on May 19, 2022
Read Time: 9 Minutes
For many years, there has been the provision for a British or settled person in the UK to bring over a partner from another country. Appendix FM in the Immigration Rules allows such a person to join someone in the UK as a partner. However, the term ‘partner’ has changed slightly to include a variation on the term of ‘civil partner’.
Previously, civil partnerships in England and Wales were reserved for same-sex couples, but a change in the law now allows any two people to enter into a civil partnership. Here is a summary of the requirements for Appendix FM, and how the change affects those applying to join someone in the UK.
Appendix FM is an extensive document that outlines the rules and requirements that individuals must fulfil in order to be permitted to come to the UK on the basis of their family life. This part of the UK Immigration Rules applies to nationals from outside the European Economic Union (EEA) or Switzerland using their family life as a basis for applying to enter or remain in the UK.
There is a set of legal requirements that must be met in order for permission to be granted.
You can only apply for a family-based visa if you are related or in a relationship with any of the following:
The rules that relate to eligibility vary depending on the relationship the person has with the person in the UK. However, generally, someone can apply if they are in a relationship with a qualifying person as any of the following:
The partner category includes a spouse, civil partner or unmarried partner.
One of the potential qualifying relationships for a person to be considered under Appendix FM is a partner. However, the term covers a myriad of other terms that also need to be explained.
To count as a spouse, evidence such as a marriage certificate needs to be provided if in the UK. This is recognised in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales.
For marriages outside the UK to be valid, a marriage certificate also needs to be produced. It also has to be considered a legal form of marriage in the country it is taking place and be correctly registered.
If one or both of the parties have previous marriages, then these must be legally ended or terminated. Evidence of this will also need to be produced.
If the UK settled person or UK citizen is in a polygamous marriage, then only one person can be sponsored to live in the UK as their partner.
For a civil partnership, a civil partnership certificate is needed. This has very similar legal status to marriage, but for same-sex couples. However, same-sex couples are now able to marry in England and Wales, and civil partnerships have been opened up to mixed-sex couples.
It may be that other countries have a different form of legal ceremony that two people can enter into. If this is the case, then if it is listed in the Civil Partnership Act 2004, it is treated as a civil partnership.
If you are not yet married or in a civil partnership, then you need to provide evidence to prove you are entering the UK to enable your marriage or civil partnership to take place within six months of entry.
This can include plans or bookings for the ceremony, or other arrangements that have been made.
Neither partner should be in a civil partnership or marriage to another person by the date of the application.
This area can be the hardest to prove, as you need to show that you have been living together with your partner in a relationship like a marriage or civil partnership for the last two years.
Evidence that is accepted includes a joint tenancy and official correspondence to the same address for both people.
If one or both people are still married or in a civil partnership, then this doesn’t necessarily mean they cannot be considered as unmarried partners. If they can prove that the other relationship has ended and the new relationship is genuine, this can be enough.
In all of these cases, there needs to be enough evidence to prove that the relationship is genuine. Couples may have to provide evidence or meet a number of other requirements before they can qualify for a partner visa.
After civil partnerships were established, there was a movement to advocate an extension to opposite-sex couples.
Several attempts were made to bring change through the courts, but these were unsuccessful. By 2016, only the Isle of Man allowed both same-sex and opposite-sex civil partnerships.
In July 2018, the Supreme Court ruled that restricting civil partnerships to same-sex couples was discriminatory, and so in October 2018, the Government announced that civil partnerships would be opened up to heterosexual couples as well.
The Civil Partnerships, Marriages and Deaths (Registration etc) Bill was introduced in 2017 and was passed by Parliament on 15th March 2019. It then received Royal Assent on 26th March 2019 and went into effect on 26th May 2019. This only applied to England and Wales, however.
For Northern Ireland, civil partnerships became available to opposite-sex couples on 13th January 2020. The Scottish Government introduced proposed legislation allowing mixed-sex civil partnerships to the Scottish Parliament on 30th September 2019. It reached Royal Assent on 28th July 2020 and has been in effect since 30th June 2021.
There are a few noticeable differences between a civil partnership and marriage. Marriage is formed by taking vows, whereas a civil partnership is formed by signing a civil partnership document.
When it comes to ending a relationship, a marriage has to go through a divorce, whereas a civil partnership goes through dissolution. However, the process is virtually the same for both.
Although civil partnerships and marriage are different, the law for both is similar. The rights in both situations are the same when it comes to financial provision on separation, as well as inheritance and tax entitlements.
It should be noted that civil partnerships are not the same as ‘common law spouse’. There is no provision for either partner or children in a common-law relationship, with the exception of some old property laws.
The Civil Partner visa allows someone to enter the UK and join a British citizen or someone settled in the UK.
In the section above (on what signifies a ‘partner’ in Appendix FM applications), the list of what a partner signifies also sets out the requirements for each relationship.
Both partners also need to be over 18 years of age at the time of the application.
Civil Partner visas are initially issued for a period of 33 months if the application is made overseas. If the application is made in the UK, the initial period is 30 months.
Once the holder of the Civil Partner visa has spent the initial period together with their partner, they can apply for an additional 30 months’ extension.
After five years on a Civil Partner visa, an application can be submitted for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR). This is provided that the partners are still living together and the requirements continue to be met.
There is also a financial requirement that is mentioned later in this article.
As well as the partner, there are requirements for other family members that may be joining the UK partner.
For children, the following requirements must be met:
They would enter the country as part of a Family visa if one of the partners wanted to bring children in with them.
One of the parents of the child should also be in the UK with limited leave to enter or remain, or be in the process of being granted or been granted entry clearance as a parent or partner under the Family visa route.
Together with the other Appendix FM requirements, there is also a financial requirement to prove that both partners and any children can be supported during their stay in the UK.
For the purposes of the Immigration Rules, a dependant child is classed as: “biological children, step-children (in certain circumstances), adopted children (in certain circumstances, including de facto adoptions), and children coming for the purpose of adoption who are subject to immigration control and applying for limited leave to enter or remain under Appendix FM, Appendix Armed Forces or the paragraphs of Part 8”.
This means that either the person entering the UK or their sponsor needs to show that they have adequate funds available to live without recourse to any public funds.
When someone is applying as a partner, there is a minimum income threshold that is required from certain sources. This can also be based on a combined income.
There is a provision under Appendix FM for exceptional circumstances. This states that if such a financial restriction results in unjustifiably harsh consequences, and thereby makes refusal of entry clearance or leave to remain a breach of Article 8, then UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) can take into account other sources of funds.
There is also a requirement for maintenance that sets out what is deemed ‘adequate’ for a couple or a family unit. The Family Migration: Appendix FM Section 1.7A – Adequate maintenance and accommodation specifies ‘adequate’ as “‘Adequate’ and ‘adequately’ in relation to a maintenance and accommodation requirement shall mean that, after income tax, National Insurance contributions and housing costs have been deducted, there must be available to the family the level of income that would be available to them if the family was in receipt of Income Support”.
For those children near or over 18 years old, there is a specific mention in the Family Migration: Appendix FM. It states that “Where a child or children were previously granted leave before they turned 18 when they were included in the higher financial requirement and remains dependent on their parent, the higher financial requirement will apply until the applicant partner qualifies for settlement, even if the child turns 18 before then. However, the 18+-year-old’s income and savings will be permitted to count towards the financial requirement if they have not formed an independent life and are not eligible to be considered as a child”.
The change to the civil partnership legislation allows same-sex as well as opposite-sex couples to enter into a partnership agreement and is also applicable under the Appendix FM Immigration Rules.
To get the best information and tailored advice on your own circumstances and needs as a business or individual, please contact one of our award-winning firm in London. They will be pleased to assist you and discuss our services. Feel free to contact our Appendix FM lawyers at Cranbrook Legal today, on 0208 215 0053.