New definition of Partner for family - durable relationship

Relationship similar to marriage or civil partnership includes durable partnership

Durable partnership for family visas – recent changes to the UK immigration rules.

Family visas for the UK have various complexities and applicants face numerous hurdles to bring their families to the UK from overseas. This includes high financial requirement and high visa costs. The recently increased financial requirement that is now £29,000 and is due to be £38,700 by 2025 is subject to legal challenge at the High Court.

Amongst the gloomy immigration news there is one positive change in the immigration rules. Under the Immigration Rules, a ‘partner’ is defined as one of the following:

  • the applicant’s spouse
  • the applicant’s civil partner
  • unmarried partner, where the couple have been in a relationship similar to marriage or civil partnership for at least 2 years
Durable relationship in family visas UK


There is no longer a strict requirement for couples in a durable relationship to have been living together for at least 2 years, as long as the relationship is similar to a marriage or civil partnership and has been subsisting for more than 2 years. 

The 2-year period for a relationship between a couple who are not married or in a civil partnership must have been completed prior to the date of application. The 2- year period does not strictly require evidence of cohabitation for the period and will take account of instances where, for example, the couple are currently living apart for work reasons in order to meet the financial requirements of the rules. The essential point is that the relationship has been genuine and subsisting for the duration of the 2-year period and continues to be at the date of application.

However, you will have to provide good reason why you did not live together and the final decision will be with the Home Office to see if they agree with your reasoning. Unfortunately any discretionary assessment from the Home Office under the immigration rules involves significant risk. To minimise the risk you need to prepare detailed application.


The evidence of durable relationship depends on the circumstances of each applicant. However, Home Office will normally want to see evidence of an ongoing relationship such as evidence of regular communication, visits, holidays, events attended, financial support, joint care of any children the partners have together etc.

The concept of ‘durable relationship’ also exists in the EU Settlement Scheme and in the various work visa categories.

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