Guide on fiancée, partner and same sex Visas

Required documents and how to submit your application 18th September 2009: If you have  permanent status in the UK, such as British citizenship or Indefinite leave to remain in the UK and you have met somebody abroad whom you are engaged to or would like to marry in the UK rather than in their home country or aboard, you and your partner may wish to apply for a fiancée visa. The person in the UK will be considered by the Entry Clearance Officer at the British Embassy as the “Sponsor” and the person who is applying for the visa is called an “Applicant”.

In a same–sex relationship, the Applicant would apply for a Civil Partner visa. The UK is one of the few countries in the world which currently allows and recognises same-sex marriages so often a couple may wish to marry in the UK.

All visa applications must be submitted at the British Embassy closest to where the Applicant lives and a substantial amount of documentation must be submitted to support a visa application in these categories.

In addition, for an Applicant to qualify for admission as a fiancé(e)/proposed civil partner, the Entry Clearance Officer will need to be satisfied that:
• the sponsor is present and settled in the United Kingdom, or is to be admitted for settlement at the same time as the applicant arrives in the UK;
• the sponsor and the applicant are aged 21 or over;
• each of the parties intends to live permanently with the other as his or her spouse/civil partner after the marriage/civil partnership;
• the parties to the proposed marriage/civil partnership have met;
• adequate maintenance and accommodation without recourse to public funds will be available for the applicant until the date of the marriage/civil partnership;
• after the marriage/civil partnership there will be adequate accommodation for the parties and any dependants without recourse to public funds in accommodation which they own or occupy exclusively;
• after the marriage/civil partnership the parties will be able to maintain themselves and their dependants adequately without recourse to public funds.

Both parties will also need to show they are free to marry so they will need to provide their divorce certificates or a death certificates in the case of a late spouse.

An Applicant holding an entry clearance as a fiancé(e)/proposed civil partner will initially be admitted to the United Kingdom for 6 months, with a prohibition on employment until after their marriage or civil partnership.  Once the marriage or civil partnership has taken place, the Applicant will then need to make a further application to the Home Office to request a variation of their visa status from fiancé(e)/proposed civil partner to that of a spouse or a civil partner. Once this application is approved by the Home Office, a 2 year probationary period visa will be granted and during this time, the Applicant can live and work freely but they will not be able to claim public funds. After satisfactory completion of the 2 year probationary period, the Applicant will then need to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK. After 3 years and assuming the marriage/civil partnership is continuing, they may then make an application for Naturalisation as a British citizen.

Unmarried Partners Visa

This visa applies to all relationships including same-sex. The requirements are as follows:
• the applicant is the unmarried or same-sex partner (i.e. not married to or in a civil partnership with the sponsor) of a person present and settled in the United Kingdom or who is on the same occasion being admitted for settlement; and,
• the sponsor and the applicant are aged 21 or over; 
• any previous marriage/civil partnership (or similar relationship) by either partner has permanently broken down; and,
• there will be adequate accommodation for the parties and any dependants without recourse to public funds in accommodation which they own or occupy exclusively; and,
• the parties have been living together in a relationship akin to marriage or civil partnership which has subsisted for 2 years or more; and,
• the parties will be able to maintain themselves and any dependants adequately without recourse to public funds; and,
• the parties intend to live together permanently.
Where a couple have been living outside of the UK for four years, then the Applicant can make an application for indefinite leave to enter. The Entry Clearance Officer must also be satisfied that:
• the couple have been living together outside the UK for over four years;
• the applicant has sufficient knowledge of the English language and sufficient knowledge about life in the United Kingdom, unless he is aged 65 or over at the time he makes his application

An Entry Clearance Officer may also consider applications in respect of unmarried or same-sex relationships, where there are children and/or the relationship may be less than 2 year’s duration, and where compelling compassionate circumstances exist. Full supporting details should accompany such referrals and it is recommended that legal advice is sought in such cases as these can be complex and may rely heavily on Human Rights grounds.

The parties having been living together in a relationship akin to marriage/civil partnership which has subsisted for two years or more

“Living together”, should be applied fairly tightly, in that we would expect a couple to show evidence of cohabitation in the preceding 2 year period. Periods apart would be acceptable for good reasons, such as work commitments, or looking after a relative which takes one partner away for up to 6 months where it was not possible for the other partner to accompany and it can be seen that the relationship continued throughout that period by visits, letters etc.
“Akin to marriage or civil partnership”, is a relationship that is similar in its nature to a marriage or civil partnership which would include both unmarried and same-sex relationships.

In order to demonstrate a 2-year relationship evidence of cohabitation will be needed. In order to show a relationship akin to marriage/civil partnership, Entry Clearance Officer should look for evidence of a committed relationship.

The following types of evidence would be useful in this respect:

• joint commitments, (such as joint bank accounts, investments, rent agreements, mortgage, death benefit etc);
• if there are children of the relationship, a record of their birth entry;
• correspondence which links them to the same address;
• any official records of their address (e.g. Council Tax, Doctors records, DWP record, national insurance record etc);
• any other evidence that adequately demonstrates their commitment to each other.
It will not be necessary to provide all of the above: Entry Clearance Officer’s are looking for satisfactory evidence of relationship.

Age requirements for spouses and civil partners

The age at which someone can sponsor or be sponsored as a spouse was raised from 18 to 21 on 27 November 2008. The UK introduced this requirement in an attempt to prevent forced marriages between Applicants and Sponsors under this age.

The UK Government does not accept forced marriages. “A forced marriage is a marriage in which one or both spouses do not (or, in the case of some vulnerable adults, cannot) give free and full consent to the marriage and duress is a factor”. It is important to differentiate this from an arranged marriage which the UK considers acceptable. In an arranged marriage, the family of both spouses take a leading role in arranging the marriage, but the choice of whether or not to accept the arrangement remains with the prospective spouses.

The Immigration Rules do not allow any person to be granted an entry clearance as the spouse or civil partner of another if the applicant will be under the age of 21 on the date of arrival in the United Kingdom.

Any entry clearance application from a spouse/civil partner (i.e. a married person or a person in a civil partnership who would be under the age of 21 years when entering the UK) will therefore, be refused. An applicant who is over the age of 21 but married to/in a civil partnership with a person who is under 21 is also likely be refused entry clearance.

Please note that the above article is meant to be relied upon as an informative article and in no way constitutes legal advice. For legal advice regarding your case, please contact Greenfields Solicitors on 020 8884 1166 for a Consultation with a Solicitor.

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