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Civil Partnership Act Reunites Same-Sex Couples | Immigration Matters

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When two Filipina same sex partners wanted to be together in the UK they did not realise that the new Civil Partnership ACT would help change their lives.

Anna first met Jennifer in August 2001, whilst working as a Nurse in Saudia Arabia. When she later transferred to London, Jennifer was unable to follow and returned to the Philippines. The only time they could spend together was during Anna’s vacation or when Jennifer visited the UK.

Anna continued working in London whilst Jennifer remained in the Philippines, where she had her own dental clinic. Anna wanted Jennifer to join her as her partner, but they had no idea how to make this happen.

Anna had heard about Bison UK after reading one of my articles. She approached us to see if we could help Jennifer come to the UK as a dentist so that they could be together. After talking to Anna in more detail about their relationship, I advised her that they should apply to register as Civil Partners, especially since this was their objective in the first place.

A civil partnership is a new legal relationship which can be registered by two opposite or same-sex people who are unmarried.

The Act, which came into force on 5 December 2005, changed everything for same-sex partners or anyone in a civil relationship.

Civil partnerships give equality of treatment in a wide range of legal matters with couples who enter into a civil marriage. Civil partners will have rights, including recognition for immigration and nationality. New terms have been introduced to describe the relationships such as: ‘civil partnership home’; ‘former civil partner’; and ‘surviving civil partner’.

The partners must both be at least 16 years of age and must not already be in a civil partnership or lawfully married. People under the age of 18 may be required to obtain written consent. A civil partnership ceremony can take place in any register office or any premises already registered to conduct marriages. The civil partnership will be formed once the couple have signed the civil partnership document in the presence of a registrar and two witnesses.

Some same-sex couples may have already secured legal recognition of their relationship outside the UK. A same-sex relationship which has been recognised in this way will in certain circumstances be treated as a civil partnership under the Act. The Home Office publishes a list of ‘overseas-recognised same-sex relationships which are to be treated as civil partnerships’.

Filipino same-sex civil partners are not on the ‘overseas-recognised’ list published by the Home Office. In other words, the relationship is not legally recognised in the Philippines so it is not on the list. However, if an overseas relationship is not included in the list it will still be recognised as a civil partnership if it meets certain conditions. Under the law of the country where the relationship was formed, the relationship must: ‘be exclusive in nature’; ‘indeterminate in duration’; and ‘result in the parties to the relationship being regarded as a couple or treated as married.’

Summary

From 5th December 2005, under the Civil Partnership Act in the UK, gay and unmarried people have the same immigration rights as married people and could secure a full passport after two years in the country

Civil partners face less rigorous tests if they seek to gain British citizenship than through a heterosexual marriage.

However, while marriages have to be consummated to qualify there is no such requirement on couples in a civil partnership. It is thus not illegal for two heterosexual friends to form a civil partnership and then to “divorce” after two years once the foreigner has gained British citizenship.

In these circumstances the Home Office will allow a person to stay for two years on the basis of this partnership. In two years’ time they can apply for indefinite leave. They will need to prove that they are living together.

As long as you are either a British citizen or have some form of long-term status in the UK, you are likely to be able to bring a civil partner in to the country.

Anyone involved in a civil partnership may wish to apply for this visa in order to come to the UK and then apply for permission to remain in the UK. A visa is necessary for anyone who is not British, settled in the UK, or an EEA or Swiss national. Those subject to immigration control must demonstrate to the registrars that they hold either: entry clearance granted to register a civil partnership; or the written permission of the Secretary of State; or settled status in the UK.

We spent a lot of time ensuring that Anna and Jennifer met all the requirements, and gathering all the evidence, including proof of how long they had been in the relationship.

The visa forms and other material were submitted to the British Embassy in Manila in July 2006.

Eventually, after a rigorous application process and in-depth interviews, Jennifer’s visa was finally issued in August 2006.

Jennifer was delighted with the result and very happy to be reunited with Anna. She said: ‘We thank all the staff at Bison UK for all their help. You guys really take good care of your clients.’

Anna added: ‘God Bless you all… and MORE POWER to Cynthia and all the staff.

If you are in a long distance, same sex relationship and meet the above requirements, you may now qualify to register in the UK as civil partners.

If you have any specific questions or comments, or need advise, please email me at cbarker@immigrationmatters.co.uk

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