There are many people in the world who have long-term partners and live with these partners, but who don’t legalise the partnership through marriage. These are common law or De Facto partnerships and are still recognised just as a marriage is when it comes to eligibility for immigration to the UK.

This UK De Facto visa is also known as the unmarried partner visa and is only applicable to partners of British passports holders or partners of those who have settlement status in the UK. This means that they already have a settlement type visa in their passport and either already reside in the UK or would like their partner to travel with them to settle permanently in the UK.

Because there are often little or no legal documents to prove that the couple are common law or de facto, much evidence needs to be provided to prove that the relationship is a continuing and existing one. You have to have been together for a number of years and must have also resided together in order to apply for this UK De Facto visa.

Once the UK De Facto visa has been granted, it is much the same as the UK marriage visa in that it entitles you to live and work freely in the UK without any restrictions. The UK De Facto visa is valid for 2 years after which you can apply for your ILR (Indefinite Leave to Remain) and then your citizenship. This means that within 3 years of being granted your initial UK De Facto visa, you could become a UK citizen.

As with all settlement type visas, when the time comes to apply for citizenship, you will need to show that you have spent the majority of your time living in the UK and that you intend on remaining there forever or for many more years to come. You need to show that you are settled in terms of employment, residence etc. and most importantly that you are still with your UK De Facto partner.

Please be advised that as of the 9th July 2012, there have been certain UK immigration law changes, which will affect all UK Settlement visa applicants.

Financial requirements to qualify under settlement as a spouse, child, fiancé or partner of a British Citizen or settled person

The applicant’s earnings CANNOT be taken into account at the Entry Clearance stage of the application. Only the British passport holder/settled person must evidence earnings as below. Along with earnings from salaried employment or self employment (UK), other earnings from non-employment can also be counted eg: property rental income, child maintenance income, interest income etc. Savings can be evidenced jointly.

Scenario 1 – Employed in the UK

The applicants British spouse must be employed or self employed in the UK and must be earning at least GBP18 600 annually gross, which must be evidenced over the 6 months prior to application at least.

Scenario 2 – Employed in SA with the same employer for 6 months or more prior to application

The British partner is working in South Africa and is earning equal to or more than GBP18 600 equivalent (for at least the last 6 months) AND has a future offer of employment in the UK which will earn them GBP18 600 gross annually or more.

Scenario 3 – Employed with the same employer for less than 6 months prior to application

A – If the applicant’s partner has been working in the UK for less than 6 months, they would need to show that in the last 12 months prior to application, they have received earnings which meet or exceed the earning threshold.


B – If the partner has been working out of the UK for less than 6 months, they need to show that they meet the earnings threshold over the last 12 months prior to application AND they need to have an offer of employment in the UK (which starts within 3 months) which will earn them a salary which is at or above the earning threshold.

Scenario 4 – no earnings at all

If the British spouse is not earning any money at all and has not been for the last 6 months, the couple needs to show joint minimum saving of GBP62 500 or equivalent.

Self-employment in the UK only

If the applicant’s partner is currently in self-employment in the UK, they need to show that they have met the salary threshold for the last financial year or as an average over the last 2 financial years.

Earnings shortfall

If the British passport holder’s earnings fall below the required threshold, then they need to show additional savings (in addition to the GBP16 000) of 2.5 times the amount which is the difference between what they are earning and what they should be earning according to the threshold.

Eg: if the British partner is earning the equivalent of GBP15 000 annually, the difference between these earnings and the GBP18 600 threshold is GBP3600. One needs to times this amount by 2.5 and add on GBP16 000 (which is GBP25 000).


Any savings must be evidenced in the account/s for at least 6 months prior to application. Where the applicant’s British partner is in self-employment, savings may not be used to supplement any earnings shortfall.


Where there are non-British children included in the applications, the earnings threshold must increase by GBP3800 for the first child and GBP2400 for every child thereafter.

As of the 28 November 2010, all partner applicants (spouse, partner, fiance etc) will have to prove their English proficiency before they can apply for their visa. The UK does not consider South Africa to be an English-speaking country and it is for this reason that we have to prove our English language abilities before immigrating. This is done by writing and passing an approved English exam and submitting the results in with your visa application. If you do not pass the exam, you cannot get the visa. In certain instances you may be exempt from having to write the exam, for example if you are 65 years or older or if you have a degree qualification that was earned at an English educational institution. This will be discussed on consultation.

It is strongly advised to do a chest X-ray and take the results of the X-ray with you on the plane when you have your visa and are on your way to the UK. Although the X-ray is not a requirement for the actual visa application, they will most likely check for it when you land in the UK. It can be quite an ordeal if you have no proof that you are clear of TB and other lung diseases, therefore it is best to have it with you incase they do.

In this case we strongly advise that you take advantage of our services so we can do it all for you. The application is complicated and requirements are very specific, so it is best to let the experts handle the application for you.


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