UK Visas for Partners of British Citizens
Bringing a partner into the UK can be a complex business. The press is awash with stories about couples, often with children or other dependants, who have fallen foul of convoluted immigration rules that operate in this area. However, appropriate specialist advice can do much to ease the process.
The entry routes for partners
The commonly used term, “spouse visa” is something of a misnomer. Partners, including spouses, can enter the UK under many different categories, and it is essential to know which applies to your situation to strengthen the prospects of the application succeeding. This is likely to require specialist immigration advice, particularly as there is now limited ability to switch between visa categories following entry to the UK. The categories include entry:
- As the partner of a British citizen or person settled in the UK (this applies to spouses, civil-partners, same-sex partners and fiancé(e)s).
- Via the EEA family permit,
- Through family reunion, for family members of refugees, and holders of humanitarian protection; or
- For dependants of Points Based Migrants, including those in the UK under Tier 1 (high net worth and exceptional talent), Tier 2 (sponsored workers) and Tier 4 (students).
Financial requirements for partners of British and settled people
- Sponsors of British citizens or persons settled in the UK must meet a specified, minimum income requirement before a visa can be granted. This means the sponsoring partner must either:
- Applications will generally need to be made from outside the UK.
- have a minimum annual income (before tax) from UK-based employment or self-employment (and be capable of proving that this income has been received for a minimum of six months prior to the visa application); or
- be capable of meeting the threshold in other prescribed ways. These include having cash savings that exceed £16,000; money from a pension or; non-work income from, for example, dividends or property
The minimum income requirement may be waived where the application shows that there are exceptional circumstances which, if the application is refused could lead to a breach of the right to a family life, or result in unjustifiably harsh consequences for the applicant, their partner or a relevant child. Further information about exceptional circumstances can be found on our website.
Where the financial requirement applies, the minimum annual income varies according to whether the application is being made only for a spouse or for a spouse and a dependent child or children. Although the minimum annual income is open to short notice change, this has not happened since it was first introduced in 2012 and there is no suggestion that this will happen in the near future.
The minimum income requirement does not apply to those individuals with refugee status or humanitarian protection, or EEA or Points Based applications.
Why might an application be rejected?
The Immigration rules specify exactly which documents should be included with partner applications. Applications for partner visas and permission to remain in the UK will be rejected due to a lack of the correct supporting documentation as specified in the Immigration Rules.
What happens if a visa application is rejected?
For some categories of applicant, it is possible to appeal the refusal decision. This is a further complex and lengthy procedure. Even where an appeal is possible, it is sensible to assume that the process will take at least six to nine months – longer periods are not unheard of. For anyone who has not already done so, it is prudent to seek independent specialist advice before appealing, and to do so as early as possible.
Joining British Citizens and settled family members
Are you the family member of a British Citizen or someone who has settled status (indefinite leave to remain), do you wish to come and join them in the UK, or remain here with them indefinitely? It is possible, but the application process can be complex.
Immigration law changes regularly and often at short notice. Our Immigration specialists keep always stay updated with changes in the law so that you can be confident that the advice you receive is reliable.
Individuals hoping to join partners (fiancé(e)s, married, unmarried and civil), parents, or children in the UK may be able to apply under Appendix FM of the Immigration Rules. Such applications require that individuals meet various General, Suitability and Eligibility requirements. Appendix FM also allows for bereaved partners and victims of domestic violence to settle in the UK.
Where applications for partners and children do not meet the General, Suitability and Eligibility requirements, they may be able to request consideration under the Appendix FM Exceptions.
Our Immigration Solicitors can advise on the application process to ensure that you understand the responsibilities placed on you, and to increase your chances of success.
Joining family members from the European Economic Area
Where your family member is not British or settled, but is a European Union citizen, you may be able to join, or remain with them under European Union law.
Your European Union national family member must be exercising treaty rights through employment, self-employment, financial self-sufficiency or study for you to be able to join them. Information on the rights of European Union Nationals in the UK can be found here.
Married partners, children and parents can join the EU national family member. Other family members may also be able to join the EU family member in the UK but the legal and evidential requirements can be complex.
Some family members of European Union nationals are able to retain rights out of their relationships, or their right to remain in the UK may derive out of their relationship with a European Union family member, e.g. carers of British Citizen children or dependent family members.
If you are unsure as to which category of European Union law applies to you or your family member’s situation, or if you need advice on the application forms, or documents needed to support an application, Clifford Johnston Law will be happy to help.
Joining Points Based System Migrant Family Members
Partners and children of Points Based System Migrants can apply to come to the UK to live with their family member who is working, or studying here, or apply to join them following their entry to the UK. Your family member may be here under Tier 1, Tier 2, or Tier 5 of the Points based system.
You must be able to show your family relationship with your Points based migrant family member and that you and each dependant family member can be financially supported while you remain in the UK with them.
Certain categories of Students (Tier 4 of the Points Based System) are allowed to invite family members to join them in the UK.
If you require further information on the application process and supporting documents, please contact our solicitors.
Joining Refugee Family Members and Family Members with Humanitarian Protection / Family Reunion
Where you have family members in the UK who have obtained international protection, e.g. refugee status following a successful asylum claim, or Humanitarian Protection, you may be able to come and join them in the UK. This process is called Family Reunion.
In order to succeed with an application for Family Reunion, you must be able to show that you are the family member of the person who has succeeded in obtaining international protection in the UK and that you were separated before your family member was forced to flee the country.
When you might have faced years of separation, proving your relationship might be difficult and you might be unsure of the documents you need. Clifford Johnston Solicitors can guide you through the process and advise on the documents the Home Office, UK Visas and Immigration require as evidence to support of an immigration application.
Visit visas allow family members to come to the UK for up to 6 months, these are known as standard visit visas. If you wish to visit family or friends in the U.K. you must be able to meet the requirements of Appendix V of the Immigration Rules which holds a number of Eligibility requirements. You can come to visit friends or family whether they are British, settled or have time limited stay.
Visit visas are not restricted to tourist visas, click here to find out more about other categories of visit visas.
Our solicitors can advise you on the application requirements and procedure. If you require support with the application our immigration specialists can explain the documents needed in your individual application, complete the application forms and provide supporting written representations tailored to your individual situation.
There is no right of appeal against refusals of visit visas. If you have received a refusal of a visit visa, our solicitors can advise you on the potential challenges available to you,or explore alternative options with you.
How can we help?
At Clifford Johnston, our experienced immigration Solicitors in Manchester understand the constant shifting landscape of immigration law. We will help you understand which visa applies to your situation and ensure that the application process proceeds smoothly, to maximise your chances of success. Equally, if you need help with an appeal, we will assist you with challenging the decision within the prescribed time-frame. Please contact our Immigration team online or call our Manchester office.