Settlement visas and ILR applications for spouses and civil partners

How to enter the UK to join with your spouse/civil partner and settle.

According to the UK Immigration Rules, in order to qualify for leave to enter the United Kingdom with a view to settlement (settlement visa) as the spouse/civil partner of a person present and settled in the United Kingdom or being admitted on the same occasion for settlement, you will need to meet the following requirements:

  • the applicant is married to or the civil partner of:
  • a person present and settled in the United Kingdom or who is on the same occasion being admitted for settlement; or
  • a person who has a right of abode in the UK or indefinite leave to enter or remain in the UK and is on the same occasion seeking admission to the UK for the purposes of settlement and the parties were married or formed a civil partnership at least 4 years ago, since which time they have been living together outside the UK; and
  • the applicant provides an original English language test certificate in speaking and listening from an English language test provider approved by the Secretary of State for these purposes, which clearly shows the applicant's name and the qualification obtained (which must meet or exceed level A1 of the Common European Framework of Reference) unless:
  • the parties to the marriage or civil partnership have met; and
  • you both intend to live permanently together with the other as his or her spouse/civil partner and the marriage or civil partnership is existing and genuine (not a 'marriage of convenience', for example); and
  • there will be adequate accommodation for you and any dependants without recourse to public funds in accommodation which you own or occupy exclusively; and
  • you will be able to maintain yourselves and any dependants adequately without recourse to public funds; and
  • the applicant holds a valid UK entry clearance for entry in this capacity.

If the settled person has more than one husband or wife, only one husband or wife will be allowed to join them here in this category.

The appropriate form to apply for a settlement visa is Form VAF4a.

Your foreign spouse/civil partner will have to submit a substantial amount of documents to support their application for a spouse/civil partner visa. A detailed list of supporting documents to be submitted and advice on how to best meet the requirements can be found on "Marriage Visas – All you need to know"

If your application is successful, your spouse/civil partner will get permission to live and work here for a probationary period of up to 27 months. At the end of the two years, they may apply for permission to settle permanently in the UK (ILR) as your spouse/civil partner.

You may be able to get permission to live permanently in the UK (ILR) as soon as you arrive, if:

  • you and your partner married or formed a civil partnership at least 4 years ago; and
  • you have spent those 4 years living together outside the UK;  and
  • you are both coming to the UK to settle here together; and
  • you have sufficient knowledge of the English language and life in the UK, unless you are exempt

The appropriate form to apply for settlement (indefinite leave to remain) as spouse or civil partner is: Form SET(M) – settlement (please see page 7 of the form).

For a list of documents to submit to successfully apply for ILR, see Applying for settlement: Submitting Form SET(M).

For questions regarding the subject covered in this guide, please visit

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Settlement visas and ILR applications for unmarried or same-sex partners