Partner visas explained

Bhavneeta Limbachia, Senior associate in the Russell-Cooke Solicitors, immigration law team.
Bhavneeta Limbachia
3 min Read

The partner visa immigration route allows a spouse, civil partner, fiancé or unmarried partner to enter or remain in the UK on the basis of their family life with a person who is a British citizen, settled in the UK, has refugee leave or with humanitarian protection, leave to remain under Appendix EU or limited leave to remain as a worker or business person under Appendix ECAA Extension of Stay.

What are some of the key requirements for a partner visa?

Some of the key requirements (this list is not exhaustive) to enter and remain on a partner visa include the following:

  • applicants must meet the requirements of suitability. These requirements are based on the applicant’s character, criminal background and conduct (for example paying relevant charges in accordance to NHS regulations for overseas visitors and following other immigration practicalities); and

  • applicants must meet the eligibility requirements. These include the following:
    • applicant and their partner must have met in person;
    • applicant and their partner must be in a genuine and subsisting relationship;
    • applicant and their partner must intend to live together in the UK permanently;
    • applicants who are married must be in a valid marriage;
    • applicants who are unmarried must be able to demonstrate that they have been cohabiting together in a relationship akin to a marriage or civil partnership for at least two years;
    • applicants who have a fiancé or proposed civil partner must demonstrate that they are seeking entry to enable their marriage to take place;
    • applicant and/or partner must be able to demonstrate gross annual income of at least £18,600. An additional amount of income would need to be demonstrated if the applicant and/or partner has a dependent child/children;
    • applicants must meet the English language requirement; and
    • applicants must meet the accommodation requirement

Length of partner visa

Applicants granted a partner visa should receive leave to enter or remain in the UK for two and a half years. Applicants wishing to remain in the UK on a partner visa would be granted a further two and a half years, which would be a total of five years. Applicants are able to extend their Partner visa beyond five years, if necessary.

Can the partner visa category lead to indefinite leave to remain and British citizenship in the UK?

Yes, the partner visa can lead to indefinite leave to remain in the UK (also known as “settlement”) after five years if the holder meets all of the relevant suitability and eligibility criteria.

Applicants can apply for British citizenship in the UK immediately thereafter if married to a British citizen. Those that are not married to a British citizen will need to wait for 12 months from the date indefinite leave to remain has been granted before they can apply. Eligibility criteria should be met for British citizenship applications. 

Is it possible to switch into this visa category?

Applicants can switch into a partner visa if they are already in the UK on another type of visa so long as they are not a visitor, do not have six months or less leave to remain in the UK (unless in the UK as a fiancé, proposed civil partner or leave to remain pending the outcome of family court or divorce proceedings), not on immigration bail and not in breach of immigration laws. There are some exceptions.

Specified supporting documents

There is a very strict approach in relation to providing specified supporting documents for a partner visa application. If these mandatory documents are not provided in support of the application it will most likely be refused.

Further questions regarding partner visa applications?

Partner visa applications can be complex (especially when it comes to meeting the financial requirement) and if you have any further questions about this or any other immigration matters please contact our immigration team.

Briefings Individuals & families Immigration law