The immigration rules recognise the significance of the relationship between partners in a common-law marriage on an equal footing with the relationship between legal spouses.
What is the relationship between partners in a common-law marriage?
In the light of the immigration rules and European Union regulations, the concept of the relationship between partners in a common-law marriage is interpreted as follows:
“Two persons living together in a relationship similar to a marriage for at least two years may be considered as common-law partners”.
This definition does not include casual dating or any short-term relationship in which neither party has any long-term intention of living together in a relationship similar to marriage or civil union. The phrase “marriage-like” refers to a relationship similar in nature to a marriage or civil union, which includes relationships outside of marriage and relationships between persons of the same sex.
The rules that apply to common-law and same-sex partners aim to allow them to continue their existing relationship. These rules do not open the door to couples who have just started living together, but allow those couples who have been living together for a long time to enter or remain in the UK on that basis.
Who can apply on this basis?
Only the people listed below can bring their civil partners to the UK:
A person present and resident in the UK
An EEA national exercising rights granted by the Treaty on European Union in the UK
Certain categories of people who have a limited leave to remain in the UK.
Let’s take a closer look at these categories:
1. Partners in Common-law Partnership of Persons Present and Resident in the UK
An applicant who has been in a close relationship with a person who is resident in the UK for two years will be allowed to reunite with or accompany their partner in the UK.
The visa is granted for 33 months for applicants from abroad and 30 months for applicants from the UK. This visa is subsequently renewed for a further 30 months.
Applicants are required to provide documentary evidence that they can support themselves independently without recourse to the state and have the firm intention to reside permanently with their partners. The permission to remain in the U.K. granted to them allows them to be employed or self-employed for the duration of the permission to remain.
Both partners must be at least 18 years old.
After they have lived with their partner in the UK for 5 years, the applicant can apply for British citizenship, provided that they meet the requirements of other rules and regulations.
However, if the common-law partners at some point decide to marry, the applicant can then apply for a spousal visa, which will be granted for a period of 2.5 years. In order to be eligible for permanent residence (ILR) the applicant must have lived in the UK for 5 years from the date of the unmarried partner’s visa.
The rules relating to victims of domestic violence apply to common-law partners.