Spouses and partners

This article explains the requirements to get Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) in the UK as the spouse or partner of a British permanent resident or citizen.

If you are looking to settle in the UK as the spouse or partner of a British resident then you must be sure you meet all of the requirements of the Immigration Rules at the time of your application.

With effect from 9 July 2012 the residence period changed for spouses and partners of British permanent residents or citizens. Where before spouses and partners could take advantage of an accelerated route to ILR, the residence requirement has now been brought in line with other routes.

If you applied to come to the UK or for permission to stay here on or after 9 July 2012 and that permission was granted, you will need to be in the UK for 5 years before you qualify for settlement. You will initially be given leave to enter for 2 and a half years, and then you can apply for another period of 2 and a half years.

Check the below summaries to get make sure that you don’t get caught out when you make your application.

Husbands, wives and civil partners

You can apply for ILR as a husband, wife or civil partner if:

  • you have completed a period of 5 years in the UK, with a visa or permission to remain here in this category. Any time spent in other visa categories does not count. It must be 5 years as a spouse or partner.
  • you are still the husband, wife or civil partner of the person specified in your visa or permission to remain. Exemptions apply for victims of domestic violence.
  • the marriage or civil partnership is existing and genuine (not a ‘marriage of convenience’, for example).
  • you and your partner both intend to live together permanently as husband and wife or civil partners after you are granted ILR.
  • you have adequate accommodation where both of you and any dependants can live without needing public funds, and at least part of that accommodation (for example, a bedroom) is for your and your partner’s sole use.
  • both of you can support yourselves and any dependants without needing public funds. Income thresholds apply and you should check you meet these before applying.
  • you do not have any unspent convictions within the meaning of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974.
  • you have enough knowledge of the English language and life in the UK. (You do not need to meet this last requirement if you are aged 65 or over.) You can find more information about this requirement on the Knowledge of language and life page of the GOV.uk website. Note that from 28 October 2013 you will be required to have a speaking and listening qualification at level B1 of the ECFR, or higher.

You must be in the UK when you apply and you must use application form SET(M).

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