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UK Family visa - Partners of British citizens

It is relatively easy for British citizens to bring their spouse or partner to the UK on a spouse or partner visa. There are a variety of relationships that qualify in this regard so you should never feel put off from
investigating your options just because your relationship is non-traditional.

UK spouse visa basics

This visa class covers three different partner statuses:

  • Married partners
  • Unmarried partners
  • Fiancés

The marriage or relationship may be heterosexual or same-sex. The visa, which is initially issued for a two-and-a-half year period, allows the partner to work without restriction in the UK. You may also exit and re-enter the country multiple times. At the end of the two-and-a-half years, you will need to extend the visa in the UK for a further two-and-a-half years.

In order to apply for the visa, you must:

  • Have met (not just online)
  • Intend to live together permanently
  • Meet the financial requirement (see below)
  • Meet the English language requirement
  • Have satisfactory accommodation in the UK

You must apply for the visa outside of the UK in your home country.

Types of partners

Married partner

You can apply for this visa (known as the UK spouse visa) if you are lawfully married to a British citizen.

Unmarried partner

You may apply for a partner visa if you are in a long-term relationship with a British citizen. A further criteria is to demonstrate that you have been cohabiting (akin to a marriage) for two years.


You can apply for this visa (known as the UK fiancé visa) if you are engaged to a British citizen. You must show that you intend to get married or become civil partners within six months.

The financial requirements

If both the applicant and the British citizen are resident overseas, then the requirement can be met by either partner. If the British citizen is resident in the UK, then the requirement must be met by the British citizen alone. One of the following criteria must be met:

  • Annual gross income of £18,600* (or the pound equivalent)
  • Cash savings of £62,500* (or the pound equivalent)
  • A combination of the above

* If children are included in the application, then these financial requirements increase accordingly.

Indefinite leave to remain

The UK spouse or partner visa counts as qualifying time in the UK towards indefinite leave to remain (ILR). Read more about indefinite leave to remain.


Contact our immigration team

Phone us (SA): +27 (0) 21 657 2180

Phone us (UK): +44 (0) 20 7759 7580

South Africa

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Doncaster Road
Kenilworth 7708
Cape Town
t: +27 (0) 21 657 2120

United Kingdom

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77/91 New Oxford Street
t: +44 (0) 20 7759 7514


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9 Yarra Street
South Yarra
Melbourne VIC 3141
t: +613 (0) 86 514 500

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The Lee Gardens
33 Hysan Avenue
Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
t: +852 3959 8681

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