Before you can apply as an unmarried partner you need to demonstrate that you are already in a subsisting relationship, by providing evidence to show that you have lived together for two years.
This category of the Rules is therefore only available to couples who have lived overseas, or if one partner is in the UK in some other category.
As a couple you must have a minimum income of £18,600 per year. In most cases it is the partner who has the right to live permanently in the UK who has to show that they have this sum of money available, though if you are working legally in the UK then your income can be included as well.
If you are living with someone who is a British citizen, has permanent residence in the UK, or has refugee or humanitarian leave, you can apply for a UK unmarried partner visa.
If you are already in the UK and have a visa that allows you to remain for longer than six months you can apply to the Home Office in the UK – otherwise, this application can only be made from your home country or a country where you are a long-term resident.
An unmarried partner visa is issued for an initial period of two and a half years, and you need to apply for an extension at the end of this time. You have to prove that you meet all the requirements for the visa again when you apply for the extension.
The financial requirement rules are extremely strict and can only be demonstrated in one of the ways set out in the Immigration Rules. If the UK spouse gets certain benefits to do with disability or caring for someone you do not have to show an income of £18,600, but you will still have to show that you can support yourselves as a couple.
There must be suitable accommodation available, which you own or occupy ‘exclusively’ as a couple, though in this context exclusively means only that there is a bedroom for your exclusive use. You will need to satisfy the Home Office that the property is secure – that is, that you are not likely to become homeless – and that it is not statutorily overcrowded.
- Before an unmarried partner visa is issued you will have to demonstrate that you can speak and understand English, at least at a basic level – A1 CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference.
- If you are not a citizen of a majority English speaking country, or don’t have a degree that was taught in English, then the only way to meet this requirement is to take and pass an approved test from an approved provider (the list of acceptable tests and test providers changes).
- Even if you meet all the other requirements of the Immigration Rules, you can be refused because of your character and conduct.
- Criminal convictions, previous poor immigration history, deception or withholding material facts (whether accidentally or on purpose), using the NHS when not entitled to – these are all issues that are taken into consideration before a visa is issued.
- You will be eligible to apply for settlement once you have lived in the UK on this visa for five years.