Spouse, Same Sex Spouse or Civil Partner

A spouse visa, same sex spouse visa or civil partner visa is a formal permit that enables married or civil partners to enter and reside in the United Kingdom on the basis of their relationship with a person in the UK with settled status. The term ‘settled’ applies to an individual who is free to reside in the UK indefinitely, with no immigration restrictions or limitations on their right to exit and re-enter the UK.

New Rights for Same Sex Couples

The introduction of new legislation in 2014 extended the rights and recognitions associated with traditional marriage to civil partnerships and marriages between same sex individuals. Those who choose to marry or enter into a civil partnership as a same sex couple are therefore recognised in the same way as those who enter into traditional marriage.

The current rules stipulate that civil partnerships can only be entered into as a same sex couple. The Civil Partnership Act of 2004 overhauled the previous rules governing the formalising of same sex partnerships in the UK, resulting in the legal recognition of same sex unions with similar rights to those of marriage.  Individuals married to or planning to marry or enter into a civil partnership with a same sex individual with settled status in the UK can apply for a visa accordingly.

Applicants granted a spouse visa, same sex spouse visa or civil partner visa are permitted to enter and legally reside in the United Kingdom for 33 months for their first application. After which, an additional application may be submitted to extend the duration of their stay for a further 30 months. This amounts to a total of 63 months – just over five years – during which time the individual is entitled to apply for indefinite leave to remain – aka settled status. 

In most cases, residing legally and continuously in the United Kingdom for a minimum of five years qualifies the respective individual for indefinite leave to remain.

Please note however that immigration legislation and the legal system in general in the United Kingdom do not recognise polygamous marriages. Where a settled individual in the United Kingdom has more than one same sex partner overseas, only one partner can be brought into the UK on a spouse visa, same sex spouse visa or civil partner visa.

For more information or to discuss the specifics of your case in more detail, contact a member of the team at Aristone Solicitors today.

Entry Clearance as a Proposed Civil Partner

As with a standard fiancé visa, it’s also possible to legally enter and reside temporarily in the United Kingdom on the basis of an intended marriage or civil partnership with a settled UK resident. The new immigration rules on proposed civil partnerships were introduced in July 2012.

At the point of entry, the foreign national must ensure their civil partnership is formally registered. If the application is successful, a further application must be submitted to qualify for long-term residency or settled status as the civil partner of the settled individual.

Requirements for Entry Clearance for Spouse Visa or Civil Partnership Applications

All applications for spouse visa, same sex spouse visa or civil partner visa are granted upon meeting several key requirements, which include:

  1. The applicant poses no threat to the public
  2. They have no criminal convictions within the past 12 months
  3. They are not subject to any current deportation order
  4. Upon request, the applicant has provided the required information and documentation to a satisfactory extent, attended formal interviews, undergone medical examinations where necessary and generally comply with applicable immigration screen processes.
  5. The applicant is able to provide evidence of suitable accommodation
  6. Evidence that the applicant and/or their partner in the UK can support them financially for the duration of their stay

Requirements for the Settled Partner in the UK

There are also various criteria that must be fulfilled by the settled individual in the UK, in order for the foreign national’s visa to be granted. Examples of which include:

  • The settled partner must be at least 18 years of age
  • They must have formal settled status or citizenship
  • Evidence may be required to verify the provision of suitable accommodation for the applicant and the funds required to finance their stay

Proof of age is typically acceptable in the form of a valid passport. For more information on the criteria that must be filled to obtain a spouse visa, same sex spouse visa or civil partner visa, contact the individual immigration team at Aristone Solicitors today.

Evidence of a Genuine Relationship

Some couples take offence at the UK government’s immigration screening process, which scrutinises the authenticity of couples’ relationships.  Unfortunately, the prevalence of forced marriages and sham marriages deem such scrutiny necessary. 

As a result, UK immigration law clearly states that in order to qualify for a spouse visa, same sex spouse visa or civil partner visa, the couple must be able to provide evidence that they have met each other in person prior to the application. Acceptable forms of evidence include photographs, formal documentation like overseas marriage certificates of bookings/travel tickets that feature the names of both parties.

It’s also important to be ready to answer additional questions at the behest of the Entry Clearance Officer. Along with the provision of physical evidence of the relationship, you and your partner may be asked individually about how you met, the places you have visited together and other details from your past.

Increasingly, applications are being submitted on the basis of ‘virtual’ evidence, due to the way in which more couples than ever before are meeting online.  Unfortunately, virtual relationships and online meet-ups are not recognised or considered by the Home Office. Hence, an application for a spouse visa, same sex spouse visa or civil partner visa will not be considered if there hasn’t been a physical meeting between the two parties – irrespective of the extent of their online or remote relationship.

Evidence of Intention to Permanently Cohabit

Both the settled individual in the UK and their overseas partner must provide evidence that they intend to permanently live together upon when the required visa is obtained. In most instances, the couple’s genuine desire (or otherwise) to cohabit is assessed in accordance with the apparent overall genuineness of the relationship.

The couple may be required to provide (individually or conjointly) a formal letter declaring their intention to cohabit on a permanent basis. Evidence of suitable and available accommodation may also be required. Entry Clearance Officers typically ask a variety of questions to test the knowledge of the applicant regarding the property and location in which they intend to reside in the UK.

Provision of Formal Marriage or Civil Partnership Documentation

If applying for a visa on the basis of an existing same sex marriage or civil partnership, formal documentation will be required. The vast majority of marriage certificates issued overseas are either recognised or fairly considered by the UK, though polygamous partnerships and marriage are not recognised by the Home Office.

A formal marriage certificate is typically sufficient as evidence of a formal partnership to support a visa application. However, there are instances where marriage certificates issued by certain authorities and territories worldwide may not be deemed acceptable by the Home Office.

To learn more about the documentation required to support your visa application, contact the individual immigration team at Aristone Solicitors today.

Financial Requirements

The applicant is required to provide evidence of sufficient financial resources to support themselves for the duration of their stay, without needing to claim benefits. Specific stipulations outlined in current immigration legislation include the following:

  • The sponsor (i.e. the settled individual in the UK) must be earning a minimum of £18,600 per year and be able to provide evidence of six consecutive months’ income accordingly.
  • Ideally, the sponsor will also have been with the same employer for at least six consecutive months at the time of the application.
  • The minimum annual salary requirement increases a further £3,800 for the first Non-EEA child entering the country with their partner and a further £2,400 for each additional child.
  • Sponsors able to provide evidence of personal savings amounting to at least £62,500 may be exempt from the requirement to provide proof of income.
  • In most cases, financial requirements can be met by combining both savings and earnings respectively.

Recognised Sources of Funds

Restrictions are imposed on the sources of funds the British Government considers acceptable for fulfilling the requirements outlined above. The most common forms of acceptable funds according to current legislation include the following:

  1. Regular and provable income from an employer
  2. Private or state pension payments
  3. General benefits/social welfare
  4. Provable savings amassed legally
  5. Most legal and traceable sources of income

Both parties will need to provide formal evidence of their income and all savings – typically presented in the form of the following documents:

  • Recent bank statements
  • Formal letters from employers
  • Employment contracts
  • Tax returns
  • Accountancy documents
  • Pay slips
  • P60s

Exemptions from Financial Requirements

There are instances where it may not be necessary to meet the current minimum salary threshold of £18,600 per year. Different rules apply if the partner of the applicant living in the UK receives any of the following:

(i) Disability living allowance

(ii) Severe disablement allowance

(iii) Industrial injury disablement benefit

(iv) Attendance allowance

(v) Carer’s allowance

Suitable and Available Accommodation

The individual applying for the visa must be able to provide evidence of suitable and available accommodation upon arrival. As detailed previously, this goes hand-in-hand with the requirement for evidence of the intention to permanently cohabit.

Applications may be scrutinised by way of the size, nature, availability and affordability of the property the couple intends to occupy. Formal documents such as tenancy agreements, mortgage statements and title deeds can be presented to support an application.

In some instances, it can be helpful to obtain a letter from a local council office, confirming the suitability of the property for its intended purpose.

English Language Requirement

Applicants seeking entry to the United Kingdom from non-English speaking country are required to pass an English language test formally recognised by the Home Office. If the applicant has obtained a degree-level qualification or higher from a UK institution taught in English, this typically negates the need to pass a formal English test.

Luton’s Leading Individual Immigration Specialists

Aristone Solicitors is proud to offer the region’s most capable and committed legal support for individual immigration applicants. Whatever your current situation and objectives, we’ll ensure your case is handled professionally, efficiently and at an affordable price. Whether ready to go ahead or simply considering an immigration application, we’d be delighted to hear from you. Contact a member of the team at Aristone Solicitors today to book your obligation-free initial consultation.

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