

We can handle the whole application from start to finish. The service includes everything from pre-application advice, document review, completing forms, covering letter, drafting your personal statement, submission to the authorities and bringing to a successful conclusion. This continues throughout the whole process until your visa is approved.

You will only deal with one dedicated immigration adviser to provide you with a focused one to one service.

Our success rate is second to none and we can provide numerous verifiable references from satisfied clients for you to review and inspect.

At this stage, we just need you to complete this quick registration form on our website; 

This should give us all the information we need to give you the correct advice.

We can then review in full and get back to you.


OISC, UK visa, immigration services

Commonwealth Immigration Consultants
UK Government Registered Immigration Consultants No. F200100020

Member of the Association of Regulated Immigration Advisers (ARIA)
Affiliate Member of the Australian Institute of Migration

ILPA, Immigration Law Practitioners' Association

ILPA - Immigration Law Practitioners' Association
Commonwealth Immigration Consultants Ltd. |