Unmarried Partner Visa

This immigration category enables unmarried partners of persons present and settled in the UK who have lived together in a heterosexual or same-sex relationship for at least two years, to apply to join their partner in the UK.

How to qualify

In order to qualify you will need to show that you are the (unmarried) partner of a person present and settled or being admitted for settlement in the UK and you will need to prove that you have been living together in a relationship akin to marriage for 2 years or more. You will also need to prove that you intend to live together permanently in the future.

You and your partner have to be 18 years or older in order to apply.

For applications submitted on or after 9 July 2012:

A minimum income threshold of £18,600 is required in order to sponsor the settlement of the partner, with a higher threshold for any children also sponsored: £22,400 for one child and an additional £2,400 for each further child.

Length of stay and right to work

For applications submitted before 9 July 2012:

The  visa will be granted for a period of 27 months.

For applications submitted on or after 9 July 2012:

The unmarried partner visa will be granted for a period of 30 months, after which an application can be made for an extension of another 30 months, which should take the applicant to the qualifying period of 60 months for indefinite leave to remain in the UK.

You will be entitled to work freely in the United Kingdom.

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Permanent residence

For  visa applications submitted before 9 July 2012:

You can apply for settlement after you have lived in the UK for two years.

For  visa applications submitted on or after 9 July 2012:

You can apply for settlement after you have lived in the UK for five years.

Applying for Settlement

Until 9 July 2012 spouses or civil partners and unmarried or same-sex partners used to be given two years’ leave, with no restriction on employment. From that date the period of probationary leave for all applicants is 5 years in 2 periods of 33 and 30 months respectively.  There is normally a condition prohibiting recourse to public funds, whether the partner comes with entry clearance for this purpose or is given leave to remain by the Home Office. There is an exception where the sponsor is in receipt of Disability Living Allowance or similar benefits.

Form VAF4A is used for entry clearance applications to join a partner settled in the UK.  Once in the UK, partners on probationary leave are expected to apply for settlement near the end of that time, using Form SET(M). If an applicant has unexpectedly needed to claim benefits, through sickness or redundancy for instance, this should be explained, and the Home Office will usually accept this, particularly if it has been for a short time.




The subsistence of a relationship is demonstrated by submission of official communications or documents to prove co-habitation. Couples should be advised as soon as possible of the types of documents the Home Office will require on cohabitation over the probationary period (now 5 years).

Special rules apply for a partner (but not fiancé(e) or proposed civil partner) who experiences domestic violence during the probationary leave period.  See section DVILR of Appendix FM as indefinite leave to remain can be granted on a successful application rather than simply limited leave to remain.

  1. A probationary period is normally granted to spouses, unmarried or same-sex partners and civil partners who come to the UK for settlement. There is no restriction on employment and there must be no recourse to public funds. After this probationary period, Form SET(M) can be used to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain.
  2. Special rules apply to anyone who experiences domestic violence or the bereavement of a spouse or partner, during the marriage probationary period.
  3. Documentary evidence should be submitted, if available, and the IDIs recognise that due to the nature of domestic violence, the applicant may be an overstayer.  There is a Destitution Domestic Violence concession as well.
  4. Spouses or civil partners who separate within the probationary period may be granted 33 months leave to enable contact to continue with a UK child, but subject to the conditions in Appendix FM.  They may be able to apply for settlement.