This post explains whether and how you can come to or remain in the UK if you are the husband, wife or civil partner of a British citizen or of a person that is settled here. A person that is settled means a person that was granted Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK.

The information in this section is based on Part 8 of the UK Immigration Rules.

You do not need to apply under this category if:

  • you are a national of a country in the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland – the EU section describes your right to live in the UK;
  • you are the non-European family member of an EEA or Swiss national – the EU section explains whether you need to apply for a family permit;
  • you are a British overseas territories citizen, unless you are from one of the sovereign base areas in Cyprus; or
  • you have no conditions or time limit attached to your stay.

What are the requirements?

Your husband, wife or civil partner must be:

  • currently living and settled in the UK; or
  • returning to the UK with you to live here permanently (if you are currently outside the UK).

If they have more than 1 husband or wife, only 1 of their husbands or wives will be allowed to join them here in this category.

You must show that:

  • you and your partner are both aged 18 or over at the date of application;
  • your partner is not related to you in a way that means you could not marry in UK law;
  • you and your partner have met in person;
  • your relationship with your partner is genuine and subsisting;
  • if you are married or in a civil partnership, your marriage or civil partnership is valid in UK law;
  • you meet the suitability requirements (see below)
  • any previous relationship has permanently broken down (this does not apply to certain polygamous relationships);
  • you and your partner intend to live together permanently in the UK;
  • you meet the financial requirement (see below)
  • you will have adequate accommodation available
  • you meet the English language requirement see below); and
  • if you are in the UK and want to extend your leave or apply for settlement in the UK you will need to meet the suitability requirement.

Suitability requirement

This means that your application for entry or permission to stay in the UK as a family member will be refused if:

  • the Home Secretary has decided that it would be in the public interest for you to be excluded from the UK;
  • you are the subject of a deportation order;
  • it is in public interest to exclude you from the UK because you have been sentenced to more than 12 months in prison;
  • it is in the UK’s public interest to exclude you from the UK because of your character, conduct, associations, or other reasons;
  • you have not attended an interview, provided information, had a medical examination or produced a medical report when asked to do so;
  • there are medical reasons why you should not be allowed to enter the UK;
  • you have provided false information or documents or not told us relevant information;
  • you have NHS charges of more than £1000 that have not been paid; or
  • you have not provided a maintenance and accommodation undertaking that we requested.

Financial requirement

From 8 July 2012, if you are applying for entry to the UK, permission to stay here or for settlement you must meet a financial requirement. If you have children that are not British citizens or settled here that you want to live with you in the UK, you will need to meet a higher financial requirement.

You can meet the financial requirement through:

  • the income from employment or self employment of your sponsor;
  • the income from your employment or self employment if you are in the UK;
  • certain income from sources other than employment, such as rent from property;
  • state or private pensions of you and your sponsor;
  • maternity allowances or bereavement benefits received in the UK; or
  • cash savings over a certain level (the amount of savings that you need to have will depend the level of other income that you and your sponsor have . If you are applying to enter the UK, you will need to have a higher level of savings than if you are applying to extend your stay).

How much income do I need to have?

You must have an income of at least £18,600.

If you are sponsoring a child as well as a partner you will need an income of at least £22,400.

For each additional child being sponsored you will need an additional income of £2,400. For example, if you are you are bringing 2 children with you to the United Kingdom, you must have and income of £22,400 and £2,400 for the additional child, so a total of £24,800.

You will be required to provide documents to show that you can meet the financial requirement.


You will be exempt from the new financial requirement if your sponsor receives a specified disability-related benefit or carer’s allowance in the UK. You will need to show that your sponsor can maintain and accommodate you without access to public funds.

English language requirement

Applicants for visas and permission to remain in the UK (known as ‘leave to remain’) must meet this requirement, unless they are exempt (see below). The requirement was introduced on 29 November 2010.

You will meet the requirement if you can show that you:

  • are a national of a majority English-speaking country; or
  • have passed an English language test approved by UKBA at the appropriate level; or
  • hold a degree that was taught in English and is equivalent to a UK bachelor’s degree or above.

See the UKBA website for more information.

Applicants for settlement (known as ‘indefinite leave to remain’) must meet a different ‘knowledge of language and life’ requirement. See the UKBA website for more details.


You do not need to meet the English language requirement if you provide satisfactory evidence that:

  • you are aged 65 or over when you make your application; or
  • you have a physical or mental condition which would prevent you from meeting the requirement; or
  • there are exceptional compassionate circumstances which would prevent you from meeting the requirement.

How long can you stay?

If your visa application is successful, UKBA will grant you a visa for 33 months. Shortly before the end of that period, you can apply for further leave to remain in the UK.  If you still meet the requirements you will be granted permission to stay for a further period of 30 months.  Once you have completed 5 years in the UK, as the partner of someone who is a British citizen or settled in the UK, you can apply to settle here.  This is known as indefinite leave to remain.

Public Funds

This section explains what public funds are and whether you are able to receive help from them while you are living in the UK.

If you have been given permission to live in the UK, this permission may include the condition that you have ‘no recourse to public funds’. If so, you will not be able to claim most benefits, tax credits or housing assistance that are paid by the state.

However, there are exceptions for some benefits. If you are in any doubt, you should contact the department or agency that issues the benefit. This will often be the Department for Work and Pensions or HM Revenue & Customs.

This text is an adapation of the contents of the UKBA website. Remember, immigration law is complex and subject to continuous change. The information provided here may be out of date, or just based on personal experience/knowledge. The use of these pages is therefore entirely at your own risk. Before applying for any type of visas, you should always seek information from the authorities direct via their official websites. You will find some useful website details on our Links page.

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