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SUCCESSFUL 2016 SETTLEMENT UNMARRIED PARTNER VISA

Hello there, I’m an American citizen who just recently received her settlement visa and am here to pay it forward because my partner (UK citizen) and I couldn’t have pulled this off without the help of this forum.

The only resources we used were the official UK government-published appendices and this wonderfully valuable forum, which we both sifted through for weeks before submitting the app. A lot of the rejection cases I read on here seemed to happen because of technical faults, like not submitting a certain required document that might only be mentioned in one of the gov docs, or not meeting the financial requirement. I cannot stress that you must read EVERYTHING in those appendices. Most of what you’re wondering about is answered somewhere in them.

Before I go into the app. submission details, here’s a timeline of our submission process:

Visa app. online declaration signed 13/10/16
Visa app. payment processed 14/10/16
Biometrics appointment 20/10/16
Supporting docs sent off 21/10/16
Supporting docs arrive in Sheffield 23/10/16
Online app. received in Sheffield 24/10/16
Email confirming that a decision was made 7/11/16
Returned supporting docs (with visa decision!!) delivered back to me 9/11/16
Flight to UK 28/11/16

As you can see, we did not pay for priority consideration. However, a decision was made quite promptly anyway and we were both fine with the fact that we hadn’t paid the extra money because it would have only been one week less of waiting on the decision, and that money ended up going towards my one-way flight. I completely understand that other people may want to do this purely for the peace of mind and I encourage you to do so if you wish, this was just what we did.

I also noticed that many of the couples submitting an application were older than my partner and I (23 and 21, respectively), which made me a little nervous, or if they were our age, they usually weren’t able to prove the legitimacy of their relationship. We also kept it in mind that submitting a giant pile of photos wouldn’t make any more of a difference and is more of a nuisance, so we kept those to a minimum, just making sure that they all spanned throughout our relationship - from the very beginning to a photo of us in the flat behind my partner’s parents’ house we’re currently staying at (and were staying at just before I went back to the US to submit my app.) It’s important to prove that your relationship is one akin to marriage (i.e. romantic) and not just platonic.

Below is a list of everything I sent off in the supporting documents package, divided into the various requirements categories. All copies must be verified/notarized at the most 30 days before the date of the application.

VISA APPLICANT
* Return UPS shipping label (courier airway bill, stuck onto return envelope to make it easier for them)
* UPS courier service confirmation receipt
* Return UPS envelope (used a UPS bubblewrap plastic Express Pak, free at the UPS store)
* Printed VAF4A form (family settlement application form)
* Two passport sized colored photos (with full name written on the back)
* Applicant introduction letter, signed (less than 1000 words)
* Proof of previous education (as am currently unemployed)
* signed letter from the previous university Chair of Department
* copy of diploma (referenced in Chair letter)
* copy of work resume
* Applicant proposed flight itinerary (printed screenshot of Norwegian Air flight)

**I included the two photos because I had seen that others on the forum had done so. I don’t recall ever seeing anything about them on the appendices but I included them just in case, like some of the extra letters, photos, etc. that we included as proof of our relationship. They were both sent back to me along with all of our letters.

UK SPONSOR OF APPLICANT
* Sponsor introduction letter (less than 1000 words, professional but with heart)
* Copy of production resume
* Copy of work resume
* Color copy of bio page of passport
* Printed and filled out VAF4A Appendix 2 form

ENGLISH LANGUAGE REQUIREMENT
* Exempt, American citizen

TUBERCULOSIS VACCINE REQUIREMENT
* Exempt, American citizen

FINANCIAL REQUIREMENT (FULFILLED BY PART 3F - CASH SAVINGS)
* Sponsor’s declaration letter of source of cash savings, signed
* Declaration letter from source of cash savings, signed (sponsor’s parents)
* Original bank statement of cash savings withdrawal
* Verification letter from sponsor’s bank, signed
* 3 Verified HSBC bank statements

ACCOMODATION REQUIREMENT
* Tenancy Agreement from Sponsor’s parents, whom we will be staying with
* Two photos of the interior of the apartment, with annotations, glued onto A4
* Original copy of Completion of Registration in Sponsor’s parents’ name
* Original copy of water and wastewater bill in Sponsor’s parents’ name

PROOF OF COHABITATION (AT LEAST 6 OFFICIAL LETTERS SPANNING THE 25-MONTH COHABITATION PERIOD)
* Bank statements from both myself and my sponsor, spanning the length of our time living with each other (One bank statement for every 6 months, per person) **original documents OR copies accompanied by a dated letter of certification from the bank. Internet print outs without verification aren’t acceptable!
* Original apartment leases OR copies of the apartment lease with a signed letter confirming our tenancy by the property manager on the ownership group’s letterhead.
* Payslips for each address from the same months, for both myself and the sponsor.
* W-2 tax return copy
* Medical bills
* Renter’s insurance policy with both of our names on it
* Original gas and electricity bills with both of our names on it
* Signed letters from each of our parents confirming that we were living with them for short periods of time within the two years.
* Handwritten person envelopes and letters from family and friends addressed to both of us
* Change of address notifications from our banks for myself and my sponsor.
* Phone bills & various official documents addressed and sent to us both.

PROOF OF RELATIONSHIP AKIN TO MARRIAGE
* Detailed timeline of major events in our relationship (i.e. meeting each others’ family, vacations, moving in together, etc.)
* 18 color photos, annotated, dated and named of us together throughout the course of our relationship. Some photos included mutual friends and our respective family members together.
* Travel tickets for same trains/flights, sitting next to each other
* Personal handwritten love notes
* Birthday/Christmas cards to each other, and from immediate family to the other’s partner
* Archived screenshots of our communication (iMessages, Facetimes, and call logs) to each other during time apart


Regarding the Order of Supporting Documents
***Ironically I had already sent off my supporting documents by the time I got an email that specified what order I should be submitting all this stuff in. This didn’t seem to affect the application, I’m just incredibly particular about everything (as you can see) given the importance of the decision to my relationship.

See below for the order the UK government requested the documents to be presented in for our application:

-Application form and relevant Appendix
-English language evidence
-Relationship documents
-Maintenance documents
-Accommodation documents

Regarding Filling Out the App Incorrectly
I did make 2 small errors when filling out the online application, both just misunderstandings of the question. I realized this after I had already submitted the online application but had not yet sent off the supporting documents.

Since a printed off version of the online application is required as part of the supporting docs, I was able to type up a short letter clearly explaining my errors with the correct answers and included my reference number at the top. I attached this to the back of my printed app. and sent that off with everything else.

I hope this overview helps any couples in a similar situation! It takes a lot of stress, research, and hard work but as long as you follow the UK government’s appendices and read all the available information, it is a fairly straightforward process as long as you are thorough. Best of luck!
 

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Congrats! Just wondering, what were your circumstances before applying? It looks as though you've been living together in the US?
 

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Did you have to make an IHS payment for the unmarried partner visa, I am confused bc it's a visa for 6 months or less. And according to their website I shouldn't have to pay that. I was thinking I would have to pay at FLR. But I was charged $780.00 US dollars and did not receive a confirmation email. However I applied for my sons dependent application at the same time with $0 due for him on the IHS payment a received the confirmation email. Any input would be very helpful. Thanks in advance.
 

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seconding clever-octopus, could you let us know what dates you were in your own flat, then at parents' homes? For the periods you lived with parents, did you only send signed letters from them confirming that you were living with them for short periods of time? Anything else from that period e.g. bills/bank statements etc? Thanks!
 

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SUCCESSFUL 2016 SETTLEMENT UNMARRIED PARTNER VISA

Hello there, I’m an American citizen who just recently received her settlement visa and am here to pay it forward because my partner (UK citizen) and I couldn’t have pulled this off without the help of this forum.

The only resources we used were the official UK government-published appendices and this wonderfully valuable forum, which we both sifted through for weeks before submitting the app. A lot of the rejection cases I read on here seemed to happen because of technical faults, like not submitting a certain required document that might only be mentioned in one of the gov docs, or not meeting the financial requirement. I cannot stress that you must read EVERYTHING in those appendices. Most of what you’re wondering about is answered somewhere in them.

Before I go into the app. submission details, here’s a timeline of our submission process:

Visa app. online declaration signed 13/10/16
Visa app. payment processed 14/10/16
Biometrics appointment 20/10/16
Supporting docs sent off 21/10/16
Supporting docs arrive in Sheffield 23/10/16
Online app. received in Sheffield 24/10/16
Email confirming that a decision was made 7/11/16
Returned supporting docs (with visa decision!!) delivered back to me 9/11/16
Flight to UK 28/11/16

As you can see, we did not pay for priority consideration. However, a decision was made quite promptly anyway and we were both fine with the fact that we hadn’t paid the extra money because it would have only been one week less of waiting on the decision, and that money ended up going towards my one-way flight. I completely understand that other people may want to do this purely for the peace of mind and I encourage you to do so if you wish, this was just what we did.

I also noticed that many of the couples submitting an application were older than my partner and I (23 and 21, respectively), which made me a little nervous, or if they were our age, they usually weren’t able to prove the legitimacy of their relationship. We also kept it in mind that submitting a giant pile of photos wouldn’t make any more of a difference and is more of a nuisance, so we kept those to a minimum, just making sure that they all spanned throughout our relationship - from the very beginning to a photo of us in the flat behind my partner’s parents’ house we’re currently staying at (and were staying at just before I went back to the US to submit my app.) It’s important to prove that your relationship is one akin to marriage (i.e. romantic) and not just platonic.
Below is a list of everything I sent off in the supporting documents package, divided into the various requirements categories. All copies must be verified/notarized at the most 30 days before the date of the application.
This is incorrect. Financial documents must be no more than 28 days old at the time of application. Other documents only need to be as current as possible.

VISA APPLICANT
* Return UPS shipping label (courier airway bill, stuck onto return envelope to make it easier for them)
* UPS courier service confirmation receipt
* Return UPS envelope (used a UPS bubblewrap plastic Express Pak, free at the UPS store)
* Printed VAF4A form (family settlement application form)
* Two passport sized colored photos (with full name written on the back)
* Applicant introduction letter, signed (less than 1000 words)
* Proof of previous education (as am currently unemployed)
* signed letter from the previous university Chair of Department
* copy of diploma (referenced in Chair letter)
* copy of work resume
* Applicant proposed flight itinerary (printed screenshot of Norwegian Air flight)
All these things were unnecessary.

* Proof of previous education (as am currently unemployed)
* signed letter from the previous university Chair of Department
* copy of diploma (referenced in Chair letter)
* copy of work resume

Fine to include but not really necessary:

* Applicant proposed flight itinerary (printed screenshot of Norwegian Air flight)

**I included the two photos because I had seen that others on the forum had done so. I don’t recall ever seeing anything about them on the appendices but I included them just in case, like some of the extra letters, photos, etc. that we included as proof of our relationship. They were both sent back to me along with all of our letters.
UK SPONSOR OF APPLICANT
* Sponsor introduction letter (less than 1000 words, professional but with heart)
* Copy of production resume
* Copy of work resume
* Color copy of bio page of passport
* Printed and filled out VAF4A Appendix 2 form
These documents were unnecessary:

* Copy of production resume
* Copy of work resume

ENGLISH LANGUAGE REQUIREMENT
* Exempt, American citizen
You were not exempt. You meet the requirement because you are from a majority English speaking country.

TUBERCULOSIS VACCINE REQUIREMENT
* Exempt, American citizen

FINANCIAL REQUIREMENT (FULFILLED BY PART 3F - CASH SAVINGS)
* Sponsor’s declaration letter of source of cash savings, signed
* Declaration letter from source of cash savings, signed (sponsor’s parents)
* Original bank statement of cash savings withdrawal
* Verification letter from sponsor’s bank, signed
* 3 Verified HSBC bank statements
ACCOMODATION REQUIREMENT
* Tenancy Agreement from Sponsor’s parents, whom we will be staying with
* Two photos of the interior of the apartment, with annotations, glued onto A4
* Original copy of Completion of Registration in Sponsor’s parents’ name
* Original copy of water and wastewater bill in Sponsor’s parents’ name
Photos were unnecessary.


PROOF OF COHABITATION (AT LEAST 6 OFFICIAL LETTERS SPANNING THE 25-MONTH COHABITATION PERIOD)
* Bank statements from both myself and my sponsor, spanning the length of our time living with each other (One bank statement for every 6 months, per person) **original documents OR copies accompanied by a dated letter of certification from the bank. Internet print outs without verification aren’t acceptable!
* Original apartment leases OR copies of the apartment lease with a signed letter confirming our tenancy by the property manager on the ownership group’s letterhead.
* Payslips for each address from the same months, for both myself and the sponsor.
* W-2 tax return copy
* Medical bills
* Renter’s insurance policy with both of our names on it
* Original gas and electricity bills with both of our names on it
* Signed letters from each of our parents confirming that we were living with them for short periods of time within the two years.
* Handwritten person envelopes and letters from family and friends addressed to both of us
* Change of address notifications from our banks for myself and my sponsor.
* Phone bills & various official documents addressed and sent to us both.
As others have queried, it would be helpful to know the periods you lived with your parents and what other documents you provided for that time. You needed 6 pieces of evidence each. This is largely overkill.

Handwritten envelopes are not accepted proof. They are looking for things addressed to you from official sources.

PROOF OF RELATIONSHIP AKIN TO MARRIAGE
* Detailed timeline of major events in our relationship (i.e. meeting each others’ family, vacations, moving in together, etc.)
* 18 color photos, annotated, dated and named of us together throughout the course of our relationship. Some photos included mutual friends and our respective family members together.
* Travel tickets for same trains/flights, sitting next to each other
* Personal handwritten love notes
* Birthday/Christmas cards to each other, and from immediate family to the other’s partner
* Archived screenshots of our communication (iMessages, Facetimes, and call logs) to each other during time apart
Aside from photos, all unnecessary. You prove you are in a relationship akin to marriage (i.e. you have joint responsibilities) by your cohabitation documentation.
 
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