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Can I Make a Partner Visa Application If I Don't Have a Passport?

Applying for a UK visa can be a daunting task. There are many rules which must be understood, eligibility criteria which must be met, and information and documents which must be 100 a;ccurate and complete. For applicants making a partner/spouse visa application under the family visa route, a large amount of evidence must be provided at the time of applying. Indeed, the relevant guidance used by Home Office entry clearance officers (ECOs) entitled, €˜Immigration Rules Appendix FM-SE: family members specified evidence' spans 37 sections, many of which have dozens of sub-paragraphs. In this article, we will explain the rules around providing a passport as part of a spouse visa application, and what you can do if you do not have a passport.

Do I Need To Provide A Passport When Applying For A Family Spouse/Partner Visa?

The Home Office website states that when applying for a family visa, applicants will require certain information and evidence ready for themselves and any dependants applying at the same time.

Specifically, it states that they will need to provide:

  • all your names
  • your date of birth
  • your current passport or other valid travel ID
  • copies of the photo page and any visa or entry stamps in your previous passports
  • a copy of your biometric residence permit, if you have one
  • details of any previous immigration applications you've made
  • details of any criminal convictions
  • your national insurance number, if you have one
  • your parents' date of birth and nationality if you're applying from outside the UK
  • your tuberculosis test results if you're from a country where you have to take the test
  • a certified translation of any document that is not in English or Welsh

The guidance also explains that applicants will need to have a blank page in their passport in which they insert the partner/spouse visa.

The Requirement To Provide A Valid Passport Is Not Clear Cut

The problem is that there are genuine situations that may mean an applicant cannot provide a valid passport. For example, if they originally entered the UK without a passport as a refugee or if they are unable to renew their passport because their country's passport service is not functioning (as may be the case during the COVID-19 pandemic).

One of the main reasons the Home Office will want to see your passport is to verify your identity. Paragraph 34 of the immigration rules states:

The applicant must provide proof of identity as described in 34(5)(b) below and in accordance with the process set out in the application form.

(b) Proof of identity for the purpose of this paragraph means:

(i) a valid passport or, if an applicant (except a PBS applicant) does not have a valid passport, a valid national identity card; or

(ii) if the applicant does not have a valid passport or national identity card, their most recent passport or (except a PBS applicant) their most recent national identity card; or

(iii) if the applicant does not have any of the above, a valid travel document.

Crucially, the same guidance then clarifies that proof of identity may not be needed if:

  • the applicant's passport is held by the Home Office
  • the applicant's passport has been permanently lost or stolen and there is no functioning national government to issue a replacement; or
  • the applicant's passport has been retained by an employer or other person in circumstances which have led to the applicant being the subject of a positive conclusive grounds decision made by a competent authority under the National Referral Mechanism; or
  • the application is made for leave as a stateless person or as the family member of a stateless person; or
  • the application is made by a person in the UK with refugee leave or humanitarian protection; or
  • the applicant provides a good reason beyond their control of why they cannot provide proof of their identity.

Where any of these reasons apply, the Home Office asks the applicant to provide another satisfactory form of evidence of their identity and nationality.

On the basis of the above guidance, where there is a good reason you are unable to provide a passport, the Home Office may grant a visa. It is important to understand, however, that simply choosing not to provide your passport or apply for a new one where it has been lost or stolen is unlikely to be acceptable to the Home Office.

What Should I Do If I Do Not Have A Passport?

What you should do if you do not have a passport depends on the circumstances. If you have simply mislaid or had your passport stolen, or it has expired, it is recommended that you order a replacement. If you are outside of the UK, you will need a passport to enter the UK anyway, and UK Visas and Immigration will require a blank page in which to insert your 30-day vignette sticker to allow you to enter the country. If you have a genuine reason for not having a passport as outlined above, then you may be able to apply without one. If possible, it would be advisable to secure the services of immigration Solicitors as your application will be relatively non-standard and, hence, may attract greater scrutiny by case officers.

Final Words

Failure to provide a passport may not prevent you from securing a partner visa in the UK, but it may complicate matters as the Home Office will want to be satisfied you have a genuine reason for not supplying one. An immigration Solicitor can fully assess your case and, where necessary, provide a cover letter to explain your circumstances. This will give strength to your application and increase the chances of a positive outcome.

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