Registering a civil partnership is one of the ways in which a partner can join or stay with the EU or British partner in the UK, or a person with limited leave to remain in the UK.
What is a Civil Partnership?
In the UK, two persons of the same sex can register a civil partnership. Since December 2019, it is also possible for opposite-sex couples to register a civil partnership.
By registering a civil partnership, the relationship obtains legal recognition.
It is a different legal concept to marriage. It allows people to register a similar legal union.
Since December 2014, it is also possible for civil partners in England and Wales to convert their partnership into a marriage. At present, opposite-sex couples do not have the right to convert their civil partnership to a marriage.
Please note that same-sex persons can marry in the UK.
The End of a Civil Partnership
Registering a civil partnership requires a serious commitment. Should the partners wish to end a civil partnership, they are required to go through a court-based dissolution, which addresses the same issues as a divorce settlement.
It is not possible to apply to bring a civil partnership legally to an end before one year.
A civil partnership can also end through annulment or upon the death of one of the parties.
How to Register a Civil Partnership
If any of the parties is subject to immigration control, you will have to give notice to register the civil partnership at a Special Register Office. Before you are allowed to give notice, you must have entry clearance specifically for the purpose of registering a civil partnership in the UK.
If the registrar believes someone is entering into the civil partnership for immigration purposes, the registrar must report it to UK Visas and Immigration.
Twenty-eight (28) days after giving notice, the parties will be free to register the partnership. The registration is subject to the fact that there are no objections or legal reasons why the partnership cannot go ahead.
The Register Office will provide the parties with a civil partnership schedule. As soon as the parties sign the schedule in front of a registrar and two witnesses, the civil partnership forms.
You have to register within twelve months. If you do not register it within this period, the process has to re-start.
Civil Partnership with a person present and settled in the UK
A civil partner or a person about to become a civil partner can apply for the UK Settlement Visa if the other civil partner is a person present and settled in the UK.
You will have to fulfil the financial requirement of the Settlement visa. A minimum income threshold of £18,600 is required to sponsor the settlement of the proposed civil partner. If you also sponsor any children, the threshold will be higher. The threshold is £22,400 for the application plus one child and an additional £2,400 for each further child.
The holder of the settlement visa will be subject to a probationary period for settlement of five years. There are no work restrictions on the Settlement Visa.
After five years in the UK, you will qualify to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain. You will once again have to satisfy the criteria of the spouse/partner status at the end of this period.
Civil Partners of Persons also subject to Immigration Control
If you are the civil partner of a person who is subject to immigration control in one of the permanent immigration categories, such as a Tier 1 or Tier 2 (skilled worker), you can apply to join him or her in the UK as a dependant for the same time as their leave to remain is granted. After you have obtained this dependent visa, you will be able to work in the UK without any restrictions. This is subject to your partner maintaining their status.
Under certain specific circumstances (length and type of study course), it is possible to apply for leave to enter the UK as the civil partner of a person with a Student Visa.
The leave to remain will be for the same period as for the student visa holder. As this is a temporary immigration category, it will not allow you to qualify for Indefinite Leave to Remain. Both partners have to leave the UK upon the expiry of the visa or switch to another immigration status.
How Breytenbachs can help you
If you have any questions relating to Civil Partnerships or any other immigration issue, please feel free to contact our team today.