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In October 1997, after a long campaign by Stonewall and Stonewall Immigration Group, the Junior Minister of State of the Home Office Mike O’Brien announced new concessions for unmarried partners in immigration regulations.

Same-sex partners were finally recognised as eligible for British residency, based on a four-year relationship akin to marriage. In 1999 this term was reduced to a two-year relationship. In 2000 the unmarried partners concession became an Immigration Rule.

Many problems still remain for bi-national same-sex couples, since before the non-British partner can obtain residency, the couple has to prove that they have been cohabiting for two years and that this relationship is akin to marriage. This causes problems to many couples who find it difficult to cohabit legally in this country. It is particularly difficult for those couples where one of the partners is from a non-EU country and has very limited options to stay in the UK on a student or work visa.

Other immigration regulations define the phrases ‘member of family’ and ‘family visitor’ as including unmarried same-sex partners. If a person is refused a visa for the purpose of visiting a family member, they have a right to appeal.

For advice and detailed information regarding UK immigration law as it relates to same-sex couples, contact:

UK Lesbian and Gay Immigration Group
(formerly Stonewall Immigration Group)
22/23 Carnaby Street
London W1F 7DB
Telephone: 020 7734 3705 (Information: Monday & Friday 12.00 - 17.00, Admin: Tuesday & Wednesday 10.00 - 18.00)

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