Top tips: Proving you have a genuine relationship in your partner visa application

Morton Fraser Senior Solicitor Averil Trimble
Averil Trimble
Senior Solicitor
28 December 2023
Individuals and Families

Making a partner visa application is personal for many reasons, but it can feel very personal when weighing up which personal documents will satisfy the Home Office that your relationship is genuine.

 It can also be difficult to work out what to provide when much of our communication and our life admin is now online.  

The way that we communicate with one another has changed over the years, but the immigration rules have not changed at the same speed.  In partner visa applications - whether applying as a spouse, unmarried partner or as a fiancé - the Home Office asks you to prove that your relationship is 'genuine and subsisting' and that you have met in person.  Behind this is the Home Office's need to detect sham relationships which are for obtaining a UK visa only, though it is something that all applicants must satisfy to avoid your application being refused.

In the past, the Home Office expected itemised telephone bills, date stamped photographs, love letters with dated postal marks, and volumes of original post through our doors.  From an environmental point of view, it is positive we no longer amass paper records but where does that leave us in terms of the visa rules? 

For those married or in a civil partnership, the legal record is needed accompanied by a certified English translation if necessary.  For those who are engaged to be married, you can provide any enquiries, bookings or receipts in connection to your UK wedding.  Unmarried partners need to provide evidence of living together for at least 2 years.  However, we also recommend that you check if you can also provide as much as possible of the following:

  • Original dated correspondence you have both received to your shared home address if you have lived together.  You may have a record of updating your bank or other organisations that you have changed address, even if you have not received correspondence yet.  You may be able to approach organisations to ask for a letter confirming the address they hold on record for you.
  • Downloaded text file from an online app of your communication with one another.  Screenshots of any online chats or text messages can also help verify the text file is accurate.
  • If you use social media, print outs showing a timeline of your interactions online
  • Photographs of you both spanning the period you have been in a relationship, however the Home Office guidance is now that such evidence should be limited and there is no need to provide large numbers of photographs
  • You can provide signed statements, confirming in your own words that you are in a genuine relationship.  This is not sufficient on its own but can be helpful if accompanied by other evidence. 
  • Travel receipts showing shared trips or travels to see each other
  • If you have any children with your partner, your children's birth certificates and passports help demonstrate the length of your relationship and long-term commitment to one another
  • Letters from family and friends detailing your relationship accompanied by a copy of their own passport
  • If you hold a joint bank account or have any joint financial commitments, you can provide paperwork showing your joint names

Other top tips to help you with meeting this requirement are:

  • I strongly recommend that you avoid redacting your documents (that is censoring your documents, for example because of concerns it contains your confidential information).  There is a risk that the Home Office could discount it as evidence if it has been altered
  • Reducing the digital files of your supporting documents to under 5 MB so that you don't have problems with uploading them to the Home Office as you are given limited space for uploads

Before you can live in the same country or due to other commitments keeping you apart, it can be difficult to evidence your relationship at the point of making a visa application, and that is before you consider the other visa requirements. Please get in touch with our dedicated immigration law experts if we can be of help.


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