Upon being granted leave to enter the UK under the Spouse visa route, you have embarked on an exciting new phase of your life. In this blog post, we will provide valuable guidance on five essential steps that Partner visa holders should follow upon their arrival in the UK, ensuring a smooth transition and optimal utilization of their time in the country.
To ensure a successful immigration process when joining your family in the UK, it is crucial to be well-informed about the regulations and guidelines associated with your visa and to strictly adhere to them. With a partner visa, you enjoy the freedom to live, study, work, and conduct business in the UK. However, it is important to note that after 2.5 years, you must apply to extend your spouse visa to continue living with your family, and after residing in the UK for 60 months, you may become eligible for indefinite leave to remain to settle permanently.
Here are the steps we recommend you to follow when you arrive in the UK:
Collect your Biometric Residence Permit
Individuals who have applied for a Partner Visa from outside the UK must collect their Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) upon arrival in the country. The BRP serves as proof of the visa holder’s immigration status and entitlements during their stay in the UK.
If you have been granted leave to enter the UK, you would have been issued a BRP card with an expiration date of 31 December 2024. It is important to know that this date restriction does not indicate the expiration of your leave in the UK. The date restriction also does not change your entitlements to work, access services or benefits or travel. Only your BRP card will expire on 31 December 2024.
Typically, the visa holder should collect their BRP before the vignette sticker in their travel document expires or within 10 days of entering the UK, whichever comes later. It is important to note that BRPs can be collected from a designated Post Office branch or an Alternative Collection Location, as specified in the decision letter issued by the Home Office. To collect the BRP, individuals must present their passport or travel document containing the vignette sticker.
It is a requirement that individuals collecting a BRP must be over 18 years old. If the visa holder has dependent children, it is necessary to nominate a person to collect their child’s BRP, even if that person is the child’s parent. However, parents do not need to be nominated if they are also collecting their own BRP and the parent’s name is included on the child’s vignette sticker.
Prove your Immigration Status
From 6 April 2022 onwards, individuals holding biometric cards must use the Home Office online service as the sole means to provide evidence of their right to work. Employers are no longer permitted to accept physical cards for conducting right-to-work checks, even if the card indicates a later expiry date. Biometric cards have been excluded from the lists of acceptable documents for manual right-to-work checks.
Visa holders will need to prove their right to work online or prove their right to rent online. A visa holder will need to provide their employer or landlord with their date of birth and ‘share code’ to carry out the online check.
Open a UK Bank Account
Opening a UK bank account is essential for facilitating salary payments from employers, as well as obtaining mobile phone contracts and paying household bills.
Although certain digital banks may not necessitate proof of UK residency for account opening, the majority of UK banks require documentation to verify the applicant’s UK address. Acceptable proofs of address may include the Biometric Residence Permit (BRP), utility bills, telephone bills, tenancy agreements, or council tax bills. Additionally, to open a bank account in the UK, the visa holder must provide identity proof, typically in the form of their passport.
Bank account statements or proof of joint liability (such as a mortgage) may also be used to prove cohabitation when extending immigration leave.
Apply for a National Insurance number
Having a national insurance number is not mandatory for partner visa holders, however, it is recommended. You have a National Insurance number to make sure your National Insurance contributions and tax are recorded against your name only. Certain organisations required your national insurance number such as HM Revenue and Customs, your employer, the Department for Work and Pensions, a pension provider or an ISA account provider.
Prior to applying for a National Insurance (NI) number, we recommend reviewing the Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) as it may display the NI number on the back. To initiate the NI number application process, applicants need to have their passport and BRP readily available. It is important to note that obtaining the NI number can take up to four weeks.
Register with a doctor
When applying for a Partner Worker visa, most applicants are obligated to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS). Payment of the IHS grants migrants access to free healthcare through the National Health Service (NHS) while they are residing in the UK. The specific amount of the IHS depends on the duration of stay in the UK.
Upon arriving in the UK, holders of a Partner visa can immediately utilize the NHS. It is recommended to register with a nearby General Practitioner (GP) surgery, ideally in close proximity to one’s place of residence. It is worth noting that different GP surgeries may offer varying services, so it is advisable to research and compare multiple nearby options to determine the services they provide.
Frequently asked questions
To collect the Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) upon arrival in the UK, individuals will need to present their passport or travel document that contains the vignette sticker. It is also necessary to bring the decision letter issued by the Home Office, which specifies the designated collection location for the BRP.
To open a UK bank account as a partner visa holder, you will typically need proof of UK address (e.g., BRP, utility bills) and identity proof (usually a passport), with some banks potentially requiring additional documents like bank statements or proof of joint liability for cohabitation verification.