Does the 180-day absence requirement apply to spouses or partners of a settled person under Appendix FM?

Most UK immigration categories impose a restriction that the visa holder must not be outside the UK for more than 180 days in any 12-month period.  This requirement is to be met when applying for Indefinite leave to remain.

Fortunately, if you are in the UK as a spouse or a partner of a settled person this requirement does not apply to you. The Immigration rules do not burden spouses and partners with this requirement; however, the rules require that the applicant and the partner must prove that they intend to live together in the UK permanently.

Proving that you intend to live together in the UK permanently

When an applicant first applies for leave to remain, they will be granted an initial period of permission to stay in the UK. This will be for 33 months if applying from abroad, or 30 months following an in-country application.

In order to meet the requirement for leave to enter or remain in the UK, the applicant and the sponsor must meet all the requisite requirements which also includes proving that they intend to live together permanently in the UK — paragraphs E-ECP.2.10. and E-LTRP.1.10 of Appendix FM.

Paragraph E-LTRP.1.10 says:

The applicant and their partner must intend to live together permanently in the UK and, in any application for further leave to remain as a partner (except where the applicant is in the UK as a fiancé(e) or proposed civil partner) and in any application for indefinite leave to remain as a partner, the applicant must provide evidence that, since entry clearance as a partner was granted under paragraph D-ECP1.1. or since the last grant of limited leave to remain as a partner, the applicant and their partner have lived together in the UK or there is good reason, consistent with a continuing intention to live together permanently in the UK, for any period in which they have not done so.

Many applicants’ worry that they will not be able to meet the above requirement if they have been away from the UK for a prolonged period.Whilst short trips abroad or for work does not pose any problem, those couples who have spent significant time apart or overseas since the grant of their initial visa might have trouble proving that they intend to live together permanently in the UK.

However, it must be noted that spending time outside the UK or apart does not automatically bar you from applying for an extension or Indefinite leave to remain. The caseworker will decide each case on its merits, taking into account reasons for travel, length of absence and whether the applicant and partner traveled and lived together during the time spent outside the UK.

The Home Office will usually disregard time spent apart due to serious illness, pregnancy, time spent apart due to studies but where the applicant proves that they had every intention of returning the UK or that the UK remained their primary residence even whilst they were away.

The applicant must provide evidence to prove that the couple’s permanent home continued to be the UK even during their absence. Evidence could include maintaining a family home in the UK, continuing to hold a bank account, having savings or property in the UK, family ties in the UK etc.

The onus to prove that you meet the requirement lies with the applicant. It is therefore essential that you get legal advice if you have spent too much time outside the UK.

Our expert lawyers at Mulgrave law have substantial experience in dealing with such applications and will be able to advice you on the documents that you will need to present to the Home Office to ensure that your application is successful.

If you are looking for Immigration Solicitors London or UK spouse visa, contact our team of expert immigration lawyers at Mulgrave law if you require assistance with your Partner/ Spouse visa application.

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