What are the visa and settlement policies for victims of domestic violence, fiancée/proposed civil partner and unmarried or same-sex partners under the UK immigration rules?


The process of applying for a visa to the UK varies from category to category (like the tier 1 visa UK, tier 2 visa, tier 4 visa and tier 5 visa) the applicant is applying for. Each visa category caters to a different scenario under which a non-UK resident might want to enter the UK.

The Home Office is the government department which makes decisions on all immigration related cases. Headed by the Secretary of State, the Home Office also handles cases related to asylum, stateless persons, deportation and detention.

The following blog looks at the UK government’s immigration policies regarding cases related to victims of domestic violence, entry on the basis of fiancée/proposed civil partner and unmarried/same-sex partners. These policies are based off of laws defined in Part 8 of the UK Immigration Rules, which the Home Office is obligated to abide by.

What are the requirements for any person who wishes to permanently settle in the UK as a victim of domestic violence?

Any person being abused in either a marriage or a place of shared habitat is categorized as being a victim of domestic violence. If any person wishes to become a resident of the United Kingdom by stating his/her case of being the victim of domestic violence, the following requirements need to be met:

  • The person is already living in the UK and first entered the country as the spouse/civil partner or fiancée/proposed civil partner of the person who he/she is suffering abuse from. Also, this period of stay in the UK must not have been longer than 27 months.
  • During the time the last entry was granted to the person to enter the UK with his/her spouse/civil partner or fiancée/proposed civil partner, the relationship between the couple must have been of a subsisting nature.
  • The person must provide significant proof to the UK government, to establish for a fact, that he/she has been suffering from domestic violence after entry was granted to enter the UK.

It is necessary that all the requirements described are met if the person wishes to indefinitely settle in the UK on this reason.

The Home Office also holds the right to refuse any person settlement on grounds of incomplete requirements. However, if these requirements are not met, the Secretary of State holds the power to still grant the person permission to stay in the UK for a limited period of time, no longer than 30 months.

Can a person be granted entry into the UK as a fiancée or civil partner of a person settled in the UK?

Permission may be granted to a person who wishes to enter the UK with the intent of becoming the wife/husband or civil partner of an individual settled in the UK. However, the person entering will be restricted from taking any kind of employment and to stay in the country for a period no greater than 6 months. This is to allow the couple the chance to register the marriage or civil partnership and provide proof of validity during the 6 months of stay.

However, if a valid entry clearance document is not produced to an immigration officer in this regard, permission to enter the country can be denied.

An extension to stay in this capacity can also be granted given the below described criteria is met:

  • The person first entered the UK in this capacity with a valid entry clearance document.
  • A valid reason with proof is submitted to the Home Office demonstrating why the marriage failed to take effect during the original period that was granted
  • The person has not, and will not, continue to take up employment during the period of stay.

Can a person enter or settle the UK as an unmarried/same-sex partner of a person settled in the country?

Yes, permission can be granted by the Home Office to any person who wishes to enter the country on behave a settled person in UK as an unmarried/same-sex partner. For this to happen, neither the person applying nor the settled partner must be less than 18 years of age.

A person can enter the UK given the below listed criteria is satisfied:

  • The relationship between the couple has remained for at least 2 years and both have been living together just as a married couple would.
  • The person applying as the unmarried/same-sex partner proves that he/she possesses the required English language skills. This can be proved by taking an English language test approved by the Home Office that includes a compulsory listening and speaking section. The document granted after the test must clearly state the name of the applicant along with the qualification that he/she obtained. It should be noted that the qualification obtained must be greater than level A1 of the Common European Framework of Reference. The person applying should also demonstrate his/her ability to possess sufficient knowledge as to life in the UK.
  • Furthermore, it should be noted that this rule can be exempted on the person applying if he/she is greater than 65 years of age or a physical/mental disability prevents him/her from fulfilling this requirement. This rule can also be exempted in exceptional and compassionate scenarios that the Home Office carefully assesses and decides on.
  • A person can be granted entry if he/she is a national of one of the below listed countries:
  • The United States of America
  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • St Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Guyana
  • Australia
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • Canada
  • Jamaica
  • St Lucia
  • Belize
  • St Kitts and Nevis
  • Australia
  • Dominica
  • New Zealand
  • Barbados
  • Entry is granted if the person applying possesses a degree that is recognized by the UK to be the equivalent of a Bachelor’s, Master’s or PhD degree from a specific list of countries listed below. The UK NARIC is the government department of the UK that recognizes such degrees. The countries are listed as:

  • The United States of America
  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • St Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Guyana
  • Australia
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • Canada
  • Jamaica
  • St Lucia
  • Belize
  • St Kitts and Nevis
  • Australia
  • Dominica
  • New Zealand
  • Barbados
  • If not listed in the countries above, the person applying must be in possession of a degree that is recognized by the UK as being the equivalent of a Bachelor’s, Master’s or PhD in the UK. Furthermore, evidence such as the degree itself should be showed as proof along with UK NARIC stating that the person’s degree meets the recognized standard. The degree must also have been taught in the English language.
  • If the person does not possess a degree of this stature, he/she will have to prove to the UK government that the relationship between him/her and his/her partner has subsided for at least 4 years. In this case, the person must also prove his/her English language skills and prove that he/she possesses sufficient knowledge of what life is like in the United Kingdom.
  • The person applying must prove that he/she and partner are financially stable enough to provide for their own accommodation and that they do not need to have access to public funds. The person must also prove of his/her ability to financially provide for any dependants.
  • The person applying must also prove that the relationship between him/her and partner will be long lasting and is genuine.
  • The person applying must have access to an entry clearance document in this capacity.
  • The person is not applicable to be disqualified for entry based on falling on any grounds for refusal as outlined in Part 9 of the UK Immigration Rules. These rules, containing policies for all visa categories (such as UK graduate entrepreneur visa, UK citizenship through investment, tier 1 immigration, tier 1 visa UK general category, tier 4 student visa etc.) can be viewed at the government’s official website listed as https://www.gov.uk/guidance/immigration-rules/immigration-rules-part-9-grounds-for-refusal
  • A person is considered to be settled if he/she is:
  • A member of the HM Forces serving in official capacity overseas.
  • A member of HM Diplomatic Service.
  • A member of the staff of the British Council serving overseas.
  • A member of the staff of the Department for International Development.

If a person wishes to enter the country with intent to at some point settle, must complete an initial period of stay no longer than 27 months. He/she must also prove his/her English language capabilities along with proving to the Home Office that they meet all of the other necessary requirements. Failure to not meet any necessary requirements can result in the Home Office disqualifying the person from further entry into the country.

The requirements to gain permanent residency in this regard is explained as:

  • The person applying must currently have been staying in the UK as an unmarried/same-sex partner after having been granted permission by the Home Office.
  • The person applying must not have stayed for a period greater than 6 months as an unmarried/same-sex partner.
  • Entry granted on this category must have been on the relevant Points Based System category. The Points Based System exists for all visa categories (such as tier 1 immigration, UK graduate entrepreneur visa, tier 4 student visa, visit visa etc.) and the points required varies from category to category.
  • Both the person applying and his/her partner must not be currently in any other marriage or civil partnership
  • The person applying is not in violation of any laws of the UK. However, this does not include any person who might have overstayed in the UK for a period less than or equal to 28 days.
  • The person applying and his/her partner must not be from the same ancestor, implying that the relationship must not be consanguineous.
  • The relationship between the couple has remained for at least 2 years and both have been living together just as a married couple would.
  • The person applying must not be the subject of a deportation order prior to him/her making an application for settlement in this regard.
  • The person applying must prove that he/she and his/her partner are financially stable enough to provide for their own accommodation and that they do not need to have access to public funds. The person must also prove of his/her ability to financially provide for any dependants.
  • The person applying as the unmarried/same-sex partner proves that he/she possesses the required English language skills. This can be proved by taking an English language test approved by the Home Office that includes a compulsory listening and speaking section. The document granted after the test must clearly state the name of the applicant along with the qualification that he/she obtained. It should be noted that the qualification obtained must be greater than level A1 of the Common European Framework of Reference. The person applying should also demonstrate his/her ability to possess sufficient knowledge as to life in the UK.
  • Furthermore, it should be noted that this rule can be exempted on the person applying if he/she is greater than 65 years of age or a physical/mental disability prevents him/her from fulfilling this requirement. This rule can also be exempted in exceptional and compassionate scenarios that the Home Office carefully assesses and decides on.
  • Entry is granted if the person applying possesses a degree that is recognized by the UK to be the equivalent of a Bachelor’s, Master’s or PhD degree from a specific list of countries listed below. The UK NARIC is the government department of the UK that recognizes such degrees. The countries are listed as:

  • The United States of America
  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • St Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Guyana
  • Australia
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • Canada
  • Jamaica
  • St Lucia
  • Belize
  • St Kitts and Nevis
  • Australia
  • Dominica
  • New Zealand
  • Barbados