To apply to come or to remain in the UK as a husband/wife or unmarried partner of a British citizen or a person settled in the UK, both you and your partner need to be 18 or over.

A person will be deemed to be settled in the UK if they have ‘indefinite leave to remain’ or ‘permanent residence’.

You must intend to live together permanently in the UK.

What you will need to show will depend on whether you are in a marriage / a civil partnership recognised in the UK or not. If the latter applies, you will need to prove that you either:

  • have living together in a relationship akin to a marriage for at least 2 years; or
  • you 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

In addition to showing that your relationship is genuine you will also be required to prove that you have a good knowledge of the English language and you can financially support yourself and your dependants.


Having establish the existence of a genuine relationship, this requirement is the hardest hurdle to overcome when applying for a spouse visa.

Most will find navigating the rules and guidance quite challenging.

Whilst those relying on PAYE employment will in most cases be able to navigate the process unaided, others are likely to find the amount of information they need to digest to determine whether they qualify and if so under which category, quite overwhelming.

The minimum income requirement is currently set at £18,600 per year. You will also need to show extra funds if you have dependent children who are not British citizens, EEA nationals or settled person in the UK.

At present you will need to show an extra:

  • £3,800 for your first child
  • £2,400 for each child you have after your first child


You may be able to use your savings instead of income.

How you prove you have the necessary funds will depend on how you/your partner holds/get the income and whether you are applying to come or to remain in the UK.

‘Income’ here includes:

  • income from employment before Tax and National Insurance (check your P60 or payslips) – you can only use your own income if you earn it in the UK
  • income you earn from self-employment or as a director of a limited company in the UK
  • cash savings above £16,000
  • money from a pension
  • non-work income, for example from property rentals or dividends

If you plan to use income from self-employment or employment, you will need to prove that income was received for 6 months or more.

To prove the income, you / your partner will be expected to provide various documents such as bank statements, payslips, letter from employer.

Those not in a position to rely on 6 month continuous employment income should read the UKVI’s  guidance https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/636618/Appendix_FM_1_7_Financial_Requirement_Final.pdf carefully.

The guidance covers all eventualities including

  • maternity or paternity leave in the last 6 months
  • combining different income sources, including self-employment and savings


Fiance, Fiancee, Proposed Civil Partner Visa

Those who have yet to get married or enter a civil partnership and have not been together long enough to satisfy the unmarried partner rule, might still be able to come as a Fiance/ee or proposed civil partner.

To qualify under this route any previous marriages or civil partnerships must have ended, both parties must intend to marry or become civil partners within 6 months of arriving in the UK.


It is important to note that the visa holder will not be able to work during the engagement period which might make overcoming the financial requirement hurdle even harder.


Spouse / Partner visas – FAQS

How long can I stay?

You should get permission to stay for 2.5 years, or for 6 months if you’re applying as a fiancé, fiancée or proposed civil partner.

After this you will be expected to apply to extend your stay.

Unmarried partners not living together continuously for the last 2 years, will the application be refused?

Unless your circumstances are special (i.e. you have children together) it is unlikely that your unmarried partner visa will be granted as the rules demand that ‘the applicant is the unmarried or same-sex partner of a person present and settled in the United Kingdom or who is on the same occasion being admitted for settlement and the parties have been living together in a relationship akin to marriage or civil partnership which has subsisted for two years or more’.

This is normally to be interpreted as having lived continuously together for the two years leading to the filing of the application.

Whilst the Home Office may permit short periods of living apart you must be able to show that this separation was always meant to be temporary.


How do I show that our relationship is genuine?

To qualify for this visa you will need to show that you are in a “genuine long-term relationships” and not just a “cohabiting”.

Many applications are rejected for failing to satisfy the entry clearance officer that the relationship is genuine and akin to a marriage or civil partnership. This usually happens when applicants rely essentially on evidence of their cohabitation without providing proof of their emotional and financial commitment to one another.


It is pivotal to the success of your application that you submit sufficient evidence to meet each and every one of the requirements. Showing that you have cohabitated for the last 2 years and meet the minimum income will not suffice.

How do I meet the minimum income requirements?


The financial requirements rules are complex. Misinterpretation will often lead to an application being refused.


Below is a list of common hurdles that need to be born in mind when assessing whether you will meet the financial requirements:

– What sources of income and savings can be combined? For example, employment and pension income can be combined but self-employment and savings cannot be combined.

– What is the formula for using savings to top up an income shortfall?

– What is the difference between the applicant and / or sponsor applying in the UK or outside the UK? Can we rely on both our earnings? Can we include our pensions? Can we take into account our shares/stocks?

Can I switch into a spouse / unmarried partner visa from within the UK?

You should be able extend your stay if you are already in the UK on a spouse/partner visa.

If you came to the UK on a different visa, you might be able to switch to a spouse / partner visa to stay.

You will not be able to switch into a spouse/ partner visa if you are in the UK under the auspices of a visitor visa or a visa for 6 months or less, unless it is 6 month-family visa as fiancé, fiancée or proposed civil partner.

What happens if we separate or divorce?

You are required to tell the Home Office.

Once the Home Office has been made aware of your situation, your leave to remain in the UK is likely to be curtailed. If you do not qualify for a new visa you will be expected to leave the UK.

When can I settle in the UK permanently?

You will be only be able to apply for indefinite leave to remain in the UK once you can show that you have lived in the country for 5 years continuously with permission to stay as a partner. You will not be able to take into account any permission to stay in the UK as a fiancé, fiancée or proposed partner. The clock will start from the day you obtained your spouse/partner visa.



For further information please contact us.