Getting a visa for your partner to live in the UK
If you or your partner are from the EU, Norway, Switzerland, Iceland or Liechtenstein
Your rights to live, work and study in the UK will change after 31 December 2020.
If you’ve already come to live in the UK by then, you’ll be able to stay by applying to the EU Settlement Scheme for ‘settled status’ or ‘pre-settled status’. You might also be eligible to apply for British citizenship.
If you arrive in the UK after 31 December 2020, you can stay for 3 months then apply to a new immigration scheme. The details of this scheme haven’t been confirmed yet.
If you have the right to live in the UK permanently, you can apply for your partner to come and live with you. They have to be either:
your husband, wife, civil partner, proposed civil partner or fiancé(e)
partner who you’ve lived with for at least 2 years
If you’re living in the UK on your own visa, your partner will have to either:
If you’re a refugee or have humanitarian protection, your partner will need to apply for family reunion on GOV.UK.
The rules are different for each type of partner but you’ll always have to show you have enough money to support them and prove your relationship is genuine.
Your partner can apply from outside the UK. They can also apply from inside the UK as long as they:
- were given leave to remain in the UK for more than 6 months
- aren’t in the UK on a visit visa
- aren’t applying as a fiancé(e)
If their original visa was for 6 months or less, they won’t be allowed to switch to a partner visa while still in the UK. They’ll need to leave the UK and apply to re-enter as a partner.
If your partner or fiancé(e) joins you in the UK based on your right to stay in the UK, you are known as their ‘sponsor’.
Check how much you need to be earning
You need to be earning a certain amount, or have enough savings, in order to bring your partner to the UK to live. This is called ‘meeting the financial requirement’.
You don’t need to meet the financial requirement if you have refugee status or humanitarian protection.
If you do need to meet the financial requirement, you’ll need to prove that you earn a minimum annual income (before tax). The amount depends on who you're applying for.
If you’re just bringing your partner and no children, you’ll need an income of at least £18,600 per year before tax. If your partner is bringing children with them you’ll need to earn an extra £3,800 for the first child, and an extra £2,400 for each child after that.
If you’re bringing children and your partner is already in the UK, you’ll still need to show your income is £18,600 plus the extra amounts for your children.
Your income can be a combination of:
- earnings from employment or self-employment - but only if you’re working in the UK
- a pension
- maternity, paternity, adoption or sick pay
- other income such as from rent or shares
If your income is less than you need, you can use cash savings to meet the financial requirement. You’ll need £16,000 plus £2.50 for every £1 your income is below the financial requirement. The savings must have been in your name for 6 months or more.
Josh is applying for a visa to bring his husband and child to the UK. The financial requirement for a partner and 1 child is £22,400.
Josh earns £15,700 per year - his income is £6,700 below the financial requirement. Josh can use savings to meet the requirement - he needs £16,000 plus £2.50 for every £1 his income is below the financial requirement. The extra amount is 2.5 x £6,700 = £16,750
In total, Josh needs £16,000 + £16,750 = £32,750.
If your partner is applying from abroad, their savings can count towards the financial requirement but their earnings won’t. If your partner is currently working in the UK, their earnings will count too.
If you’re applying for a fiancé(e) visa your partner won’t be able to work in the UK.
Read full details about meeting the financial requirement on GOV.UK. If you’re not sure if you meet the financial requirement, you should get help from a specialist immigration adviser.
You won't need to meet this financial requirement if you have one or more of the following benefits:
- Disability Living Allowance
- Severe Disablement Allowance
- Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit
- Attendance Allowance
- Carer's Allowance
- Personal Independence Payment
- Armed Forces Independence Payment or Guaranteed Income Payment under the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme
- Constant Attendance Allowance, Mobility Supplement or War Disablement Pension under the War Pensions Scheme
- Police Injury Pension
If you get one of these benefits, you'll just need to show that you receive enough money to look after your dependant - this is called ‘adequate maintenance’. How much this will be depends on your individual circumstances. You’ll need at least around £120 left per week after you’ve paid for your housing. If you have children you’ll need more than this.
In all cases, the accommodation you will share must be ‘adequate’ and have enough space for your family.
If your partner is from outside the EEA, and applying for a visa to stay over 6 months, they'll have to pay £400 per year for healthcare in the UK, as part of their visa application. This is known as the Immigration Health Surcharge.
You can find out more about Immigration Health Surcharge on .GOV.UK.
Your partner might have to pass an English language test and get a medical test to show they don’t have Tuberculosis (TB) before they make their application. You can find out more about the English test or find out more about the TB test on GOV.UK.
If your partner owes money to the NHS
Their visa will automatically be refused if they owe £500 or more.
How long the visa will last
Your partner’s visa will last for a different amount of time depending on your circumstances.
If you’re married, in a civil partnership or you’ve lived with your partner for over 2 years
Their visa will last for:
33 months if they’re applying from outside the UK
30 months if they’re applying from the UK
Before their visa runs out they can renew it for another 2 years and 6 months. If they renew it, they can apply to settle in the UK after a total of 5 years.
If you’re applying for your fiancé(e)
Their visa will last for 6 months - they must marry you or become your civil partner before this ends if they want to stay in the UK.
They can then apply as your partner for leave to remain for 2 years and 6 months. At the end of this, they can extend it again for the same length of time.
If they meet the requirements of these visas, they can apply to settle in the UK after a total of 5 years.
If you’re filling in the form for them
You can fill in the application form for your partner - you must do this online using the links above. The application has to be in their name, not yours.
The online application system doesn’t list the visas by name - you’ll have to answer some questions to find the visa you need. There’s an option to “apply for someone else” on the online form.
As part of the application process, they must have their biometrics taken (fingerprints and photograph). Check where their nearest visa application centre is before you apply, because it might be in a different country.
Make sure you put your partner’s information as the applicant’s details.
Including the right evidence
The most common reason a visa application gets rejected is because there’s not enough evidence (documents that prove your case) sent with the application.
In general, you’ll need to provide a piece of evidence to support each thing you say in the application. Every document will need to be in the exact format the application asks for. Find out more about the information you’ll need to give on GOV.UK.
Proving you’re in a genuine relationship
You’ll need to provide evidence that you’re in a genuine and continuing relationship. For example, this could include documents that show that you:
- have lived together
- have children together
- have a shared bank account or savings
- have spent time together and are in frequent contact
Making your application
You or your partner will have to apply online and then they’ll need to make an appointment at a visa application centre. You can find their nearest visa application centre on GOV.UK.
Your partner will then have to submit all their documents and evidence for their application to be processed.
The exact visa your partner needs will depend on your circumstances.
Your partner will need to apply for a family visa on GOV.UK if you’re:
- a British citizen
- a ‘settled person’ in the UK (you have ‘indefinite leave to remain’)
- getting married or entering a civil partnership in the UK and you both intend to live in the UK
If you’re an EEA national living in the UK and your partner isn’t from the EEA, they’ll need to apply for an EEA family permit on GOV.UK.
If your application is rejected
You can appeal, but only if you can prove the decision makes it impossible for you to be together. It’s very difficult to appeal and can take a long time - you should think about getting help from a specialist immigration adviser. You can:
- search for an immigration adviser
- contact your local Citizens Advice for help finding someone in your area
If your application is accepted
Your partner will get a permit that allows them to come to the UK during a 30-day period. Once they arrive they’ll have to pick up a biometric residence permit (BRP) within 10 days.
They’ll get a letter that tells them where to collect the BRP. It’s important that they collect it within 10 days - they might be fined or have their visa cancelled if they don’t.
If you have any problems you can find out more about BRPs on GOV.UK.
If your partner doesn’t arrive in the UK within the 30-day period they’ll need to apply for another 30-day entry permit. They’ll have to pay a fee for this.
If your partner arrives on a fiancé(e) visa
It’s best if they don’t leave the UK until you’ve got married or entered a civil partnership. If they leave and re-enter, they’ll need to get a new entry clearance and there’s always a chance it could be rejected.
If your marriage or civil partnership can’t happen during their 6 month visa, you can apply for an extension. You’ll have to explain why the ceremony hasn’t happened yet and give evidence to prove it’ll happen soon. You should get help from an immigration specialist with this.