- Unmarried Partner Visa Overview
- Unmarried Partner Visa Requirements
- Financial Requirements
- Partner Visa Validity
- Applying For A Visa Extension
- Applying For Your Visa
- Unmarried Partner Visa Application Process
- Unmarried Partner Visa Fees
- Travelling With Your Dependants
- Unmarried partner appeals
- Frequently Asked Questions
Unmarried Partner Visa
Also, commonly known as the UK de facto visa, the unmarried partner route applies the same requirements and benefits to couples in both heterosexual and homosexual relationships – provided that you can demonstrate with evidence that you have been in a committed and serious relationship for two years or longer.
The UK unmarried partner visa technically falls under the family visa category, which applies to unmarried couples but also children, parents, and a spouse or civil partner. Under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, non-EEA and non-Swiss nationals have the right to legally seek to travel to the UK with the intention of staying and living with their partner.
With IAS, your chances of a successful application for an Unmarried Partner Visa will be maximised. Get in touch with the team today on 0333 363 8577 or use our online contact form to discuss your application.
What Is The UK Unmarried Partner Visa?
The Unmarried Partner Visa allows foreign non-EEA nationals to enter or remain in the UK in order to live with their British partner. This is allowed on the basis that they are in a provably genuine, committed and long-term relationship with a British national – or a person who is currently present and settled in the UK, possibly with Indefinite Leave to Remain. In any case, it’s crucial that the UK-based partner is living and remaining in the UK without immigration restrictions. This can include:
- Full British citizens.
- Someone who is present and settled in the UK with Indefinite Leave to Remain.
- A person currently staying in the UK under humanitarian protection or with refugee status.
The unmarried partner visa comes with a few requirements that you’ll have to meet in order to successfully apply and be approved. Alongside the fact that you must prove that you have been in a genuine relationship for at least two years at the time of applying for the unmarried partner visa, it’s also necessary that both the non-EEA applicant and the UK-based sponsoring partner are both 18 years old or older. You must also both fully intend on living together in the UK on a permanent and long-term basis. To this end, you’ll need to prove that you both have sufficient and appropriate accommodation plans and living arrangements for when the non-EEA applicant reaches the UK.
The length of the unmarried partner visa validity changes depending on where exactly you have applied from. For example, if foreign national unmarried partners are already in the UK and is applying for the visa in order to earn the right to stay in the country, the visa is issued for a period of 30 months. If the non-EEA applicant is submitting their application while abroad, however, whether in their home country or anywhere else, then upon success they will receive an unmarried partner visa valid for a period of 33 months.
For couples who don’t intend to get married or simply want to get married later in life after spending time living in the UK together, the unmarried partner route is the most suitable and appropriate visa available.
Here at the Immigration Advice Service, we always recommend that anyone intending to submit an unmarried partner visa application seeks professional legal advice on the matter. The Home Office will expect comprehensive and thorough evidence of your life and relationship together being genuine and honest – a lot of unmarried partner visa applications are rejected because they simply don’t include enough evidence of the relationship in question.
Our experienced and OISC-qualified immigration lawyers can help to provide the advice and assistance you need to make the right decision and submit an application with the best chances for success. Just get in touch with the helpful and expert team here at IAS today to discover more about how we can help you achieve success through the unmarried partner visa route.
Unmarried Partner Visa Requirements
In order to be considered an eligible and appropriate candidate for the unmarried partner visa category of family visas, you’ll need to not only meet but also prove that you satisfy all the requirements set in place by the Home Office and UKVI (UK visas and immigration). These eligibility requirements include meeting the following criteria:
- You must be able to demonstrate and prove that any previous relationships have ended. This includes any relationship that either the non-EEA applicant or the UK-based sponsor were involved in, whether previous marriages or unmarried, have ended. The Home Office will not grant an unmarried partner visa to a couple still engaged in previous marital or other relations.
- Both the applicant and the sponsor must both be over the age of 18 at the time of applying for the unmarried partner visa.
- The UK-based sponsor must be able to show that they have either full British citizenship, Indefinite Leave to Remain, or humanitarian protection in the UK. Unmarried partner visas cannot be awarded to the partners of people subject to UK immigration restrictions.
- You need to be able to show that you have not only met physically and been in a relationship for the last two years but that you have also been living together for at least two years at the time of applying. This demonstrates that you have been in a genuine and subsisting relationship akin to marriage or a civil partnership. This cohabitation requirement is absolutely mandatory for every unmarried partner visa applicant. You’ll need to be able to provide documentary evidence of this.
- You’ll need to convince the Home Office and UK visas and immigration that your relationship is entirely genuine and that both the non-EEA applicant and the UK-based sponsor intend to live together in the UK on a permanent basis. This part of the application requires comprehensive and substantial evidence.
- There must be suitable and adequate accommodation available for the couple and any necessary dependents. It’s important for you to be able to prove to the Home Office and UKVI that the UK-based sponsor, the non-EEA applicant, and any dependents also coming to the UK have the suitable accommodation necessary to support an acceptable quality of life.
- As part of the unmarried partner visa applications, the adult non-EEA applicant will need to demonstrate that they are able to speak and understand English to the required level. These English language requirements could mean presenting evidence of your ability to understand English or submitting proof requested by the Home Office, such as completing an English language test. You may be considered exempt from this if you have proficiency in another British language, such as Welsh or Scottish Gaelic.
- You and your partner must be able to fully support yourselves in the UK without needing to claim public funds. To this end, the unmarried partner UK visa type comes with certain financial requirements for gross annual income that you must be able to prove before being eligible for the visa. The financial requirements fall upon the UK-based settled person, not the non-European nationals coming to the UK.
What Are The Financial Requirements For An Unmarried UK Partner Visa?
When applying for the unmarried partner visa, it’s important to prove that you will be able to fully support yourselves while living in the UK without needing to access public funds, as per UK immigration rules.
To do this, the person living in the UK with settled status needs to be able to meet the specific financial requirement of a minimum income threshold before their partner can join them in the UK (unless the partner is already living and earning in the UK).
You won’t need to meet this minimum financial requirement if you are in the UK with humanitarian protection or have refugee status.
However, if you do need to meet the financial requirement, you’ll need to prove your gross annual income (before tax) meets the amount necessary, depending on who you’re applying for:
- £18,600 – This is the minimum threshold you must meet when applying for an unmarried partner to join you in the UK. If you are planning on bringing a partner with no dependent children to the UK, this is the necessary amount you must meet.
Plus, you also need to prove that you have additional funds for every dependent child coming to live with you in the UK if this child is not British, a European national, or possessing settled status:
- £3,800 – This is the additional amount you need to prove that you have for the first dependent child coming to settle in the UK with you.
- £2,400 – This is the amount necessary for every additional dependent child after the first.
How To Meet The Visa Financial Requirements?
You can meet the Unmarried Partner visa financial income requirement through both salaried and non-salaried income in a variety of different ways. You can reach the threshold using income from a combination of different sources, such as:
- Cash savings – It’s possible to count personal cash savings of £16,000 or higher towards the minimum income threshold for the foreign national unmarried partners visa. If your income fails to meet the £18,600 minimum financial requirement, then you can instead use your savings. Your savings not only have to be at least £16,000 at least but also have to include an additional £2.50 for every £1 that your income is below the minimum given threshold. You need to have had these savings for at least six months, and it is possible to use the savings of the non-EEA applicant towards this amount.
- Property rental income – Non-work income is also viable, such as if you own properties and have a regular source of income via rental of these properties. While you can’t use the sale value of any property towards meeting the financial requirement, earnings made through rent can be considered viable income.
- Employed or self-employed income – Any income you make from employed or self-employed work can be used towards your income requirement – as long as you currently have settled status in the UK and are earning the money in the country. You can use your income before National Insurance and tax. You can also use self-employed income, such as if you are a director of a UK-based company. It’s worth noting that you need to have been earning the given wage for at least six months or longer.
- Trust funds – If you are in the possession of a trust fund, then you can use this amount in order to help reach the minimum financial requirement for the unmarried partner UK visa. This counts as a non-salaried income but is viable to be counted towards your annual gross income when applying for the visa.
- Maternity, paternity, adoptions, or sick pay – If you have had your annual earnings altered out of necessity, such as going on maternity or paternity leave, taking sick pay, or anything else, then you will be able to use these payments towards meeting the minimum financial requirement for the unmarried partner visa.
- Pension – If the settled person in the UK is currently on their pension, then this income can be counted towards the financial requirement for the unmarried visa UK instead. This counts as non-employment earnings and is most often counted instead of employed or self-employed income.
How Long Does The Unmarried Visa Last For?
The duration that the unmarried UK partner visa is valid depends on where you are applying from. For instance, if applying from overseas, the visa will be issued for a period of 33 months. However, if you are making the application from within the UK itself, then the visa will be issued for a period of 30 months instead.
For a lot of people coming to the UK with the intention of remaining and living with their British national long-term partner, the unmarried visa is the first step in an immigration route that often results in the non-EEA foreign national applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain. However, successfully applying for ILR (Indefinite Leave to Remain) requires that non-European nationals stay within the UK as the unmarried partner of a UK citizen for at least five years. The 30 or 33 months of the initial visa’s validity do not cover this. However, a visa extension of an additional 30 months before reaching the visa expiration date can take you to the five-year mark.
Can The Unmarried Partner Visa UK Be Extended?
As is often the case, an unmarried partner of a UK citizen might reach their visa expiration date but wish to remain in the UK with their long-term partner. Fortunately, it’s possible to apply for a further extension of an additional 30 months while in the UK, on top of the initial 30 or 33 months of the visa’s validity.
Before your initial grant of leave expires, you can apply to UKVI (UK visas and immigration) to extend your stay. You’ll need to meet all the same maintenance and financial requirements as before, and you must still be living with the settled partners you came to the UK to live with.
For a lot of couples, the unmarried partner visa is the first step in the immigration route towards Indefinite Leave to Remain and permanently settling in the UK together. With an extension of 30 months on top of the initial 30 or 33 months granted, you will eventually reach the five-year mark, after which you will be eligible to apply for (Indefinite Leave to Remain).
How Do I Apply For An Unmarried Partner Visa?
When you’re putting together an application for the unmarried partner visa, you’ll need to fill in an online form through the Home Office application website. Here, you’ll also be able to submit your various supporting documents at the same time.
To complete the Unmarried Partner visa application process, you will also need to attend a physical appointment at which your biometric information will be taken, such as fingerprints and a photo. If your non-EEA national partner is applying from outside the UK, you can expect a decision within around 12 weeks – this is reduced to around 8 weeks for applications made within the UK.
If your application for the unmarried UK partner visa is approved, you’ll be granted a visa with permission to visit and stay in the UK for two and a half years. You can then apply to extend this period or have your status changed to a different visa category.
Once your partner has spent five years or longer in the UK, they’ll be eligible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR). This will likely also require passing an English language test and a test about their understanding of UK tradition, customs, culture and law.
How Long Is The Visa Processing Time?
UKVI (UK visas and immigration) boasts the impressive claim of processing around 95% of all UK unmarried partner visa applications within 12 weeks of them being submitted. As such, you can generally expect for your own application to be processed and to receive a decision in that kind of timeframe.
If, however, you are in need of having your Unmarried Partner visa be processed in less time, then you might need to use a settlement priority visa service. Most visa application centres outside the UK offer this service, which ensures that your visa application will go straight to the front of the queue along every stage of the visa processing and decision-making. Generally speaking, visa applicants using the settlement priority visa service can expect their application to be processed within 30 working days.
If you are applying from within the UK and you would like to either change your immigration status by switching to the unmarried partner visa or you would like to extend your stay under the visa, then there are a couple of potential avenues for you to take. Applying via the standard service will often result in a decision within 8 weeks. However, making use of the UK’s super priority service often means that you’ll receive a decision within a day of submitting your biometric information for the visa.
How Much Does The Unmarried Partner Visa Cost?
The Home Office application fee for the unmarried partner visa depends on how you apply and where you apply from. For example, the Home Office processing fee for applications made from outside the UK is currently £1,538, while the Home Office application fee for unmarried visa applications made within the UK is currently £1,048 – this applies for applications made to switch into the unmarried partner category of visa, as well as to apply for an extension to an existing visa ahead of the expiration date.
The fee to add dependents to your application is the same as the visa fee to apply in the first place. So, for example, applying from outside the UK to bring a dependent with you is an additional £1,538, and to apply from within the UK to bring a dependent with you is an additional £1,048.
Can I Bring Dependents With Me On An Unmarried Partner Visa?
Yes, anyone applying for the UK unmarried partner visa can also apply to bring dependents with them when they travel.
However, there are a few things that you need to be aware of when it comes to the fees and the financial requirements for bringing dependents with you.
If you have any children under the age of 18, you can apply for them to enter the UK with you as your dependents.
This application for your dependents should always be made at the same time as you make your initial application for your own unmarried UK partner visa.
Unmarried partner visa refusal and appeals
You may have the right to appeal the decision not to grant you an Unmarried Partner Visa. However, going through the Unmarried Partner Visa appeals process can be complex and confusing.
Below is a step-by-step guide on how to appeal an Unmarried Partner Visa refusal:
- Identify the time limit for submitting your request for an appeal or review (14 days if you applied in the UK, or 28 days if you applied outside the UK)
- Apply for an appeal to the First-Tier Tribunal within the specific deadline
- Work with an immigration solicitor to prepare your case, any relevant supporting documents, and the reason(s) why your application should be accepted
- Attend the hearing
- Await the decision
- If you receive an unsuccessful decision at this point, you may be eligible to apply to the Upper Tribunal (within 14 days)
The best way to avoid the Unmarried Partner Visa appeals process is to submit the strongest possible application the first time.
Give yourself the best chance of a successful application by working with a firm of experienced immigration solicitors.
Last modified on August 14th, 2023 at 3:39 pm
Need help with an immigration issue? Book a one-to-one advice session with one of our legal caseworkers.
We can complete your visa application on your behalf, taking the stress and hassle out of the process.
Fast Track Package
Need to submit an application quickly? We can help you complete and send it off in as little as 24 hours.
Ensure you have the greatest chance of a successful appeal with our legal support and guidance.
The Advice Package
With our Advice Package, you can book a one-to-one session with one of our legal team and receive bespoke advice tailored for your situation. We will review your case and give you expert advice on how best to proceed with your immigration matter. Reach out to a member of our team and book your session today.
The Application Package
Our Application Package is designed to help relieve the stress of immigration applications. One of our legal caseworkers will help you throughout the entire process, including establishing your eligibility for your chosen route, completing your application form to the highest standards and organising your documents. We will then submit it and monitor its status on your behalf.
The Fast Track Package
Our premium Fast Track Package is ideal if you need to submit an application quickly, such as if you need to meet a tight deadline. Our lawyers will work closely with you to see that your application is completed to the highest standards and ensure you get your application in on time, helping to take the stress and pressure off you.
The Appeal Package
Visa appeals can be a stressful process, especially if you’re relying on a specific visa to be approved. Our legal team can help you navigate the whole process and maximise your chances of a successful appeal, working alongside you to reach a favourable result. We can also represent you in immigration-related hearings and tribunals.
In short, yes. Unmarried partner visa holders and successful applicants benefit from having the full right to both work and study whilst staying the UK with their long-term partner. Because a lot of unmarried visa applicants apply with the intention of following the immigration route towards ILR (Indefinite Leave to Remain) and staying permanently in the UK with their British citizen partner, they may have plans to either take up full-time employment or study for a qualification while living here. Fortunately, the unmarried partner visa allows holders to live, work, earn and study in the UK.
This right applies to all unmarried visa holders. It doesn’t matter whether you made your application from inside the UK or from outside the UK, whether you are applying for a visa extension, applying to change your immigration status by switching to the unmarried partner visa from another visa, or applying for a brand new unmarried visa UK. All holders have the same right to work and study in the UK while living here.
Non-European nationals who have been living with their UK national partner in another EEA country are eligible to move to the UK together, thanks to the Surinder Singh case. This route means that you need to instead apply for an EEA family permit – non-EEA national family members such as a child, a spouse, a parent, or a grandparent of a British citizen can move to the UK under this permit.
The rules can be slightly different for unmarried partners, but it is still worth exploring this route. This is because it uses the EU regulations rather than the stricter UK immigration control to assess your eligibility.
When it comes to your savings and earnings to qualify for the Unmarried Partner visa, it’s important to note that you will have to have been in possession of these for at least six months before they can be counted towards meeting the minimum income threshold. You can use a combination of any or all of the above towards your gross annual income to meet the financial requirement.
There may be cases where you are exempt from fulfilling the minimum financial requirement for the UK unmarried visa. This is most often when you or your partner are receiving benefits, such as the following:
- Disability Living Allowance
- Severe Disablement Allowance
- Carer’s Allowance
- Personal Independence Payment
- Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit
- Attendance Allowance
- Police Injury Pension
- Bereavement Benefits
- Constant Attendance Allowance, Mobility Supplement, or War Disablement Pension under War Pensions Scheme
- Armed Forces Independence Payment or Guaranteed Income Payment under the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme
If you are the recipient of one or more of these benefits, you won’t need to meet the £18,600 minimum income threshold of eligibility for the unmarried visa. Instead, you’ll just need to show that you receive enough money to achieve what is known as ‘adequate maintenance’ – meaning that you have enough money to look after any dependents. When it comes to benefits, each individual case can be a little different, which means that the amount you need to receive will depend on your own circumstances. For reference, you’ll need at least £120 each week after housing costs – this amount increases if you have dependent children to look after.
Meeting eligibility for the unmarried UK partner visa can be complicated and confusing. The exact requirements you will need to meet will vary depending on your own unique individual circumstances, especially when it comes to meeting the crucial financial requirement – you may find it difficult to assess whether you meet the minimum threshold, especially if you’re combining sources from a range of different incomes. This is one of the reasons we always recommend that anyone putting together an immigration application form for the unmarried visa speaks to qualified immigration lawyers for expert advice.
Here at the Immigration Advice Service, our expert immigration advisors and legal experts have a proven track record of helping people to submit high-quality visa applications.
Our informative and actionable advice package allows you to organise a one-to-one visa appointment with one of our experts, where they will discuss with you your eligibility, the supporting documents you should use to strengthen your application forms, how to prove you are in a genuine and subsisting relationship, how to meet the necessary English language requirements, and more.
Our experienced and OISC-qualified lawyers are always on hand to provide the guidance and assistance you need to give your unmarried partner visa application the best chance of success. Just get in touch with our friendly and helpful staff today to discover more about how we can help you.
Applying for an unmarried partner visa to come to the UK and live with your long-term partner can be expensive, so it’s important to fully understand what costs you should expect if planning on bringing dependents with you.
The simplest way of remembering this is that applications for dependents will require the exact same fee as your initial application. So, if you’re applying for the unmarried visa from outside the UK, you’ll have to pay a fee of £1,538 – if you’re bringing a dependent with you, you’ll need to pay an additional £1,538.
If you’re applying for the visa from within the UK, your fee will be £1,048 applications from within the UK to bring dependents with you will cost an additional Home Office processing fee of £1,048.
If you’ve planned to pay the additional fees necessary to bring dependents with you on the unmarried partner visa, you don’t want to be unexpectedly caught out by the change in the necessary financial requirement when submitting your application.
The straight-up fees are more when bringing dependents, but so is the minimum financial threshold you’ll have to prove that you meet when you apply for the visa.
You’ll need to meet the same £18,600 requirement as when applying for just yourself. However, you’ll also have to meet an additional amount for every non-EEA dependent child you’re planning on bringing to the UK:
- £3,800 for the first dependent child coming to the UK to settle with you.
- £2,400 for every additional dependent after that.
Depending on your needs, our highly-experienced, OISC-qualified immigration lawyers here at IAS will be able to aid and assist you in completing a strong Unmarried Partner visa application with a decent chance of success.
When applying for the unmarried partner visa, it’s important to present strong and thorough evidence proving you have a real and subsisting relationship with your partner. Our legal experts have a lot of experience with this kind of work. If you need some assistance in understanding the application process and how best to approach applying for the visa, our advice package gives you access to a one-on-one appointment with one of our experts, in which you can have all your concerns and questions addressed.
If you need some help putting together the application itself, we can help you in making sure that you have a strong portfolio of supporting evidence and an application with a good chance of success. Our application package will have one of our legal experts dedicate themselves to helping put together all the important parts of your application, checking that it is as strong as possible along the way.
Our services for the UK unmarried partner visa include:
- confirming that your documents are sufficient;
- ensuring that you have enough evidence to prove your relationship to your partner is genuine;
- ensuring that your partner is eligible to sponsor your visa application;
- producing a Letter of Representation for your application. This supplies the Home Office with supporting details about your case and relevant immigration laws;
- liaising with the Home Office during the process;
- using expert knowledge to complete your application form to the highest standard.
The first difference between civil partnership and marriage is in the way they are formed. While married couples usually exchange vows in a religious ceremony, civil partnership is a civil function.
Another substantial difference is in their recognition. At the moment, only a few countries legally admit civil partnerships, and the UK is one of these. As a consequence, you and your partner can settle in the UK on a Civil Partnership Visa and benefit from the same legal rights as married couples.
Civil partnerships are legal relationships registered by same-sex couples. This legal status is recognised by the Civil Partnership Act 2004.
To register a civil partnership in the UK, you and your partner must sign an official form in front of two witnesses and a registrar. This will give your couple not only legal recognition but also legal rights and responsibilities.
If you are still in doubt about what does “civil partnership” mean and if you and your partner qualify for this visa, your lawyer can assess your situation.
If you have registered your civil partnership abroad, you should check if your status is valid in the UK.