Absences Allowed on a Spouse Visa: What are the Limits?

by | Jun 23, 2023 | Partner & Family Visa, Spouse Visa, UK Immigration

If you are a Spouse Visa holder in the UK, you may wonder how long you can spend outside the country without jeopardizing your visa status. While many UK visa types have specific absence rules for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) applications, Spouse Visa holders are exempt from such restrictions. However, it’s important to understand the implications of extended absences and the significance of demonstrating your intention to live together permanently in the UK.

The absence rule is a requirement for most UK visas, stating that individuals must not exceed 180 days outside the UK in any 12-month period during the qualifying period to be eligible for ILR after five years. However, Spouse Visa holders are not bound by this 180-day limit. This exception applies to spouses, fiancés, proposed civil partners of British citizens, and other eligible family members.

It is worth noting that while there is no absence limit for Spouse Visa holders, absences are still taken into account when applying for British citizenship. Therefore, even though you have flexibility regarding time spent outside the UK on a Spouse Visa, it’s important to carefully consider the impact on future citizenship applications.

Although there is no explicit rule stating how long a Spouse Visa holder can spend outside the UK when applying for ILR, it is crucial to understand that spending minimal time in the UK and expecting a successful settlement application is unrealistic. The Home Office assesses applications based on the intention to live together permanently in the UK.

When you first obtain a spouse or partner visa, you are granted an initial period of permission to stay in the UK. This period is usually 33 months for applicants applying from abroad or 30 months for in-country applications. The approval of this initial application depends on meeting all the requirements, including the intention to live together permanently in the UK.

While typical trips abroad, such as holidays, visiting family, or work-related travel, are generally not problematic, spending significant amounts of time away from the UK may raise concerns regarding the couple’s intention to live together permanently. The Home Office’s policy on family life acknowledges that if the majority of the period has been spent overseas, doubts may arise regarding the couple’s commitment to residing in the UK. However, each case is assessed individually, taking into account reasons for travel, length of absence, and whether the couple travelled and lived together during the time spent outside the UK.

To ensure a smooth application process, it is essential to keep track of your absences from the UK as a Spouse Visa holder. If there is a risk that the caseworker may question your intention to live permanently in the UK, it is crucial to gather evidence that supports your case. This evidence may include documentation related to the reasons for your time spent outside the UK, as well as proof of your life, employment, residence, social circle, and engagement in the UK.

It is important to note that the reasons and evidence must be credible and genuine. Providing false information or fake evidence is never advisable and can lead to refusal of the application. The application forms specifically inquire about absences, and honesty and accuracy are essential.

How can we help

Navigating the Immigration Rules can be a stressful experience. We understand the importance of being with your loved ones in the UK, and we are dedicated to providing you with reliable assistance throughout the entire process.

To ensure a smooth and successful application, our knowledgeable team will carefully assess your eligibility and create a tailored strategy based on your specific circumstances. Whether you have questions, need guidance, or require support with documentation, we are here to help.

To discuss your Appendix FM visa application with an experienced adviser, please contact us on 02087575751 or use our contact form

Frequently asked questions

Are there any limits on the amount of time I can spend outside the UK on a Spouse Visa?

Unlike many other UK visas, Spouse Visa holders are not subject to a specific limit on the amount of time they can spend outside the UK. There is no requirement to adhere to the 180-day absence rule that applies to other visa categories.

How long can I stay in the UK on a Spouse Visa?

Initially, a Spouse Visa is granted for a period of 33 months if applied for from outside the UK, or 30 months if applied for within the UK. If you wish to stay in the UK beyond this initial period, you can apply for an extension of your Spouse Visa for an additional 30 months. To be eligible for an extension, you must meet the original Spouse Visa requirements again. After living in the UK for a total of 5 years under a Spouse Visa, you can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR), which grants you permanent residence in the UK. 

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