Updated on 10 October 2023
International students in the UK who are married to British Citizens or settled persons can switch to the Spouse Visa route under the Immigration Rules. Switching from a Tier 4 student visa to a spouse visa has many benefits, including no work restrictions and early settlement. You must prove that you meet certain Spouse Visa UK criteria for finances, accommodation, English language, etc.
If your visa application is successful, you will be granted an initial two and a half years. To remain in the UK after this period, you must apply for a spouse visa extension before your leave expires. After five years, you can become eligible to apply for settlement in the UK.
A visa refusal may result in you leaving the country at the end of your student visa. Your best option is to consult with an experienced immigration adviser. In this post, we explore the topic of switching your immigration category from a Tier 4 Student Visa to a UK Spouse Visa.
Requirements for switching to a UK Spouse Visa
You will need to meet these spouse visa requirements to be eligible to switch to this route:
- You and your partner are both aged 18 or over.
- Your spouse or civil partner must either be a British citizen, have Indefinite Leave to Remain or Settled Status;
- Your relationship must be genuine, meaning that you are in a marriage or civil partnership recognized by UK law; or have lived together in a relationship for at least two years;
- You and your spouse or civil partner must intend to live together permanently in the UK and have suitable accommodation.
- You have good knowledge of the English language.
- You and your partner meet the minimum income requirement.
- You meet the suitability criteria, which essentially consider criminal convictions and other character-related factors.
Income Requirement for a Spouse Visa Switching
The Minimum Income Requirement (MIR) and different ways of meeting the standard requirement are set out in Appendix FM of the Immigration Rules. The MIR is the same when switching from the student route.
Your spouse must earn a gross salary of £18,600 per annum to satisfy that they can support you. The MIR increases with each dependent child:
- 1 child – £22,400 per annum
- 2 children – £24,800 per annum
- 3 children – £27,200 per annum
As mentioned, there are different ways you can prove that you meet the MIR, such as income from employment, self-employment, non-employment income or a combination of such. You can also meet the MIR through cash savings alone, which means you will need at least £62,500.
In addition, you must prove that you have adequate accommodation to live with any dependents.
To discuss your UK Spouse Visa application with an experienced immigration adviser, contact our team on 0208 757 5751 or complete our contact form.
English Requirement for Spouse Visa Route
In the absence of an academic qualification such as a degree taught or researched in English, you can prove your knowledge of English by passing an approved English language test with at least a CEFR level A1 in speaking and listening.
You will not need to prove your knowledge of English or take a test if you are a national of a majority English-speaking country such as Canada, New Zealand or the USA. You will also be exempt if you are over 65 or have a physical or mental condition preventing you from meeting the requirement.
How to switch from Tier 4 Student Visa to Spouse Visa?
You must ensure that you have valid leave as a Tier 4 Student at your spouse visa application time. You will need to gather documents to prove that you meet the visa criteria and make an application to the Home Office UKVI on the government website. You will then need to attend an appointment to provide your biometric information, i.e., your fingerprints and a digital photo.
You will need documents to prove that you are meeting the criteria, such as (including but not limited to):
- Proof of identity and immigration status, such as a valid passport
- Evidence that your relationship is genuine and subsisting, such as your marriage certificate
- Proof that your accommodation is sufficient, such as a tenancy agreement
- Financial documents proving you meet the income requirements, such as an employment contract and letter
- Evidence that the English language requirement is met, such as an English Language Test Certificate or Degree certificate.
The documents stated here are examples of some of the documents you may need to prove your eligibility. The specific documentation required in your application will depend on your circumstances. For example, if you have been married before, you should provide proof of your divorce.
How long does it take to switch to a Spouse Visa?
The average processing time for switching from a Tier 4 visa to a spouse visa from within the UK is around 8 to 12 weeks. You may be able to opt for additional paid services to speed up the processing time.
Cost of switching
As of 04 October 2023, the fee for making an application to switch from a Tier 4 visa to a spouse visa from within the UK is £1,048. In addition, you will need to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) fee of £624 per year. Depending on your circumstances, you may incur additional costs.
UK Spouse Visa Advice
Our immigration advisers regularly assist foreign national Spouses in relocating and settling in the UK with their families. The financial requirement rules are complex and include mandatory requirements in the documentary evidence that must be provided to demonstrate access to the relevant funds. Failure to demonstrate that you meet the Spouse Visa application criteria may result in the application being delayed or even refused.
Our UK Spouse Visa lawyers can provide a no-obligation assessment of your prospects of qualifying for a Spouse Visa or professional advice or assistance with preparing a Spouse Visa application.
At Whytecroft Ford, we know that accurate and timely advice could make all the difference in the world. We are a highly driven professional team that provides clear and reliable immigration advice to individuals applying for a UK Spouse Visa. We apply our extensive knowledge and expertise to our client’s needs.
Frequently asked questions
You can apply for a spouse visa overseas or from the UK. If you are already in the UK on a fiance visa, work visa, or student visa valid for more than six months, you may be able to switch to a spouse visa.
Applying for a spouse visa is possible once you have married on a fiancé visa.
No. Unfortunately, you cannot switch from a Visitor Visa to any other visa in the UK.
Yes, you can work freely in the UK, which is one of the reasons it is also one of the most applied.