Specific eligibility criteria for partners are that they:
- Have lived with the main applicant in the UK on Dependant visas for 5 years;
- Are still in a relationship with the main applicant and the couple intend to continue to live together;
- Have not spent more than 180 days in any 12 month rolling period outside the UK during the validity of any visa issued after 11 January 2018 (when the ‘continuous residence’ requirement was extended to partners).
The new rule for Global Talent/ Tier 1 Exceptional and Skilled Worker/ Tier 2 visa holders who work in research and lecturer roles, under which periods of research outside the UK are no longer counted against the limit on absences, also applies to partners who hold Dependant visas and have accompanied them during these periods.
Some partners may not have lived in the UK under a Dependant visa for five years, and will not yet be eligible to apply when the main applicant is applying for ILR. They may, for example, have arrived in the UK later than the main applicant, or held a different visa and only recently switched to a Dependant visa.
Once the main applicant has been granted ILR, however, it is possible for a partner to continue under, and extend, their Dependant visa to get to the point they can apply for ILR. As both parents must have settled for children to be eligible, if a partner cannot apply for ILR until later any children will also have to wait and apply with them.
Dependant visa holders extending after the main applicant has ILR
Please note that a Dependant visa holder seeking to extend their Dependant visa after the main applicant has been granted ILR (under the standard 5 year route) can only apply for, and be granted, a three year extension.
If they need a longer extension of their Dependant visa than three years to reach the point they can apply for ILR they will need to apply for another extension later. If they do not need as long as three years to reach the point they can apply for ILR they unfortunately will still have to apply, and pay, for three years.
A partner who does not hold a Dependant visa before the main applicant is granted ILR, or whose partner has been granted ILR under the 10 year 'Long residence' route (rather than the standard 5 year route), will have to apply as the spouse/partner of a settled person. They would then have to spend five years under that visa route to be able to apply for ILR.