Spouses and Partners

Non-EEA nationals who seek leave to enter- remain or settle as a family member of a British citizen or settled person may apply for visas on the application of the British or settled person sponsoring them to join them in the UK. They must prove they are earning a minimum income of £18,600 pounds and that they have adequate accommodation for the partner.

Thresholds are higher if they are also applying for dependent children to join them in the UK. A further gross additional income of £3,800 for the first child and £2,400 for each subsequent child is required, subject to limited discretionary exceptions.

Foreign partners and spouses must wait five years before they become eligible for permanent settlement. Since 2012, it is no longer sufficient to show that they have been living overseas with their British spouse or settled sponsor.

Both the citizen / settled person and his partner/spouse must be

  • over 18,
  • have met in person,
  • have a genuine relationship which is subsisting,
  • be capable of marrying if not married
  • if married or in a civil partnership, it must be valid under UK law
  • meet suitability requirements,
  • any previous relationship must have  permanently broken down,
  • intend to live together permanently in the UK,
  • meet the English language requirement,
  • meet the financial requirement
  • if in the UK and wish to extend leave, meet the suitability requirement.

Permission is given to live in the UK for 2.5 years. A further 2.5 years’ extension may be granted. After five years the person may apply for settlement in the UK.

They are not eligible if they entered the UK initially as a visitor or with permission to stay less than six months, on temporary admission or in breach of immigration rules.


A child is a person under 18 years of age. Illegitimate and adopted children are included. Generally, a child may not settle in the UK unless both parents are settled or have been given permission to settle. This does not apply when

  • one parent is dead and the other is settled or coming to settle in the UK.
  • one parent is settled or coming to settle and there are serious reasons why the child must be allowed to come.
  • the parent who is settled or is coming to settle has sole responsibility for the child’s upbringing or the child normally lives with that parent and not the other parent.

Parents include step-parents, both parents of an illegitimate child and adoptive parents in specified circumstances.

A child may not be eligible if he is living an independent life, married, has formed an independent family unit or is over 18.

There must be evidence of accommodation whereby the child and parents can live without public support from public funds.

Partners and Dependents Point Based Visas

Partners and dependents of persons who have a points-based visa may apply to join the person in the UK. They may apply for settlement personally in conjunction with the person they are entering with or whom they come to join.

A partner or dependent child who enters the UK in most categories outside the point based system can apply for a visa to join that person in the UK. Evidence must be provided that the migrant worker has the ability to support the family member without state benefits and without recourse to other public funds.

It must be shown that the applicant migrant worker

  • intends to live with the family member during their stay and that the relationship is genuine
  • that they have not formed an independent family unit and
  • are not leading an independent life if under 18 years of age.

Adult dependent relatives must be over 18. They may be a parent, grandparent, sibling or child of a UK citizen or of a person settled in the UK who needs long-term personal care to perform everyday tasks which is not available in the country of residence either because it is not available or there is no person in that country who can reasonably provide it or it is not affordable.

The resident UK migrant must prove that he is able to provide adequate maintenance accommodation and care for the adult dependent relative without recourse to public funds. He must sign an undertaking to be responsible for care without relying on any public funds for at least five years.

A parent of a child who is under 18 and living in the UK who is a British citizen or settled in the UK may apply for a family visa. The person concerned must be the sole person responsible for the child or the child normally lives with that person and not the other parent. If the parent or carer that the child normally lives with is a British citizen or settled, but is not the applicant’s partner, the person may qualify if they do not qualify for entry as a partner.

The applicant must have sole responsibility for the well-being of the child and will take and continue to take an active role in the child’s upbringing. The applicant must be over 18 and meet the English language requirement and be able to maintain and accommodate himself or herself without relying on public funds.

The application can be made from within the UK if the applicant is not in the UK as a visitor with permission to say for less than six months or on temporary admission. The child must not have turned 18 since first granted entry or leave to remain. If the child has turned 18 since granting entry or leave to remain, he must not have formed his own family unit or live an independent life.

The applicant is permitted to stay for 30 months, which can be extended for a further thirty months. Settled status can be applied for after five years. Permission may be obtained alternatively on the basis of private or family life after ten years.

Private Life Basis

Persons who have resided in the UK for a period and have formed ties may apply for settlement subject to conditions. A right of residence may be granted if the person has spent 10 continuous years lawful residence on the following conditions.

  • granting leave is not against the public interest.
  • pass the language and life requirement test
  • not within other grounds of refusal
  • not in the UK in breach of immigration laws except for a period of overstaying of 28 days or less
  • have not been absent from the UK for more than 180 days or spent a total of 540 days outside the UK during the 10-year period,
  • do not have broken permission to remain in the UK,
  • do not have unspent convictions.

The fourteen-year rule was abolished in 2012. Persons who were granted extensions of leave prior to that date may be considered for a settlement visa under the earlier rules.

A person who seeks to remain in the UK on the basis of private life may do so on the following basis.

  • they do not fall to be refused on other grounds of refusal
  • they have lived for at least 20 continuous years excluding periods spent in prison

A person under 18 years who seeks to remain in the UK on the basis of private life may do so on the following basis.

  • if they are under 18, have lived continuously for at least seven years excluding time spent in prison and
  • it would not be reasonable to expect them to leave the UK.
  • they are 18 years or over and under 25 and have spent at least half their life continuously in the UK excluding time in prison.
  • over 18 years and have lived in the UK continuously for not less than 20 years excluding time spent in prison and have no ties including social, cultural level family with their country of origin to which they would go if required to leave the UK.
  • there are exceptional circumstances requiring a grant of leave to remain in the UK.

Commonwealth Citizen with UK Ancestry

A Commonwealth citizen with  UK ancestry may apply for a visa on the basis of such ancestry. If granted, the visa holder may stay in the UK for up to five years and may then apply for a settlement visa. They may bring dependents to the UK if they can support them, but have recourse to public funds.

Persons potentially eligible must

  • be over 17 years,
  • be a Commonwealth citizen,
  • be able to work and plan to work in the UK and show that they can adequately support and accommodate themselves and dependents without recourse to public funds.
  • show that at least one grandparent was born in the UK including the Channel Islands or born before 31st March 1922 in what is now the Republic of Ireland or on a British registered ship or aircraft.

The relationship can be claimed through a legitimate or illegitimate line. Adopted children are children are deemed children of the adopter.

Retired Person Visa

New retirement visas have been abolished. A person who has been

  • been living in the UK on a Retired Person visa for a continuous period of at least 5 years
  • £25,000 annual income under your control
  • proof that you can support yourself and your dependents without using public funds
  • close connections in the UK, for example, family members settled in this country or long periods of residence

If the applicant is18 to 64 years old when he applies, he must also pass the Life in the UK Test and an English language test.

A partner may qualify if all of the following apply:

  • relationship is genuine
  • intend to live together
  • enough income to support both and  dependants
  • not using public funds

They must pass the Life in the UK Test and an English language test

The child of  the holder of the above status can apply if they:

  • are under 18 (or were given a visa as a child under 18)
  • are not married or in a civil partnership
  • will live with be supported by the holder without using public funds

The holder child’s other parent must both be in the UK legally, or currently applying to enter, remain or settle, for the child to be allowed to settle. The  child can also apply to settle in one of the following situations:

  • the holder is the child’s sole surviving parent
  • the holder has sole responsibility for the child’s upbringing
  • there are serious or compelling family or other considerations,

If they’ve turned 18 by the time of the application,  they must pass the Life in the UK Test and an English language test.

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