If you are looking to join or remain with a partner in the UK, it is essential to understand the relationship requirements set out in Appendix FM of the Immigration Rules. These requirements apply to a range of visa applications, including spouse, unmarried partner, fiancé(e), and civil partner visas. In a previous post, we discussed who is considered a partner under the Immigration Rules.
This post will explore the relationship requirements under Appendix FM, including eligibility criteria, evidence requirements, and the importance of proving a genuine and subsisting relationship.
Relationship Requirements under Appendix FM of the Immigration Rules
Several elements comprise a relationship, according to Appendix FM. These include:
Present and settled
Present and settled means that the applicant’s partner is settled in the UK and, at the date of application, is physically present in the UK. References to a British Citizen in the UK also include a British Citizen who is coming to the UK with the applicant as their partner.
The applicant and partner must be aged 18 or over at the date of application.
Prohibited degree of relationship
The applicant and partner should not be within the prohibited degree of relationship as defined in the Marriage Act 1949, the Marriage (Prohibited Degrees of Relationship) Act 1986 and the Civil Partnership Act 2004.
In England and Wales, the Marriage Act 1949 prohibits marriage between a person and any person mentioned in the following list (In the list, ‘sibling’ means a brother, sister, half brother or half sister):
- adoptive child
- adoptive parent
- former adoptive child
- former adoptive parent
- parent’s sibling
- sibling’s child
The Marriage Act 1949 prohibits a marriage between a person and any person in the following list, until both parties are aged 21 or over, and provided that the younger party has not at any time before attaining the age of 18 been a child of the family in relation to the other party:
- child of a former partner
- child of a former spouse
- former civil partner of grandparent
- former civil partner of parent
- former spouse of grandparent
- former spouse of parent
- grandchild of former civil partner
- grandchild of former spouse
The applicant and their partner must have met in person
As per the Home Office guidance on Family life (as a partner or parent) and exceptional circumstances 11 August 2022, the term ‘met’ has been interpreted to mean that the couple involved have made each other’s acquaintance, indicating that a formal introduction in the context of marriage or civil partnership is not necessary. This means that if the couple had been friends since childhood, for example, it could be considered meeting, but merely seeing each other in passing or speaking on the phone or through writing would not qualify. The term ‘met’ implies a face-to-face encounter that leads to the establishment of mutual acquaintance.
Genuine and subsisting relationship
For an applicant to meet the relationship requirements under Appendix FM, they must show that they are in a genuine and subsisting relationship with their partner. This means the relationship must be real and not entered into to obtain immigration status. Additionally, the relationship must be ongoing and not just a temporary arrangement. In assessing whether a relationship is genuine and subsisting, caseworkers will consider various factors such as the length of the relationship, evidence of joint financial responsibilities, and evidence of shared living arrangements. The applicant needs to provide comprehensive evidence to demonstrate the genuineness of their relationship and plans regarding living arrangements in the UK.
Valid marriage or civil partnership
A marriage or civil partnership which has taken place overseas is recognised where:
- the type of marriage or civil partnership is recognised in the country in which it took place
- the marriage or civil partnership was properly conducted to satisfy the requirements of the law of the country in which it took place
- there is nothing in the laws of either person’s country of domicile at the time of the marriage or civil partnership which prevents the marriage or civil partnership from being recognised
- any previous marriages or civil partnerships of the couple have broken down permanently.
Fiancé, fiancée or proposed civil partner seeking entry
Applicants seeking entry clearance as a fiancé, fiancée or proposed civil partner to the UK to enable their marriage or civil partnership to take place in the UK must demonstrate their intention to marry. Neither the applicant nor their partner can be married to, or in a civil partnership with, another person at the date of application.
Breakdown of previous relationships
Where the applicant and/or their partner have been married, or in a civil partnership, the applicant must provide evidence that the previous marriage or civil partnership has ended. You must prove that any previous relationships have broken down permanently.
Intention to live together permanently in the UK
Applicants and their partners must intend to live together permanently in the UK. In the context of applications for further limited leave to remain in the UK as a partner, it is important to note that periods spent outside the UK should have a justifiable reason. The reasons must be consistent to live together in the UK permanently. Valid reasons for being outside the UK could include time spent overseas due to work, holidays, training, or study, among others. However, if the applicant, their partner, or both have spent a significant portion of the period overseas, there may be cause for concern that the couple does not intend to live together permanently in the UK.
Status of the sponsor
For an applicant to be eligible for certain immigration routes, their partner must meet specific criteria outlined under the immigration rules. The applicant’s partner must be –
- a British Citizen in the UK or returning along with their partner, or
- settled in the UK, in other words, holds Indefinite Leave to Remain, or
- in the UK with limited leave under the Appendix EU, or
- in the UK, with refugee leave or with humanitarian protection, or
- in the UK with limited leave as a worker or business person under Appendix ECAA Extension of Stay.
Immigration status requirements
To meet the eligibility requirements for leave to remain, the applicant must not be in the UK:
- as a visitor
- with valid leave granted for a period of 6 months or less, unless that leave is as a fiancé, fiancée or a proposed civil partner, or was granted pending the outcome of family court or divorce proceedings.
Documents proving relationship
As an applicant, you are responsible for providing evidence demonstrating that you meet the relationship requirements. The standard of proof required is known as the balance of probabilities, meaning that it is more likely than not that you meet the requirements. Documents to prove your relationship may include:
- Marriage certificate
- Tenancy agreements
- Council tax bills or utility bills
- Joint bank statements
- Evidence of joint commitments such as a car finance agreement, tax returns, business contracts, investments
- Insurance documentation
- Medical letters or GP registration documents
The supporting documentation required in your application will vary depending on your circumstances.
In addition to the relationship requirements, applicants must demonstrate that they satisfy the financial, accommodation and English language requirements. In some cases, applicants must prove that they are free from tuberculosis.
How can we help
We understand that navigating the requirements and application process for Appendix FM can be complex and overwhelming. An experienced immigration adviser from our firm can provide tailored advice and assistance based on your specific circumstances, including:
- Eligibility assessment: We can help you determine if you meet the requirements for a partner visa under Appendix FM, including the financial and English language requirements.
- Application preparation: We can assist you in preparing a strong application that meets the requirements and provides the best possible chance for success.
- Supporting documentation: We can help you gather and prepare the necessary supporting documents, such as proof of relationship, financial evidence, and English language test results.
- Application submission and monitoring: We can submit your application on your behalf and provide ongoing support, including monitoring the progress of your application and responding to any queries from UK Visas and Immigration.
To discuss your UK Partner Visa application with an experienced immigration adviser, call us at +442087575751 or use our contact form.
Frequently asked questions
The applicant and partner must either be in a civil partnership or marriage that is recognized in the UK or have been living together in a relationship akin to marriage for at least 2 years, or marry or enter into a civil partnership in the UK within 6 months of arriving.
The processing time is usually 12-24 weeks once you attend your appointment. You may be able to pay extra to get a quicker decision.