- Not ready for civil partnership or marriage?
- Can we build up the two years by simply visiting each other?
- What other options are there for us staying together in the UK?
- What if there are no options?
- Is there any other country where we could live together?
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Last updated: April 2020
Not ready for civil partnership or marriage?
If you are not ready or able to enter into a marriage or civil partnership and do not qualify under the unmarried partners rules because you do not have the required two years cohabitation, you will have to find a way to stay together until you reach the two-year point. It is extremely important not to separate for any lengthy period of time.
The crucial thing to remember is to ensure that you document your relationship throughout so that when you reach the two-year period you have enough evidence to prove that you have been in the relationship as claimed.
In some circumstances applications can succeed even if you don’t have two years’ cohabitation, but you need to submit compelling evidence and explain your circumstances in a cover letter. The UKVI can exercise discretion and grant your application but it will depend on the specific facts of your case.
Can we build up the two years by simply visiting each other?
In theory there is nothing wrong with spending six months in the UK visiting your partner and then returning home and your partner visiting you. However, if you are planning to visit the UK frequently or for long periods, you must be aware of the immigration rules relating to visitors, particularly the requirement that you have an intention to leave.
If you do want to visit the UK regularly and are concerned about being refused entry at the airport, you may wish to consider applying for a multiple entry visitor visa from the Visa Application Centre in your own country. Do remember, however, that even if you hold a multiple entry visa, you should not normally be in the UK as a visitor for more than six months in any year and there is not much you can do in the UK as visitors are not allowed to work or study.
What other options are there for us staying together in the UK?
There are numerous categories in the Immigration Rules that allow people to come to the UK for particular reasons. If you qualify under one of these categories there is no reason why you cannot come to the UK for that purpose, living with your partner during that time.
The immigration system is based on a five-tier framework. Many specific categories have been replaced under the Points-Based System.
Categories within the Points-Based System (PBS)
Underpinning the government’s new immigration system is a five-tier framework, the Points-Based System, as follows:
- Tier 1 – Start-Up and Innovator, Investor, Exceptional Talent. The Entrepreneur route has been closed and you can only apply for extension of leave or indefinite leave under this category. The system will change in January 2021.
- Tier 2 – Skilled workers with a job offer where the post cannot be filled by a settled worker (subject to a quota system), Minister of religion, Sportsperson, Intra company transfer.
- Tier 3 – Low skilled workers. Currently suspended.
- Tier 4 – Students, prospective students.
- Tier 5 – Temporary workers: Creative and Sporting, Charity workers, Religious workers, Government authorised exchanges, International agreement (e.g. foreign government employees), Youth mobility scheme (young people from Australia, Canada, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, New Zealand and Monaco).
Tier 5 categories are temporary and people will not be able to switch to another status from within the United Kingdom.
Categories which are outside the Points-Based System (PBS)
What if there are no options?
There is no requirement to have lived together for 2 years when making an application on the basis of marriage/civil partnership.
If there is some reason why you are not able or willing to enter into a marriage/civil partnership and you do not meet the requirements of the immigration rules for unmarried partners, see the latest position regarding applications based on Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights Appx FM family members – section EX – EX.1(b). This is a hard route to follow and only worth considering if you can prove that there are insurmountable obstacles to family life with your partner continuing outside the UK.
Is there any other country where we could live together?
If one of the partners is British or another EEA nationality, the couple may be able to go to live in certain other EEA countries who themselves recognise same-sex relationships. If the foreign partner’s home country recognises same-sex relationships for immigration purposes, living in that country (even if on a temporary basis to build up cohabitation time) would clearly be an option. More here.
If you found this information useful, please consider making a donation so we can continue to support lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer or intersex (LGBTQI+) people through the immigration system.