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. 


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 advice 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! 

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)

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

  1. 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! ❤

  2. 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,


    • 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! 🙂

  3. 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.

  4. 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!

  5. 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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