Marriage and Partnerships

An applicant seeking to obtain admission to the UK as a spouse must satisfy the entry clearance officer that the marriage is lawful and complies with the requirements of the Immigration Rules. A valid marriage requires that both parties had the necessary capacity to marry and that the celebration was in a valid form. A valid civil partnership requires the partners to be of the same sex, neither be lawfully married or already a civil partner, both over 16 years of age (with parental consent if one is under 18) and neither within prohibited degrees of relationship.

In order for family members and unmarried or civil partners to be admitted for entry or permitted to stay in the UK they must have a sponsor who is in the UK and who wants to bring in the family member or partner. The person then admitted will be dependant on the immigration status of their partner until they obtain settlement save that the rules allow the grant of settlement to spouses, civil and unmarried partners who have been victims of domestic violence by their sponsor or a member of his or her family or are bereaved during the probationary period. Once granted settlement, they may not normally be deprived of it whether or not the marriage or relationship lasts.

Those with limited leave to enter or remain have certain rights to sponsor family or partners. As with the sponsor, such family members must show they intend to leave the UK at the expiry of their leave. Family members of Tier 4 students are permitted to work only if the student has been granted leave of 12 months or more and is following a course of study which is degree level or above (but not the foundation course).

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