How to apply for Unmarried Partner Visa: step by step

Step by Step Visa Guides

Are you thinking of applying for an Unmarried Partner visa or just interested to learn more about how to apply?

This easy to understand step by step guide simplifies the Unmarried Partner Visa application process and is especially useful for those who are looking to submit their visa application themselves along with our Do Your Own Partner Visa Pack”.

What is a UK unmarried partner visa?

An Unmarried Partner Visa allows you to stay in the UK with your partner if you are not married.

Your partner must be British or ‘present and settled’. After 5 years, this unmarried partner visa can lead to Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR).

An unmarried partner visa lasts for 30 months if the application is made inside the UK and 33 months if the application is made from outside the UK.

Now that you know what an Unmarried Partner Visa is, the next thing you need to know is what are the requirements.

Step 1 : Suitability Requirements

The suitability requirements will not apply to most people but it is vital that you check them to avoid an application refusal. We’ve put all the suitability requirements mentioned in Appendix FM into a chart below so you can quickly and easily check over them before moving onto the next step.

Will be refused

The applicant is currently the subject of a deportation order.

The presence of the applicant in the UK is not conducive to the public good because they have been convicted of an offence for which they have been sentenced to imprisonment for at least 12 months.

The presence of the applicant in the UK is not conducive to the public good because their offending has caused serious harm or they are a persistent offender who shows a particular disregard for the law.

The presence of the applicant in the UK is not conducive to the public good because conduct, character, associations, or other reasons, make it undesirable to allow them to remain in the UK.

The applicant has failed without reasonable excuse to comply with a requirement to:

  • attend an interview
  • provide information
  • provide physical data
  • undergo a medical examination
  • provide a medical report

Normally refused

Whether or not to the applicant’s knowledge:

  • false information, representations or documents have been submitted in relation to the application
  • there has been a failure to disclose material facts in relation to the application

A maintenance and accommodation undertaking has been requested and has not been provided.

The Secretary of State has given notice to the applicant and their partner under section 50(7)(b) of the Immigration Act 2014 that one or both of them have not complied with the investigation of their proposed marriage or civil partnership.

May be refused

The applicant has made false representations or failed to disclose any material fact in a previous application for entry clearance, leave to enter, leave to remain or a variation of leave, or in a previous human rights claim; or did so in order to obtain from the Secretary of State or a third party a document required to support such an application or claim (whether or not the application or claim was successful).

The applicant has previously made false representations or failed to disclose material facts for the purpose of obtaining a document from the Secretary of State that indicates that he or she has a right to reside in the United Kingdom.

The applicant has failed to pay litigation costs awarded to the Home Office.

One or more relevant NHS bodies has notified the Secretary of State that the applicant has failed to pay charges in accordance with the relevant NHS regulations on charges to overseas visitors and the outstanding charges have a total value of at least £500.

Step 2 : Relationship Requirement

To apply for an Unmarried Partner Visa, the applicant and their UK Partner must both be 18 or over.

The UK Partner must also be either:

  • a British citizen
  • settled in the UK – meaning the UK Partner has indefinite leave to remain, settled status or proof of permanent residence
  • a refugee or have humanitarian protection in the UK

The applicant will have to prove that any previous marriage or civil partnerships has permanently broken down.

The applicant and their UK partner must be in a relationship similar to marriage or a civil partnership for at least 2 years

To prove this, you must submit evidence that shows that you and your partner have cohabited for two years before your visa application was made.

Examples of what you should include:

  1. Letter from landlord’s/estate agents
  2. Items of correspondence addressed to both of you at the same address
  3. Title deeds to the relevant property

If you’re unsure of what to include, our “Do Your Own Partner Visa” service can provide you with a document checklist and template letters to help you complete the visa application yourself.

Other relationship requirements the applicant will have to prove include:

  • intention to live together permanently in the UK after you apply.
  • the relationship is genuine and subsisting
  • the applicant and their UK Partner have met each other
  • the relationship is not within the list of prohibited relationships

Read our guide to the Relationship Requirement to find out more about what each of these mean and what evidence can be provided to show the relationship requirement has been met.

Step 3 : TB Test Requirement

If you are applying from inside the UK, for example you already have a Tier 4 Student Visa, then you don’t usually have to take the TB test.

If you are making the Unmarried Partner Visa application from outside the UK then usually you will be required to take a TB test.

If you are resident in certain countries then you will need to add a TB certificate to your application before you submit it. The list of countries can be found by clicking on this link.

If the country where you are resident IS on the list then you must get your TB test certificate from a Home Office approved clinic. A TB certificate will be valid for 6 months.

If the country where you are resident is not on the list then you do not need to get a TB test certificate.

Step 4 : English Language Requirement

It is a Home Office requirement that anyone applying for an Unmarried Partner Visa must speak basic English. In order to meet the English Language requirement of your Unmarried Partner Visa application you will have to provide evidence.

The evidence that you submit could be any of the following:

The applicant can meet the English Language Requirement in the either of the following ways:

  • by passing an approved English language test in speaking and listening at (Level ‘A1’ if applying from outside the UK and Level ‘A2’ from inside the UK)
  • by being a national of a majority English speaking country
  • by having obtained an academic qualification at degree level or above  taught in English

If the degree was not awarded in the UK:

  • the qualification must be recognised by UK NARIC as being equivalent to a UK bachelor’s degree or higher; and
  • UK NARIC has provided you with a certificate confirming the degree was taught or researched in English at or above the required level.

The applicant will be exempt from the English Language Requirement if:

  • they are 65 years old or over when the application is made; or
  • they have a physical or mental condition which prevents them from meeting the requirement; or
  • there are exceptional circumstances preventing them from meeting this requirement

If you cannot demonstrate how you meet the English Language requirement or that you are exempt, your visa application will be refused.

Depending on your level of English, you may be better off taking the ‘A2’ or ‘B1’ test. The reason for this is that you will need to pass the ‘A2’ test for your UK visa extension application into an FLR M. Read our “Complete Guide to FLR M Visa”.

Similarly, you must pass the ‘B1’ test when applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain in the future.

By doing these tests now you will not only save time but also money as you can reuse the same test certificate when you extend your visa.

Read our English Language Requirement guide to get detailed information on approved English language tests and test providers.

Step 5 : Financial Requirement

If you are applying for an Unmarried Partner Visa from outside the UK only the UK Partners Income can be counted towards the financial requirement.

If you are applying from inside the UK both the applicant and their UK partner’s income can be counted.

The financial requirement will be met if:

  • The UK partner and/or the applicant has an annual income of at least £18,600; or
  • cash savings of £62,500 (cash savings under £62,500 can also be used to counteract the annual income requirement)

To learn more about cash savings and the rules on combining income and savings please read our “Cash Savings” guide.

When the applicant has dependent children that are not a UK or EEA citizen, an additional gross annual income of £3,800 is required for the first child sponsored in addition to the partner and £2,400 for each further child.

Children applying with the Partner Minimum Income Threshold
0 £18,600
1 £22,400
2 £24,800
3 £27,200

Sources of income that can be used to meet the financial requirement include:

  • employment income
  • non-employment income such as property rental income
  • cash savings above £16,000
  • pension income
  • self-employment income or as a director of a limited company in the UK

We recommend reading our Financial Requirement guide which breaks down all the different sources of income, how to calculate your annual income and what evidence needs to be provided for your visa application.

You do not need to meet the financial requirement if the UK partner receives any of the following benefits;

  • Armed Forces Independence Payment or Guaranteed Income Payment under the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme;
  • Attendance Allowance;
  • Carer’s Allowance;
  • Constant Attendance Allowance,
  • Mobility Supplement or War Disablement Pension under the War Pensions Scheme;
  • Disability Living Allowance;  
  • Industrial Injury Disablement Benefit;
  • Personal Independence Payment; or
  • Severe Disablement Allowance.

You will still need to show self-sufficiency i.e. that you and your partner can survive without having to apply for more benefits due to the partner obtaining a visa. Read our guide on Adequate Maintenance and Benefits for detailed instructions on how to meet the financial requirement.

Step 6 : Accommodation Requirement

You will need to provide evidence that the accommodation you and your partner will live in is ‘adequate’. In order to do this you must do the following:

  1. Submit documents proving you have adequate accommodation in the UK; and
  2. Submit evidence that shows that you and your partner have cohabited for two years before your visa application was made.

Read our guide to the Accommodation Requirement to understand the rules around adequate accommodation and how to meet this requirement.

The evidence that needs to be provided will depend on the following:

The applicant and their UK partner will be living in rented accommodation

  • signed and dated letter from the landlord or estate agent

The applicant and/or their UK partner owns the accommodation

  • copy of the title deeds which can be ordered from the UK Land Registry
  • letter from the mortgage provider confirming who owns the property (if the property is mortgaged)
  • Housing Report to prove that the accommodation is not overcrowded

The applicant and their UK partner will be living in a family or friend’s home

  • family or friends should write you a letter stating that they are happy and willing to allow you to live with your partner in their home
  • copy of the title deeds or mortgage letter if they own the accommodation
  • letter from their landlord if they rent the accommodation
  • Housing Report to prove that the accommodation is not overcrowded

Then you must show the following:

Evidence showing the applicant and their UK Partner have cohabited for 2 years before the application was made

Examples of acceptable items are listed below. Photocopies are not acceptable.

  • Bank Statements
  • Utility Bills / TV Licence
  • Council Tax Statement
  • NHS/GP Letters
  • HMRC Letters

If you are not sure what to include in these letters, then why not take a look at our “Do Your Own Partner Visa Pack” service where we provide you with a list of documents and template letters to help you save time.

Step 7 : Document Checklist

When applying for a Unmarried Partner Visa, your application will generally include the following sections:

  1. Application forms
  2. Applicants documents
  3. UK based sponsor’s documents
  4. UK based sponsor’s financial information
  5. Evidence of adequate accommodation
  6. Relationship Documents

Applicant’s documents

  • Passport / Travel Documents
  • TB Certificate (if applicable)
  • English Language evidence such as degree certificate or English language test certificate

UK Sponsors documents

  • UK Partners letter of support
  • UK Partners Passport or Travel Documents

UK Sponsors financial documents

Here, you will include all the required evidence demonstrating how you meet the financial requirement of the Unmarried Partner Visa application.

The financial requirement is often the most complicated part of the application. Read our guide to the Financial Requirement to identify what evidence should be included here.

Alternatively, we offer a “Do Your Own Partner Visa Pack” which is a document checklist AND professionally written template letters based on YOUR specific circumstances to help you complete the application by yourself.

Evidence of adequate accommodation

The Visa rules state that you must intend to live permanently with your UK partner and that the property where you (and any children coming with you) has enough space.

The documents you need to provide will depend on whether you are renting, staying with family/friends or you and/or your partner own the property.

Go back to Step 6 to see exactly what you would need to include here or read our guide on the Accommodation Requirement.

Relationship Documents

Examples of what you can include are:

  1. Chat logs from Facebook/WhatsApp etc
  2. Travel documents evidencing you and your partner have visited each other
  3. Photographs of you and your partner at different times throughout your relationship
  4. Letters from friends, family or someone like your Doctor confirming your relationship is genuine.
  5. Divorce certificate (if applicable)

Supporting Letters

A cover letter should be included in your Unmarried Partner Visa application. Supporting letters from the applicant and the UK partner should also be included.

These letters help to strengthen your Unmarried Partner Visa application and you can include details on the following points in these letters:

  1. The relationship between you and your partner and your wedding plans/intention to get married
  2. How you meet the relationship requirement
  3. How you meet the financial requirement
  4. How you meet the accommodation requirement.

To give yourself the best chance of success with your Unmarried Partner Visa we highly recommend our “Do Your Own Partner Visa Pack” service. VisaHelpUK will provide you with a complete document checklist and template letters created to suit YOUR circumstances.

Step 8 : Complete Appendix 2 of VAF4A form

If you are applying from outside the UK then you will need to complete this form.
You can skip this section if your visa application will be made inside the UK.

Applicants must complete Appendix 2 of VAF4A form which can be downloaded from the GOV.UK website by clicking here.

You do not have to complete every part of the form. How you meet the financial requirement will determine which parts of the form you must complete.

If you are unsure about how to complete the form read our step by step guide to Completing Appendix 2 of VAF4A form.

Step 9 : Complete Visa Application Form

The form you will need to complete will depend on if you are applying from inside or outside the UK.

The applicant may also have to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge at this stage. You can read our guide on the Immigration Health Surcharge to find out more.

You can also use this handy tool to see how much you would have to pay, if anything.

Inside the UK

You must complete the FLR M form online here.

You should only use the paper forms if you will be requesting a fee waiver for any children applying with you or for yourself.

Once you have completed payment, you will be required to make an appointment at a visa centre where you will provide your biometric information.

You can either upload your documents online or scan the documents at the visa centre. The advantage of doing this is that you can keep your original documents whilst you are waiting for a decision on your visa application.

Click here for a complete guide on making a visa application from inside the UK.

Outside the UK

Before completing the online form, check the  VFS Global website to see the visa application process in your country. Some countries will process visas differently to others.

You might be asked to send all your supporting documents to Sheffield UK or you may have to submit supporting documents in the country you are applying from.

Once you have done this, you can complete the application using our easy step by step guide.

Step 10 : Await Visa Decision

The process is different depending on whether you made your visa application from inside or outside the UK.

Applying from Outside the UK

The applicant should take all requested documents to their appointment at the visa centre.

We always recommend applicants to contact the visa centre or check the VFS Global website to confirm what documents should be taken along to the appointment.

Normally, it is just your passport and appointment booking confirmation but it is always best to double check before attending the appointment. .

At the appointment, biometric information is taken from the applicant like fingerprints and photographs.

The applicant might be asked questions regarding their relationship like how they contact their partner, where they met their partner or details about their families.

This does not always happen but it’s always best to be prepared for any questions.

However, this should not concern you too much as the questions you will be asked are likely to be similar to the questions you will have already answered on the visa application forms.

Applying from Inside the UK

Once you have submitted the online application and attended your appointment you will have to wait before you receive a decision on your visa application.

How long you will have to wait will depend on which service you decided to go for.

There are three types of services that you can pay for:

  1. Standard Service: you can expect to get a decision on your visa application within 6 months based on the visa type you have applied for.
  2. Priority Service: you can expect to get a decision on your visa application within 5 working days.
  3. Super Priority Service: you can expect to get a decision on your visa application the next working day.

Recommendation! It is recommended not to travel whilst you are awaiting the outcome of your visa application. Even though you are now able to keep your passport after applying, if you travel whilst your visa application is being decided then the Home Office will consider your visa application to be withdrawn.

Click here to read about visa processing times.

With Home Office statistics showing an increasing number of visa refusals due to “technicalities” or “administrative errors” and the rising costs of UK Visa applications, it is crucial you get the visa application right the first time.

At VisaHelpUK, we think immigration advice should be uncomplicated and easy to access – so that’s exactly what we provide.

No fuss, no expensive fees, no long waits; just a straightforward, easy to use Do Your Own Partner Visa Pack” based specifically on YOUR circumstances so you can get on with what’s important to you – submitting your visa application.

If you require assistance with completing the application, we provide you with a document checklist and template letters compiled by our OISC regulated Immigration Advisers.

For a fraction of the cost of instructing an Immigration Adviser you can get all the help you need to complete the application yourself.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this guide is for general information purposes only and is not legal advice. The information is provided by VisaHelpUK and while we endeavour to keep the information up to date and correct, we can accept no responsibility for its accuracy or for any loss or damages arising from the use of this guide.

Josh Lindsey
Josh Lindsey

Immigration lawyer with more than 20 years of consulting experience

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VisaHelpUK - UK Immigration and Visa Application Advice Service
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