This year, thousands of couples have to spend Valentine’s day alone, due to the UK’s strict Immigration rules.
So, how can you ensure that your spouse/partner is able to join you in the UK? In this article, we will touch upon two of the most used yet most difficult routes to bring spouses and partners to the UK.
Spouse/Partner visa: how to apply?
For a non-UK national partner to apply under the spouse/partner visa route, their sponsor must either:
- be a British or Irish citizen;
- have settled in the UK (e.g. they have indefinite leave to remain/enter, settled status or another form of permanent residence)
- be from the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, or Liechtenstein and have pre-settled status (they must have started living in the UK before 1st January 2021)
- have a Turkish Businessperson visa or Turkish Worker visa
- have refugee status or humanitarian protection in the UK
The legal requirements differ depending on the couple’s relationship status. However, overall, to successfully apply for a UK Partner Visa, applicants must:
- be over 18 years of age
- be able to prove one of the following:
1. they are in a civil partnership or marriage that’s recognised in the UK.
2. they have been living together in a relationship for at least 2 years when they apply.
3. they are a fiancé, fiancée or proposed civil partner and will marry or enter into a civil partnership in the UK within 6 months of arriving.
- meet the financial requirement
- meet the English language requirement
- have suitable accommodation arranged in the UK
As easy as it might seem to satisfy the above criteria, often these types of applications are refused. The two main grounds of refusal include:
Failure to meet the financial requirement
Failure to provide evidence of cohabitation
Meeting the financial requirement
Unless exempt, the non-UK national spouse/partner must meet the financial requirement in the form of a minimum income requirement. The minimum annual income requirement for a spouse/partner, without dependent children, is £18,600 and the minimum cash savings requirement is £62,500, without dependent children.
The most common ways of meeting the financial requirement are via employment/self-employment income and cash savings which must be in the name of the applicant, their partner or jointly in their names.
Other ways to meet this requirement include pension income and/or from 'non-work' income, for example from property rentals or dividends. Two or more incomes generated from different sources can sometimes be combined to meet the financial requirement.
The Home Office cannot exercise discretion when assessing the financial requirement, so it is important to ensure all mandatory evidence is provided.
Evidence of Cohabitation
Where the applicant and their partner are not married or in a civil partnership, they must show that they have been in a relationship akin to marriage or a civil partnership for at least 2 years immediately preceding the date of application.
The evidence required to demonstrate cohabitation must show that the couple has been residing at the same address simultaneously.
The following are common scenarios where applications are often refused for lack of evidence:
In some countries unmarried partners are not allowed to live together and therefore, they are unable to show evidence of cohabitation although having been in a genuine and subsisting relationship similar to marriage for two years or more. The key here is to evidence the level of commitment to the relationship such as evidence of regular communication, visits, holidays, events attended, financial support, joint care of any children the partners have together, or any other evidence showing an ongoing relationship. Furthermore, it is good practice to provide the decision-maker with the relevant Country Policy and Information Notes, to confirm this is consistent with the information provided.
Similarly, in some countries, same-sex relationships are not recognised or accepted, therefore, it is harder or even impossible for partners to live together and therefore show the requisite evidence of cohabitation. If this is the case, the couple should provide evidence the same type of evidence as mentioned in 'Scenario 1'.
As a general rule, same-sex couples living in a country that accepts same-sex relationships are expected to provide evidence of 2 years’ cohabitation unless there is a compelling reason as to why cohabitation was prevented.
Points-Based-System (‘PBS’) Dependant visa: how to apply
Similarly to the spouse/partner visa, a non-UK national partner can apply as a PBS Dependant Partner, provided that their partner (the sponsored PBS migrant) has, or is in the process of applying for a PBS visa.
This visa category does not impose a minimum income for the PBS Dependant Partner, instead, it requires that the PBS partner has a certain amount of money available to support themselves while they are in the UK.
The couple jointly or separately must have had the money available for at least 28 continuous days.. Day 28 must be within 31 days of them applying for their visa.
The following mistakes are common to when evidencing sufficient funds:
- Attempting to use the same funds more than once – an application will be refused if the same amount of funds relied upon are used for different applications
- The funds are not held for 28 days prior to submitting the application
The PBS sponsor can also certify on the PBS migrant worker’s Certificate of Sponsorship that they will maintain and accommodate the PBS worker and their PBS dependant(s) up to the end of their first month of employment in the UK. The amount can be set by the employer but can be no less than £1,270.
Should the employer certify maintenance, then no further financial evidence is required.
How can we help:
The Clarkslegal UK Immigration team can prepare your entire Spouse/Partner visa application on your behalf, ensuring there are no omissions and guiding you through the complex application process.
If you need further clarification or guidance in respect of the above, please do not hesitate to contact us and we will be happy to help.
May love always prevail on Valentine’s Day!