Family visas: apply, extend or switch

2. Apply as a partner or spouse

To apply as a partner, you and your partner both need to be 18 or over.

Your partner must also either:

  • be a British citizen
  • have settled in the UK (they have ‘indefinite leave to remain’ or proof of permanent residence)
  • have refugee status or humanitarian protection in the UK

You and your partner must intend to live together permanently in the UK after you apply.

What you’ll need to prove

You must be able to prove one of the following:

  • you’re in a civil partnership or marriage that’s recognised in the UK
  • you’ve 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

You also need to prove you:

If you don’t meet these requirements you may still be able to apply for a visa or extend your permission to stay if:

  • you have a child in the UK who is a British citizen or has lived in the UK for 7 years and it would be unreasonable for them to leave the UK
  • there would be very significant difficulties for you and your partner if you lived together as a couple outside the UK that couldn’t be overcome
  • it would breach your human rights to stop you coming to the UK or make you leave

If you’re applying as a fiancé, fiancée or proposed civil partner

You must prove that:

  • any previous marriages or civil partnerships have ended
  • you plan to marry or become civil partners within 6 months of arriving in the UK

You won’t be able to work during your engagement.

How long you can stay

You’ll get permission to stay for 2.5 years, or for 6 months if you’re applying as a fiancé, fiancée or proposed civil partner.

After this you’ll need to apply to extend your stay.

How to apply

You’ll need to prepare information and send documents with your application.

How you apply depends on whether you’re outside or in the UK.

Outside the UK

You must apply online from outside the UK. You must also complete Appendix 2.

There’s a different way to apply in North Korea.

In the UK

You can apply online if you’re already in the UK.

You can also apply by post or in person at a premium service centre.

How you apply by post depends on whether you can prove your knowledge of English, meet the minimum income requirement and currently have permission to be in the UK.

Fill in:

To apply in person either:

  • fill in the form and book an appointment
  • make an online application and book an appointment

You must apply by post and fill in appendix 1 FLR(FP) FLR(O) if you can’t pay the fee because you:

  • don’t have a place to live and you can’t afford one
  • have a place to live but can’t afford your essential living costs like food or heating
  • have a very low income and paying the fee would harm your child’s wellbeing

Applying with your children

You can add children to your application as dependants if they are under 18, or were under 18 when you first applied and don’t live an independent life.

Your child is living an independent life if, for example, they’ve left home, got married and had children.

When you can settle permanently

The earliest you can apply to settle in the UK (called ‘indefinite leave to remain’) is after you’ve lived in the country for 5 years continuously with permission to stay (‘leave to remain’) as a partner. You can’t count any permission to stay in the UK as a fiancé, fiancée or proposed civil partner.

The rules are different if you applied before 9 July 2012.

If you applied before 9 July 2012

You can only extend your family visa if all the following are true:

  • you were given permission to stay in the UK as a partner before 9 July 2012
  • you aren’t eligible to settle
  • you haven’t been granted or refused another visa

You must also prove that: