Unmarried and same-sex partner visas are for those couples who have cohabited for 2 years or more but are not married or in a civil partnership.
Unless you are British or an EEA national, you will require a visa to live in the UK as an unmarried or same-sex partner. The legal requirements for a partner visa are complex and we strongly recommend taking good legal advice.
An unmarried or same-sex partner visa entitles you to live in the UK with your partner and take employment or establish yourself in business for so long as your relationship is subsisting.
This is a two part visa that will require you to make an extension application after you have been in the UK for an initial period of 30 months.
After spending 5 years (60 months) in the UK in this capacity, you will become eligible for indefinite leave to remain (permanent residence) and British citizenship.
Your partner must be either British or settled in the UK (i.e. hold indefinite leave to remain or permanent residence) and you must:
RLegal will guide you through the complex evidential requirements and assist you from start to finish with your application. We have over 20 years experience of lodging successful applications in these categories. We will take the worry out of the process and give you peace of mind.
Alternatively click on the links below for frequently asked questions.
To gain permission to live in the UK with an unmarried or same-sex partner requires a partner visa.
You must have cohabited for at least 2 years either within or outside the UK.
You must be able to produce independently verifiable evidence, e.g. bank statements and utility bills addressed to you jointly or individually throughout the qualifying period.
The applicant’s partner (the sponsor) must be
- a British Citizen in the UK;
- present and settled in the UK; or
- in the UK with refugee leave or humanitarian protection.
Both parties to the relationship must be aged 18 or over at the date of application and not be within the prohibited degree of relationship.
The applicant and their partner must have met in person.
They must intend to live permanently together in a relationship akin to marriage.
The relationship must be subsisting.
Any previous relationship of the applicant or their partner must have broken down permanently.
The applicant must meet a specific financial requirement (read more below).
The couple must be able to accommodate themselves and any dependants adequately without additional recourse to public funds.
The applicant must demonstrate a minimum competence in the English language. This can be done either by being a citizen of a specified country, holding a degree level qualification that was taught in English, or by passing an approved English language test to level A1.
A successful application will lead to the issue of entry clearance (a visa) for 33 months (or a grant of leave to remain for 30 months if from within the UK). In the final month of your visa, you must apply to the Home Office to extend your stay for a further 30 months. Once you have completed a total of 60 months continuous lawful residence in the UK as a partner, you will become eligible for indefinite leave to remain (also known as settled status or permanent residence).
The criteria to be met for an extension of stay as an unmarried or same-sex partner are the same as for the initial application with 1 notable exception; specifically, the applicant must pass a slightly harder Secure English Language Test at level A2. Evidence of cohabitation throughout the partner visa must be supplied as for the initial application.
This is one of the most complicated aspects of obtaining an unmarried or same-sex partner visa. The law on the subject extends to over 30 pages. We set out below a summary of the main rules. Applicants must show that they meet certain minimum income or savings thresholds to qualify for the visa.
The annual income thresholds are:
Applicant with no children: £18,600
First child: an additional £3,800*
Subsequent children: an additional £2,400 per child*
* Applies only to children that are dependants on the application and are not British citizens or already settled in the UK.
The sources of income which are acceptable are:
employment or self employment of their sponsor;
employment or self employment of the applicant if in the UK lawfully;
certain permitted sources other than employment, such as rent from property;
state or private pensions of the applicant or sponsor; or
maternity allowances or bereavement benefits received in the UK.
Shortfalls in income can be made up from savings in excess of £16,000. For example, if your income is £17,000, you will have a shortfall of £1,600. The amount of savings you would need to hold is £20,000 (i.e. £1,600 x 2.5 + £16,000).
If you have no income, the amount of savings you need to hold rises to £62,500. Savings must be held in an account in your or your partner’s name for 6 months prior to the date of application.
Applicants will be exempt from these financial requirements if their UK sponsor receives a specified disability related benefit or carer’s allowance. In these circumstances, it is necessary to show that the couple can still maintain and accommodate themselves without additional recourse to public funds.
Following the case of MM in the Supreme Court the Home Office is obliged to conduct a more rounded view of the your financial circumstances where you do not meet the strict criteria outlined above. If you don’t meet the financial requirements under the Immigration Rules, you may still be able to apply for a visa or extend your permission to stay if:
Applicants for an Unmarried Partner & Same-sex Partner visa must pay an 'NHS surcharge' of £624 per year in advance for each whole or part year of the visa.
Outside the UK
Applicants not presently in the UK must apply for an unmarried/same-sex partner visa to enter the UK in the correct capacity. The application should be lodged at the nearest British overseas post authorised to deal with such matters. The process involves submission of an online application and original specified evidence, attendance at a biometric appointment and potentially an interview. Applicants from certain specified countries may be required to undertake a tuberculosis test.
Processing times due to the Ukraine situation is between 3-6 months but in our recent experience likely to take the full 6 months.
Please note the priority service for applications made through the Unmarried Partner & Same-sex partner category has been suspended until further notice due to the Ukraine situation as the Home Office are prioritising visa applications from nationals there.
Inside the UK
For those already in the UK, with the exception of visitors and others who hold a visa for less than 6 months duration, it is possible to apply direct to the Home Office via either the postal system or premium same day service. The process involves submission of an application with specified evidence and attendance at a biometric appointment.
Premium applications are processed in 1 day. Postal applications vary but are typically between 3-6 months.
Outside the UK
Some (but not all) British visa application centres around the world offer a ‘Priority Settlement Service’. This is an additional cost service that will place your application at the front of the processing queue. Use of this service may speed up the processing time for your application, however, the Home Office do not guarantee expedited treatment.
Inside the UK
Standard application £1048 plus £19.20 biometric fees
Optional Super Priority Premium fee £800
To qualify for indefinite leave to remain (permanent residence) as an unmarried or same-sex partner, an applicant must:
- have completed 5 years continuous lawful residence with an unmarried/same-sex partner visa;
- the relationship must be subsisting and both parties must intend to live together permanently;
- continue to meet the financial and accommodation requirements;
- not have any unspent criminal convictions (including motoring offences) or civil judgements;
- have passed the Life in the UK Test;
- and demonstrate a higher level of competence in the English language. This can be done either by being a citizen of a specified country, holding a degree level qualification that was taught in English, or by passing an approved English language test to level B1.
Individuals in the UK who applied for a visa in a relationship category under the rules in place prior to 9 July 2012 will continue to be eligible to apply for indefinite leave to remain after 2 years provided:
- they have completed 2 years continuous lawful residence in the UK with an unmarried/same-sex partner visa;
- their relationship is subsisting and both parties intend to live together permanently;
- they can demonstrate that they can support and accommodate themselves and any dependants without recourse to public funds;
- they do not have any unspent criminal convictions (including motoring offences) or civil judgements;
- have passed the Life in the UK Test; and
- demonstrate an higher level of competence in the English language. This can be done either by being a citizen of a specified country, holding a degree level qualification that was taught in English, or by passing an approved English language test to level B1.
There are very few individuals that remain subject to these rules. They are typically required to extend because they engage the criminality provisions or have otherwise struggled with the Life in the UK Test and English language requirements.
Comprehensive legal advice.
Ensuring your application meets the legal requirements.
Assistance with compiling the complex evidence required for this category.
Completion and submission of all forms and evidence.
Booking a biometric appointment.
Ongoing liaison with the authorities where possible.
If you would like to discuss your application for an unmarried partner or same sex partner visa in more detail, please contact us on +44 (0)20 7038 3980, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or use our online enquiry form.