Living Together No Longer a Requirement of the Unmarried Partner Visa

The Unmarried Partner Visa in the UK has undergone changes, offering greater flexibility and inclusivity for couples in committed relationships. 

The Home Office published amendments to the Interpretation section of the Immigration Rules and to the Family policy guidance on 14 February 2024. The changes redefine the criteria for qualifying as an unmarried partner, marking a departure from stringent cohabitation requirements. 

Below, we will discuss some of the changes and implications for prospective unmarried partner visa applicants. 

Cohabitation Requirement for the Unmarried Partner Visa

Previously, to be eligible as an unmarried partner, couples had to demonstrate two years of cohabitation in a relationship akin to marriage or civil partnership. However, effective from January 31, 2024, the requirement for two years of cohabitation has been removed from the Immigration Rules. This shift represents a significant departure from the traditional criteria, signalling a more inclusive approach to partnership recognition within immigration policy.

The revised definition now focuses on the duration and nature of the relationship itself rather than solely on cohabitation. Couples seeking an Unmarried Partner Visa must prove they have been in a genuine and subsisting relationship similar to marriage or civil partnership for at least two years before the visa application date. 

New Published Guidance on Family Life

The newly published guidance on Family life (as a partner or parent) and exceptional circumstances clarifies the updated requirements. The guidance now states that evidence of cohabitation is no longer mandatory to establish the genuineness of the relationship. Instead, the Home Office will assess the authenticity and continuity of the partnership based on various factors, including the couple’s intention to live together permanently in the UK.

While the removal of the cohabitation requirement expands eligibility for unmarried partner visas, couples must still meet rigorous criteria to demonstrate the genuine and subsisting nature of their relationship. Evidence such as joint financial commitments, shared responsibilities, and future place for cohabitation remains crucial in substantiating the validity of the partnership. 

It’s essential to note that the revised criteria do not diminish the significance of cohabitation as a compelling indicator of a genuine relationship. Although no longer mandatory, evidence of cohabitation can strengthen the case and enhance credibility in the eyes of immigration authorities. 

The relaxation of the cohabitation requirement offers relief to couples facing cultural, religious, or economic barriers to living together. It acknowledges the diverse circumstances of modern relationships and ensures that genuine partnerships are not unfairly disadvantaged by rigid eligibility criteria.

How Breytenbachs can help you

Breytenbachs have a team of highly qualified consultants specialising in Family Visas for the UK, including the Unmarried Partner Visa. Breytenbachs to assist with your visa application will increase your chances of success! Contact us today for more information.

Please contact us today for further information or applications.

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