Moving to The Next Level: A Guide on UK Partner Visas

When I first started this blog, I didn’t think I would be where I am now. I had no expectations.

We were still only dating then, and we decided to get to know each other on a more serious level by extending my stay when I first visited him in 2014. We didn’t even know anything about UK Partner visas. We just knew we needed to give living together a shot. We both believed that you never truly know a person until you’ve lived with that person under the same roof, and luckily for us, we liked living with each other. We seem to complement each other’s quirks, strengths, and flaws. We enjoyed each other’s company, we had similar principles, and when it came down to it, we really loved each other.  

Moving Full Speed to the Next Level

It feels like it was just yesterday that I was applying for a UK tourist visa to visit him and meet his family, then before I left to go back to Manila we were engaged, then we applied for a UK fiance visa, then I left my life in Manila and came back to the UK, then we got married, then we applied for a UK Spouse visa, and now I’m officially living here with him. My husband and I now live our daily regular lives. I’ve made a few good friends. I learned how to use the tube. I got drunk and made it home. (That’s a very important gauge of adjusting to a new home, obviously!) I applied for jobs. I started a job. I can confidently say that now, I am truly settling in. When I stop to think about it, it’s all pretty intense. It really astounds me that my husband and I have survived the last 2-3 years of major life events and big decisions. 

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A Very Different Test of True Love

When love is tested in a normal relationship, it is a test of devotion to one another. You need to prove to each other that you love one another forever. It is about you and him, and that is all that matters.

When it comes to a cross-continental love like we had, we had to prove to each other that we will love one another forever, and also needed to prove it to a complete stranger.  Imagine falling in love, really putting in the work to make your relationship work, and then having someone off the street come up to you and say, “Nope, sorry. I don’t believe it. You can’t be together. Say goodbye to each other now!”. That’s how it felt sometimes, especially during the visa application.

Scams and Sad Stories

It may not feel nice to be questioned about the sincerity of your relationship, but I think it is fair. It may not seem like it, but this strict process protects both parties’ interests. Since I started writing about my UK visa experience, I’ve had people from all over the world message me asking for my thoughts on how to process their own visas. I’ve come across some really heartwarming stories, and then there are some that are really heartbreaking too.

For example, I received a couple of emails from British guys asking if they should send their partners an excessive amount of money for “visa processing miscellaneous fees”. It breaks my heart to tell them that it sounds like they are being taken advantage of, but it has to be done. It is not just the British partner who gets the short end of the stick all the time. In the Philippines, emigrants on partner visas have to do a mandatory seminar on domestic violence before leaving the country. When I attended mine, I found out about stories of women who were so overwhelmed by cultural differences that their lives spiralled into despair and depression. Even worse, they marry people whom they didn’t care to really get to know, and they end up in violent relationships. 

Call me old-fashioned, but marriage should only be done for love. Especially in this case. Marrying someone from a very different cultural background is not easy. Leaving your whole life to live in another person’s world is overwhelming. You have to both truly accept each other and understand what you are both getting into, 100%. When a person is blinded by affection for someone who is solely driven by desperation, they come together to make very unhappy homes. One feels cheated and unloved while the other feels very sad and lonely. No one wins.  

The Next Steps

If you and your boyfriend/girlfriend/partner want to take your relationship to the next level, I suggest really understanding your expectations first. Do you know each other well? No? Maybe you need to visit each other first and really get to know each other’s families and lives. Yes? Then where would you want to live if you do get married? Would you be able to afford to start a family? Where will you live? All of these questions tie into the process of getting UK partner visas. There are many types and they depend on the kind of relationship you have (fiance, spouse, or live-in partner ) as well as your plans for the future (whether you intend to live in the UK or not after).  

I made the guide below to help make it a bit clearer. It is not an official guide but I hope people can find it useful. It is basic and will not have everything you need to know. For that, you need to do your own research. I will help when and if I can, but please understand that I am just sharing my experience. I am not an expert and do not claim to be one. 

If You Love Each Other, Make it Work

Every couple will have their own struggle, whether you live next door to one another or whether you Skype each other when the timezone and schedule allows it. You just never know where life will lead you both. If you’re lucky, you tough it out and you end up with each other. You make decisions together, and then you consciously put the effort in to make it work. That’s all to it really. If you’re looking to apply for a UK partner visa, I wish for you and your partner that it brings you closer than ever and that it takes you to a place of happiness, wherever that place is in the world. Good luck! 

 

And before diving in, please remember: 

THIS IS NOT OFFICIAL ADVICE, THIS IS JUST A MEANS FOR ME TO SHARE MY EXPERIENCES, SO PLEASE DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH AND TRUST YOUR OWN INSTINCTS.UK Partner Visa Guide

 

 

Edit Feb 20, 2017: I have just finished a post on my experience of converting a UK Fiance Visa into a UK Spouse Visa. Read about it here:

UK Partner Visas (1)

19 thoughts on “Moving to The Next Level: A Guide on UK Partner Visas

  1. Ahh so glad to find this site! It’s such a wealth of information.
    Once you are granted a FLR-M visa (30 mos) and you wish to extend and apply for a 5-year trac – does this cost more money again? Or do you just prove you are still in genuine relationship, meet the financial requirements etc?

    • Yes, Sarah unfortunately it is more money! 🙁

      I’m about to write another post about the expense of a UK relationship… please keep checking in for that!

      Thanks for the kind words. Remember that this is not official advice!

      Please do check my most recent post and leave a comment! https://goo.gl/HkZqgm

  2. hello there i am not sure if this blog is still going but i have a dilema , i live in the uk , i am registered disabled
    i am on certain benefits that make me exempt from having to sponsor my partner .
    my partner is from the usa , we applied for our fiance visa in nov 2017, not heard anything back yet , but if the fiance visa is accepted and he comes to live with me , clearly he has to be able to live off his own money without benefits , but will i lose my e.s.a and p.i.p if he is not allowed to work for the 6 months he wil be living here while we get married . everything is so confusing and i have no idea i have searched all over he net and never been able to find an answer ,

    • Hi Mandi! I’m so sorry to not be of any help, but it feels like your situation is quite specific and very different to mine. I want to be honest and wouldn’t want to offer an answer to a question where I have no experience or knowledge in. I hope you get the correct advice elsewhere and I wish you the very best!

  3. Hello Abbi,

    Thank you for producing such a concise and informative blog.

    I was wondering if you knew the answer to something my partner and I were wondering.
    She lives in Singapore. I am a British national. We recently got engaged and we now want to apply for the fiance visa.

    She is due to come here, to London, in a couple of weeks. Just for one of her regular visits.
    Should she wait til she’s back from this trip and then apply for the fiance visa?
    Or, could she apply before she comes to London and then just travel here as usual as a regular tourist in the meantime?
    Or, do you need to submit your passport when you apply for the fiance visa? ! Obviously this would mean that she wouldn’t be able to travel whatsoever during the application process.

    I guess what I want to know is how applying for a fiance visa affects travel plans during the application.

    And presumably there’s no way she could apply for the fiance visa while she’s here visiting?

    Any info/advice you have would be hugely appreciated.
    Thanks again for taking the time to put this wonferful blog together.

    Javi

    • Hi Javi,

      From my experience, they retain the passport while the fiance visa application is ongoing, so no – you can’t travel during this period. You also aren’t able to apply for a fiance visa while in the UK, it needs to be applied for from the home country. So I think it might be better to apply for it when she is back in Singapore.

      Hope this helps!

      PS. I respond to questions based on my experience or information that is readily available through internet research, I do not position myself as an expert but I understand the anxiety that comes with the process so I’m sharing what I know. Again, this is not official advice so please do your own research.

  4. Hi Abbi!
    I just wanted to start out by thanking you so much for this blog. It’s been such a great help! I’m not sure what it is- the less legalistic language, the way it’s set out, or the past experience you’ve had- but it’s so much more helpful than the government sites. It’s quickly becoming one of my number one resources for figuring out this complicated life!
    Anyway, I have a quick question. My fiance is British, and I am currently staying with my family in the US. As recent university graduates, we are both a little low on money. We were wondering whether we would need to pay for both the fiance visa application as well as the marriage visa application, or whether it would just be transferred from one to the other after marriage? Of course we are willing to do whatever we need to do to be together, but the application fees are so intimidating!

    • Hi Rachael, thank you so much for the kind words! To answer your question, we’ve had to pay for both fees. Others just get married outside of the UK and apply for the spouse visa from outside of the UK to save on the fiance visa cost. I am not sure which works better, there are no definitive facts on which path to follow or if one is better than the other.

      PS. I just want to make sure that I am clear in saying that I am in no way offering expert advice or telling people what to do, I am just answering questions based on what I know. I appreciate the kind words and wish you and your fiance all the best! It’s a huge struggle now but hopefully it will all be worth it.

  5. Hi Abbi,
    Just a quick note to let you know my FLR-M visa came through yesterday, and my BRP arrived by courier today as well. So all good the the next 30 months. WE would both just love to say many many thanks for all your help and your site/blog, as we followed it to the letter with absolutely no problems at all.

    Hoping you are both well and as happy together as we are, keep up the great work you are doing as well.

    • This is fantastic news!!! Congratulations Roquita, im so happy for you both.

      It is very sweet of you to give me an update and share this feedback, i really appreciate it. Thank you and wishing you both a lovely life ahead! ❤

  6. H Abbi, I absolutely love this. I feel the same way –all relationships have difficulties but when you fall in love with someone from another country (outside of the EU) you have a whole different challenge that no one understands –unless they’ve been through it themselves. We’re currently applying for the fiance visa -the amount of times my family and friends ask me: but when is he coming? Why isn’t he here yet? It’s a bit late for him to be coming over isn’t it? Why haven’t you sent out your wedding invites yet? They just don’t understand that it’s not quite as easy as that and there are no guarantees -you have to be prepared to adapt whatever happens!

    We’ve been together for 4 years (known each other for 5) and have lived together as much as we can during that time (from 1-4 months each year). We took some difficult decisions to stay apart an extra year after we got engaged so that we could build our financial security in both countries. I believe it’s important to always be prepared to live in each other’s countries, whatever your initial plans are. This is because you never know what will happen and how you will feel later on down the line about where you want to live. Luckily I’ve already lived in his country for 2 years and I love it –sometimes I don’t know why we have chosen to live in the UK!! What’s important to us though is that we both end up with the same passports–that way, whatever happens nothing can keep us apart.

    I’ve taken a lot of comfort and helpful advice from your blog posts about the UK fiance visa. My fiance submits all of our papers tomorrow. I’m confident we’ve done our absolute best so it’s out of our hands now (fingers crossed). Whatever happens though I’m just happy, happy that I’ve found the love of my life.

    Just one bit of feedback if I may about this post which I know was written last year, it’s just I’ve shared this a lot and everyone now thinks I’m lying about the fiance visa costing £1500 [this is the reason why we can’t invite many people to our wedding ;-)] any chance you could update it from £87? … was it ever that cheap? *dreams*

    Thanks again, so much for taking the time to write about your experience.

    Best wishes,

    Emma

    • Hi Emma, thanks for sharing your story, I really appreciate it! The 87£ is for the marriage visitor visa, which is essentially a 6 month visitor visa to get married in the UK and then leave the country again. For example if you guys decided to live in the US but get married in the UK, this is the track that you will want. 🙂 I do need to update this though as fees have come up since the time I made this. Thanks again for your feedback! 🙂

  7. Hi, I am Carole. I have a question for you here. Me and my fiance are going to prepare all the document needed for the fiance visa application. But we couldn’t find the UKVI application form. May I know where can I get it please. Thank you.

  8. Hi Abbi,
    It’s a very good blog and posts about the visas. Thank you for posting these.
    We have been married for 2 weeks now in the UK and I’m applying for FLR(M) visa soon. Can you please give some advices on this application? And should I submit the same documents about relationship, finance, housing, and personal documents … as the fiance visa’s ?
    Thank you!

  9. Hey guys, congratulations on all of your success, sounds like you are having the same situation as me!

    i have a question for you, hopefully you can answer:

    I am UK citizen, UK passport born and live in UK and work here, but travel a lot for my work. Met my partner, Chinese National with UAE residency in Dubai in 2014, and we have been in a relationship since. Have lots of photos together, traveled to UK and USA together, whenever i visit Dubai she stays with me and we spend time together, however we have not LIVED together for 2 years. Are we still eligible for the Spouse visa to get married and then switch to a Partner visa for her to stay in UK permanently?

    I keep getting conflicting information from different agents and at a complete puzzled moment now! Any help would be very much appreciated!

    • My husband and I haven’t lived together for two years. We have lived together for 4 mos, but have been in a relationship for 2 years. I don’t think it would be a requirement for a visa to get married (Prospective Marriage Visa, 6 mos) then to switch over to a FLR-M visa (30 mos). After then, you apply for a 5-year track. Only after all that can your wife apply for citizenship.

      If you are going straight to a Spouse visa track, I think there is a requirement to have lived together for 2 years. As this was not the track that I went through I can’t be sure. If you aren’t married yet, I say just be safe and go the same track as we did. That’s my suggestion.

      Good luck and hope that helps!

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