Who is a Partner under Appendix FM of the Immigration Rules?

by | Mar 7, 2023 | Fiancé Visa, Partner & Family Visa, Spouse Visa, UK Immigration, Unmarried Partner Visa

This post explores the meaning of ‘partner’ under the UK Immigration Rules. Appendix FM of the rules enables individuals to sponsor their ‘partner’ to join them in the UK. The sponsor must either:

  • Be a British or Irish citizen; or
  • Have indefinite leave to remain or settled status in the UK;
  • Have pre-settled status under Appendix EU; or
  • Have limited leave to remain as a Turkish Businessperson or Turkish Worker under Appendix ECAA; or
  • Have refugee leave or humanitarian protection status in the UK.

Under Appendix FM of the Immigration Rules, a ‘partner’ means the applicant’s spouse, civil partner, fiancé, proposed civil partner, or unmarried partner.


In the UK, a marriage is considered valid if it is supported by a legal marriage certificate recognised under the laws of England and Wales, Scotland, or Northern Ireland. 

A comparable document should be provided if a marriage is conducted outside the UK. For a foreign marriage to be recognized in the UK, the marriage ceremony must be legally valid in the country where it took place and must have been properly registered. An English translation and the original marriage certificate must be provided if necessary. 

Both parties to the marriage must have the legal capacity to marry, and any previous marriage of either party must have been legally terminated. Evidence of divorce must be provided if applicable.

A British or settled person in a polygamous marriage can only sponsor one individual to live in the UK as their partner. This means that only one of their spouses can be sponsored to join them in the UK, even if the polygamous marriage is recognized as legal in the country where it was conducted.

Civil partner

In the UK, a civil partnership is a legal union between two people recognized by law. A civil partnership certificate must be provided to prove your civil partnership has occurred. 

Countries may have different legal relationships that two people can enter into. If an overseas legal relationship is listed in the Civil Partnership Act 2004, it will be treated as a civil partnership in the UK.

If either party to the relationship has previously entered into a civil partnership, it must have been legally dissolved, and evidence of the dissolution must be provided.

Fiancé or proposed civil partner

To enter the UK to get married or enter into a civil partnership, you must demonstrate that you plan to do so within six months of your arrival. At the time of application, neither you nor your partner should be married or in a civil partnership with someone else. It is recommended to provide evidence of any arrangements for the upcoming marriage or civil partnership. Fiancé(e)s or proposed civil partners cannot apply for leave in this Appendix FM category from within the UK.

Unmarried partner

Partners who are not married or in a civil partnership but have been in a relationship similar to marriage and have lived together for at least two years before applying may qualify as unmarried partners. The two-year period does not need to be continuous immediately before the application.

To prove that you have been living together for two years, you must provide evidence that you both resided at the same address. Examples of such evidence include joint tenancy agreements and official correspondence. You can also provide other evidence that shows you have been living together.

Genuine and Subsisting Relationships and Marriages

Applicants must prove they are in a real and ongoing relationship to be eligible for a partner visa. A couple in a fraudulent or fake marriage or relationship cannot rely on Appendix FM to obtain a visa. Additionally, several other requirements must be met to qualify for a partner visa.

Evidence with your partner

The specific documents will depend on your circumstances. Applicants and their partners may submit the following documents to prove their genuine relationship:

  • Evidence of registered relationships, such as a certificate of marriage or civil partnership or proof that you have been cohabiting under the same address for two years or more
  • Evidence that previous relationships have broken down permanently, such as court orders or divorce decrees
  • Supporting statements from the partners give some history to the relationship and intentions for the future. And statements from family and friends. 
  • Evidence of cohabitation, such as mortgage statements, tenancy agreements and utility bills
  • Evidence that you have children together, such as birth certificates, adoption certificates, and any proof that you and your spouse share responsibilities for them
  • photos and other evidence of any ceremony and time spent together 
  • Evidence of shared financial responsibilities, joint commitments such as rent receipts, bank statements or credit cards
  • Evidence of regular communication, such as phone records, emails, social media, cards
  • Evidence of travel, such as travel tickets, accommodation or holiday bookings

How can we help?

To be eligible for a UK Partner Visa under Appendix FM, the sponsor must meet certain financial and accommodation requirements and demonstrate a genuine and subsisting relationship with their partner. The partner must also meet certain eligibility requirements, such as English language proficiency and not having a criminal record.

To discuss your UK Partner Visa application with an experienced immigration adviser, please get in touch with our team at +442087575751 or use our contact form

Frequently asked questions

What is a UK Partner Visa?

A partner visa is a visa for those seeking to enter or remain in the UK based on their relationship with a British citizen, someone who has indefinite leave to remain or has been recognised as a refugee.

Can I sponsor my girlfriend to live with me in the UK?

The Unmarried Partner visa (also known as the UK defacto visa) allows the unmarried partner to enter or remain in the UK because they are in a relationship with a person who is present and ‘settled in the UK’.

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