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Straight couples now allowed to enter civil partnerships

A ruling by the Supreme Court means that the law will be amended to allow opposite sex couples to enter into a civil partnership. Created in 2004, civil partnerships were introduced as a step to allow same-sex couples to formalise their relationship. The move was seen as progressive and put the UK at the forefront of same-sex rights. The campaign to allow opposite sex couples to enter civil partnerships is not without controversy; many campaigners have argued as to why heterosexual couples would want to enter into such a relationship when they can so easily marry. Indeed, these days it is just as easy for same-sex couples to marry. Whatever the criticism, the law change will allow equality in civil partnerships as well as marriages. In this article, we are going to look at how the law change may affect immigration for opposite sex couples.

What is a civil partnership?

A civil partnership is a formalisation of a relationship. It is similar to a marriage, but does have some differences. Originally it was intended as a way for same-sex couples to able to form a commitment to each other as they were not allowed to marry. The law came into effect in 2004. The law was changed once again in 2013, this allowed same-sex couples the same rights as opposite sex couples as far as marriage was concerned. The law came into effect in early 2014, with the first marriages taking place shortly after. The move was seen as a step in the right direction for same-sex rights campaigners and made civil partnerships slightly less useful.

When do the new rules come into place?

The new rules will allow opposite sex couples to enter into a civil partnership in April 2019. It will help many couples who do not want to marry for any number of reasons and would rather formalise their relationship in this alternative way. The Marriage Foundation have praised the move “infinitely preferable to unthinking and risky cohabitation”. Indeed for many, a civil partnership is just that, a step up from cohabitation.

The new option may also help to stem the tide away from marriages. Since the mid 80’s, marriage rates in the UK have declined. This is for a number of reasons, but the changing attitudes towards marriage in the UK are part of it. In the same period divorces have rocketed. Many people are likely to incorrectly believe that ending a civil partnership is more straightforward than a marriage; this isn’t necessarily the case. But a civil partnership is a good option for those who do not want to marry but are happy to formalise their relationship.

Will opposite sex civil partnerships help immigration cases?

Potentially, yes. In most of the criteria for visas, a spouse is defined by being in a marriage or a civil partnership. For those who may struggle to prove their relationship is genuine, a civil partnership could be very useful. But be warned, a civil partnership is not an easy way around getting married, there is still quite a few hoops to jump through and your relationship will still need to be genuine.

The real beauty of a civil partnership from an immigration point of view will be that it will be much easier to prove that you are together. This is undeniably a benefit when it comes to immigration and we would suggest it as an option for those who do not wish to get married but would like some of the same protections that married people recieve.

What visa can I get if I’m in a civil partnership?

There are several visas that may be easier to obtain if you are in a civil partnership. Family visas are especially helped by the formalisation of relationships. The main issue with a civil partnership is that you will need to enter into it in the UK. This could cause some problems and in that sense you may be better off being married before you come to the UK. Immigration is very much case dependent and if you are unsure of where you stand, you should get in contact with our immigration specialists who will be only too happy to help.

For those who are intended to get married (fiance visa), this can still be used with a civil partnership. But please check that you are able to use this option with the specific visa that you are going to apply for. Get in touch today and we can check this for you.

Are there any alternatives to a civil partnership?

The only real alternative is marriage itself. Civil partnerships are meant to be an alternative to traditional marriage and apart from that there isn’t much else. If you are in a cohabitating relationship then this is fine, but may prove harder to show evidence of a relationship existing. If you have married abroad then there is no need to enter into a formal relationship in the UK. As long as you have the required documentation, a marriage from most countries (as long as it was carried out legally) should be sufficient. If you are concerned about the legitimacy of your documents, please get in touch and we can help.

Where can I get more help?

If you need more help with an immigration query then please get in touch. Our knowledgeable and experienced team can help with any and all queries, including those regarding marriage and civil partnerships. So for more information or help, please get in touch today and we’ll be happy to get started on your problem.


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