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Family Members

Family Members

Immigration Rule Changes July 2012

A number of changes to the Immigration Rules came into effect on 9 July 2012. These changes will affect non-European Economic Area (non-EEA) nationals applying to enter or remain in the UK under the family migration route. These changes will define the basis on which a person can enter or remain in the UK on the basis of their family or private life, unifying consideration under the rules and Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

If you already have leave to enter or remain in the UK, on the basis of being the spouse or partner of a settled person, you will need to meet the rules which were in force before 9 July 2012 if you apply for settlement. The changes include:

  • Introducing a new minimum income threshold of £18,600 for sponsoring the settlement in the UK of a spouse or partner, or fiancé(e) or proposed civil partner of non-European Economic Area (EEA) nationality, with a higher threshold for any children also sponsored; £22,400 for one child and an additional £2,400 for each further child.
  • Publishing, in casework guidance, a list of factors associated with genuine and non-genuine relationships, to help UK Border Agency caseworkers to focus on these issues.
  • Extending the minimum probationary period for settlement for non-EEA spouses and partners from two years to five years, to test the genuineness of the relationship.
  • Abolishing immediate settlement for the migrant spouses and partner where a couple have been living together overseas for at least 4 years, and requiring them to complete a 5 year probationary period.
  • From October 2013, requiring all applicants for settlement to pass the Life in the UK Test and present an English language speaking and listening qualification at B1 level or above of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages unless they are exempt.
  • Allowing adult and elderly dependants to settle in the UK only where they can demonstrate that, as a result of age, illness or disability, they require a level of long-term personal care that can only be provided by a relative in the UK, and requiring them to apply from overseas rather than switch in the UK from another category, for example as a visitor.

Husband, Wife Or Civil Partner

The above changes that apply must be met if you are applying for entry clearance on the basis of marriage or civil partnership with a British citizen or a person living and settled in the UK. You must also show that your UK sponsor is:

  • Currently living and settled in the UK or
  • Returning to the UK with you to live here permanently (if you are currently outside the UK).

And that you :

  • Are legally married to each other or have registered a civil partnership.
  • Are both at least 18 years old on the date when you would arrive in the UK or when we would give you permission to remain.
  • Intend to live together permanently as husband and wife, or as civil partners.
  • Have met each other.
  • Meet our English language requirement (unless you can show that you qualify for an exemption).
  • Can support yourselves and any dependents without help from public funds.
  • Have adequate accommodation where you and your dependents can live exclusively and without needing public funds.

If you are already in the UK you may be allowed to switch into the category of husband, wife or civil partner if:

  • You are currently in the UK with permission as a fiancé (e) or proposed civil partner, or as the husband, wife, civil partner or unmarried/same-sex partner of a relevant points-based system migrant, and you are still with the same husband, wife or partner or :
  • You entered the UK in a different immigration category (for example, as a student), and you have been given permission to live here for a total of more than 6 months since your most recent admission to the UK. For example, you can switch if the UKBA gave you a 3-month visa and then permission to remain for 5 months, totaling 8 months. Your current permission must have been given in accordance with the Immigration Rules, not 'exceptionally' (outside the Immigration Rules).

You will not be allowed to switch if:

  • You have entered or remained in the UK in breach of the immigration laws (for example, by overstaying your visa) or
  • Your marriage or civil partnership took place after a decision was made to deport or remove you from the UK or
  • You came to the UK as a visitor with permission to stay for 6 months - you must leave the UK and apply from your country of residence.

Unmarried Or Same-Sex Partner

Your unmarried or same-sex partner must be a British citizen or someone who is settled here they must be:

  • Currently living and settled in the UK or
  • Returning to the UK with you to live here permanently (if you are currently outside the UK).

You must show that:

  • You are both at least 18 years old on the date when you would arrive in the UK or when we would give you permission to enter or remain.
  • Any previous marriage or civil partnership that either of you was in has permanently broken down.
  • You are not related by blood.
  • You have been living together in a relationship akin to marriage or civil partnership which has been existing and genuine (not like a 'marriage of convenience') for at least 2 years.
  • You both plan to live together permanently.
  • You meet our English language requirement, unless you can show that you qualify for an exemption you can support yourselves and any dependents without help from public funds - see the Maintenance page and
  • You have adequate accommodation where you and your dependents can live exclusively and without needing public funds.

CAN YOU 'SWITCH' IF YOU ARE ALREADY IN THE UK?

You may be allowed to switch into the category of unmarried or same-sex partner if:

  • You are currently in the UK with permission as the unmarried or same-sex partner of a relevant points-based system migrant, and you are still that person's partner or
  • You entered the UK in a different immigration category (for example, as a student), and you have been given permission to live here for a total of more than 6 months since your most recent admission to the UK. For example, you can switch if we gave you a 3-month visa and then permission to remain for 5 months, totaling 8 months. Your current permission must have been given in accordance with the Immigration Rules, not 'exceptionally' (outside the Immigration Rules).

You will not be allowed to switch if:

  • You have entered or remained in the UK in breach of the immigration laws (for example, by overstaying your visa) or
  • Your relationship began after a decision was made to deport or remove you from the UK or
  • You came to the UK as a visitor with permission to stay for 6 months - you must leave the UK and apply from your country of residence.

If you apply but cannot meet all the requirements for this category, you will be refused and your application fee will not be refunded.

Your unmarried or same-sex partner must be:

  • Currently living and settled in the UK or
  • Returning to the UK with you to live here permanently (if you are currently outside the UK).

You must show that:

  • You are both at least 18 years old on the date when you would arrive in the UK or when we would give you permission to enter or remain.
  • Any previous marriage or civil partnership that either of you was in has permanently broken down.
  • You are not related by blood.
  • You have been living together in a relationship akin to marriage or civil partnership which has been existing and genuine (not like a 'marriage of convenience') for at least 2 years.
  • You both plan to live together permanently.
  • You meet our English language requirement, unless you can show that you qualify for an exemption.
  • You can support yourselves and any dependents without help from public funds.
  • You have adequate accommodation where you and your dependents can live exclusively and without needing public funds.

Fiance(e)

You can apply to enter or remain in the UK as the fiancé(e) or proposed civil partner of a British citizen or someone who is settled here.

You must obtain a visa before traveling here, even if you are a national of a country whose nationals do not normally require a visa to visit the UK. You cannot apply as a fiancé (e) or proposed civil partner from inside the UK.

Your fiancé(e) or proposed civil partner must be:

  • Currently living and settled in the UK or
  • Returning to the UK with you to live here permanently.

You must show that:

  • You are both at least 18 years old on the date when you would arrive in the UK or when we would give you permission to remain.
  • You both intend to marry or register a civil partnership within a reasonable time (usually 6 months).
  • You both intend to live together permanently as husband and wife or civil partners after you are married or have registered your civil partnership.
  • You have met each other.
  • You meet our English language requirement, unless you can show that you qualify for an exemption.
  • Until you are married or have registered a civil partnership, there is somewhere for you and any dependents to live without help from public funds.
  • There will, when you are married or in your civil partnership, be adequate accommodation where you and any dependents can live exclusively and without help from public funds and
  • You and any dependents can be supported without working or needing public funds, before you apply to extend your stay as the husband, wife or civil partner of a British citizen or settled person.

You must also meet all the other requirements of the Immigration Rules in light of recent changes.

Dependent Relatives

You can come to live permanently in the UK as an adult dependent relative of someone who is already a permanent resident here.

You can apply for permission to settle permanently here (known as 'indefinite leave to enter or remain') if you are:

  • Aged 18 or over and
  • A parent, grandparent, brother, sister, son or daughter of a British citizen or person settled in the UK.

You can apply to join a settled person in the UK if:

  • You need long-term personal care to perform everyday tasks, such as washing and cooking.
  • The care you need is not available in the country where you are living, either because it is not available and there is no person in the country where you are living who can reasonably provide it or it is not affordable.
  • Your sponsor can show that he or she is able to provide adequate maintenance, accommodation and care for you without having to rely on public funds. Your sponsor will need to sign a sponsorship undertaking form to confirm that they will be responsible for your care without relying on public funds for a period of at least 5 years.

Applying For Settlement

This section explains how you can apply for permission to settle permanently in the UK if you are currently here as the husband, wife or civil partner of a British citizen or a person who is present and settled here. Permission to settle in the UK is also known as 'indefinite leave to remain'.

You must meet all the requirements of the Immigration Rules at the time when you apply for settlement. If you are considering applying for settlement in the future, you should note that the Immigration Rules are subject to change.

You can apply for settlement as a husband, wife or civil partner if:

  • You have completed a period of 2 years (if granted leave before 09 July 2012, or a period of 5 years if after this date) in the UK, with a visa or permission to remain here in this category.
  • You are still the husband, wife or civil partner of the person specified in your visa or permission to remain.
  • The marriage or civil partnership is existing and genuine (not a 'marriage of convenience', for example).
  • You and your partner both intend to live together permanently as husband and wife or civil partners.
  • You have adequate accommodation where both of you and any dependents can live without needing public funds, and at least part of that accommodation (for example, a bedroom) is for your and your partner's sole use.
  • Both of you can support yourselves and any dependents without needing public funds.
  • You do not have any unspent convictions within the meaning of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 and
  • You have enough knowledge of the English language and life in the UK. (You do not need to meet this last requirement if you are aged 65 or over.)

Disclaimer: The information provided above only provides general guidelines on Immigration Law and these rules change regularly (last update 16 August 2012). It is highly recommended that you call our office for more in depth advice and assistance.