USA and the UK
What is the Unmarried Partner Visa?
In some countries, you must be legally married to be eligible to apply for a Spouse Visa. However, in the UK, there is an immigration permission within the Family Visa category that allows unmarried partners to apply for a special immigration allowance.
There are eligibility criteria for who may submit an application for the Unmarried Partner Visa, which is also referred to as the ‘De Facto Visa’, or, for same-sex couples, the Same-Sex Partner Visa.
An American citizen who wants to move to the UK on an Unmarried Partner Visa may do so only if they are in an existing relationship with a ‘present and settled’ citizen living in the UK.
The rules governing the Unmarried Partner Visa in the UK fall under the broader Family Visa category. There is a significant amount of documentation required to apply for this visa. A couple must be prepared to show evidence of a genuine relationship, and there are strict criteria involved in demonstrating the strength of the relationship.
An application for an Unmarried Partner Visa can be extremely complicated. The rules set by the Home Office change frequently and an inaccurate or incomplete application may result in a denied application.
Contact our friendly and professional advisors to discuss your case. Our specialist immigration attorneys will work with you on every aspect of your case to maximize your chance of success. Call +1844 290 6312 or use our online form to get in touch.
- Who is eligible for the Unmarried Partner Visa?
- What are the Unmarried Partner Visa relationship requirements?
- What is the Unmarried Partner Visa application process?
- How much does the application cost?
- What are the financial requirements for the Unmarried Partner Visa?
- What proof is required for the application?
- How to apply for Unmarried Partner Visa inside the UK
- How to apply for Unmarried Partner Visa from the USA
- How long can you stay in the UK with this visa?
- Can I apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain with the Unmarried Partner Visa?
- Frequently Asked Questions
Who is eligible for the Unmarried Partner Visa?
Not all applicants will secure an Unmarried Partner Visa. As a citizen of the United States moving to the UK, you should be prepared to evidence the following about your partner in order to be eligible for the visa:
- They are a British or Irish citizen
- They have legally settled in the UK (whether that is Indefinite Leave to Remain, proof of permanent residence or settled status)
- They have EU, Swiss, Norwegian, Icelandic or Liechtenstein nationality and be a resident of the UK before 1 January 2021
- They have refugee or humanitarian protection status
The Home Office (the UK government department that oversees immigration matters) states that if your application is successful, you must intend to live together permanently in the UK.
This visa category is open to both same-sex and opposite-sex couples. If you and your partner have entered into an engagement to be married, you may be eligible to apply for the Fiancé(e) Visa. This category of visa is reserved for partners who have agreed to marry. For more information, please see our guide to the Fiancé Visa.
In general, as a resident of the United States, you will be exempt from proving your English language abilities as it will be assumed that you have proficiency in the language. However, if your first language is not English, you may need to provide additional information.
You will also need to providence detailed evidence that you and your partner can support yourselves and any dependents.
In general, the above requirements are the main criteria for the Unmarried Partner Visa. However, if these do not apply, there are some other instances where you may still be able to succeed in your application.
These circumstances include:
- If your application is not accepted, your human rights would be breached
- There are major obstacles preventing you and your partner from living together outside the UK
- You have a child who has lived in the UK for at least seven years and they are a British or Irish citizen
What are the Unmarried Partner Visa relationship requirements?
The UK’s Home Office has set strict requirements on the type of relationships that qualify for the Unmarried Partner Visa. The criteria include:
- Both parties must be aged over 18
- Neither person may be related to each other in a prohibited way
- Both partners must have met each other in person
- There have no other ongoing relationships
- The relationship must be ‘genuine and subsisting’
It can be difficult to know what documents or evidence can be used to prove a genuine and subsisting relationship between both partners. If you can provide evidence of photos, letters, messages, call logs, flight records, hotel stays, or other relevant information to prove that you are a genuine couple, this can be valuable to your application.
Some couples also provide a statement letter outlining the history of the relationship and their future plans. Another option is to have a witness to the relationship vouch for its authenticity.
Your application will be strengthened if you and your partner have lived together for at least two years. To demonstrate this, it is expected that you provide documents such as a lease or tenancy agreement, a joint utility bill, or another government-issued document.
It may sound obvious, but a child or dependent will also be accepted as evidence for a relationship between both parties, where there is shared responsibility for the child’s welfare.
Contact our expert immigration lawyers today for a discussion on the information you need to provide to the UK Home Office. Call +1844 290 6312 or use our online form.
What is the Unmarried Partner Visa application process?
The application process for an Unmarried Partner Visa is complex and requires the submission of a number of documents. It is recommended that you apply for the visa online.
Required application information
You should be prepared to provide the following information:
- The names of yourself, your partner, and any dependents
- Dates of birth
- Valid passport or travel document
- Visa pages or entry stamps in older passports
- Whether you have made previous immigration applications
- Any criminal convictions
- Nationality and dates of birth of your parents
- Countries that you have visited or lived in
- Details of family and friends in your home country
- Evidence of your financial situation
- Your partner’s right to UK citizenship/ settled status
- Proof of a genuine and subsisting relationship
- Your intended living arrangements in the UK
- If you have a child, you will be asked to provide information on who has primary responsibility for the child, where they live or have lived, and information about the child’s extended family
You will be required to provide the original copies of some documents (including your passport).
Required biometric information
After you provide the initial information in support of your application, you will then be asked to provide biometric information (fingerprints and facial photograph) during a designated in-person appointment.
The biometric elements must be provided in an approved application support center (see below for further detail).
How much does the application cost?
The cost of an Unmarried Partner Visa can be expensive for both partners and it’s important to be aware of all costs involved before applying.
The Home Office’s processing fee for applications made outside of the UK is £1,523 (approximately $2,112), while the same cost applies to each dependent submitted as part of the application. There is also a mandatory fee for the Immigration Health Surcharge which currently costs £1,872 (approximately $2,596).
Additionally, an appointment to take your biometric information will cost £19.20 (approximately $25) in the UK. If you are living in the United States at the time of the application, you should book an appointment to provide your biometric information at an application support center (ASC). If you choose to use the Premium Service, you can find more information about the premium application centers (PAC) here.
Application waiting time
Everyone knows that immigration and visa applications can be subjected to lengthy delays. You should expect to wait approximately 10 – 12 weeks on average to receive a decision on your application.
However, there is an option to expedite the process. If you choose the priority service, you can expect to receive a decision within approximately 30 days. There is an associated cost of £500 (approximately $693) for this service.
If you urgently need a decision on your application, you should be prepared to pay £800 (approximately $1,109), but you will receive a decision within 24 hours of your immigration appointment.
What are the financial requirements for the Unmarried Partner Visa?
The rules set by the Home Office specify that minimum financial requirements must be met in order to apply for the visa. A full list of the rules in Appendix FM outline in detail the requirements for this visa application.
First, there is a minimum income threshold which should be evidenced using certain forms of proof. Second, there should be concrete plans for the couple’s living arrangements for the proposed stay in the UK.
Within the Appendix to the visa application, it is stated that:
“The applicant must provide evidence that there will be adequate accommodation, without recourse to public funds, for the family…”
There are certain types of accommodation that are deemed acceptable for the purposes of the application. The property must be owned by or occupied solely by the family, and they must not be in receipt of public funds in order to live there.
There should be adequate sleeping arrangements in the property, and you are required to submit a description of the property’s rooms and who will be assigned each room.
Minimum income requirements
The sponsor of the Unmarried Partner Visa is the British citizen or person with settled status in the UK. They must be able to prove to the Home Office that they have a pre-tax salary of at least £18,600 ($25,800).
If the sponsor has any dependent children, this salary must be higher. For the first child, the sponsor should earn an additional gross income of £3,800 ($5,271), and £2,400 ($3,329) for each child thereafter.
However, it is possible to meet the requirements if the annual salary is below the minimum requirement. The British partner should be able to demonstrate savings of a minimum of £16,000 ($22,194) as well as the difference between the salary earned and the specified income threshold level.
Another way that the sponsor can fulfill the criteria is by being in receipt of certain state benefits. These include some forms of disability allowance, carer’s allowance, personal independence payment, and some Armed Forces or War Pensions schemes.
A full list of the accepted benefits can be found here in the Appendix to the application.
What proof is required for the application?
You will be expected to prove you and your partner’s financial situation in order to be eligible for this visa. Some of the below forms will be accepted as proof.
It is necessary to submit the sponsor’s information, but evidence from the partner moving from the United States can also be submitted.
Acceptable forms of proof:
- Bank statements with proof of income
- Payslips dating back at least six months
- Employer letter on headed paper with the following information:
- Confirmation of employment
- Job title(s)
- Length of service
- Type of contract
- Earnings before tax and National Insurance
If you or your partner have taken any form of parental leave in the last 6 months or if you wish to submit proof of income from multiple sources, there will be further information required.
Our US immigration attorneys are specialists on the information that you need to provide for your Unmarried Partner Visa application. Contact us at +1844 290 6312 to speak with one of our professional advisors about your case today.
How to apply for Unmarried Partner Visa inside the UK
If you are in the UK and you wish to apply for an Unmarried Partner Visa, be aware that it is not always possible to switch your visa category. In most cases, you will be required to apply from your home country of the United States.
If you are an American citizen visiting the UK, you will need a Visitor Visa to enter or visit the country. For immigration purposes, you are considered to be a visitor only, and cannot apply to change your immigration status until you return to the USA.
If, however, you are already living in the UK with a valid form of immigration status, then you may apply for the Unmarried Partner Visa.
The official Gov.uk link to apply for the visa inside the UK can be found here.
How to apply for Unmarried Partner Visa from the USA
To apply for the Unmarried Partner Visa while living in the USA, there are a number of steps you should follow. First, ensure that you have completed the online application and attended your appointment at an application support center or premium application center.
Following this appointment, you are required to post your appointment confirmation letter, your application form, passport, a prepaid return shipping label, and any supporting documents that you haven’t uploaded to the online portal.
You should post these to the following address:
VFS Services USA Inc., UKVI Scanning Hub, 145 West 45th St, Floor 5, New York NY, 10036
Your passport must contain a minimum of one blank page (front and back). The Home Office may refuse to grant the application if this is not the case.
The official Gov.uk link to apply for the visa outside the UK can be found here.
How long can you stay in the UK with this visa?
If you have been issued an Unmarried Partner Visa from the Home Office, you will be given permission to live with your partner in the UK for 33 months (if you have applied from the United States). Following this initial 33-month period, you may apply for an extension to the Unmarried Partner Visa (up to a period of five years).
If you have lived in the UK for five years on a valid Spouse Visa, you may be able to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain. There are certain conditions attached to this.
For example, you must be able to prove that you are still in a primary relationship with your original partner who sponsored your application. As well as this, you should be able to provide proof of your ability to maintain yourself financially against the criteria required in the original application.
In order to apply for the extension to the visa, you should ensure you are doing so in good time so that your visa does not expire in the meantime.
If you are granted Indefinite Leave to Remain, you may be eligible to apply for British Citizenship.
For many partners, the Unmarried Partner Visa may be the first stage in the immigration process whereby you and your partner intend to live together permanently in the UK. To get started with the process, give our experienced immigration lawyers a call today or use the online chat function to speak to an advisor.
Can I apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain with the Unmarried Partner Visa?
Indefinite Leave to Remain refers to settling in Britain permanently with a path towards British Citizenship. Its equivalent in the United States is permanent residency (green card).
An American citizen who is granted Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK may live, work, and study, without any restrictions. If you have held Indefinite Leave to Remain for one year, you may begin the process of applying for British citizenship.
Like most categories of visas, there are strict eligibility requirements and an in-depth application process. The majority of applicants will have had to have lived in the UK for a minimum of five years in order to be eligible to apply.
Other requirements include having passed the Life in the UK Test, a lack of any criminal convictions, and you must not have spent more than 180 days outside the UK in the year of the qualifying period.
Our comprehensive guide to the Indefinite Leave to Remain process will provide you with all the information you need to know.
If you are currently living in the UK, our US attorneys are looking forward to speaking to you about your circumstances. You can phone us on at +1844 290 6312 or speak to us using the contact form below.
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The Unmarried Partner Visa is sometimes referred to as the De Facto Visa because it relates to the relationship being akin to marriage, where both partners are living together as a couple.
Its Latin meaning is ‘concerning fact’ and it refers to something which is not legally bound, but exists nonetheless. Another term is ‘common law’ husband and wife.
If you are granted an Unmarried Partner Visa, you will be legally allowed to work in the UK. You also have the right to study and carry out other business activities.
The visa lasts for 33 months if you applied outside the UK, and 30 months if you applied in the UK. It can be extended for an additional 30 months. If you spend five years in the UK on this visa, you may be eligible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK.
You can bring children under the age of 18 with you while on an Unmarried Partner Visa. To do this, you will need to make an extra application for dependents at the same. There will be an extra Home Office charge for this.
It is possible to appeal the decision if your Unmarried Partner Visa application has been refused. The appeal should be filed within 28 days of the decision being issued.
Your case will be referred to the First-Tier Tribunal. It is recommended to engage the services of a specialist immigration lawyer to maximize your chances of succeeding in your appeal.