Settlement Visa - Husbands, wives and civil partners
This section explains how you can apply for permission to settle permanently in the UK if you are currently here as the husband, wife or civil partner of a British citizen or a person who is present and settled here. This is the application for settlement visa also known as indefinite leave to remain.
Permission to settle in the UK is also known as ‘indefinite leave to remain’
You must meet all the requirements of the Immigration Rules at the time when you apply for settlement. If you are considering applying for settlement in the future, you should note that the Immigration Rules are subject to change.
How to apply for settlement visa application
New immigration rules that came into force on 9 July 2012 changed the length of time that family members must be in the UK before applying for settlement. This applies to partners of those who are British citizens, settled in the UK, in the UK with refugee leave or humanitarian protection, or here as a worker in a points-based category.
If you are in a relationship with a person who is settled here or is applying to settle here, you can apply for permission to enter or remain in the United Kingdom with a view to settlement as his/her. The new changes from 9th July 2012 may impact your leave to remain. To find out how to apply for permission to remain in this category, please contact our team by clicking here. ICS Legal can be contacted on 0207 237 3388 or e-mail us on firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you applied to come to the UK or for permission to stay here on or after 9 July 2012 and that permission was granted, you will need to be in the UK for 5 years before you qualify for settlement. You will initially be given leave to enter for 2 and a half years, and then you can apply for another period of 2 and a half years.
If you do not meet the requirements on the 5-year route you may qualify for settlement after 10 years if you were given permission to stay on the basis of your family or private life in exceptional circumstances.
Meeting the requirements of the application in general
You can apply for settlement as a husband, wife or civil partner if:
you have completed a period of 5 years in the UK, with a visa or permission to remain here in this category;
you are still the husband, wife or civil partner of the person specified in your visa or permission to remain;
the marriage or civil partnership is existing and genuine (not a ‘marriage of convenience’, for example);
you and your partner both intend to live together permanently as husband and wife or civil partners;
you have adequate accommodation where both of you and any dependants can live without needing public funds, and at least part of that accommodation (for example, a bedroom) is for your and your partner’s sole use;
both of you can support yourselves and any dependants without needing public funds;
you do not have any unspent convictions within the meaning of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974; and
you have enough knowledge of the English language and life in the UK. (You do not need to meet this last requirement if you are aged 65 or over.) You can find more information about this requirement on the Knowledge of language and life page.
You must apply using application form SET(M).
You must be in the UK when you apply. You can make your application by post, by courier, in person at one of our public enquiry offices, or use the settlement checking service. This service is offered by a number of local authorities, and assists applicants to submit valid and complete applications that are less likely to be delayed.
The absence rules on settlement visa applications and time spent outside the UK
The Immigration Rules do not say that you must have been in the UK for the entire 2 years of your visa or permission to remain. Your application to settle here will be judged on its merits, taking into account your reasons for travel, the length of your absences, and whether you and your partner travelled and lived together while you were outside the UK. If you have spent a limited time abroad in connection with your job, for example, this should not count against you.
However, time spent outside the UK does make a difference to applications for British citizenship. If you apply to be naturalised as the husband, wife or civil partner of a British citizen, you must show that you have been living in the UK for the last 3 years (the ‘residential qualifying period’), and that you have spent no more than 270 days outside the UK during those 3 years. Also, you must have spent no more than 90 days outside the UK in the last 12 months of the 3-year period. (We have the discretion to allow absences above the normal limits in some circumstances).
If you delayed your entry to the UK for more than 3 months
If you were given a visa in this category but you then delayed your travel to the UK by up to 3 months, you can apply for settlement visa using application form SET(M) shortly before your visa expires. Provided you meet all the other requirements, we will put your application on hold until you have completed your 5-year qualifying period in the UK.
If you were given a visa in this category but you then delayed your travel to the UK by more than 3 months, you will need to apply using application form FLR(M) for a further probationary period of 5 years. If we give you a further probationary period and you meet all the other requirements for settlement (including the knowledge of language and life), you will be able to apply for settlement visa as soon as you have completed a total of 5 years’ probation (adding together your time spent in the UK under your visa and the necessary number of months from your second probationary period).
Switching from another category and applying for settlement
If you entered the United Kingdom in a different category (for example, as a student), you may be allowed to switch into the category of husband, wife or civil partner if The Home Office has given you a total of more than six months' permission to live here since your most recent admission to the United Kingdom. This permission must have been given in accordance with the Immigration Rules, not 'exceptionally' (outside the Immigration Rules). For example, if the Home Office gave you permission to enter for three months and then permission to remain for five months, you have been given a total of eight months - which means you can apply to switch into the category of husband, wife or civil partner.
(The minimum of more than six months does not apply to you if The Home Office gave you permission to enter as a fiancé(e) or proposed civil partner, or as the husband, wife, civil partner or unmarried/same-sex partner of a Tier 1 Migrant, and you are still with the same husband, wife or partner).
Call ICS Legal today on 0207 237 3388 and get some initial legal advice on your application to settle in the UK. Do not delay your call to us.