In order to qualify for leave to enter the United Kingdom with a view to settlement as the spouse, civil partner or unmarried/same-sex partner of a person present and settled in the United Kingdom, you will need to meet the following requirements:

  • the applicant is married to or the civil partner of:
  • a British citizen; or
  • a person present and settled in the United Kingdom, who has ‘indefinite leave to remain’ or proof of permanent residence; or
  • you are both are at least 18 years old; and
  • either:
    • you are in a civil partnership or marriage that is recognized in the UK
    • you have been living together in a relationship for at least 2 years when you apply
    • you are a fiancé, fiancée or proposed civil partner and will marry or enter into a civil partnership in the UK within 6 months of arriving; and
  • the applicant has sufficient knowledge of the English language and sufficient knowledge about life in the United Kingdom (KOL requirement), unless exempt; and
  • you both intend to live permanently with the other as his or her spouse or partner and the marriage or civil partnership is existing and genuine (not a ‘marriage of convenience’, for example); and
  • you will be able to maintain yourselves and any dependants adequately without recourse to public funds

If the settled person has more than one husband or wife, only one husband or wife will be allowed to join them here in this category.

Your foreign spouse/ partner will have to submit a substantial amount of documents to support their application for a spouse/civil partner visa.

A detailed list of supporting documents to be submitted and advice on how to best meet the requirements can be found on> guides>Marriage visas – All you need to know.

If your application is successful, your spouse/civil partner will get permission to live and work here for a probationary period of up to 2.5 years. They will be able to work and study here, but will not be able to claim welfare benefits.

If your marriage/civil partnership/established relationship still subsists at the end of the 2.5 year period, your spouse/civil or unmarried partner (and any dependants) may be able to apply to extend their stay in the UK using the Form FLR(M).

After your spouse or partner has lived in the UK continuously for minimum 5 years with permission to stay as a partner, they can apply to settle permanently in the UK (Indefinite Leave To Remain). If ILR is granted, they will be eligible to welfare benefits.

The appropriate form to apply for settlement (indefinite leave to remain) as spouse or civil partner is: Form SET(M).

If during the probationary period the marriage/civil partnership/established relationship has broken down, then your foreign spouse/civil partner/unmarried/same-sex partner may not apply for ILR on the basis of the marriage and would need to look at alternative options to regularise their legal stay in the UK.

If the settled partner passes away, the foreign spouse/civil partner/unmarried/same-sex partner may apply for settlement as a bereaved partner. They can make the application using form SET(O) immediately after the partner’s death – they do not need to wait until they have been here for a certain length of time.