If you are a non-British/non-Irish National who wishes to join your partner in the United Kingdom, you can apply for a settlement visa, provided you meet certain criteria as set out in Appendix FM of the Immigration Rules. These include:
- English – you must be a national of a majority English speaking country as identified by the Home Office, undertake an approved English language test, or apply for a certificate from Ecctics if you have a degree or other academic qualification that was taught or researched in English and is equivalent to a UK bachelor’s degree or higher
- Your and/or sponsor must have a certain amount of savings and/or income to be able to support you and any dependents applying with you
- You and your sponsor must be 18 years of age or older, and you must have met one another in person before applying for the visa
- You must plan on living together permanently
- You must either be: legally married; in a civil partnership; living together as a couple for at least two full years prior to the date of application in a relationship akin to a marriage or civil partnership; or have pre-existing marriage or civil partnership plans in place in the UK if you are applying as a fiancé(e) or proposed civil partner
You cannot apply for this visa from within the UK if your only permission to be in the UK is as a visitor. If you do make an application from within the UK and you are either a visitor, or an overstayer (you have overstayed your permitted leave) then your application will be considered on Human Rights grounds under certain provisions within Appendix FM of the Immigration Rules. If your application is approved on Human Rights grounds, you will be placed on the 10-year route to settlement, with a requirement to renew your visa every two and a half years. You can switch onto the 5-year route to settlement at any time if you meet all of the suitability and eligibility criteria. If you are already in the UK on a work visa, student visa, or marriage settlement visa, you may be allowed to switch to a spousal/civil partner settlement visa. Holders of partner settlement visas (with the exception of marriage settlement visas) are permitted to work and study in the UK.
How Long is a Partner/Spouse Visa Valid For?
If you apply for the visa from outside the UK, it is valid for 33 months. If you apply from within the UK, the visa is valid for 30 months. You can apply for a 30-month extension prior to the expiration of your leave.
If you have applied for marriage settlement visa (colloquially know as a fiancé(e) visa) then you will only be given 6 months’ leave in the UK. You can apply to extend your leave in the UK once you are married or have entered into a civil partnership with your sponsor. The extension application should be made before your fiancé(e) visa expires. Please note that a marriage settlement visa is separate and distinct from a marriage visitor visa. The latter does not allow you to apply for an extension from within the UK, however, if you do, your application will be considered on Human Rights grounds. There is a prohibition on employment whilst you are in the UK as a fiancé(e) or proposed civil partner, and you may be billed for medical treatment so should have insurance in place before arriving in the UK.
Entry Clearance and Dependants
You can apply for a settlement visa if your sponsor is a British Citizen, is settled in the UK (i.e. has indefinite leave to remain, settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme, or permanent residence under the EU regulations), or they have been granted refugee status or humanitarian protection in the UK. You can also apply for a settlement visa if your sponsor has pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme (‘EUSS’) and your relationship began on or after 1 January 2021. If your sponsor has either settled or pre-settled status under the EUSS and your relationship began on or before 31 December 2020, you should consider applying for a family permit instead of the settlement visa.
Children under 18 years of age are allowed to enter the country as your dependents, however, you should submit an application for them when you apply for your visa. Your sponsoring partner will be required to show an income for a certain amount and this level may vary depending on the number of dependent children requiring sponsorship. Children who are British Citizens and/or Irish Citizens do not need a visa to enter the UK and will not be counted when calculating the minimum income threshold.
What Happens if the Relationship Ends Before you acquire indefinite leave to remain?
If your relationship comes to an end whilst you have limited permission to remain in or enter the UK, you will need to notify the Home Office, who will decide whether or not to curtail your visa. They will consider whether or not there are compassionate reasons as to why you be should be allowed remain in the UK. If your partner passes away whilst you have limited leave to remain in the UK or you are the victim of domestic violence, you may be eligible to apply for indefinite leave to remain.
A very important factor for most settlement visas is ensuring that you meet the financial requirement. Simply providing bank statements showing monies going into your account is not enough. The majority of cases are refused solely because the applicant has not provided the correct documents to prove that they meet the financial requirement for a settlement visa.
For a partner settlement visa, you will need to provide the following to meet the financial requirement:
- You and/or your sponsor must be receiving £18,600 per annum or more;
- Six or twelve months’ worth of bank statements (depending on your circumstances);
- Clear and concise documents evidencing where the monies are coming from.
There are a number of ways you can satisfy the financial requirements for a partner settlement visa. This can be either via employment, cash savings, non-employment income etc.
If you have dependant children who also require a visa to live in the UK, then the annual income you must receive is greater. Below is a table of the financial requirement needed to be met:
||How much you need to earn per year before tax
|Your spouse/ partner only
|Your spouse/ partner and 1 child
|Each additional child
If you have savings in excess of £16,000, these can be counted toward meeting the financial requirement. It is always useful to have savings to show that you are in a good position to fund your trip to the UK. You must provide 6 months’ worth of bank statements showing the savings in your account.
If you do not meet the financial requirement for a partner settlement visa through employment income, there are other ways you can satisfy the financial requirement. For example, if you have £62,500 in your bank account for at least 6 full months prior to the date of application, then this will be enough to satisfy the financial requirement. You must ensure that the monies have remained in your account throughout the 6 months, can be withdrawn immediately, and they have been held in your name, your partner’s name, or both jointly. The savings must be held in cash or their value must be clear.
If you have savings held in your bank account at the date of your visa application, and those savings have been transferred from either investments, stocks, shares, bonds or trust funds this will satisfy the financial requirement provided you provide the following evidence/ documentation:
- The cash value of the funds in that form or before the beginning of the 6 months’ period
- That you had sole control over the funds for the full 6 months prior to the date of application.
- A portfolio report or similar documentation from a financial institution confirming the above.
You can also rely on the proceeds of sale from a property you owned within the 6 months prior to the date of application if you can provide specified evidence.
If the settlement visa applicant is in the UK with permission to work, or their sponsor is employed overseas or in the UK at the date of application, the following documents must be submitted in support of the application:
- Letter from your current employer(s) confirming your salary, position, start date, and type of employment (fixed-term, temporary, permanent)
- Payslips covering the relevant period relied upon for the application;
- Bank statements evidencing your income from your employment;
- A confirmed offer of employment in the UK if the sponsor is overseas with the applicant at the date of application.
If your partner is in receipt of any of the following benefits or allowances in the UK, you may be able to meet the financial requirement at that application stage by providing evidence of “adequate maintenance” rather than meeting an income threshold:
- Carer’s Allowance
- Disability Living Allowance
- Severe Disablement Allowance
- Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit
- Attendance Allowance
- Personal Independence Payment
- Armed Forces Independence Payment, or Guaranteed Income Payment under the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme
- Constant Attendance Allowance, Mobility Supplement, or War Disablement Pension under the War Pensions Scheme
- Police Injury Pension
The applicant is applying for a partner settlement visa on the basis of their marriage to a British Citizen and has no dependent children. The applicant’s partner works in the UK. He has been employed for over 7 months and receives a gross annual income of £15,000. They receive non-employment income from a rental property which they have owned for 9 years, and receive a gross income of £800 per month from rental property income, therefore the financial requirement is met. The applicant and partner’s total annual income is therefore £24,600 so, by using a combination of different incomes the financial requirement of £18,600 can be met.
Cash Savings derived from the proceeds of sale of a dwelling property
The applicant is applying for a partner settlement visa on the basis of their civil partnership with a British Citizen. The applicant and her partner have recently sold their house and have £72,000 in cash savings in their joint bank account.
In order to satisfy the 6 months’ criteria for cash savings the applicant must provide documents to confirm that the property was owned at the beginning of the 6 months prior to the date of application by the applicant, their partner, or both jointly.
Therefore, the applicant will have to provide the following documents:
- Proof of ownership of the property confirming when the property was purchased;
- Documentation evidencing that the funds deposited as cash savings are the net proceeds of the sale, once any mortgage or loan secured on the property (or relevant share of the property) has been repaid and once any taxes and professional fees associated with the sale have been paid.
Combining cash savings with income
If you need to combine your income with cash savings to meet the financial requirement, you would be required to have savings in the amount of 2.5 times your annual shortfall plus £16,000. For example, if your sponsor is employed at the date of application and earns £15,000 per annum you would need savings of at least £25,000 to meet the financial requirement as their annual shortfall is £3,600 x 2.5 = £9,000 + £16,000 = £25,000 if there are no dependent children applying with you. If you do not receive any permissible income whatsoever, then you would be required to show that you have at least £62,500 in savings to meet the financial requirement as your annual shortfall is £18,600 x 2.5 = £46,500 + £16,000 = £62,500.
The process for submitting an UK visa application can be quite simple considering everything is done correctly.
Difficulty arises when considering which UK visa applies to you as there are different types of visas you can apply for. Some people tend to submit the wrong visa application because they are not aware of what visa to apply for therefore leading to a refusal. At Muldoon Britton, we provide a consultation with the client, discuss the different option they have and then advise them on what visa is best for them.
For a UK Visa there are 5 vital steps included in all applications:
Step 1: We will send you a questionnaire and supporting documents checklist for you to complete and return to us.
Step 2: Complete the correct online application form. Once this is complete we will send you a draft to review before we submit this.
Step 3: Once the online application has been submitted we will call you to book your biometric appointment at a place, date and time convenient for you.
Step 4: Prepare the supporting documents bundle for your application.
Step 5: Submit your application and bundle of documents to the relevant visa centre.
You may have a right of appeal if your application for a UK visa is refused. To submit an Appeal, you provide evidence that the entry clearance office or Home Office employee:
- didn’t apply the correct law or wrongly interpreted the law
- didn’t follow the correct procedures
- had no evidence or not enough evidence to support its decision
The process of an appeal is as follows:
- Applicant submits Appeal – usually within 28 days from the date that they received the decision
- The First-tier Tribunal will inform the visa section that an appeal has been received by sending a IAFT-11 (receipt) and IAFT-2 form. They will request the visa section to review the decision and, if upheld, to prepare an Appeal Bundle.
- On receipt of the Tribunal’s IAFT forms and Entry Clearance Manager (ECM) will review the application. At this stage, two things can happen: The ECM agrees that they have made an error and will issue visa to the client
- The ECM agrees with the original refusal decision and the visa section will prepare an Appeal bundle which must be sent to the Tribunal:
- If the ECM agrees with the refusal decision, then the Tribunal will log your appeal on the system and this will be scheduled for either an oral hearing or in writing.
- The Judge will notify the Tribunal of their decision and this will be sent to the decision directly. If upheld, then the visa section will have 8 weeks to process your visa.
The process of an appeal is lengthy and you are advised that this can take up to 18 months depending on the ECM’s decision. Therefore, if you believe your application has been refused due to an error of the Visa section and you have been given the right to appeal.