FREE UK Partner Visa Video Series
In part 1 of our free video series, we discuss the two year’s cohabitation requirement (which is a requirement for all unmarried partner visa applications.
In this free video series, we also discuss:
- The financial requirement
- The online application form
- Document translations
- The adequate accommodation requirement
- The English language requirement
- Dependent children requirement
- Other partner visa requirements
If you are going to submit a UK unmarried partner visa application in 2021 – this article is perfect for you!
Our immigration lawyers have created this free & easy to follow STEP-BY-STEP guide so you can process your own UK unmarried partner visa application.
So let’s start!
What is a UK unmarried partner visa in 2021?
#1 A UK unmarried partner visa will allow the applicant (‘the person applying’) to enter and remain in the UK with their partner (known as the “sponsor” or “UK partner”).
Sarah, an Australian national, would like to live with her British partner, Jack, in the UK.
Since Sarah and Jack have lived with each other for longer than two years she can consider applying for a UK unmarried partner visa.
Sarah does not currently have a UK visa and must therefore make the application from outside the UK.
#2 A UK unmarried partner visa will also allow the applicant to EITHER extend your stay in the UK on the basis of the relationship with your partner OR switch into the partner visa category from another visa type.
An example of an unmarried partner ‘extension’ application
James is an American national and has lived with his British partner, Sarah, for 3 years.
In 2017, James applied for an unmarried partner visa from America and was granted a 30-month unmarried partner visa (which sometimes referred to as a ‘UK spouse visa’).
In 2020, James will therefore seek to apply for an unmarried partner visa extension.
The form that James will use to extend his first visa will be the FLR(M) form.
For more information relating to FLR(M) applications, check out our “FLR M Visa 2021 Guidance: Extension of Spouse visa” article.
An example of an unmarried partner visa ‘switch’ application
Terry is currently in the UK on a Tier 4 student visa and is wondering how he can stay in the UK since his student visa will soon expire.
Since Terry has lived with his partner, Jordan, for longer than two years, he can consider making an unmarried partner visa application from inside the UK.
Since he is not currently in the UK on a partner visa (rather, a student visa), he can apply to ‘switch‘ into the partner visa category by submitting an unmarried partner visa application from inside the UK.
#3 A UK unmarried partner visa application will allow the applicant to work in the UK.
This applies whether you make the application from inside the UK or from outside the UK.
#4 A UK unmarried partner visa can lead to Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) and British citizenship.
The following is the typical route to British citizenship under the UK unmarried partner route:
UK unmarried partner visa -> UK unmarried partner visa -> Indefinite Leave to Remain -> British Citizenship
#5 The applicant will not be able to claim most UK benefits whilst on a UK unmarried partner visa.
Where can I find the UK unmarried partner visa application forms?
If you are making the application from outside the UK, click the link on this page under the sub-heading ‘Outside the UK’.
If you are making the application from inside the UK, click the link on this page under the sub-heading ‘In the UK’.
This will lead you to an application form for an FLR(M) visa.
How much will a UK unmarried partner visa cost in 2021?
If you are making the application from outside the UK
#1 You will have to pay the Home Office processing fee of £1,523.
This is the amount that you will have to pay in order for the Home Office to process your visa.
#2 You will also have to pay £1,872 for the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS).
Unfortunately, this is a compulsory fee.
All applicants are expected to pay this. Outrageous, I know.
If you are making the application from inside the UK
#1 You will have to pay the Home Office processing fee of £1,033.
This is slightly cheaper than if you were to submit the application from outside the UK.
Unfortunately, most applicants have to pay this.
Only those who successfully apply for a fee waiver do not have to pay for this.
But, if you meet the financial requirement for an unmarried partner visa, it is extremely unlikely to successfully apply for a fee waiver since that will require you to persuade the Home Office that you are what is known as ‘destitute’.
#2 You will also have to pay £1,560 for the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS).
Again, this is a fee that you will most likely have to pay.
Yes, you will even have to pay this if you have contributed thousands of pounds in UK tax.
#3 The biometric information fee is £19.20.
This is the cost that you will need to pay in order to provide your biometrics.
Providing your biometrics involves the recording of your fingerprints, photograph & signature.
Since the giving of biometrics is something that is required for a valid application, this is another compulsory fee.
What about other costs?
There are some other costs that you should be aware of.
#1 Immigration Lawyer fees normally range from £750-£2,000+.
This generally depends on the experience and credentials of the particular immigration advisor/law firm.
Our full legal representation is offered by Ed Lowe who has worked at the very heart of the Home Office as a senior Home Office executive.
Our fee for full legal representation is £1,850, although you will be able to find other immigration lawyers that offer full legal representation for cheaper than us.
With this being said, thousands of applicants process their unmarried partner visas each and every year without an immigration lawyer.
Hiring an immigration advisor is not for everyone, since there are many partners that are willing to take the time to familiarise themselves with the relevant immigration rules and submit the application themselves.
It is for these people where our unique unmarried partner visa DIY application pack service comes in useful.
In short, our £285 DIY Application pack service will provide you with a tailored document checklist and set of letter templates that are made according to the information that you provide us – saving you time and money.
#2 Translation of documents.
If you have to submit certain important documents that are not in English or Welsh, these will need to be translated.
We discuss this in more detail, as well as discussing when documents that should be translated, in part 3 of our free video series.
Whilst different translation companies charge differently, in the UK, the average cost of this is between £80-£120 per document.
#3 Premium (optional) Home Office fees.
If you want your visa to be processed faster than the standard service times (2-3 months for out-of-country applications & 2 months for in-country applications), then you have the option of paying extra.
As we discuss in our spouse visa UK processing time in 2021 article, for out of country applications, the priority decision service for UK unmarried partner visa applications will cost around £573 (depending on the current exchange rate).
For in-country applications, the priority decision service will cost an extra £500 (if you want a decision within 5 working days) & £800 if you would like the decision within the next working day.
What are the Unmarried Partner Visa UK Requirements in 2021?
In order for your UK unmarried partner visa application to be successful, the following 6 main things must be proved:
- You and your partner must show that you fall within the definition of an ‘unmarried partner’;
- You and your partner must show that you are in a ‘genuine and subsisting relationship‘;
- You must satisfy the relevant English language requirement;
- If you’ve been resident in certain countries, you will have to prove that you do not have Tuberculosis(TB) (a medical condition);
- You must prove that you satisfy the financial requirement; and
- You must prove that the accommodation that you will have in the UK will be considered adequate for you, your partner and any dependants that you may have.
Before we discuss each of these requirements, there are some other things that you should consider before submitting an application.
Make sure you know whether you are submitting the application from inside or from outside the UK
“Why is it important to know whether the application is being made from inside the UK or from outside the UK?”
There are a few key differences between applications that are made from outside the UK and applications that are made from inside the UK, being:
- The documents required will be different;
- The Immigration Rules differ;
- A different online application is used; and
- The fees involved with submitting out-of-country applications and in-country applications will be different.
First of all, if you (as the applicant – the person applying for the visa) do not have a visa that allows you to be in the UK, then you must make the application from outside the UK.
Example Hassan is an Egyptian national. Since he has never been issued a UK visa, he will have to submit the unmarried partner visa application from outside the UK.
Hassan is an Egyptian national.
Since he has never been issued a UK visa, he will have to submit the unmarried partner visa application from outside the UK.
Second of all, if you are in the UK on a UK visitor visa or are here as a non-visa national, you will have to return to your home country and then submit an application from outside the UK.
Marcos is a Brazilian national and has visited the UK several times.
Since Marcos is considered to be a non-visa national, he can visit the UK for up to 6 months (similar to a UK visitor visa in 2021) without having to apply for a UK visa.
However, if Marcos wants to apply for a UK unmarried partner visa, he will have to return to Brazil and make an application from outside the UK.
Marcoscannot submit a UK unmarried partner visa from inside the UK.
“My partner does not have a UK visa but I (the British national), will submit the documents in the UK on behalf of my partner – is the application being made from inside or from outside the UK?”
The application in this situation will still be made from outside the UK.
Although it is very common that it is the UK partner that deals with the majority of the visa application, technically, since it is the applicant that is applying for the visa, the visa will have to be made from outside the UK.
Make sure you know when to submit the application
If you are submitting the application from outside the UK, you can skip this step as this is normally just a question of convenience for you.
However, if you are submitting the application from inside the UK, it is important that you know when to submit the application.
For applications that are being submitted from inside the UK
For applications that are being made from inside the UK, the relevant visa is called the FLR(M) visa.
It is very important to know when you should submit the FLR(M) visa as getting this wrong can cost you a lot of unnecessary hassle, time & money.
Knowing what the ‘date of application’ means here is crucial.
When is the ‘date of application’?
The ‘date of application’ for unmarried partner visa applications is the date that the Home Office fee (on the online application form) is paid.
This is an important concept to grasp as the whole application should be based on it. We discuss this in part 1 of our free video series.
#1 The ‘date of application’, if you are making the application from inside the UK, must be before your current UK visa expires.
If you make the application from inside the UK after your current UK visa expires, it is very possible that you will become what is known as an ‘overstayer’.
This can have an incredibly bad impact on all future UK visa applications.
Not only this, but being an ‘overstayer’ is something that can result in criminal proceedings being brought against you (although this is unlikely).
Obviously, this is something that you must avoid at all costs.
“What if the date of my visa appointment is after the expiration of my UK visa?”
This is perfectly OK – if you submit an application from inside the UK before the expiration of your current visa.
This is because of what is known as ‘Section 3C leave’.
The effect of Section 3c leave is that your current visa will automatically be extended until a decision has been made on your visa (or if you withdraw the application).
Remember, Section 3c leave will only apply if you submit the application before the expiration of your current visa.
James is currently in the UK on a Tier 2 (General) visa, which expires on 5thJanuary 2020.
If James pays the Home Office fee on the online application website for an unmarried partner visa before 5thJanuary 2020, then this is perfectly OK as Section 3C leave will automatically extend James’ visa until the unmarried partner visa has been decided.
#2 If you are currently in the UK on a unmarried partner visa (otherwise known as a spouse visa or FLR (M) visa), you should not submit the visa application before 28 days of your current visa expiring.
The reason for this is what is commonly known as the ‘5 year qualifying period’.
The 5-year qualifying period relates to the amount of time that you have to be in the UK on the partner visa route in order to obtain Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR).
If you apply when there is more than 28 days before the expiration of your current visa, then it is possible that you will have to apply (& pay) for an unnecessary additional unmarried partner visa in order to reach the 5 years.
Elizabeth, a Ugandan national, was first granted an out-of-country unmarried partner visa.
If Elizabeth submits an unmarried partner FLR(M) visa application within 28 days of her visa expiration date (30thJanuary 2020), then Elizabeth will be able to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) within 28 days of her second unmarried partner FLR(M) visa.
If, however, Elizabeth submits an unmarried partner FLR(M) visa application earlier than 28 days of her visa expiration date (for example 4 months earlier), then she will not meet the 5 year qualifying period as by the time her second FLR(M) visa expires, she will just be short of the 5 years in the UK.
In this second case, Elizabeth will have to submit a third application (an additional unmarried partner FLR(M) visa) in order to meet the 5 year requirement in order to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR).
Therefore, this will cost an extra £1,033+ in Home Office fees, £1,560 in IHS payments and will require you to go through all of the extra stress involved with submitting another visa application.
“How should I count dates in order to ensure that the application is made within 28 days? “
We like to use this website in order to easily calculate days between two dates.
One suggestion is to treat this 28-day rule as a 26 day rule.
This may prevent you from miscalculating dates and accidently exceeding 28 days.
UK Unmarried Partner Visa Relationship Requirements
#1 You must have lived with your partner for at least two years in a relationship similar to a marriage or civil partnership.
This is an important requirement for you to consider.
Essentially, you have to prove that you fall within the definition of a partner in Appendix FM.
Unfortunately, there really is a lack of published Home Office guidance regarding the two years cohabitation requirement. What we know largely comes from our colleague, Ed Lowe, who worked in the Home Office for 20+ years.
First, it should be pointed out that the two years cohabitation requirement is a strictly enforced requirement. If, based on the evidence submitted, you and your partner are only able to evidence 1 year and 10 months cohabitation, there will be a real risk of refusal.
Second, two years cohabitation is not the only requirement as the living together for two years must have been “in a relationship akin to a marriage or civil partnership”.
Following from this, we know that some Home Office caseworkers do not tend to count cohabitation that took place when one partner was on a visitor visa towards the two years cohabitation requirement.
Third, the evidential threshold for the two years cohabitation is rather high. You will be fully expected to provide fairly comprehensive evidence regarding the cohabitation.
Fourth, please note the words ‘date of application’ in the above definition of an unmarried partner. The date of application is the date that the Home Office fees are paid on the online application.
For more information about the two years cohabitation requirement, you may find our discussion on this in part 1 of our free video series helpful. Here, we also discuss the options available to you if the two years cohabitation is not met, or if you are unsure if it is met.
#2 You and your partner must have met in person.
#3 You and your UK partner must be aged 18 or over when you submit the application.
#4 The UK partner must one of the following:
- A British Citizen in the UK; or
- ‘Present’ and ‘Settled’ in the UK; or
- Someone who has been granted Pre-Settled Status under the EU Settlement Scheme; or
- In the UK with refugee leave or with humanitarian protection.
If the UK partner has indefinite leave to remain (ILR) and resides in the UK, or if he/she is an EEA national or non-EEA family member with a permanent right of residence in the UK (or has been granted Settled Status under the EU Settlement Scheme), the UK partner will be considered as being ‘Present’ and ‘settled’.
#5 Your partner must not be related to you in a way that is not allowed by the Home Office.
If the applicant and UK partner are not related in any way, then read on as this will obviously not apply to you.
We have summarised relationships that are not allowed below:
The Marriage (Prohibited Degrees of Relationship) Act 1986
This does not allow for marriages between the following:
- Mother of former wife, until the death of both the former wife and the father of the former wife;
- Former wife of son, until after the death of both his son and the mother of his son;
- Father of former husband, until after the death of both the former husband and the mother of the former husband;
- Former husband of daughter, until after the death of both her daughter and the father of her daughter.
This law also does not allow the following relationships:
Up until both parties are aged 12 are over, and provided that the younger party has not at any time, before attaining the age of 18, been a child of the family in relation to the other party:
- Daughter of former wife;
- Son of former husband;
- Former husband of mother;
- Former wife of father’s father;
- Former wife of father;
- Former husband of mother’s mother;
- Son of son of former husband;
- Former wife of mother’s father;
- Former husband of father’s mother;
- Daughter of son of former wife;
- Daughter of daughter of former wife; and
- Son of daughter of former husband.
The Marriage Act 1949 does not allow for marriages between the follow relationships:
Prohibited degrees for a woman
- Father’s brother;
- Son’s son;
- Brother’s son;
- Daughter’s son;
- Mother’s brother;
- Sister’s son;
- Mother father;
- Father’s father;
Prohibited degrees for a man
- Sister’s daughter;
- Daughter’s daughter;
- Brother’s daughter;
- Son’s daughter;
- Mother’s mother;
- Father’s mother;
- Mother’s sister;
- Sister; and
- Father’s sister.
#6 You and your partner must intend to live together permanently in the UK.
#7 You must prove to the Home Office that you and your partner have a ‘genuine’ and ‘subsisting’ relationship and that you have lived together for two years ‘as husband and wife’.
Proving a relationship is obviously something that is hard to do, right?
There are two things that you should focus on in order to do this.
i) Write a clearly written and comprehensive supporting letter
This is something that we will talk about in more detail below.
It may also be worthwhile noting that professionally written templates are also included in our DIY Application Pack Service, which provides you with a tailored document checklist and set of letter templates that are custom made according to the information you have given us.
ii) Make sure you include enough relevant supporting documentation
There are certain documents that we have learned (over many years!) that the Home Office like to see.
Our DIY Application Pack Service includes a comprehensive and detailed list of documents (& templates) that you can use to evidence your relationship in the best way possible.
Unmarried Partner Visa English Language Requirement
You must prove that you meet the English Language Requirement.
There are several ways to prove that you meet this requirement and these are discussed below:
#1 Passing an English language test.
The accepted level is a minimum of Level A1 of the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) for both applications made both outside and inside the UK.
However, if an application is being made from inside the UK and the applicant has already been issued one spouse visa (& is extending their stay after 2.5 years), the required level will be A2 of the CEFR.
If you are fluent in English, then there is nothing to stop you from taking a higher level test, such as the A2 or B1 level.
It may also be worth noting now that when you apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) after 5 years of being on your spouse visa, you will need to show evidence that you have passed the B1 test.
Therefore, taking a more advanced test can save you some pennies and time (obviously only if you have the ability to pass the test).
This is because you can use the same english language certificate if you always extend your visa in time.
At the moment, the two most commonly relied on approved English language tests that are on the List of Home Office Approved Secure English language tests (SELT) in 2021 are:
- Graded Examinations in Spoken English (GESE) by Trinity College London (this is the preferred test to book if you are taking the test inside the UK, although IELTS Life Skills are still available)
- IELTS Life Skills by IELTS SELT Consortium (this is the test to book if you are taking the test outside the UK)
In order to book the test inside the UK, please click here to find a list of test centres.
In order to book the test outside the UK, please click here to find a list of test centres.
Prior to booking your test, you should make sure that the test centre is contained in the list of Home Office approved test centres which can be found at this link. We discuss this in part 1 of our free video series.
#2 Having a Bachelors/Masters degree or a PhD.
Any degree certificates that were issued inside the UK will be enough to satisfy the English Language Requirement.
Any degree certificates that were issued outside the UK, should be submitted with a certification from UK NARIC that confirms that the qualification is the equivalent or greater than the recognised standard of a Bachelors/Masters degree or PhD in the UK.
If the qualification was taught in a Home approved labelled Majority English speaking country (excluding Canada), you will also need to obtain a document from UK NARIC stating that the degree studied was taught or researched to the required CEFR level.
#3 Being a national of a ‘majority English speaking country’.
If you are a national of any of the below listed countries, you do not need to pass the A1 or A2 test.
Obviously, the Home Office will know that the test is far too easy for you.
The countries are as follows:
- Antigua and Barbuda;
- the Bahamas;
- New Zealand;
- St Kitts and Nevis;
- St Lucia;
- St Vincent and the Grenadines;
- Trinidad and Tobago; or
- the United States of America.
These countries are classed as ‘majority English speaking countries’ by the Home Office.
You simply have to submit your passport with the required nationality to meet the English Language Requirement in this case.
#4 You may not be required to meet the English language requirement if you are exempt.
If one of the following apply, then you will not be required to sit an English language test or provide other evidence of meeting the English language requirement
- There are ‘exceptional circumstances’ that in effect prevent you from meeting the English language requirement.
- You are aged of 65 or over at the time you make the application; OR
- A mental or physical condition prevents you from sitting the English language test.
In cases other than age (in which submitting the passport will do), you are required to provide evidence of the physical or mental condition that stops you from taking the test (or evidence of the exceptional circumstances)
Is a Tuberculosis (TB) required for an Unmarried partner visa?
A tuberculosis (TB) test is normally required if you are making the unmarried partner visa from outside the UK.
It is normally only required if you are making the application from one of the following countries:
- Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Armenia, Azerbaijan,
- Bangladesh, Belarus, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Botswana, Brunei Darussalam, Burkina Faso, Burma, Burundi,
- Cambodia, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Cameroon, China, Congo, Congo Democratic Republic, Côte d’Ivoire,
- Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Djibouti, Dominican Republic,
- Ecuador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia,
- Gabon, Gambia, Georgia, Ghana, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Guyana,
- Haiti, Hong Kong or Macau,
- India, Indonesia, Iraq,
- Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kiribati, Korea, Kyrgyzstan,
- Laos, Lesotho, Liberia,
- Madagascar, Malawi, Malysia, Mali, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Micronesia, Moldova, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique,
- Namibia, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria,
- Pakistan, Palau, Papu New Guinea, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines,
- Russian Federation, Rwanda,
- Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland,
- Tajikistan, Tanzania, Thailand, Timor Leste, Togo, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu,
- Uganda, Ukraine, Uzbekistan,
- Vanuatu, Vietnam,
- Zambia, Zimbabwe
Applicants who are making the unmarried partner visa application from inside the UK (e.g. if they are already on a Tier 4 Student visa), generally do not need to submit a TB test.
The official Home Office list of countries from which you require a TB test can be found here.
This Tuberculosis test, if required, must be from a Home Office approved clinic.
Home Office approved clinics close to you can be found here.
Unmarried Partner Visa Accommodation Requirement
You will be expected to provide documentation to show that the adequate accommodation requirement is met.
It is very important to note here that accommodation cannot be prospective – as we discuss in part 3 of our free video series.
Our unmarried partner DIY Application Pack service (which includes a tailored document checklist) breaks this down into four different categories:
1) Those who own the UK accommodation where the applicant and UK partner will live together
2) Those who rent the UK accommodation where the applicant and UK partner will live together
3) Partner who will live together at a family or friend’s UK accommodation (which is rented)
4) Partner who will live together at a family or friend’s UK accommodation (which is owned)
Irrespective of which one of the above options apply to you and your partner, you will be expected to submit evidence that you have the legal right to reside in that accommodation.
Unmarried Partner Visa Financial Requirement in 2021
The unmarried partner visa financial requirements is the same as if you were applying as a married spouse.
Therefore, check out our spouse visa UK 2021 financial requirements guidance here, which discusses the financial requirement in great detail.
Furthermore, throughout our free video series, we discuss numerous commonly made mistakes that partner visas make in relation to the financial requirement.
If the sponsor receives a permitted benefit, the adequate maintenance test will apply instead of the standard minimum income threshold of £18,600.
For more information about this, check out our article “Adequate Maintenance Guidance for UK visas [2021 REQUIREMENTS]“
Write the applicant & UK partner’s supporting letters
Although not absolutely necessary, including supporting letters from both you and your UK partner will make your application much stronger.
You and your UK partner could discuss the following in your statements:
- How you meet the financial requirement
- How you meet the accommodation requirement
- How you meet the relationship requirement
- How you met, began your relationship and when you started living together.
- That your UK partner is willing to financially provide for and accommodate you in order to meet the Immigration Rules.
Our DIY Application Pack service contains professionally tailored supporting letter templates (& document checklists) for both you and your UK partner to use. If you would like to save time and hundreds of pounds, feel free to check it out.
Check that you meet the suitability requirements
These requirements do not apply to most people, although it is important to be aware of these as they will likely result in refusal.
Apologies in advance as they can be quite dull to read!
You WILL be refused if any of the following apply:
#1 The UK’s government has told the applicant that they are NOT allowed in the UK.
#2 The applicant’s behaviour in the past has made it objectionable to give them an unmarried partner visa.
#3 The applicant has previously failed to comply with any of the following requirements without a good excuse:
- Attend an interview
- Provide information
- Provide physical data
- Be medically examined or submit a medical report.
#4 The applicant has been issued with a Deportation Order.
#5 The applicant has been sentenced to imprisonment for a lengthy duration for an offence that they committed.
#6 The applicant has a medical issue that makes it objectionable to grant them an unmarried partner visa.
#7 The applicant was given a caution under section 22 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 less than 5 years ago, and they were required to leave or were removed from the UK as a result of that caution.
You MAY be refused if any of the following apply:
#1 If in the past, the applicant submitted false information, representations or documents, or omitted important facts in any UK visa application.
#2 If a relevant NHS body notifies the UK government that the applicant has failed to pay NHS charges of £500 or more.
#3 If the applicant has recently been criminally convicted or if they are a persistent offender or have caused serious harm with their offending.
#4 If the applicant has failed to pay litigation costs awarded to the Home Office.
#5 If the application fails to provide a maintenance and accommodation undertaking when asked to do so.
Unmarried Partner Visa Evidence (Documents Checklist 2021)
Fortunately, as you progress through the online application website, you will be provided with a list of documents to submit in the unmarried partner visa application.
Please do not make the mistake of thinking that these are the only documents that you should submit, however.
It is still absolutely crucial that you read the relevant official guidance regarding UK unmarried partner visas.
Simply submitting the documents listed on the application website is likely to result in refusal for many unmarried partner visa applications.
“How do I ensure that I include the right documentation that complies with the Immigration Rules?”
If you would like to save time & increase the likelihood of a successful visa, not only does our UK unmarried partner visa DIY Application Pack service provide a tailored document checklist and set of letter templates, we identify and narrow down the required reading as it applies to your circumstances.
Should you complete the Appendix 2 VAF4A Form?
If you are applying from inside the UK, then you can completely ignore this step – the Appendix 2 of VAF4a: Financial requirements form has never been required for in-country applications.
If you are applying from outside the UK, you can also ignore this step as this form is no longer required.
We do know, however, that this is a commonly asked question – largely due to letters in 2019 being sent out like this:
If you would, however, like to complete this completely unnecessary application form, the following are instructions that you may wish to follow.
If you are relying on employment from a company that is not a ‘specified limited company’
“What is a specified limited company?”
Lets first clarify what a ‘specified limited company’ is, as this is something that causes a lot of applications to be refused.
A ‘specified limited’ company is defined in paragraph 9(a) of Appendix FM-SE as one in which:
- The applicant and/or sponsor is a director or employee of the limited company; and
- Shares of this employing company are held by the applicant, sponsor or by family members of the applicant and/or sponsor; and
- The remaining shares are held by fewer than five other persons
Since this income is considered under Category A or B, the following sections of the Appendix 2 form should be completed:
Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.1-3.3, Part 3A & Part 5.
If you are relying solely on overseas employment and a job offer in the UK
Since this income is considered under Category A or B, the following sections of the Appendix 2 form should be completed:
Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.1-3.3, Part 3B & Part 5.
If you are relying solely on UK employment from a company that is a ‘specified limited company’
Since this income is considered under Category F or G, the following sections of the Appendix 2 form should be completed:
Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.1-3.3, Part 3C & Part 5.
If you are relying solely on self-employment as a sole trader, in a partnership or in a franchise
Since this income is considered under Category F or G, the following sections of the Appendix 2 form should be completed:
Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.1-3.3, Part 3C & Part 5.
If you are relying solely on non-employment sources
The following are non-employment sources of income that can generally be included towards the financial requirement:
- Property rental.
- Dividends or other income from investments, stocks and shares, bonds or trust funds.
- Interest from savings.
- Maintenance payments from a former partner of the applicant in relation to the applicant or any children of the applicant and their former partner. Also, maintenance payments from a former partner of the applicant’s partner in relation to that partner.
- UK Maternity Allowance, Bereavement Allowance, Bereavement Payment and Widowed Parent’s Allowance.
- Payments under the War Pensions Scheme, the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme and the Armed Forces Attributable Benefits Scheme.
- A maintenance grant or stipend (not a loan) associated with undergraduate study or postgraduate study or research.
- Ongoing insurance payments.
- Ongoing payments from a structured legal settlement.
- Ongoing royalty payments.
Since this income is considered under Category C, the following sections of the Appendix 2 form should be completed:
Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.1-3.3, Part 3D & Part 5.
If you are relying solely on pension income
Since this income is considered under Category E, the following sections of the Appendix 2 form should be completed:
Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.1-3.3, Part 3E & Part 5.
If you are relying solely on cash savings
Since this income is considered under Category D, the following sections of the Appendix 2 form should be completed:
Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.1-3.3, Part 3F & Part 5.
If the adequate maintenance test applies
The following sections of the Appendix 2 form should be completed:
Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.1, Part 3E, Part 4 & Part 5.
Submit the unmarried partner visa application
The process will be different depending on whether you are making the application from inside the UK or from outside the UK.
If you are making the application from inside the UK
The process is as follows:
#1 Application forms are now completed and submitted online.
The link for the new online application website can be found here.
#2 You then make payment online for both the application and the biometric enrolment fee.
#3 You will then be automatically directed to Sopra Steria’s website, on which you are required to book an appointment to attend a UKVCAS centre, where you will provide your biometrics.
#4 You should then be granted an appointment.
These appointments will generally be no later than 5 working days from the time at which you submit the online application.
The website will also provide details of the latest date that you can book the application.
#5 Supporting documents can now be uploaded online or alternatively, scanned at the appointment for an added fee. This will allow you to retain your original documents (including passports) whilst you wait for a decision.
This will allow you to retain your original documents (including passports) whilst you wait for a decision.
You will still have the option of paying more to have their applications decided quicker.
You can make use of three different types of services:
Standard Service: you will be given a decision within six months or eight weeks, based on the type of application. This is in line with current timescales.
Priority Service: you will be given a decision within 5 working days.
Super Priority Service: you will be given a decision on the next working day.
Although you will be able to retain your passport under the new system, you should not travel whilst your application is being considered. If you do so, your application will be considered withdrawn.
If you are making the application from outside the UK
#1 Find the ACCESS UK online application website.
Yes, the application form for those applying as an unmarried partner and those applying as a fiancé(e) or married partner are the same.
#2 If you are an unmarried partner who is not applying with any dependant children, select ‘Appendix FM partner’.
If you are an unmarried partner who is applying with dependant children, you should select ‘Appendix FM partner’ for your application and ‘Appendix FM Child’ for your dependant children.
#3 Choose the country of residence/nationality where the applicant will provide their biometric information.
#4 Complete sections 2 and 3 (Application & Finances).
#5 Read the document checklist automatically issued to you on the online application website.
Remember, if you are submitting the application without an immigration lawyer, it is absolutely crucial for you to make sure that you read the relevant Immigration Rules and guidance.
The document checklist generated by this website is not exhaustive unfortunately gives partners a false sense of security as it does not always list all of the documents that should be included.
This document checklist also does not notify you of the supporting document rules that must be met.
Our UK unmarried partner visa DIY Application Pack Service addresses these by:
- Identifying common mistakes that unmarried partners make;
- Lists documents that should be submitted that are not included on the automatically generated document checklist; and
- Discusses the relevant rules that apply to certain documents.
We decided to offer this service because we know that many partners do not want to spend thousands in lawyer fees but want to ensure that they submit the best application possible.
#6 In section 5 of the online application form, declare that the contents are correct.
#7 Choose the standard of service that you would like.
The standard service will take approximately 2-3 months.
The priority service will take, on average, 6 weeks and will cost an additional £573 (depending on the current local exchange rate)
#8 Select your appointment at the overseas visa centre.
#9 Pay the Home Office fees & Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS).
#10 You will then be sent to the TLS or VFS website, depending on the country in which the application is being made.
Firstly, it will allow you to upload your documentation (if you choose to submit documents this way, which, by the way, is not recommended).
Secondly, it will allow you to pay for any additional optional services.
#11 Attend the appointment.
The visa centre appointment is rather non-eventful and generally involves two things:
i) You provide the Home Office with your Biometric data.
This basically means that you will give them your fingerprints, photograph and signature.
ii) If you choose to provide your documents at the overseas visa centre appointment, you can submit your documents.
We will now discuss the different ways that you can submit the supporting documents.
#12 Submit the supporting documentation.
The ways in which you can provide the Home Office with your supporting documents will be limited to the options provided by the particular overseas visa centre that you are applying from.
We have provided an overview of the different document submitting procedures here.
Application submitted. What now?
The process varies for whether you are applying from inside the UK or from outside the UK. We will discuss both processes below:
Out of country applications
In most cases, you will receive an email once the Home Office has processed your application.
This email will normally only say that a decision has been made – they rarely state the actual outcome of the application.
You will normally find out the outcome of the application once you receive your (the applicant’s) passport back.
There are usually three ways in which your passport can returned, although this depends on the particular visa centre:
i) Your passport can be returned via courier
ii) Your passport can be collected in person
iii) Your passport may be collected by a representative on your behalf
Under the new streamlined process, once your application has been submitted online and you have attended your appointment (where all your evidence is usually uploaded online), you leave the Service Point with all your evidence.
After this, you simply wait for a period of time (dependant on whether you paid extra for a quicker decision) to receive your decision.
Although the new process allows you to retain your passport whilst your application is being decided, you must not travel outside the UK. If you do, your application will be considered withdrawn.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the most difficult unmarried partner visa requirement?
The financial requirement is certainly one of the more difficult unmarried partner visa requirements. You absolutely need to ensure that you take the time to read these.
Is original documentation required?
The unmarried partner visa process has changed so that original documentation is no longer generally required – which is obviously great news!
How are the supporting documents submitted?
This depends on whether the application is being submitted from inside the UK or from outside the UK. If the application is being submitted from outside the UK, it also depends on the particular visa centre that is being applied from!
Is it possible to submit an unmarried partner visa application without a lawyer?
Absolutely – as long as you take the time to read the relevant Immigration Rules, which we discuss a lot on this article!
Hopefully this guide has helped you get a better idea about your UK unmarried partner visa.
If you would like for more assistance (without spending hundreds of £££s on lawyer fees), you should check out our £285 Unmarried partner Visa DIY Application Pack.
With this service, we provide you with a professionally tailored set of document checklists and letter templates.
On the other hand, if you would like for an immigration advisor who has worked at the heart of the Home Office for 20+ years (Ed Lowe) to provide you with full legal representation, we offer this service for a fixed fee of £1,850.