- UK Unmarried Partner Visa Requirements
- What If I Don’t Meet the Eligibility Requirements?
- UK Unmarried Partner Visa Common Refusal Reasons
- What Are My Options?
- The Appeal Process
- How Long Can I Stay?
- How To Reduce Your Chances of a UK Unmarried Partner Visa Refusal
- How Can IAS Help?
- Frequently Asked Questions
UK Unmarried Partner Visa Requirements & a Refusal
To be eligible to reside in the UK as a partner of a British citizen, an Unmarried Partner/Spouse visa applicant must meet specific criteria. If you apply without meeting the criteria, you’d likely be refused.
The requirements for those wishing to enter the UK as a partner on a family visa in accordance with UK immigration law are outlined below:
- The applicant and their partner must both be over the age of 18.
- The partner must either be a British citizen, have settled status in the UK, be from the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein and have pre-settled status, have a Turkish Business Person visa or Turkish Worker visa, have refugee status or humanitarian protection in the UK.
- The applicant and their partner must intend to live together permanently in the UK.
In addition, applicants need to provide proof of their relationship to the Home Office. This is done by providing evidence of one of the following:
- The applicant and partner have been living together as a couple for at least 2 years.
- The applicant is a fiance or proposed civil partner and the couple will marry within 6 months of the applicant entering the UK.
Applicants must also be able to prove that they have good knowledge of the English language and that they are able to financially support themselves and any dependents.
What If I Don't Meet the Eligibility Requirements?
There are some circumstances where an applicant may still be able to extend their stay even if they do not meet these eligibility requirements. They include:
- The applicant has a child that is a British citizen or has lived in the UK for at least 7 years and it would be unreasonable for them to leave the UK.
- The applicant and their partner would experience very significant difficulties that could not be overcome if they lived together outside of the UK.
- It would breach the applicant’s human rights to deny them entry to the UK or ask them to leave.
If the applicant does not meet the eligibility criteria, there are other UK visa categories that could potentially be explored in order to gain entry to the UK. However, if an applicant has been refused entry on a Unmarried Partner visa, it is advisable to contact an immigration solicitor before applying for a different type of visa as the initial refusal may affect the new application. Specialist lawyers can help applicants maximise the chances of a positive outcome.
For accurate legal advice and to secure your best chance of gaining settlement in the UK, call IAS today at 0333 305 9375. Our highly qualified immigration lawyers can guide you through the process and help determine the best route to take in order to gain your desired outcome.
UK Unmarried Partner Visa Common Refusal Reasons
There are various reasons why the Home Office might refuse an applicant entry to the UK. These include but are not limited to the following:
- Applicant cannot meet the financial eligibility requirement – To be eligible for a visa in the UK, applicants must be able to prove that they can support themselves and any dependents financially by meeting an income threshold. The applicant and their partner must have a combined income of at least £18,600 per year.
- Applicant has not provided the correct documentation or required evidence – It is the applicant’s responsibility to provide the correct evidence as requested by the Home Office. If the documents are incorrect or invalid, this will result in a visa refusal.
- Errors on the initial application – The application should be free from errors in order for the applicant to avoid a refusal decision.
- Applicant does not meet UK language requirements – Depending on where the applicant is from, basic knowledge of the English language is required to apply for a visa in the UK. Applicants who need proof of language skills can do so with an academic qualification or by taking a test.
- Applicant has a criminal record – Immigration laws in the UK prohibit anyone who has been convicted of a crime with a sentence of at least 12 months from entering the country. Visa applications will automatically be refused on national security grounds.
- The Home Office determines that the relationship is not genuine or is subsisting – If the Home Office believes that the relationship between the applicant and their partner is not authentic or ongoing then the visa application will be refused. When deciding if a relationship is genuine, Home Office guidance states that they refer back to the evidence provided by the applicant. This could be legal documents such as a tenancy agreement to prove the same address, or a joint bank account to prove their financial partnership. Applicants can also provide non-legal evidence such as photographs and messages shared between the couple.
The route taken when challenging a refusal decision is dependent upon the applicant’s personal circumstances. For example, if the applicant did not provide the correct evidence with their initial application, then the best course of action might be to simply re-apply with the relevant documentation.
However, if the applicant believes the refusal decision to be a breach of their human rights, they are entitled to appeal the decision in court. Alternatively, if the applicant believes the process used to make the decision was somehow unlawful, then they may decide to claim a judicial review.
Re-applying for a Visa
In some circumstances, it is the best course of action to simply re-apply for an Unmarried Partner/Spouse visa. This could be due to errors on the initial application form or incorrect evidence. If an applicant decides to re-apply it is worth noting that it will be treated as an entirely fresh application by the Home Office and the visa application fee must be paid again.
Since July 2013, it is only possible to appeal an Unmarried Partner/Spouse visa refusal decision in the UK if it causes a breach of the applicants’ human rights. Most appeals commonly cite rights under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. This states that everyone has the ‘right to respect for private and family life’.
A judicial review differs from an appeal as it is the process in which the decision was made that is challenged rather than the decision itself. If it is proven that the decision-making process was unlawful, then the applicant can be granted the right to reconsideration and potentially get the decision overturned.
Whilst some applicants are able to reapply for a visa or claim a judicial review, for many applicants, an appeal is often determined to be the best possible solution. If an applicant can argue that the refusal decision negatively affects their quality of life on human rights grounds then they have a case for an appeal.
An appeal is a legal process in which an applicant challenges their visa refusal decision. The process can be lengthy (sometimes up to 12 months) and is often complicated by different factors. However, all appeals follow the same procedures and there are different steps an applicant must take in order to get their appeal heard in court.
How Long Will an Unmarried Partner Visa UK appeal take?
The process of an appeal can differ depending on circumstance and therefore time scales vary. Appeals are usually sent to a First-tier tribunal. This department has a backlog due to a recent increase in appeals and the lasting effects of the global Covid-19 pandemic, however, most appeals are completed within 12 months of the submission date.
Submitting an Appeal Application
If an applicant wishes to go ahead with an appeal, the first step is to complete and submit an appeal form. This should be completed within 14 or 28 days of the refusal decision. (14 days is for people residing in the UK that wish to switch to an Unmarried Partner/Spouse visa from another visa and 28 days is for those applying from outside the UK). It is worth noting that applicants are able to provide new information and evidence to be considered with their appeal.
Attending a Hearing
When completing the appeal form, it is up to the applicant to decide whether or not they wish to have their appeal processed using the details they provide on the form or if they wish to attend a verbal hearing. If they choose an oral hearing, the applicant will be sent a date to attend the hearing in person, via telephone or via video call. Applicants are able to have representatives in court.
The Home Office Fee
To appeal a refusal decision applicants must pay a fee. It currently stands at £80 for those that wish to have their application reviewed on paper and £140 for those that wish to attend a hearing.
The Outcome of the Appeal
The appeal will be considered by a judge who will be responsible for the outcome of the case. The judge will look closely at all of the facts and evidence and make a decision. If an applicant is successful with their appeal, the Home Office must reconsider the visa application and in most cases grant the Unmarried Partner/Spouse visa. If the appeal is unsuccessful, the applicant may have the right to take their case to an upper tribunal depending on their circumstances, however, this is at their own expense.
How Long Can I Stay?
If an appeal is successful and an applicant is granted a family visa as a partner or spouse then they are entitled to stay in the UK for up to 2 years and 9 months. If they wish to stay longer they must apply for an extension. Once the family visa holder has been living in the UK for at least 5 years as a partner, they may then have the right to seek permanent residency known as ‘indefinite leave to remain’. If granted residency the visa holder can then apply for a British passport.
How To Reduce Your Chances of a UK Unmarried Partner Visa Refusal
There are certain things that can be done in order to help prevent a refusal decision. For example, it is of paramount importance that all supporting documentation submitted with the Unmarried Partner visa application is up-to-date, valid and accurate. In addition, making sure that an applicant meets all of the eligibility criteria and financial requirements is important as well as providing evidence of the relationship to the Home office.
If your application for an Unmarried Partner visa in the UK has been refused, IAS can help. Our professional immigration lawyers can help decide the best course of action for you and provide legal advice and guidance on how to follow it through from start to finish.
Our immigration experts can help you with an Unmarried Partner visa application, and if needed, the appeal process. This includes helping you fill out the appeal form and gather all of the required evidence needed to best represent your case in line with immigration rules in the UK. IAS can help you prepare for a court hearing and advise on what to expect after the case has been in court.
Take the leg work out of what is often a long and complex process and let IAS help you, call us today at 0333 305 9375 or contact us online.
Last modified on October 24th, 2023 at 4:02 pm
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All applications must be made online via the UK government’s website regardless of whether or not you are applying from inside or outside of the UK.
Unfortunately, the home office does not publish UK Unmarried Partner visa appeal success rates. However, general estimates indicate a success rate of approximately 35 – 50%.
Occasionally, the Home Office may request you attend an interview in order to discuss and prove the legitimacy of your relationship.
It is possible to reapply straight away after an initial refusal as there are no time limits or strict laws on this matter. However, it is advisable to figure out the reasons why the initial application was rejected before reapplying and move forward from there in order to secure the best chance of success. If the applicant needs to make corrections to their visa application it is worth considering using a specialist solicitor in order to gain the highest chances of approval.
Applicants must provide evidence of their relationship to the Home Office which will decide whether or not the relationship is genuine. Evidence can include but is not limited to official documents such as rent agreements (where the couple have lived together) and bank statements. However, where this is not possible, significant evidence of regular contact, signs of affection, emotional support and an interest in the partner’s well-being such as photos, messages, emails etc. can be accepted.
Visa applications are usually considered on their own merit however, previous applications or past refusals remain on the applicant’s record. Past refusals are taken into consideration by the Home Office when assessing applications and therefore (depending on the applicant’s circumstances) can affect the outcome of a second application.