Increase in age for marriage visas (27.11.2008)
The government has decided to increase the age of applicants applying for a spouse/civil partner visa, fiance/proposed civil partner visa and unmarried partner visa as well as the age of those intending to sponsor these visas in the UK.
In addition to spouse relationship, the immigration rules and the EEA regulations do acknowledge the significance of unmarried partner relationships. They are given same rights as enjoyed by the spouses of settled persons, EEA nationals exercising treaty rights and even persons of limited leaves to remain.
It would be appropriate to discuss the immigration aspect of unmarried partner relationship under the following headings:
2. What is Unmarried Partner Relationship?
In the light of the immigration rules and the EEA regulations, the term unmarried partner relationship can be defined as:
“Two persons living together in a relationship akin to marriage for at least two years would be considered as unmarried partners of each other”.
This definition does not include casual acquaintances or any unstable relationships in which neither of the parties have any long term intentions to live together in a relationship akin to marriage or civil partnership. The phrase “akin to marriage or civil marriage” is a relationship that is similar in its nature to a marriage or civil partnership, which would include unmarried and same sex relationships.
The intention of the rules relating to unmarried and same sex partners is to allow genuine long-term relationships to continue. It is not an open door to couples who are in the early stages of a cohabiting relationship, but provides an opportunity for those couples who are already living together in a committed relationship akin to marriage or civil partnership to enter or remain in the UK on this basis alone.
3. Who can apply?
Only following persons can invite their unmarried partners to join / accompany them in the UK:
- A person present and settled in the UK
- EEA national exercising treaty rights in the UK
- A person having limited leave to remain in the UK excluding students, working holiday maker, multiple entry work permit & participants of Training & work experience scheme)
- Unmarried Partners of person settled in the UK
- Applicants having two years` relationship with a person settled in the UK are given two years` leave to join / accompany his / her sponsor in the UK. The applicants are required to provide documentary evidences to establish that they can be maintained and accommodated without recourse to public funds and have got intentions to live with their sponsors permanently. They are given leaves that allow them to seek employment or engage themselves in business during the pendency of their leave to remain.On living with his / her sponsor for two years, the applicant can make an application for indefinite leave to remain in the UK. And on living in the UK for a total of 5 years, they become eligible to make an application for naturalization, provided they comply with the other rules and regulations.However, if the unmarried partners choose to get married at some stage, the non – settled partner would require seeking permission from the Home office according to the regulations of Certificate of Approval. The applicant would get further two years leave to remain as spouse of a person present and settled in the UK, but he/she would qualify for permanent residence after spending a total of two years starting from the time when he /she entered the UK on unmarried partner`s visa or when he / she was given leave to remain on that basis. The unmarried partner would therefore be not disadvantaged due to his / her decision to get married and give permanence to his / her relationship.
- Applicants having four or more than four years of relationship with a person settled in the UK can make an application for Indefinite leave to enter / remain straight away without applying for the probationary period.Domestic violence rules do apply on the unmarried partners of the person settled in the UK.
- Unmarried Partners of EEA nationals exercising treaty rights in the UKWe can divide all the EEA nationals into two categories:
- Those having full rights of work without any requirement of registration with the Home office
- Those requiring registration with the Home office, if they take employment (A8 nationals)
- It is not necessary for the sponsor (EEA national) to apply for resident certificate at any time during their stay in the UK but having an EEA resident certificate would facilitate them and their partners to make applications.
- It lies in the discretion of the entry clearance officer to issue family permit to the unmarried partner.
- The unmarried partners are permitted to take any employment or be self-employed while their partners are exercising their treaty rights in the UK.
- Unmarried partners can make an application for permanent residence on successfully completing 5 years of their stay under the EEA regulations 2006.
- Domestic violence rules apply on unmarried partners of EEA nationals.
- Unmarried Partners of persons having limited leave to remain in the UKSome of the persons residing in the UK can invite their unmarried partners to accompany / join them in the UK. Being a dependant of a person having limited leave to remain, the unmarried partner would be permitted to seek employment or be self-employed during the pendency of his /her leave. The applicants are normally granted the visa valid till the date when the sponsor`s visa is expiring and is expected to leave the country together with the sponsor, if the sponsor does not intend to settle down in the UK. However, if the sponsor qualifies for settlement and makes an application, the dependant also qualifies for settlement in line with his / her sponsor. Domestic violence rules do not apply in this case.
This relationship is not documented and is always therefore vulnerable and one must keep his / her interests safeguarded at all times by complying with the relevant rules and regulations. It is therefore always advisable to seek independent professional advice before lodging any immigration applications.