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UK Unmarried Partner Visa for South Africans

If you are in a long-term relationship with a UK citizen or a person with settled status, you could be eligible for the UK Unmarried Partner Visa.

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UK Unmarried Partner Visa

The Unmarried Partner Visa is a Family Visa immigration permission for those who are in a relationship which is akin to marriage with a UK citizen or person with settled status.

You must be able to prove that you have been in a committed relationship with your partner for at least two years.

You can work and study in the UK without any restrictions under the Unmarried Partner Visa.

This immigration permission counts towards minimum residency requirements for Indefinite Leave to Remain and British citizenship.

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What is the UK Unmarried Partner Visa?

The Unmarried Partner Visa enables you to emigrate to the UK on the basis of your relationship with your UK-resident partner.

You must prove that you are in a genuine relationship with your partner which is akin to a marriage/civil partnership which has lasted for at least two years.

One of the following must apply to the applicant’s partner:

  • They are a British citizen
  • They are a person with settled status in the UK, such as Indefinite Leave to Remain
  • They have been given humanitarian protection or refugee status in the UK

If you apply for this visa in South Africa, you can stay in the UK for up to 33 months if your application is successful. If, on the other hand, your partner in the UK applies for the visa on your behalf, the visa will be valid for 30 months.

What are the Requirements for the UK Unmarried Partner Visa?

In order to be eligible for this immigration permission, you will need to fulfil a number of requirements and provide substantial evidence to prove your eligibility.

The main requirements for this immigration permission are as follows:

  • Both you and your partner must be at least 18-years-old
  • You must have met your partner in-person and been in a relationship with them for at least two years
  • Your partner must be a resident in the UK and they will act as your sponsor
  • You must be able to demonstrate that your relationship is genuine and that any previous relationships have broken down. (You will need to provide substantial evidence in your portfolio of evidence to prove this)
  • Your must have suitable accommodation which you intend to live in with your partner in the UK
  • You and your partner must meet certain financial requirements (explained below)

What is the Genuine Relationship Test?

The genuine relationship test is a key part of all partner visa applications. As an Unmarried Partner Visa applicant, you will need to provide substantial evidence to prove that your relationship is genuine. Indeed, the genuine relationship requirement is perhaps the most significant of all with Partner Visa applications.

Ultimately, the UK Home Office needs to see evidence that the relationship between you and your partner is genuine and akin to marriage/civil partnership.

You will need to provide certain information and documents to prove your relationship is genuine. That being said, there is no specific checklist for the required documents. The documents and information which you need to provide will depend on the nature of your circumstances.

Some of the information which you may need to provide in your portfolio of evidence includes:

  • Photographs of you and your partner together
  • Birth certificates of any children you have together
  • Tenancy or property letters from previous accommodation which you lived in together. You could provide utility bills or council tax bills
  • Emails, text messages and letters you have shared with each other
  • Receipts from gifts you have bought together and/or tickets of events you have attended together
  • Written testimonies from family, friends or professional people

What is the Financial Requirement?

Unmarried Partner Visa applications need to meet certain financial requirements. You will not be eligible for this immigration permission if you cannot meet this condition.

The financial requirement is as follows:

  • You must have a combined annual income with your partner of at least £18,600
  • You must show evidence of an additional £3,800 if a dependent will be joining you, which equates to £22,400
  • If any other dependents will be joining you, you need to show evidence of an additional £2,400 per dependent on top of the £22,400

You can satisfy the minimum income requirement through employment, self-employment and through other means such as savings, investments, bonds, trust funds and stocks and shares.

Also, you could satisfy the financial requirement through paternity, adoption, pension and sick pay or through property rented income.

It is important to note that you cannot access full welfare support as an Unmarried Partner Visa holder. Also, if your UK-based partner is in receipt of certain benefits, the financial requirement may apply differently to you.

What Do I Need to Know about the English Language Requirement?

Whilst English is widely spoken in South Africa, you will still need to take an English language test to prove your knowledge of English.

You will need to be able to demonstrate that your English language ability is at the level of A1 in speaking and listening as set by the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages.

Your test must be one of the following:

  • IELTS Life Skills A1 Speaking and Listening – provided by IELTS SELT Consortium
  • LanguageCert International ESOL SELT A1 (Speaking & Listening) – provided by LanguageCert
  • PTE Home A1 – provided by Pearson
  • Skills for English UKVI A1 (2 component) – provided by PSI Service (UK) Ltd

You will be exempt from this requirement if you have completed a degree or higher qualification which was taught in English at an approved educational institution. Also, you will be exempt if are aged 65 or over or if you have a mental or physical condition which prevents you from sitting the test.

What are the Accommodation Requirements?

You need to be able to demonstrate that you have suitable accommodation to live in in the UK.

It is not acceptable for large families to live in a small house without adequate room space. The accommodation which you intend to live in must have adequate room for you, your partner and any dependents. The accommodation must have an additional room for each dependent who will be joining you in in the UK.

Also, the accommodation must meet the appropriate UK living standards. You might need to provide photographs and other information which show details of the accommodation throughout.

If you would like more information on the accommodation requirement and whether your accommodation is suitable, please do not hesitate to call us on 0333 305 3612.

We are here to provide expert assistance with Unmarried Partner Visa applications.

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Required Documents for Unmarried Partner Visa UK

As we mentioned above, you will need to provide certain information to prove you meet the genuine relationship requirement.

As well as this information, you will need to include a number of documents and other information in your portfolio of evidence to prove your eligibility.

These documents are as follows:

  • Copy of passport
  • Copy of partner’s passport and immigration status in the UK
  • Proof that previous relationships have broken down (if applicable)
  • Details of your accommodation plans
  • English language test pass certificate/result (if applicable)
  • Bank statements or payslips which prove that you meet the financial requirements
  • Details of where you have previously lived
  • Information of any dependents who will be joining you

UK Unmarried Partner Visa Cost and Application Process

At the time of writing, the cost of an Unmarried Partner Visa is £1,523. If your application is completed and submitted from inside the UK, the cost is £1,033.

You also need to take into account the cost of the English language test, as well as the cost of the Biometric Residence Permit (BRP).

As you will be residing in the UK for over 6 months, you will need to provide biometric information (fingerprints and a photo). In most cases, you will be able to provide this information at a visa application centre in South Africa. The BRP costs an additional £19.20.

Also, another cost to bear in mind is translation fees. If any of your documents are not in English or Welsh, they must be translated by an official translator. (You will need to include both the translated and original versions in the portfolio of evidence).

In most cases, Unmarried Partner Visa applications are processed within twelve weeks. Bear in mind that if there are problems with your application, such as missing documents or information, the processing of the application will be delayed.

What Happens if my Application is Accepted?

If your application is accepted, you will be free to move from South Africa to the UK on the basis of your relationship to your partner.

You can stay in the UK for up to 30 months if your partner applied for the visa on your behalf in the UK, or 33 months if the application was made in South Africa.

You can apply for an extension to your immigration permission before your current permission expires, which will be valid for the same period of time.

You will be eligible for Indefinite Leave to Remain status after you have spent five years living in the UK under the Unmarried Partner Visa. Indefinite Leave to Remain is a form of permanent residence, which means you can stay in the UK without any conditions imposed as an ILR holder.

After you have lived in the UK for twelve months under ILR, you will be eligible for full British citizenship (or dual citizenship).

What Can I Do if my Application is Rejected?

The first step is to understand why your application was rejected. On your visa refusal letter, the reason/s for the refusal will be highlighted.

If there is a clear reason for the refusal, the best option is to resubmit the application with the mistakes rectified.

However, if you believe your application was unfairly rejected, you could choose to challenge the Home Office’s decision.

If you think a clear mistake was made when your application was submitted, such as a key piece of information not being taken into account, you could choose to go ahead with an administrative review. With this option, your application will be reconsidered by a different immigration official.

If you want to challenge the Home Office’s decision, we can help you every step of the way with our specialist appeal package.

Call us now on 0333 305 3612 to find out more.

If you wish to find out how you can settle in the UK with your partner, our team is happy to assist. Learn more

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Frequently Asked Questions

If you want to marry/enter into a civil partnership in the UK and you intend to live with your partner in the UK, you could apply for the Fiance Visa. The Fiance Visa grants you six months of residence in the UK, during which time it is expected that you will get married.

After you have got married, you can apply for a Spouse Visa. The Spouse Visa grants the same benefits as the Unmarried Partner Visa.

If you want to marry/enter into a civil partnership in the UK but intend to carry on living in South Africa, you could apply for the Marriage Visa. The Marriage Visa lasts for six months and it is intended for those who do not wish to stay in the UK.

If you were married/in a civil partnership in the past, you will need to provide evidence that the marriage has broken down.

You will be asked to specify how long ago the previous relationship terminated, and whether it was by divorce/dissolved civil partnership or by death.

Some of the information which you may need to include:

  • As a widowed person: A death certificate of a late spouse or deceased civil partner
  • Divorce: Legally recognised divorce certificate
  • Dissolved civil partnership: Evidence of the dissolution, such as a dissolution certificate

Yes, our UK immigration lawyers can help you every step of the way with an Unmarried Partner Visa application.

The evidence which you will need to provide to prove your eligibility for this immigration permission is extensive. However, our UK immigration lawyers are highly experienced and understand what is needed to formulate a successful application. Of course, this includes which documents and information you will need to include in your portfolio of evidence.

We will work with you to ensure your application is completed to the highest standard. Call us now on 0333 305 3612 to find out more about our specialist application package.