Same-Sex Family Visa UK: Guide for the LGBTQ+ Community
In this article we will share some insight into applying for same-sex family visa and how our immigration lawyers could assist you with your application.
There are no separate routes for same sex partners when it comes to joining their families in the UK and the law offers equal opportunities to all. There are, however, some specific challenges that the members of LGBTQ+ community might experience and that is where we come in. Our top immigration lawyers have years of experience in assisting members of LGBTQ+ community to successfully present their immigration cases and we are ready to offer guidance and assistance to you.
Please contact us to book an appointment for more information or assistance.
What are family visas?
First, let’s look at which immigration applications are classified as family visas. The family visas include several routes that are based on the right of an individual to live with his family, or as the lawyers call it, ‘the right to family life’.
These are spouse visa, unmarried partner visa, parent of a British child visa and so on. Technically, family visas also include dependents joining their family members who are in the UK or are coming to the UK under any number of point-based routes, however, in immigration lawyer speak, we refer to family visas only when the sponsoring partner is either British or is settled in the UK and where the visa route falls under the Immigration Rules for family members and the Appendix FM which covers requirements for those specific routs.
Who is Eligible?
The eligibility for a family visa will depend on the specific route. In this blog, we will concentrate on the partner routes as the most common routes for applications from family members. If this is not applicable to your case and you wish to come to the UK as, for example, a parent of a British child, please give us a call today and we will be happy to discuss with you the specifics of your matter.
What are the Eligibility Criteria?
The eligibility criteria for same-sex partner visas in the UK have several elements:
For those wishing to come to the UK as a partner, there are 3 sub-routes available:
- The first one is the spouse visa. To qualify for this visa, you will need to be married or in civil partnership with a British national or a person settled in the UK.
- The second route is that if you are not married but have lived together for at least 2 years in a genuine and ongoing relationship similar to marriage, you would qualify for an unmarried partner visa.
- The third option is to apply as a fiancé or a proposed civil partner, for those who do not meet the above relationship requirements but intend to get married or enter into civil partnership.
Important considerations for meeting relationship criteria :
At first glance, those requirements might not seem too difficult to meet, but that only true if you are coming from a place with equal rights for same-sex relationships. There are not too many of those unfortunately and there are still many countries that do not allow marriages or civil partnerships between same-sex couples. Worst yet, some of them have laws against same-sex relationships. For people from such countries, proving their relationship can be truly challenging.
There are many countries around the world where members of the LGBTQ+ community cannot marry, enter a civil partnership or cohabit without fear for their safety and even life, due to persecution that they face. Many will not risk doing so outside of their country of origin either if they know they will then have to go back.
Moreover, as the unmarried partner visa requires at least 2 years of cohabitation, a lot of people from such countries cannot use that route either. That can be challenging even in situations where they have, in fact, lived together. Due to strict local laws proving such cohabitation can be difficult to prove to demonstrate through evidence. Our immigration lawyers are well experienced in assisting with such applications, helping our clients to find ways of proving their relationship via alternative evidence.
Things are, of course, more complicated for those who have not lived together and are not married or in a civil partnership either. If this applies to you, please be aware that there are alternatives; but also bear in mind that it will be difficult and complex, to prove your relationship with your partner and it also may have a significant cost attached to it.
What if we intend to get married?
In situations where you intend to get married to your British partner, you can consider the fiancé visa. If your fiancé visa application is successful, you would then have 6 months to marry or enter a civil partnership in the UK. You can subsequently transfer onto the five-year partner route from within the UK.
Are there any other alternatives?
If the above is not an option for you, then the main alternative would be to present such a relationship under will need to use human rights considerations under the ‘Exceptional Circumstances’ of the Immigration Rules. This section of the Rules provides a possibility for those who are not able to meet the regular rule requirements. This may be used alongside ‘EX(1)(b)’, the Insurmountable Obstacles argument.
These exceptions are, however, very difficult to meet and require prove that the consequences of a refusal would be disproportionate and will infringe on the applicant’s family life. There is also little certainty around the success of the exceptional circumstance’s application. As the Home Office consider the facts on a case-by-case basis and seek to balance it with the public interest, you have the best chance of success by including as much evidence as possible; collating strong testimonies from friends and family and proving you have no negative impact on the public i.e stable finances and no criminal records.
If you are able to convince the Home Office to agree with your case or succeed at an appeal, you will then be granted discretionary leave to enter. If you wish to settle in the UK, you will be on the 10-year route, instead of the standard 5-year route.
The difficulty with that is that the Home Office would expect you to be able to provide a considerable amount of evidence of the relationship and your plans to wed. This would include statements of support from friends and family, explicitly confirming their knowledge of and support for your relationship and future plans, as well as evidence of time spent together such as holiday bookings, and photographs of you as a couple.
If you find that the above is reflective of your circumstances, give our experienced immigration lawyers a call today to discuss you matter.
In most cases, irrespective of how the relationship criteria is met, there will be need to meet the financial requirement.
Anyone, whether British or a person settled in the UK, who wishes to have their overseas partner join them in the UK, will need to prove that they earn at least £18,600 a year or have sufficient savings. The amount is higher if there are also dependent children being sponsored.
The income can be from employment, self-employment, and a number of non-employment sources. Savings can be held by either the UK-based partner or the foreign one applying to join him. However, if income is being relied upon, it can only be from the sponsoring partner, unless the non-British partner is already in the UK and relying on an income from UK employment or self-employment.
Apart from the financial requirement, the applicant and the UK partner will need to also prove that they have adequate accommodation in the UK for both of them.
This requirement is based on the UK rules against overcrowding of residencies and normally means that any accommodation, whether owned, rented or otherwise under their disposal, can be used, provided they have a separate room to themselves and the rest of the rooms are not occupied in a manner that causes overcrowding.
English language requirement
Anyone joining a partner in the UK, will also need to prove that they have sufficient knowledge of the English language.
This can be achieved either by passing a test at least at CEFR Level A1. Other options include having a degree taught in English at the level equivalent of a bachelor’s degree or higher and recognised by the UK. Nationals of certain English-speaking countries are exempt from meeting this requirement.
This requirement is only applicable if the application is being made from within the UK. Normally, application to join a British or settled partner should be done from abroad and can only be done from within the UK if the applying partner is in the UK on a leave to remain that is valid for more than 6 months. Therefore, for instance, you cannot come to the UK as a visitor and then apply to remain here with your partner.
What Is The Application Process?
As with all visas, you will need to fill in the online form. You will need to provide:
- Evidence of your personal information
- Your partner’s personal information
- Proof of your relationship, finances, and accommodation
- Details of any children you may have.
In certain cases, depending on your country of origin, you might be required to take a medical test.
How Long Does a Single-Sex Family Visa application take?
A decision will normally be made within 24 weeks, with the waiting times slowly being now reduced back to 12 weeks. The priority service will soon also reopen, allowing for a quicker decision for an additional fee.
Why RVS Solicitors?
We have years of experience in assisting with immigration into the UK and we have countless success stories. We have been able to guide our clients through the ever-changing landscape of the UK immigration system, provide clarity, and most importantly, succeed in ensuring our clients can fulfil their dreams.
We will start with an initial assessment to see how we will best be able to assist you under this visa route or even suggest a route that may be more suited to your needs and situation. We will discuss with you the estimated costs in terms of the application fees, our service fees, and the timeframes that would be involved, as well as answer any questions or concerns you may have.
After we get a little more information from you, you can sit back and relax knowing you are in good hands. We will handle your entire immigration matter from beginning to end and if your ultimate aim is to settle within the UK, we can help you throughout your journey.
We are confident in our abilities and our clients and successes speak for themselves. Check out our client testimonials here.