Who can apply for a partner visa?
A partner visa is regularly referred to as a spouse visa, but it isn’t just for married partners. It is possible to apply for this type of visa if:
You are married;
You are in a civil partnership;
You are engaged; or
You have been living together for 2 consecutive years. The Rules refer to having lived together as “husband and wife” but unmarried partners can also apply.
Does my partner need to be British?
In most cases, the partner of the Applicant (also called the Sponsor) is British but it is possible for someone with Indefinite Leave to Remain to sponsor this type of visa. It is also possible for someone with Refugee Status or Humanitarian Protection to act as the sponsoring partner.
What are the requirements for the visa?
As part of the application you have to show:
- You meet one of the partner definitions listed above;
Your relationship is genuine;
You have somewhere to stay in the UK;
You meet the financial requirement;
You speak English to the required level; and
In some cases a medical certificate is needed as well.
The exact requirements can vary depending on the Applicant’s nationality and location at the time of the application.
Is it an easy visa to get?
Like all UK visas, the partner visa category has a relatively high refusal rate. Rules introduced in 2012 mean the Home Office can only grant applications if the correct documents are lodged with an application and this has led to a number of refusals.
However, we have a high success rate with applications and as long as someone makes sure they are submitting the correct evidence then the application has good prospects for success.
Will I be interviewed as part of the process?
This is rare. I have been an immigration lawyer for nearly a decade and I cannot recall any client being interviewed when they have applied for this visa. It can happen, but it is more common for the Home Office to interview people intending to marry in the UK.
To minimise the risk of an interview, or the Home Office asking questions about a relationship, it is important to submit evidence showing a relationship is genuine. This can include evidence of trips to see each other, social media print outs, statements and letters from friends and family. What will be appropriate will depend on someone’s circumstances.
Is it an expensive visa?
Sadly this is one of the more expensive visa categories. Someone applying to come to the UK as a married partner can expect to pay over £2,500 in Home Office fees for the initial 2 ½ year visa. If the application is refused only part of this payment is refunded and there are further fees to lodge an Appeal.
How long does it take?
Processing times vary depending on the time of year. However, I usually advise clients to expect a decision in 8 – 12 weeks if they pay for the standard service. It is possible to pay for a priority service and, while this does not guarantee timescales, my experience is that it usually results in a decision in around 6 weeks.
Is the visa permanent?
Not initially. Someone who is engaged will be granted an initial 6 month visa and can then switch into the married partner route once they’re married.
A married or unmarried partner will receive an initial 2 ½ year visa, and once they complete 5 years in the UK they can apply for a permanent visa (known as indefinite leave to remain).
What are the most common reasons for refusal?
Fortunately, we don’t receive many refusals but we do get asked to help people who have been refused. In most cases refusals are due to people submitting the wrong documents, or documents in the wrong format. This is an expensive mistake but it can usually be fixed in a fresh application.
In some cases the refusal relates to whether a relationship is genuine and it is necessary to appeal the decision which can be a lengthy and expensive process.
How can you help?
We are experts at dealing with this type of visa, and we offer different support packages to help people through the process. Our one-off advice packages start at £325 + VAT, but we can also offer support with preparing and submitting applications. Our packages are designed to help reduce the stress of making an application, and give you peace of mind that your application is likely to be granted.
If you would like to know how we can help with your application please get in touch.