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About: Partner visas

At Winckworth Sherwood we understand the importance of being able to settle in the UK with your partner and children. Offering clear, concise and honest advice from the outset, we aim to make the process as seamless as possible, taking the stress out of a process for many who are making life changing decisions. Drawing on the team’s years of experience and success making applications from within the UK and all over the world, we offer a free 30-minute consultations in order to confirm the requirements and whether you satisfy the rules. We will then advise of your options, the costs and anticipated timescales. Any potential issues will be highlighted from the outset so that you know what the prospects of success are before commencing the process.

Whether you are exploring options, looking to imminently make the move or seeking a second opinion, why not contact us now for your free 30-minute consultation.

Who can apply for a UK Partner Visa

Known as the partner route under Appendix FM of the Immigration Rules, this immigration category is open to non-British nationals wishing to settle permanently in the UK on the basis of their relationship with someone living or joining them in the UK. The application can be made on one of four grounds:

  1. As a husband or wife, known as a spouse. They must be in a marriage legally recognised and registered in the country they married;
  2. As a civil partner. They must be in a civil partnership legally recognised in the country they entered into the civil partnership;
  3. As an unmarried partner. An unmarried partner is considered to be a relationship akin to marriage where a couple have been living together for two years or more and evidence can be provided of this;
  4. A fiancée/proposed civil partner. There must be an intention for the couple to marry or enter into a civil partnership in the UK within six months of the visa being granted. Once the couple have entered into their marriage or civil partnership in the UK, they will be expected to apply within the UK for a visa seeking to remain in the UK on the basis of their marriage or civil partnership.

The person applying for the visa is called an Applicant. The person sponsoring the visa, known as the Sponsor, must be one of the following:

  1. British;
  2. Settled in the UK, meaning they have Indefinite Leave to Remain (‘ILR’) or Settled Status under Appendix EU of the EU Settlement Scheme;
  3. Have limited Leave To Remain (‘LTR’) as a recognised refugee in the UK (these individuals are normally granted 5 years of LTR);
  4. Have Pre-Settled Status as an EU national under Appendix EU of the EU Settlement Scheme;
  5. Have LTR under Appendix ECAA, known as the Ankara Agreement.

For those whose Sponsor is a Skilled Worker (formerly Tier 2), Tier 1 Investor, Start-up, Innovator, Exceptional Promise or Talent, Ancestry or any other immigration status holder, please contact us to discuss the options as the Applicant may be able to apply as a dependant under another immigration category. In order to obtain a visa on the basis of being a partner, the Applicant will need to satisfy some of the following key requirements:

Financial Income Requirement for a UK Partner Visa

A minimum of £18,600 per year before tax. If there are non-British children involved, this figure increases depending on the number of non-British children.

There is a financial requirement that must be satisfied. This depends on the number of non-British children applying. If there are no non-British children involved, the financial requirement is £18,600 per year before tax. If there are non-British children involved, then this yearly figure increases as follows:

  • Partner and one non-British child – £22,400;
  • Partner and two non-British children – £24,800;
  • Partner and three non-British children – £27,200;
  • Partner and four non-British children – £29,600;
  • An additional £2,400 for each non-British child beyond the above.

The financial requirement can be satisfied in a number of ways (assuming there are no non-British children):

1. The Sponsor and/or the Applicant (if the Applicant is in the UK and legally allowed to work) are employed and earning a minimum of £18,600 per year in either one of their names or both of their names combined;

2. The Sponsor and/or the Applicant (if the Applicant is in the UK and legally allowed to work) are self-employed and earned a minimum of £18,600 per year before tax and after expenses in the most recent tax year (the tax year in the UK usually ends on the 5 April each year). Tax returns need to be submitted to HMRC before an application can be made and they must be still be earning an income from self-employment around the time of application.

3. The Sponsor and/or the Applicant (if the Applicant is in the UK and legally allowed to work) are a shareholder, director or both of a limited company and earned a minimum of £18,600 per year before tax from salary, dividends or both in the company’s most recent tax year. Companies usually have their own tax year which is different to an individual’s tax year, which usually ends on 5 April each year. The company’s tax returns for the most recent financial year must be submitted to HMRC and Companies House before an application is submitted and they must be still be earning an income from the company around the time of application.

4. The Sponsor and/or Applicant receives non-employment income from sources such as a pension or property rental income for example and this amounts to £18,600 per year or more.

5. The Sponsor and/or the Applicant, in one of their names or both of their names combined, have savings of £62,500 or more in a regulated bank account. For these purposes, certain assets in the Sponsor and/or Applicant’s name that have been owned for six months or more may be used but will need to be liquidated before the application is submitted.

Some application will be exempt from the above financial requirement if the Sponsor is receiving one or more specified benefits. The specified benefits are as follows;

  • disability living allowance;
  • severe disablement allowance;
  • industrial injury disablement benefit;
  • attendance allowance;
  • carer’s allowance;
  • personal independence payment;
  • Armed Forces Independence Payment or Guaranteed Income Payment under the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme;
  • Constant Attendance Allowance, Mobility Supplement or War Disablement Pension under the War Pensions Scheme; or
  • Police Injury Pension.

In such situations, the Sponsor and/or Applicant will need to show that they have an income equivalent to or more than the level of income support for a family of the same size after rent/mortgage and council tax is deducted.

Accommodation requirement for a UK Partner Visa

The property to be accommodated in must be for the Sponsor and Applicant’s exclusive use and be large enough for the Sponsor, Applicant and anyone else living with them.

As part of the application process, it must be shown that there will be accommodation that will be adequate for the Sponsor, Applicant and anyone else living with them and must not be overcrowded or contravene public health regulations. The property must be either owned or exclusively occupied. In practice, this means that the Sponsor and Applicant can own, rent a full property, rent a room in shared accommodation, live with family or friends. The minimum is that the Sponsor, Applicant and dependants have rooms for their exclusive use.

In such situations, the Sponsor will need to show that they are able to maintain themselves, the Applicant and any other dependants in the UK without further recourse to public funds. In practice, this means that their needs to be income or savings equivalent to or more than the level of income support for a family of their size. For the purposes of calculating the number of people per room, note the following:

  • When calculating the number of rooms available, can include bedrooms and reception rooms like living rooms. Bathrooms and kitchens do not count;
  • The Sponsor and Applicant can share a room as they are a couple;
  • Children under the age of 1 are not considered as part of the calculation;
  • Children aged 1 to 10 are considered to be half a person.

 

English language requirement for a UK Partner Visa

The Applicant must have either an English language test, a degree taught in English or be from a majority English speaking country.

If an Applicant is aged between 18 and 65 and not from what the Home Office define as a majority English speaking country, an Applicant will need to satisfy the English language requirement. If applying from overseas or for the first partner visa within the UK, the minimum requirement is level A1 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (‘CEFR’), which is the most basic level of English. At extension stage, the minimum is A2 CEFR and at Indefinite Leave to Remain (‘ILR’) stage it is B1 CEFR. The test must be at a Home Office approved test centre and be a Home Office approved test. Read more and find the approved tests and test centres in the UK and overseas here.

If the Applicant has a degree taught in English which is the equivalent of at least a Bachelor’s degree, they can use this to satisfy the English language requirement. If the degree was taught in the UK, then the Applicant will automatically satisfy the requirement. If the degree was taught in English outside the UK, then a certificate will need to be obtained from ECCTIS (formerly known as UK NARIC) to confirm the degree was taught in English and that it is the equivalent of a Bachelor’s degree or above in the UK. If it was taught in a majority English speaking country, then the Applicant will only require the confirmation that the degree is the equivalent of a Bachelor’s degree or above in the UK.

We recommend to our clients that if their English is of a high enough level, sit the B1 CEFR level test. This is because if the Applicant sits and passes this test and successfully obtains their visa using this test, Home Office rules allow an Applicant to continue to rely upon the certificate even beyond the 2 year validity it usually has. This is subject to their being no break in the continuing grant of partner visas following on from the initial grant.

Tuberculosis (‘TB’) test requirement

Required if the Applicant has been residing in country that requires a TB test certificate.

For those applying from overseas, they may be subject to the TB test requirement. This is for those who are coming to the UK to settle and are a resident of one of the listed countries. The TB test certificate must be obtained from an approved test centre and is valid for six months. See here for more information.

What are the costs of this application

Home Office fees are regularly reviewed and may change by the time an application is submitted. The current fees are as follows:

From overseas – note that Home Office fees are charged in local currency, US Dollars or Euros and will be more upon conversion:

  • £1,523 for the application;
  • £1,872 for the Immigration Health Surcharge – The Immigration Health Surcharge (‘IHS for short’) is £624 for each year of leave granted. For partner visas except the fiancée/ proposed Civil Partner visa, the Home Office will grant a visa for 2 years and 9 months, or 33 months. As it is close to 3 years, they “helpfully” round the fee up to the equivalent of 3 years. This fee is not payable at this stage for those applying for a fiancée/proposed Civil Partner visa as they do not have access to the NHS during their initial six-month visa;
  • £573 for the priority service (optional payment). The standard processing time is up to 12 weeks, according to the Home Office. If the Applicant wishes to obtain a priority decision, where the application is placed at the front of the queue, then select this priority service.

From within the UK:

  • £1,033 for the application;
  • £1,560 for the Immigration Health Surcharge;
  • £19.20 to enrol biometric information (fingerprints and photographs);
  • £800 for the Super Priority Service (optional payment). The standard processing time is up to 8 weeks, according to the Home Office. If the Applicant wishes to obtain a priority decision, where a decision is made within 24 hours of enrolling biometric information, then select this service.

Period and conditions of grant of immigration status

From overseas:
If successful, the Applicant will be given a vignette endorsement in their passport for a period of three months. They will be expected to enter the UK within this time. They will then collect their Biometric Residence Permit (‘BRP’)/Biometric Residence Card (‘BRC’) usually from a nominated Post Office. This will be issued for a period of 33 months/2 years and 9 months. They will be allowed to work, study and enter and exit the UK during this time. They will not be able to access certain public funds.

If the application is for a fiancée/proposed Civil Partner, the Applicant will be given a vignette endorsement in their passport for a period of six months. They will not be allowed to work or access the NHS during this time. They can enter and exit the UK throughout this period. They will be expected to marry/enter into a Civil Partnership and submit an in-country partner application within the six months of the visa.

If the application is refused, they can do one of the following:

1. Appeal the decision. There is usually a right of appeal that must be exercised within 28 days of the date of decision when applying from overseas;

2. Re-apply. Depending on the circumstances, re-applying may be the best option.
Please contact us first before choosing which option is best due to cost and time implications.

Within the UK:
If successful, the Applicant will be given a Biometric Residence Permit (‘BRP’)/Biometric Residence Card (‘BRC’) for a period of 30 months/2.5 years. They will be on the 5-year route to settlement, meaning that once they have completed a period of 5 years in total on a partner visa, they can then apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (‘ILR’).

If an application is refused

If the application is refused, they can do one of the following:

1. Appeal the decision. There is usually a right of appeal that must be exercised within 14 days of the date of decision;

2. Re-apply. Depending on the circumstances, re-applying within 14 days may be the best option. This is taking advantage of paragraph 39E of the Immigration Rules which allows an Applicant to reapply within 14 days of the date of a decision and they will be given an exception for overstaying.

The advice contained on this page is provided as an indication of the key requirements. There are further requirements that must be satisfied. Please contact us for a free 30-minute consultation to obtain advice tailored to the specific circumstances.

Key Contact



Younes
Ech-Chadli

Senior Associate, London

Tel: +44 (0)20 3735 1970 | Mob: +44 (0)7815 634 083

Key Contact