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Applying to settle in the UK as a partner



This page explains how to apply for permission to settle permanently in the UK (known as 'indefinite leave to remain') as the husband, wife, civil partner or unmarried/same-sex partner of a British citizen or other person present and settled here.


Husbands, wives and civil partners
You can apply for permission to live permanently in the UK as a husband, wife or civil partner if:

  • you were given permission to enter or remain in the UK as a husband, wife or civil partner, and have completed a period of two years in that category;
  • you are still the husband, wife or civil partner of the person specified in your permission to enter or remain, and 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; and
  • you have enough knowledge of the English language and life in the UK. (This last requirement does not apply if you are aged 65 or over.)
You should apply using application form SET(M).

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Unmarried/same-sex partners
You can apply for permission to live permanently in the UK as an unmarried/same-sex partner if:

  • you were given permission to enter or remain in the UK as an unmarried/same-sex partner, and have completed a period of two years in that category;
  • you are still the unmarried/same-sex partner of the person specified in your permission to enter or remain, and the relationship is existing and genuine (not like a 'marriage of convenience');
  • you and your partner both intend to live together permanently as 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; and
  • you have enough knowledge of the English language and life in the United Kingdom. (This last requirement does not apply if you are aged 65 or over.)
You should apply using application form SET(M).

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Time spent outside the UK
The Immigration Rules do not say that you must have been in the UK for the entire two years of your permission to stay as a husband, wife, civil partner or unmarried/same-sex partner. 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 three years (the 'residential qualifying period'), and that you have spent no more than 270 days outside the UK during those three years. Also, you must have spent no more than 90 days outside the UK in the last 12 months of the three-year period. (We have discretion to allow absences above the normal limits in some circumstances.) There are different requirements if you want to be naturalised and you are not a husband, wife or civil partner, but there is still a limit on the amount of time you can spend outside the UK.

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Applying to settle here if you delayed your entry to the UK
If you were given permission to enter the UK as a husband, wife, civil partner or unmarried/same-sex partner but you then delayed your travel to the UK by up to three months, you can apply to live here permanently using application form SET(M) shortly before your permission to enter ends. As long as you meet the other requirements of the rules, we will put your application on hold until you have completed your two-year qualifying period in the UK.

If you were given permission to enter the UK as a husband, wife, civil partner or unmarried/same-sex partner but you then delayed your travel to the UK by more than three months, you will need to apply using application form FLR(M) for a further probationary period of two years. If we give you a further probationary period and you meet all the other requirements of the settlement rules (including the Knowledge of Life test), you will be able to apply for settlement as soon as you have completed a total of two years' probation (adding together your time spent in the UK under your initial permission to enter as a husband, wife, civil partner or unmarried/same-sex partner, and the necessary number of months from your second probationary period).




Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the author's and not necessarily those of UKresident.com or any entity associated with UKresident.com. This article is not checked for accuracy by any qualified immigration consultant or solicitor either represented on this site or otherwise. We will not be legally responsible for any statement made in this article. If you're going through the UK immigration process we strongly advise that you appoint a UK immigration consultant or immigration solicitor to deal with your case.

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