Residence requirements for Partners
Unlike most visa routes, partner visas do not have any specific residence requirements or prescribed limits on the number of days of absences from the UK.
However, despite the absence of a residence requirement for partners, there are some factors to be aware of to ensure that applications for further leave to remain and indefinite leave to remain will be successful.
Partner applications require the applicant and their partner to hold the intention to ‘live together permanently in the UK’.
Paragraph 6 of the Immigration Rules defines this as: ‘an intention to live together, evidenced by a clear commitment from both parties that they will live together permanently in the UK immediately following the outcome of the application in question or as soon as circumstances permit thereafter.’
In each application for further leave to remain as a partner, the applicant must provide evidence that he or she has lived together with their partner in the UK since the last grant of leave as a partner. Both the applicant and sponsor must be physically present in the UK when an application for further leave is submitted.
Are absences allowed?
Both the applicant and their partner are permitted to be absent from the UK for limited periods of time.
These absences must be for ‘good reasons’ and these reasons must be consistent with an intention to live together permanently in the UK.
What are ‘good reasons’ for absences from the UK?
The Home Office guidance states that good reasons for absences could include holidays or time spent overseas in connection with work, training or study.
This is not an exhaustive list and absences for other reasons should be explained, with evidence.
How do I show that absences are consistent with the ‘intention to live together’ permanently in the UK?
Short holidays or trips taken by a couple together will not be inconsistent with the intention to live together permanently in the UK.
Lengthy absences from the UK must be explained. Evidence should be provided regarding the reason for the absence, how long these reasons lasted and to show that the couple’s permanent home has remained in the UK.
Long periods of separation between a couple may additionally call into question the genuineness of the relationship. Therefore evidence should be provided to show how the relationship has been maintained during periods apart, such as evidence of regular communication and visits.
Is there a limit to the absences allowed?
There is no specific limit to absences in the partner route. However, the guidance states that “If the applicant, their partner or both have spent the majority of the period overseas, there may be reason to doubt that the couple intend to live together permanently in the UK. “
There is therefore an expectation that the majority of the time will be spent by the couple together. This makes sense as this the purpose of the partner route is to enable non-EEA nationals to join their partner in the UK on the basis of their family life.
The decision-maker is obliged to consider each case on its merits, taking into account reasons for travel, length of absence and whether the applicant and partner travelled and lived together during the time spent outside the UK. If either person has spent the majority of the period overseas, this should be fully explained.
Exception – Crown servant serving overseas
A person who is sponsored by a permanent member of HM Diplomatic Service or a comparable UK-based staff member of the British Council, Department for International Development or Home Office on an overseas tour of duty, and has joined them abroad, is permitted to complete their period of residence outside the UK. They are required to return to the UK to make applications for further leave to remain or indefinite leave to remain.
What if I want to naturalise as a British citizen?
If the applicant wishes to naturalise as a British citizen as soon as possible after being granted Indefinite Leave to Remain on the partner, they should be aware of the residence requirements to naturalise. These are explained in detail in an earlier blog post.
Contact Our Immigration Barristers
For expert advice in relation to a partner application, contact our immigration barristers in London on 0203 617 9173 or via the enquiry form below.