Do I Meet the EU Settlement Scheme Requirements as an Unmarried Partner?
While the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) is closed to new applications in general, it is still possible to apply in certain circumstances, including if you have ‘reasonable grounds’ for not meeting the deadline. Many people are also not aware that the scheme is still open for application for eligible family members of EU and EEA nationals. In this article, we will outline the EU Settlement Scheme eligibility rules for unmarried partners of an EU or EEA national living in the UK.
Can I apply to the EUSS as an unmarried partner of an EU or EEA national living in the UK?
Yes, the current EUSS immigration rules state:
“You can apply as the family member of someone from the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein if all the following are true:
- they started living in the UK by 31st December 2020
- they have settled or pre-settled status, have applied and are waiting for a decision, or are eligible for settled or pre-settled status
- you’re joining them in the UK on or after 1st April 2021”.
If you have been living with an EU or EEA partner in the UK since before 1st April 2021, then you may still be able to apply if you have a reasonable basis for missing the deadline. This may include where:
- you have, or had, a medical condition which prevented you from applying
- you lacked the physical or mental capacity to apply
- you have care or support needs, or those caring for you were unaware of the deadline
- you have been the victim of modern slavery
- you have been in an abusive or controlling relationship
- you did not have internet access or access to relevant documents
- you came to the UK on a work or study visa and became eligible to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme while you were here but did not know you could apply
- you had difficulty accessing support to apply because of coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions
- another compelling practical or compassionate reason prevented you from applying
Unmarried partners are often concerned they do not meet the criteria of a partner under the immigration rules. This is a reasonable concern as applicants need to meet the definition of a ‘durable partner’. The immigration rules clarify, “The applicant is (or for the relevant period was) in a durable relationship with the relevant EEA citizen (or qualifying British citizen or relevant sponsor), with the couple having lived together in a relationship akin to marriage or civil partnership for two years or more unless there is other significant evidence of the durable relationship, for example, evidence of joint responsibility for a child (a birth certificate or a custody agreement showing they are cohabiting and sharing parental responsibility). The durable partnership must not be (or have been) one of convenience; and neither durable partner has (or for the relevant period had) another durable partner, a spouse or a civil partner with immigration status in the UK or the Islands based on that person’s relationship with that durable partner”.
As such, as long as you have been living with your partner for two years or more in a relationship that is like marriage or a civil partnership, and there is no evidence of it being a relationship of convenience (i.e. a sham relationship), then it is possible to apply to the EUSS.
Read More: Applying for EU Settlement Scheme after June 2021
What evidence should I provide with my EUSS application to prove my durable partnership?
The evidence you supply with your EUSS application will make the difference between a refusal and acceptance. The exact documents you will need to submit depend on your circumstances, in particular, whether you are already in the UK or you are yet to arrive.
If you arrived in the UK prior to the end of 2020, you would need to provide supporting evidence showing that you were in a relationship with your EU/EEA partner before 31st December 2020.
If you arrived after this date, or you have yet to arrive in the country, then you will need to prove:
- that you are in a genuine relationship with your partner on the date you apply, and;
- you were in a genuine relationship with your partner before the end of 2020.
In the case of unmarried couples, this evidence will take the form of:
Proof you had resided together for at least two years by 31st December 2020:
- bank statements or utility bills in joint names at the same address
- residential mortgage statement or tenancy agreement in joint names
- official correspondence that links you to the same address
Proof of any joint finances, business ventures or commitments for at least two years prior to the end of 2020:
- Tax returns, business contracts or investments
- Evidence of joint responsibility for a child by 31st December 2020 – such as the child’s birth certificate, which names both parents, or a custody agreement showing that you’re living together and sharing parental responsibility
The guidance also makes it clear that any evidence provided to UK Visas and Immigration must demonstrate you are still the unmarried partner of the EEA or Swiss citizen or that you are now their spouse or civil partner.
As an unmarried partner of an EU or EEA national applying to the EU Settlement Scheme in the UK, it is important to take the time to provide enough evidence to demonstrate you were in a relationship with your partner before the end of 2020, that you have been living together for two years, and you are and always have been in a genuine subsisting relationship. If you are in any way unsure if you have the necessary documentation, speak to an immigration Solicitor, who can review your application and evidence prior to submission. Or, if required, they can handle your application on your behalf and respond to any queries raised by UKVI on your behalf.