Does anyone have any experience of how UK Family Visas and polyamory interact with each other, if at all?

My partner of several years (M) is a non-EU citizen who met me and his other partner of several years (F) while in the UK. M then got a job in an EU country, where he has been for the past year. He is now aiming to come back to the UK on a Tier 2 work visa.

F and I are both UK citizens and we are good friends, our 3-way relationship is all above board. We are willing to commit to hitching our lives together in a serious long-term way and to become functionally a family. Hopefully M can make it all the way to permanent settlement on the work visa route, in which case our relationship style will not become an issue. The thorny question is:

If M can't rack up the required 5 years of continuous employment, do we have any hope of keeping him here by moving him onto a Family Visa track?

(We have read the requirements and we understand that first there would need to be either 1) a wedding, or 2) a two year history of M living together with one (or both?) of us with joint household finances and savings.)

Assuming we can meet all other requirements, would the authorities use the polyamory angle to deny the family visa application on the grounds that neither of M's serious relationships qualify as "genuine and subsisting" because of the lack of monogamy?

If the authorities won't accept polyamorous relationships as valid, is there any real hope of being able to present an ordinary-looking relationship/marriage between M and just one of us, where we simply let the authorities assume monogamy? Will they specifically ask about that? If the reality comes out, might M then be blacklisted for deception? I've heard that the authorities demand to see relationship evidence like emails and online messages between the couple, which in our case would reveal the polyamorous reality very quickly, so we fear that trying to quietly pass for a monogamous couple might end in disaster.

In any case, all three of us prefer to be honest and above board in all things (lies and half-truths are frankly too damn stressful to maintain), but we also feel really concerned that probably full honesty will lead us directly into a brick wall where a family visa is concerned.

Sadly we can't claim that non-monogamy is a cultural norm for any of us so that doesn't help.

We figure we need to speak to a solicitor and get our ducks in a row, but we also thought it couldn't hurt to ask around here first.

Thanks in advance for any relevant experience you're able to share!

  • A ‘history of living together’ relates to time spent outside the UK. It would not apply to time spent living together in the UK after a successful Tier 2 visa application were to be successful (Immigration Rules 281b gov.uk/guidance/immigration-rules/…) – Traveller Jul 14 at 13:25

There is no visa for polygamous or polyamorous relationships. The UK will not use polyamory against you (or polygamy I suppose), but they simply won't recognize it either for the purposes of granting visas. I am not aware that the UK government has ever bothered to dig into the explicit relationship of two people deeply enough to determine that there was a third person involved with the obvious exception, ofcourse, of multiple marriages to verify legal divorces and current legal marriage status. If he can establish a relationship akin to marriage with a partner in the UK, then he can qualify for that visa. My best advice on this, don't lie. Don't ever try to deceive the Home Office. If marriage is in the cards, one married couple and one married couple only. If that marriage happens to be open enough to involve a third person, that's the business of that couple, not the UK (from their perspective, not mine).

  • Are you sure about the bit about the UK not holding polygamy against you? I know other European countries where it can be taken as evidence of a lack of integration with very severe consequences (up to refusing naturalisation and/or residence permits). – Gala Aug 22 '17 at 14:00
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    The UK has been trying to be 'tolerant', within some degree of reason, of varying cultural practices. Combined with the fact that they have, until relatively recent times, had countries under their control where the practice of polygamy has been a social norm since befor history, it is not something that will be held against an applicant. That said, the UK is very strict in its policies regarding who qualifies for a marriage type visa. It must be a legally recognized verifiable marriage (or will be in the UK), and only one fiance/spouse counts. – ouflak Aug 22 '17 at 15:37
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    They are quite clear about this and I think it is even specifically mentioned in the legislation. There is even a limit to the number of times an individual can ever apply for such a visa, a policy specifically meant to prevent potential cases of possible polygamy in the UK. Also, any convictions for the act can be held against an applicant just like any other criminal offense. – ouflak Aug 22 '17 at 15:37
  • @ouflak wouldn't this mean, as you can only apply for such visa once and that only one spouse/fiance counts, that because 2 are already in the UK (and are British citizens as well), one of them simply needs to be married with the person outside of the UK? It's not like they are trying to bring 20 wives or "wives" into the country. It's literally one person/family member. – kiradotee Jul 14 at 13:26

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