Getting a visa for your partner to live in the UK
If you want your husband, wife or partner to come and live with you in the UK, they might need to get a visa - it depends where you’re from.
If you’re from the EU, Norway, Switzerland, Iceland or Liechtenstein
If you arrived in the UK by 31 December 2020, your partner might be able to apply for pre-settled or settled status from the EU Settlement Scheme. It’s free and easier than applying for a visa.
Your partner might be able to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme even if they weren’t in the UK by 31 December 2020.
Check which countries are in the EU and EEA on GOV.UK if you’re not sure.
If you were born in Northern Ireland
Your partner might be able to apply for pre-settled or settled status from the EU Settlement Scheme. It's free and easier than applying for a visa.
Your partner can apply for pre-settled or settled status if you have British or Irish citizenship - or both. You must have been living in the UK by 31 December 2020. When you were born one of your parents must have had either:
British or Irish citizenship - or both
an immigration status that let them live in the UK permanently - for example, indefinite leave to remain
Your partner can apply for a family visa to come and live with you if they’re either:
your husband, wife, civil partner, proposed civil partner or fiancé(e)
your partner who you’ve lived with for at least 2 years
They can only apply for a family visa if you have one of the following:
indefinite leave to remain or right of abode
refugee status or humanitarian protection
settled status from the EU Settlement Scheme
If you have pre-settled status
Your partner might be able to apply for a family visa. Before they apply for a family visa, you should check if your partner can apply to the EU Settlement Scheme - it’s easier and cheaper than applying for a family visa.
Your partner can’t apply for a family visa if you came to the UK after 31 December 2020 and applied to the EU Settlement Scheme as a family member. If you’re in this situation, you’ll need to wait until you get settled status before your partner can apply for a family visa.
If you’re living in the UK on a skilled worker visa, your partner will have to apply as a dependant of a Tier 2 (General) visa holderon GOV.UK.
If you're in the UK on a student visa, your partner will have to apply as a dependant of a student visa holderon GOV.UK.
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.
Coronavirus - if your visa is ending and you can’t leave the UK
If your visa expires before the end of June 2021, you need to follow the coronavirus visa guidance on GOV.UK.
You should also follow this guidance if you have a family visa (known as ‘leave to remain on the basis of family or private life’) and it expires between 1 March and 31 May 2021. You can check if you have a family visa on GOV.UK.
You’ll need to give evidence of why you can’t leave in time.
For example, you might not be able to leave the UK because:
you have a medical condition which makes you ‘extremely vulnerable’ to coronavirus – check if you’re extremely vulnerable on GOV.UK
the country you need to go to won’t let you in because of coronavirus
you can’t arrange travel in time
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
Coronavirus - changes to how the government will check your income
Normally, the government would look at your income in the 6 months before the date of your application, to check if you earn enough. The rules are different if you've earned less because of coronavirus between 1 March 2020 and 31 May 2021.
If you're employed and you've lost work or income
The government will only look at your income in the 6 months before you started earning less. This means your application won't be affected if you've earned less.
If you’ve lost your job
It’s not clear how the government will calculate your income if you’ve lost your job and haven’t got a new job yet. You should get advice from a specialist immigration adviser.
If you've been furloughed
You'll be treated as though you've earned 100% of your pay.
If you're self-employed and you've lost work or income
If you’re self-employed, the government would normally look at your income for a whole tax year. They’ll ignore any loss of income between 1 March 2020 and 31 May 2021.
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. You don't have to pay the extra charge if you’re bringing children who are British or children who have indefinite leave to remain in the UK.
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
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
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.
Paying for healthcare
If your partner is applying for a visa to stay over 6 months, they'll have to pay to use the NHS as part of their visa application. This is known as the 'immigration health surcharge'.
You can find out how much the immigration health surcharge costs on GOV.UK.
Check what other tests your partner has to take
Before your partner makes their application, they might have to:
pass an English language test – find out more about the English test on GOV.UK
get a medical test to show they don’t have Tuberculosis (TB) – find out more about the TB test on GOV.UK
Coronavirus – if your partner can’t take the English language test
Your partner can still apply for a visa if they can’t go to a language test appointment because:
test centres near them are closed
their appointment is delayed
they can’t travel because of coronavirus – for example because they’re self-isolating
They should call the Coronavirus Immigration Help Centre to explain the situation and check what they need to do next.
Coronavirus Immigration Help Centre
Telephone: 0800 678 1767
Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm
Calls are free from mobiles and landlines.
Your partner should also explain on the form why they haven’t taken the test when they apply for their visa.
Your partner might have to take the test later.
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.
Remember when filling in the application
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
Your partner will have to apply for a family visa online and then they’ll need to make an appointment at a visa application centre.
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 can:
Coronavirus - applying for visas and family permits
At the moment, some application centres are closed.
Your application is still valid if you can’t book an appointment. If you have leave to stay in the UK, this continues until you can book an appointment.
You should register with the appointment service when you apply. They’ll contact you and either:
tell you when you can book an appointment
say you don’t need an appointment and tell you to send a photo of yourself – they’ll only do this if you’re in the UK and you’ve given your fingerprints before
You can find more information about applying if you’re outside the UK 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:
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.
Coronavirus – if your partner's entering the UK from abroad
If your partner's planning to arrive in the UK, they’ll probably have to:
get tested for coronavirus within 3 days before they start their journey to the UK
fill in a form on GOV.UK with details of where they’ll stay in the UK
stay at the address they put on the form for 10 days after they arrive – this is called ‘self-isolating’
This includes if they're coming back to the UK after spending time abroad.
These rules are sometimes called ‘quarantine’ – check if they have to quarantine and how to self-isolate on GOV.UK
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.
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Page last reviewed on 11 June 2019