It’s summer: the sun is shining (sometimes, we are in Manchester after all), Love Island is back on our screens, and people all over the country are planning trips abroad. But what happens if your holiday romance this year becomes something more permanent? How can you be reunited with your love if they can’t freely travel to the UK? This blog looks at the options for overseas partners of British nationals (or those settled permanently in the UK), and considers how you can turn your summer of love into a lifetime of happiness.
Almost anyone can apply to visit the UK. If someone will be refused automatically, there should be a specific reason for that (for example, the person has serious criminal convictions). Not all nationalities must have a visit visa before travel, but citizens of many countries do need a visa. Refusals either of visit visas or of UK entry are not uncommon. Often the sticking point for a visa/border officer will be the presence of a romantic partner in the UK; this can lead to an assumption that the visitor will stay in the UK longer than they are permitted to do so.
To avoid a refusal, here are some tips you might want to follow:
- Be clear about your plans – While it is not necessary to book a return flight, this can be useful if you are presenting at the border without a visa. If applying for a visa in advance, explain how long you wish to stay in the UK and what you plan to do whilst here.
- Provide strong evidence of your links back home – Evidence of your links elsewhere help to show that you are a genuine visitor, with no intention to live in the UK. Employment, study, family, and asset ownership are all useful to establish that the visitor will return home.
- Don’t lie – It can be tempting to hide a relationship with someone living in the UK. However, lying in an application or at the border will never assist you in the long run. You may find that when later making a longer-term application, you have created problems for yourself.
Fiancées/Fiancés/proposed Civil Partners
This is a 6-month visa route, allowing an individual to relocate to the UK to marry their partner. However, unlike a visitor, a fiancée/fiancé/proposed civil partner can ‘convert’ their status to the longer-term partner route. Applicants therefore need to be careful about what they apply for:
- Fiancées/fiancés/proposed civil partners need to meet all the long-term partner rules (see below), and can extend their status in the UK;
- Visitors have fewer requirements to satisfy, but cannot extend their visit or switch to an alternative immigration category.
For those wanting to commit to long-term cohabitation in the UK, the partner route is the appropriate option. We’ve written previous blogs about partner applications, which you can view here: https://latitudelaw.com/news/preparing-the-perfect-partner-application-what-is-the-best-recipe-to-use-2/; https://latitudelaw.com/news/5-things-to-understand-about-the-august-2017-changes-to-the-immigration-rules-families-income-and-the-mm-case/.
Applicants who are considering a partner application must be aware of the following:
- You must meet the Home Office definition of a ‘partner’ before you can apply. This means having a legally recognised civil partnership or marriage, or being unmarried partners who have lived together (in the UK or abroad, or a combination of both) for at least 2 years. Note this does not necessarily have to be the last 2 years.
- There are numerous requirements to meet, including the level of UK income and minimum English language competency. If you are uncertain of the requirements or what evidence you need, take advice.
- These applications are expensive. There is a higher visa application fee (around £1500) as well as an Immigration Health Surcharge (around £600). These fees are higher than the fiancée/fiancé/proposed civil partner option (although the visa fee applies there too), and are much more than the fees payable by visitors (starting at around £90 for a single trip).