Marriage Visas

Married And Common Law Visas

These UK Visa is often referred to as an Unmarried Partner visa or Marriage Visa and is available to the partner of a person with Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK or holds British Citizenship, who wish to bring their partner to Great Britain to join them.

In terms of immigration to the UK, settled status means that a permanent resident is living in the UK. If you are returning to the UK to settle, your partner can also apply to join you at the same time. The relationship may be heterosexual or same-sex, but partners must not be related by blood.

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What are the Benefits?

For married and common-law partner visas, you need to be married or living together for over 24 months to be eligible for this visa. You do not have the restrictions of a Fiancé Visa, such as the short visa duration, necessity to marry, and the ban from working in the UK.

A successful Partner Visa application allows you to enter and work in the country without a UK work permit as long as all of the entry requirements are satisfied.

UK Passport


Initially, a Partner Visa is issued for a 2-year period. After this period, you can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) or permanent residency in the UK.

In some cases, if a person is returning to the UK and there remains a question over a couples ability to financially support themselves in exceptional circumstances a visa can be granted for five years prior to the person being eligible for indefinite leave to remain.

In some cases settlement entry clearance may be granted, allowing a partner to immigrate to Britain permanently without the two years probationary period. Once you have Indefinite Leave to Remain, you may choose to become a UK citizen via Naturalisation.

A Partner based visa simply offers a pathway to permanent immigration so that you can live with your partner indefinitely within the UK, to enjoy family life.

Who is Eligible?


Both you and your partner need to be over the age of 18 to apply for this visa.

Prior Relationships

In order to qualify, any previous relationships with other partners must have broken down so your relationship is the only romantic relationship either of you is in. However, there are some loopholes in this requirement for some polygamous relationships.


These visas consider the unmarried relationship to be similar to a marriage, but ‘in practice’ or ‘de facto’ rather than in law. In some English-speaking nations, for example, Australia, this is a legally recognised status of a cohabiting couple, similar to a common-law marriage in the United Kingdom.

In order to qualify, you must prove that you have been living together for over 2 years through the documentary evidence submitted. You may also be asked questions within interview to prove that you have cohabited over this period. You must also intend to live together when you get to the UK as part of your ongoing and committed relationship.

Financial Requirements

You and your partner must prove that you can support yourselves without relying on welfare or benefits. You can meet this requirement through your salary, income from being self-employed, income from other areas such as a property portfolio, pensions, maternity or bereavement payments in the UK, and savings if they’re over a certain level.

To sponsor a partner to come and live with you in the UK, you will need an income of at least £18,600. This figure increases if you are also sponsoring dependent children, to ensure that you can financially support your children too. These figures are less than the average income in the UK and are based on cost of living and sustaining a reasonable lifestyle while here.

Every part of these requirements needs to be proven through documentary evidence. It is essential that you have sufficient information about your relationships, so the immigration officials can be satisfied to deem it as a genuine relationship. In many cases, applicants for Unmarried Partner Visas are also called for an interview, where they are questioned separately and their responses are compared.


  1. Abigail Arendse


    I am English Citizen living in China with my husband. We have recently found out I am pregnant and I would like to return to the UK to start our family. Because I will be having the baby I won’t be able to sponsor him immediately and we don’t want to be separated during time! I wanted to know if we could apply for a 1 or 2-year tourist visa, we could have the baby, after 6 months I would go back to work and he could stay at home and look after the baby full time. Once I can prove my earnings he can return to South Africa and apply for the spouse visas? We will have savings to support us during this time.

    1. Profile photo of Your Immigration Expert
      Your Immigration Expert Post author


      With UK Marriage visas there is a need for the UK national to have a job offer in the UK which pays over £18,600 p.a and have a proven track record of employment while overseas or savings of £62,500. As you will not be able to secure employment in the UK due to your pregnancy there maybe a way you could still secure a marriage visa as there are exceptions to this rule. I have shown an extract of the rules below:

      Section EX: Exceptions to certain eligibility requirements for leave to remain as a partner or parent

      EX.1. This paragraph applies if

      (i) the applicant has a genuine and subsisting parental relationship with a child who-
      (aa) is under the age of 18 years, or was under the age of 18 years when the applicant was first granted leave on the basis that this paragraph applied;
      (bb) is in the UK;
      (cc) is a British Citizen or has lived in the UK continuously for at least the 7 years immediately preceding the date of application; and
      (ii) it would not be reasonable to expect the child to leave the UK; or
      (b) the applicant has a genuine and subsisting relationship with a partner who is in the UK and is a British Citizen, settled in the UK or in the UK with refugee leave or humanitarian protection, and there are insurmountable obstacles to family life with that partner continuing outside the UK.

      EX.2. For the purposes of paragraph EX.1.(b) “insurmountable obstacles” means the very significant difficulties which would be faced by the applicant or their partner in continuing their family life together outside the UK and which could not be overcome or would entail very serious hardship for the applicant or their partner.

      I would suggest you could argue your case and request your husband be allowed to join you. Especially if you can show a record of prior employment.

      On the question of your husband entering the UK as a visitor, this is certainly an option for up to six months. However, an entry clearance officer may decide that your husband’s intention after entry is to overstay his visa. If they refuse the visa then you should make a marriage visa application and explain exceptional circumstances. If the marriage visa is granted it will be for 10 years before permanent residency will be granted. During this time your husband can live and work in the UK.

  2. Patience Dorgu

    Our UK Marriage Visa Was Refused, So We Appealed

    I applied for a settlement visa as my husband is British and lives in the UK while I am based Overseas. I was declined as the Entry Clearance Officer stated he was not satisfied our relationship was genuine and subsisting.

    This happened around August 2016. We were given the chance to appeal and we did within the 28 days in September 2016. Then in December 2016, we received a note from Global Appeals stating that the initial decision has been withdrawn and we will hear from the Decision Making Centre in due course. We were contacted by the Tribunal and advised to withdraw our appeal as the respondent had withdrawn the decision and so we concurred. It is 8 weeks now and we are yet to hear from Sheffield or the UK Visa Office in the British Embassy where the original case was filed.

    Each time we inquire, we are told its still with the appeals team.

    Then how can we contact the Visa Office or Sheffield directly as we are scared for our case to not become “forgotten” now that it is no longer being appealed.

    1. Profile photo of Your Immigration Expert
      Your Immigration Expert Post author

      Withdrawing A UK Immigration Appeal

      You have now withdrawn your appeal and it is understandable as you were asked to do so. However, there is no legal requirement for you to withdraw the appeal until the UK Immigration Authorities grant your visa. I would have certainly suggested you offer to withdraw the appeal once your visa is approved. Unfortunately, it is too late to change that now so let us focus on the next step.

      It is now down to the UK Entry Clearance Officer at the consulate and the appeal team now to join their thinking and return your file to the office overseas from the UK so your case can be completed and your visa issued. I would suggest you focus your efforts on building a relationship with a person within your local UK Visa office and work with them to chase up your file.

      You clearly have plenty of documentary evidence to show your case will be granted but, the UK immigration department is not bound by any statutory requirement to process a case within any given timeframe, therefore, you are limited in your recourse to seeking a solution within a given period. I have worked in UK Immigration and I can assure you often the officers dealing with your case work incredibly hard but the bureaucratic framework they are required to work within is both antiquated and slow to move.

      I urge you to build bridges with the staff and recognise the challenges they face. They will appreciate your understanding and may go the extra mile to help you secure your UK Visa as soon as possible.

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