Unmarried Partners will no longer need to show two years of co-habitation to qualify for a partner visa.
A new definition of what constitutes an unmarried partner under Appendix FM of the Immigration Rules came into effect today (31 January 2024). The change, which was introduced in December’s statement of changes in the Immigration Rules (HC 246), will do away with the requirement that unmarried partners need to have lived together for at least two years and replaces it with a wider definition requiring that the couple has merely been in a relationship similar to marriage or civil partnership for at least two years.
This potentially opens the door to applications from couples who live apart, whether for work, study, caring responsibilities or other reasons, or perhaps simply by choice, provided they can show that they have been in a relationship similar to marriage or civil partnership for at least two years. This is especially relevant for couples who are hoping to make an application before the 3-stage planned increases in the Minimum Income Requirement (MIR) come into force. In a ministerial statement made on 30 January 2024, Tom Pursglove confirmed that the first incremental rise in the MIR (from £18,600 to £29,000) will be introduced in a 14 March Statement of Changes and will take effect on 11 April 2024. No dates have yet been given for the two further planned incremental increases to the MIR (to £34,500 and finally to £38,700).
The new unmarried partner definition is a positive development for unmarried partners and brings the definition in line with other visa categories. It remains to be seen how progressively the new definition will be implemented or interpreted. New Home Office caseworker guidance is expected to be published imminently and we expect that it will contain examples of what types of evidence caseworkers will be looking for in determining whether a non-cohabiting unmarried couple will be recognised as having been in a relationship similar to marriage or civil partnership for at least two years.
Should you require immigration advice in relation to the proposed changes or any immigration, asylum or nationality matter please be in touch with Elizabeth or Ashley at: