Whereas it was commonplace to meet a partner or spouse close to where we live, the ease of global travel has made it increasingly likely that we might meet them in another country. As immigration solicitors, we help many people who have met the person of their dreams overseas and now wish to bring them back to the UK. We were recently asked by a person settled in the UK about the process and requirements of bringing their girlfriend and her teenage son to the UK to live. In this article, we will explain the requirements of bringing a partner of a person settled in the UK to live here with their teenage child.
Do I need to be married to my foreign partner?
There is no requirement to be married to your foreign partner for them to secure a family visa to live in the UK, however, there are some requirements that must be met. Firstly, the person in the UK must meet one of the following criteria:
- be a Irish or British citizen
- have settled in the UK – for example, they have indefinite leave to remain, settled status or proof of permanent residence
- be from the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein and have pre-settled status – they must have started living in the UK before 1 January 2021
- have a Turkish Businessperson visa or Turkish Worker visa
- have refugee status or humanitarian protection in the UK
Secondly, the foreign national and the person in the UK must fit into one of the following requirements:
- be a civil partnership or marriage that’s recognised in the UK
- have been living together in a relationship for at least two years prior to applying
- intend to get married within six months of arrival
What are the other requirements for a partner family visa in the UK?
There are two other requirements that must be met in addition to the relationship criteria.
English language requirement
The foreign national must have sufficient knowledge of the English language. This does not apply to children under 18, those over 65 years, or to those from one of the following countries:
Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Malta, New Zealand, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, USA.
To meet the language criteria, if you do not fit the above, you will need to pass an English language test of at least level A1 on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) scale.
Minimum income requirement
Applicants must show evidence of at least £18,600 per year in income. For those with children, an extra £3,800 per year is needed for the first child and an extra £2,400 for each additional child. This financial requirement can be met by employed or self-employed income, cash savings over £16,000, non-work income (e.g. income from a rental property), and pensions. If you have enough cash savings, it is possible to reduce or even remove the income requirement; to work this out, take the amount of savings and minus £16,000, and divide that amount by 2.5. So £18,500 would reduce the income requirement by £1,000 per year, and £62,500 in savings removes it completely.
Can my partner’s child join them to live in the UK?
Yes, eligible children of foreign partner’s can be included on the same family visa application to live in the UK. The rules state that to be eligible, children must be ‘dependant’; this means they are under 18, and they do not live an independent life (i.e. to be included on the application, they cannot be married, have left home, or had their own children). There is an exception to the leaving home rule; if they live away from the family home in an educational setting (i.e. as a boarder).
Can my partner and their child gain permanent residency in the UK?
Family visas are typically granted for two years and nine months, and this can be further extended by the same amount of time. After living in the UK continuously for five or more years, the foreign partner and their child can then apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR). ILR is the same as permanent residency and allows the holder to remain in the UK without being subject to immigration control. And the good news is that after a further year, they can both apply to be citizens of the UK.
What happens if the relationship ends?
It is important to note that family visas depend on the relationship on which the visa was granted remaining in place. In the situation that the relationship comes to an end between the UK based person and their foreign partner, assuming the latter is still on a visa, and they are not yet eligible for ILR, then they will need to apply for another visa (e.g. work visa or student visa), or leave the country. It is always advisable for partners in this situation to seek help from an immigration solicitor, who can explain the options available and help them make the next steps.
The process of applying for a partner visa through the family visa route in the UK is relatively straightforward as long as the main requirements of relationship, English language ability, and minimum income are met. The most important aspect of all such applications is proving to the Home Office that the relationship between the UK based person and their foreign partner is genuine. Home Office officials are extremely alert to the possibility of ‘sham’ marriages/relationships; hence it is important to provide plenty of evidence of having lived together and your plans to live together in the UK. If you have any concerns regarding your application or that of your partner, it is advisable to engage an immigration solicitor who can review your case, the completed form, and the documents you intend to provide before they are submitted. This will give you the peace of mind that your application has the best chance of success and being reunited with your loved ones.
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