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Getting a visa for your partner to live in the UK

This advice applies to England

If you want your husband, wife or partner to come and live with you in the UK, they might need to get a visa - it depends where you’re from.

If you’re from the EU, Norway, Switzerland, Iceland or Liechtenstein

You and your partner should apply to the EU Settlement Scheme to stay in the UK. It’s free and easier than applying for a visa.

You need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme by 31 December 2020. Your rights to live, work and study in the UK will change after this date.

Your partner can only apply to the scheme once they’ve arrived in the UK. 

If your partner is a citizen of the EU, EEA or Switzerland

Your partner doesn't need a visa to enter the UK. They should apply to the EU Settlement Scheme when they're in the UK.

If your partner is a citizen of a country outside the EU, EEA or Switzerland

Your partner will need to apply for an EEA family permit on GOV.UK to enter the UK. Check which countries are in the EU and EEA on GOV.UK if you’re not sure.

They should apply to the EU Settlement Scheme when they're in the UK.

If you were born in Northern Ireland

If you have British or Irish citizenship and you were born in Northern Ireland, your family members from outside the EU, EEA and Switzerland should:

  • come to the UK on an EU Settlement Scheme family permit

  • apply for pre-settled status from the EU Settlement Scheme once they’re in the UK 

It's free for your family members to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme and you don't have to meet a financial requirement to bring them to the UK. After they've been in the UK for 5 years they can apply for settled status.

Find out more about bringing family to the UK if you were born in Northern Ireland.

Check which countries are in the EU and EEA on GOV.UK if you’re not sure.

If you’re British or from a country outside the EU

If you have the right to live in the UK permanently, you can apply for your partner to come and live with you. They have to be either:

  • your husband, wife, civil partner, proposed civil partner or fiancé(e)
  • your partner who you’ve lived with for at least 2 years

If you’re living in the UK on your own visa, your partner will have to either:

If you’re a refugee or have humanitarian protection, your partner will need to apply for family reunion on GOV.UK.

The rules are different for each type of partner but you’ll always have to show you have enough money to support them and prove your relationship is genuine.

Your partner can apply from outside the UK. They can also apply from inside the UK as long as they:

  • were given leave to remain in the UK for more than 6 months
  • aren’t in the UK on a visit visa
  • aren’t applying as a fiancé(e)

If their original visa was for 6 months or less, they won’t be allowed to switch to a partner visa while still in the UK. They’ll need to leave the UK and apply to re-enter as a partner.

Coronavirus – If your visa is ending and you can’t leave the UK

If your visa expires at any time from 24 January to 31 August 2020, the Home Office will let you stay until 31 August.

You should contact the Home Office if you can’t leave by 31 August because for example:

  • the country you need to go to won’t let you in because of coronavirus
  • you can’t arrange travel in time

You should tell the Home Office using the contact details on GOV.UK. You’ll need to give evidence of why you can’t leave in time.

If your partner or fiancé(e) joins you in the UK based on your right to stay in the UK, you are known as their ‘sponsor’.

Check how much you need to be earning

Coronavirus - changes to how the government will check your income

Normally, the government would look at your income in the 6 months before the date of your application, to check if you earn enough.

If you’re earning less because of coronavirus, the rules are different at the moment. The government will only look at your income in the 6 months before 1 March 2020. This means your application won’t be affected because you’re earning less. 

If you’ve been furloughed, they’ll check if you earn enough from 100% of your pay, even if you’re only getting 80% at the moment. 

If you’re self-employed, the government would normally look at your income for a whole tax year. They’ll ignore any loss of income between 1 March 2020 and 31 August 2020.

You need to be earning a certain amount, or have enough savings, in order to bring your partner to the UK to live. This is called ‘meeting the financial requirement’.

You don’t need to meet the financial requirement if you have refugee status or humanitarian protection.

If you do need to meet the financial requirement, you’ll need to prove that you earn a minimum annual income (before tax). The amount depends on who you're applying for.

If you’re just bringing your partner and no children, you’ll need an income of at least £18,600 per year before tax.

If your partner is bringing children with them, you’ll need to earn an extra £3,800 for the first child, and an extra £2,400 for each child after that. You don't have to pay the extra charge if you’re bringing children who are British, EEA nationals or children who have indefinite leave to remain in the UK. 

If you’re bringing children and your partner is already in the UK, you’ll still need to show your income is £18,600 plus the extra amounts for your children.  

Your income can be a combination of:

  • earnings from employment or self-employment - but only if you’re working in the UK 
  • a pension
  • maternity, paternity, adoption or sick pay
  • other income such as from rent or shares

If your income is less than you need, you can use cash savings to meet the financial requirement. You’ll need £16,000 plus £2.50 for every £1 your income is below the financial requirement. The savings must have been in your name for 6 months or more.

Example

Josh is applying for a visa to bring his husband and child to the UK. The financial requirement for a partner and 1 child is £22,400.

Josh earns £15,700 per year - his income is £6,700 below the financial requirement. Josh can use savings to meet the requirement - he needs £16,000 plus £2.50 for every £1 his income is below the financial requirement. The extra amount is 2.5 x £6,700 = £16,750

In total, Josh needs £16,000 + £16,750 = £32,750.

If your partner is applying from abroad, their savings can count towards the financial requirement but their earnings won’t. If your partner is currently working in the UK, their earnings will count too.

If you’re applying for a fiancé(e) visa your partner won’t be able to work in the UK.

Read full details about meeting the financial requirement on GOV.UK. If you’re not sure if you meet the financial requirement, you should get help from a specialist immigration adviser.

You won't need to meet this financial requirement if you have one or more of the following benefits:

  • Disability Living Allowance
  • Severe Disablement Allowance
  • Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit
  • Attendance Allowance
  • Carer's 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

If you get one of these benefits, you'll just need to show that you receive enough money to look after your dependant - this is called ‘adequate maintenance’. How much this will be depends on your individual circumstances. You’ll need at least around £120 left per week after you’ve paid for your housing. If you have children you’ll need more than this.

In all cases, the accommodation you will share must be ‘adequate’ and have enough space for your family.

If your partner is from outside the EEA, and applying for a visa to stay over 6 months, they'll have to pay £400 per year for healthcare in the UK, as part of their visa application. This is known as the Immigration Health Surcharge.

You can find out more about Immigration Health Surcharge on .GOV.UK.

Check what other tests your partner has to take

Before your partner makes their application, they might have to:

Coronavirus – if your partner can’t take the English language test

Your partner can still apply for a visa if they can’t go to a language test appointment because:

  • test centres near them are closed
  • their appointment is delayed
  • they can’t travel because of coronavirus – for example because they’re self-isolating

They should call the Coronavirus Immigration Help Centre to explain the situation and check what they need to do next.

Coronavirus Immigration Help Centre
Telephone: 0800 678 1767
Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm

 

Calls are free from mobiles and landlines.

Your partner should also explain on the form why they haven’t taken the test when they apply for their visa.

Your partner might have to take the test later.

If your partner owes money to the NHS

Their visa will automatically be refused if they owe £500 or more.

How long the visa will last

Your partner’s visa will last for a different amount of time depending on your circumstances.

If you’re married, in a civil partnership or you’ve lived with your partner for over 2 years

Their visa will last for:

  • 33 months if they’re applying from outside the UK

  • 30 months if they’re applying from the UK

Before their visa runs out they can renew it for another 2 years and 6 months. If they renew it, they can apply to settle in the UK after a total of 5 years.

If you’re applying for your fiancé(e)

Their visa will last for 6 months - they must marry you or become your civil partner before this ends if they want to stay in the UK.

They can then apply as your partner for leave to remain for 2 years and 6 months. At the end of this, they can extend it again for the same length of time.

If they meet the requirements of these visas, they can apply to settle in the UK after a total of 5 years.

If you’re filling in the form for them

You can fill in the application form for your partner - you must do this online using the links above. The application has to be in their name, not yours.

The online application system doesn’t list the visas by name - you’ll have to answer some questions to find the visa you need. There’s an option to “apply for someone else” on the online form.

As part of the application process, they must have their biometrics taken (fingerprints and photograph). Check where their nearest visa application centre is before you apply, because it might be in a different country.

Make sure you put your partner’s information as the applicant’s details.

Including the right evidence

The most common reason a visa application gets rejected is because there’s not enough evidence (documents that prove your case) sent with the application.

In general, you’ll need to provide a piece of evidence to support each thing you say in the application. Every document will need to be in the exact format the application asks for. Find out more about the information you’ll need to give on GOV.UK.

Proving you’re in a genuine relationship

You’ll need to provide evidence that you’re in a genuine and continuing relationship. For example, this could include documents that show that you:

  • have lived together
  • have children together
  • have a shared bank account or savings
  • have spent time together and are in frequent contact

Making your application

You or your partner will have to apply online and then they’ll need to make an appointment at a visa application centre. You can find their nearest visa application centre on GOV.UK.

Your partner will then have to submit all their documents and evidence for their application to be processed.

The exact visa your partner needs will depend on your circumstances.

Your partner will need to apply for a family visa on GOV.UK if you’re:

  • a British citizen
  • a ‘settled person’ in the UK (you have ‘indefinite leave to remain’)
  • getting married or entering a civil partnership in the UK and you both intend to live in the UK

If you’re an EEA national living in the UK and your partner isn’t from the EEA, they’ll need to apply for an EEA family permit on GOV.UK.

Coronavirus - applying for visas and family permits

At the moment, some application centres are closed.

Your application is still valid if you can’t book an appointment. If you have leave to stay in the UK, this continues until you can book an appointment.

You should register with the appointment service when you apply. They’ll contact you and either:

  • tell you when you can book an appointment
  • say you don’t need an appointment and tell you to send a photo of yourself – they’ll only do this if you’re in the UK and you’ve given your fingerprints before

You can find more information about applying if you’re outside the UK on GOV.UK.

Find out more about appointments inside and outside the UK on GOV.UK.

If your application is rejected

You can appeal, but only if you can prove the decision makes it impossible for you to be together. It’s very difficult to appeal and can take a long time - you should think about getting help from a specialist immigration adviser. You can:

If your application is accepted

Your partner will get a permit that allows them to come to the UK during a 30-day period.

Coronavirus – if your partner's entering the UK from abroad

If your partner's planning to arrive in the UK, they’ll probably have to:

  • fill in a form on GOV.UK with details of where they’ll stay in the UK

  • stay at the address they put on the form for 14 days after they arrive – this is called ‘self-isolating’

This includes if they're coming back to the UK after spending time abroad.

These rules are sometimes called ‘quarantine’ – check if they have to quarantine and how to self-isolate on GOV.UK

Once they arrive they’ll have to pick up a biometric residence permit (BRP) within 10 days.

They’ll get a letter that tells them where to collect the BRP. It’s important that they collect it within 10 days - they might be fined or have their visa cancelled if they don’t.

If you have any problems you can find out more about BRPs on GOV.UK.

If your partner doesn’t arrive in the UK within the 30-day period they’ll need to apply for another 30-day entry permit. They’ll have to pay a fee for this.

If your partner arrives on a fiancé(e) visa

It’s best if they don’t leave the UK until you’ve got married or entered a civil partnership. If they leave and re-enter, they’ll need to get a new entry clearance and there’s always a chance it could be rejected.

If your marriage or civil partnership can’t happen during their 6 month visa, you can apply for an extension. You’ll have to explain why the ceremony hasn’t happened yet and give evidence to prove it’ll happen soon. You should get help from an immigration specialist with this.

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