The spouse, civil partner or unmarried partner of a person who is present and settled in the UK (ie a British citizen, or a person who holds settlement or refugee status) may apply for a visa on this basis. They may be able to apply from outside the UK or, in some circumstances, from within the UK. Such an application is made under British immigration law; family applications made by EEA nationals are made under European law, which is an entirely separate body of law (see “European Nationals”).
Applicants in all cases have to show that the relationship is real and genuine. This can be proved in different ways, but in the case of unmarried partners the applicant must additionally prove that they have been living with their unmarried partner for at least two years.
There is also a financial requirement that must be met. The applicant must show that either their partner or they (or between them) earn at least £18,600 per year, or that they hold sufficient savings.
There is also an English language requirement, which can be met in different ways. The applicant must either be a national of a majority English-speaking country, or must have passed a degree course taught in English, or must have passed an English language text at least to the level of CEFR A1 (which is only a basic level).
There is also a requirement to show that there is adequate accommodation available for the couple. This could be either rented or bought accommodation, but there is a minimum requirement that the couple have a bedroom of their own.
If the applicant is already in the UK they must be here legally and hold a visa of any kind that is longer than six months in duration (not, for example, a visitor visa).
If all these requirements can be met the application may be a strong one, as long as there are no issues about criminal convictions or, in the case of applicants applying from outside the UK, bad previous immigration history.
The visa is granted initially for a period of 30 months. After 30 months, and if the relationship is still intact, it may be possible for the applicant to apply for an extension which, if granted, will also be granted for 30 months. After 60 months in total (ie 5 years) the applicant may be able to apply for settlement.
Spouse/civil partner/unmarried partner visa holders are allowed to work without restriction.
Fiance(é)s/Prospective Civil Partners
An applicant may apply for a visa on the basis that they are the fiancé(e)/prospective civil partner of a person present and settled in the UK and that they are intending to get married in the UK. For this application it is very important to show that the relationship is genuine.
There is, similarly to partner visa applications, a financial requirement and an English language requirement.
The visa is granted for six months, on the basis that the marriage will take place within that period.
There is also a requirement that the applicant shows that there will be adequate accommodation for them before the wedding and also after the wedding.
When the marriage has taken place the applicant should then apply for a spouse/civil partner visa. This application can be made in the UK.
A fiancé(e)/prospective civil partner visa does not permit work.
Children (ie people under 18) of applicants may also be able to apply for a visa along with the main applicant. They have to prove the relationship to the applicant, eg with a birth certificate. There is no English language test for children, but they do have to show that there will be adequate finance and adequate accommodation for them.