UK Spouse/Fiancé/Partner Settlement Visa – Further Leave to Remain
Applying for Further Leave to Remain from inside the UK
An applicant who receives a Partner, Fiancé or Spouse Settlement Visa to join their partner in their UK usually believe that this is the end of their visa journey. To some extent, it is, however, to live permanently in the UK the applicant must fulfill certain criteria along the way on their visa route. One of these criteria’s is to complete an application for Further Leave to Remain.
This application is made by the applicant in order to prolong a period of stay in the UK. If the applicant has been granted limited leave to enter the UK it is essential that an application for Further Leave to Remain is submitted before the expiry of the leave to enter ends.
The rules under which the applicant can apply for Further Leave to Remain depends upon the applicant’s status in the UK and also the original application the applicant made to enter the UK. The current UK immigration policy regarding further leave to remain are complex. It is essential that the applicant applies to the correct class of Further Leave to Remain, using the application form and with the correct payment fee.
To be eligible for further leave to remain the applicant must be the husband, wife, unmarried (de facto) or civil partner of a UK citizen or legal permanent resident. Same sex partners can also apply whether or not they are in a civil partnership; all rules governing whether a relationship is durable and subsisting are the same for all relationships, whether recognized through a legal ceremony or not.
There are two routes for those wishing to obtain a settlement in the UK. The five-year route will be the one suitable for the majority of applicants and the requirements are outlined below.
There are a number of requirements that must be met before a spouse or partner of a British citizen or UK resident is granted further leave to remain. Both partners must be 18 or over. The applicant’s partner must be a British Citizen or must be present and settled in the UK.
When partners are already married or in a civil partnership, this must be valid under current UK legislation. If no marriage has taken place, the partners must have been in a de facto relationship which is the equivalent of marriage or civil partnership for at least two years before the date of the further leave to remain application.
If all the requirements above are met then permission may be granted for the applicant to live in the UK initially for thirty months. The applicant can then apply for another Further Leave to Remain extension to complete their five-year period in the UK to qualify for permanent settlement which is called Indefinite Leave to remain or ILR.
The Application process
Applicants can apply by post or in person at a local UKVI service center. Arranging a personal appointment at a service center carries a higher fee, however the applicant is given an answer on the same day. Applicants applying by post can send their applications to the UKVI for processing. The processing time can take up to six months and this must be considered when selecting which method to submit an application.
Applications for Further Leave to Remain can only be made from in the UK. If an applicant is overseas at the point when the initial leave to stay ends then reentering the UK and applying for Further Leave to Remain is not possible because the initial permission to enter the UK has ended. Therefore great care and thoughtful planning should be taken around the dates of submitting an application for Further Leave to Remain.
There UKVI are very specific in their requirements that an applicant must meet before a spouse/partner Further Leave to Remain can be granted. Both partners must clearly show that the relationship they share is subsisting and not one of convenience. Both partners will need to demonstrate that they are in a current long term relationship, that they live together and share financial responsibilities.
Sponsoring an Applicant
From the beginning of July 2012 there have been financial requirement rules in place which must be met by anyone applying for a UK Fiancé, Spouse or Partner Settlement Visa. These financial requirement rules can be demonstrated through a number of different ways. One way is that the sponsoring partner must have an income of at least £18,600.
This threshold figure increases if a child is also involved in the application. There are a number of other ways in which the financial requirement can be met plus also some sponsors may be exempt from having to meet the requirement. Specific evidence must be included with the application that clearly shows the meeting of the current financial requirement or exemption with the Further Leave to Remain application.
As well as meeting the current financial requirements there is also an onus on the sponsor to demonstrate adequate accommodation in the UK for their partner and any children. Basically the accommodation must not be overcrowded and the UKVI has specific guidelines that decide whether the accommodation can be deemed in that way. There is no issues with living with sponsors family members, again as long as this does not result in overcrowding.
English Language Knowledge
Non-EEA/EU citizens wishing to apply to enter or remain in the UK as a spouse or partner must meet the CEFR English language requirement. Evidence of meeting the requirement must be included with the application. Again, the UKVI have very specific guidelines on how this requirement can be met
There are some particular circumstances which will result in any application for a Further Leave to Remain application being refused. As there are no refunds available for any unsuccessful applications, all applicants should check carefully before applying.
If a postal application is sent then within a few days a letter of receipt will be sent to the applicant. After this the application will be processed. Any issues and the applicant will be contacted in writing. If everything is correct a Biometric Residence Permit will be issued. For those who apply in person at a UKVI Service Center, the Biometric Resident Permit will be sent by post after one week. Applicants can now also apply online on the GOV.UK website.