Fiancé/Fiancée visa is for 6 months with no right to work. You have to get married within 6 months and apply for a Spouse visa, which can be on 24-hour service, so you would promptly secure the right to work in the UK.
Spouse visa is for 30 or 33 months and allows working in the UK immediately. This is for married couples and also for registered civil partners. Civil partnerships are now legal for all couples, for partners of the same or opposite sex (in the past it was only for same-sex couples), as long as you register your relationship at the Register Office. If you/your partner are outside the UK, they can use the Fiancee visa route as above.
Unmarried Partner visa is similar to Spouse visa in terms of length and qualifying for settlement. However, the qualifying conditions are very different: Instead of being married you need to have lived together for 2 years and being able to prove it. Alternatively, you can get married (or register a civil partnership) and qualify for a Spouse visa.
For more details you can read our In Detail page or proceed straight to Booking a consultation with our lawyer. From our London office, we serve customers residing anywhere in the UK and anywhere in the world, all nationalities and occupations. We help to apply for UK visas to join your partner in the UK, to remain or settle here, or to bring your partner to the UK. Our consultations can be over WhatsApp, Zoom, Skype, email or in person.
You can find the answers to the most common questions, related to Covid-19, in our Blog post Covid and UK visas: most current questions.
Switching to a Spouse/Partner visa can only be done from a non-visitor visa, such as Student or Tier 5 and many others. If you are on a visitor status, you would normally have to return to your country and apply from there in the standard 5-year route. You may be able to switch, however, If you have exceptional circumstances. If the Government approves your visa, they will grant it in the 10-year route.
5-year route is a standard one, meaning you can qualify for permanent residency after 5 years in the UK in this status. The 1st visa is issued for 30 months (2.5 years) if you apply inside the UK, such as if switching from a Student or Tier 5 visa. Or for 33 months (2.5 years + 3 months) if you apply outside the UK. The 2nd visa is extension for further 2.5 years, then settlement.
10-year route is used when you have serious, exceptional circumstances why you cannot meet the standard 5-year rules. Being unable to meet the Financial Requirement or not having any legal status in the UK (i.e. an overstayer). The 1st visa is usually for 30 months (2.5 years or 2.5 years+3 months), then you need further 3 visas, each for 2.5 years, meaning you can only settle in the UK after 10 years.
It’s the same for all the above options in the standard 5-year route. Can be income from employment or self-employment in the UK, savings in the UK or abroad or other permitted sources (or combination). Savings amount is £62,500 and not £16,000 or £18,600 as it is often (wrongly) thought. We have a detailed page on Financial Requirement here. It is our speciality and we have unbeatable expertise!
If you are unable to meet the threshold now, we can help you to work out how and when you can. Very often, we see clients unable to meet it now, so we guide them to meet it in 6 or 12 months’ time. It may seem like a long wait but you will have a plan of exactly what to do and what to aim for. This is a safer way than ‘trying’, waiting for up to 3 months and having your visa refused. If your partner is a visa national, they would usually have to remain outside the UK during this time. If your partner is a non-visa national, they can visit the UK during this time before returning to their country to apply for a settlement visa.
If you have serious circumstances why you cannot meet the £18,600 threshold, we will guide you on the application under 10-year route. This depends on your situation, and we approach each case individually.
If you do not have a valid visa in the UK, we will guide you on applying under 10-year route. Maybe you overstayed your past visa, came to the UK as a visitor and remained since, and would now like to obtain a legal status here. This includes situations if you were brought to the UK as a child and are now looking to legalise your stay as an adult. We will advise on your chances on success under the 10-year route, and if your application is successful, you could later switch to the 5-year route to speed up your path to settlement.
By far the biggest challenge is to figure out what supporting evidence you need to provide based on your circumstances. When you start an application with us, the first thing we do is make a list of documents that is tailored to your situation and cover Financial, English and the rest – all in one place!
Due to Covid-19, the Priority services remain unavailable for the time being for applications submitted inside the UK (although it was resumed on work visas). The UK Government is still processing the applications on the standard service and visa centres remain open for biometrics, even during a lockdown. Standard service takes 2 -3 months for extension or switching; up to 6 months for settlement (Indefinite Leave). Priority services, when they are restored eventually, take either 5 working days or 24 hours (next working day if it falls on a weekend).
Applying outside the UK: standard service 3 months, priority 1.5 – 2 months. Priority services have been resumed in most locations.
Contrary to the press telling Meghan Markle she could do so after 3 years in the UK (we hope she wasn’t listening), a spouse of UK citizen has to secure permanent residency first (Indefinite Leave to Remain) after 5 years and only then can apply for naturalisation. An unmarried partner has to wait for a year after ILR.