Updated on 10 October 2023
What is a UK Spouse Visa?
The UK Spouse Visa falls under the Family Visa category for those who are married to either British Citizens or individuals who are permanent residents of the UK. This post explores the Spouse Visa requirements, documents, fees, processing time, and more. Under Appendix FM of the Immigration Rules, a ‘partner’ means an applicant’s fiancé(e), proposed civil partner, spouse, civil partner, or unmarried partner.
Being a settlement route, the Spouse Visa is the type of visa you will need if you wish to enter or remain in the UK to live with your partner for more than 6 months. The Spouse visa is granted for 30 months. This can be extended if you meet specific criteria, known as further leave to remain.
When you have lived in the UK for at least 60 months, comprising the initial 30 months and the following 30 months in the Partner category, you may be eligible for Spouse ILR, otherwise known as permanent residence.
The main eligibility criteria include proof that you are in a genuine relationship and meet specific financial conditions.
Who can apply for a Spouse Visa?
You and your partner must intend to live in the UK together permanently after you apply, and your partner must also either:
- be a British or Irish citizen
- have settled in the UK – for example, they have indefinite leave to remain, settled status or proof of permanent residence
- be from the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein and have the pre-settled status
- have a Turkish Businessperson visa or Turkish Worker visa.
Spouse Visa UK Application Requirements
To meet the Spouse Visa criteria, you must meet the following requirements:
- You and your spouse are at least 18 years of age or older
- Your marriage must be genuine, and your relationship must subsist
- The minimum income requirement (MIR) or the financial requirement
- The English language requirement
- The adequate accommodation requirement
- If you are a national of a specified country, you must prove that you are free from tuberculosis
- At the time of application, you must submit your documentation and biometric information at a specified visa centre.
The specific requirements will vary depending on your and your partner’s circumstances.
Minimum Income Requirement (MIR)
You must prove that you can financially support yourself and your dependents without relying on public funds. You must have an income of at least £18,600 a year. This threshold increases for children who are not British or settled in the UK. If you have dependants, the financial requirement increases as follows:
- £3800 a year for your first child
- £2400 a year for each additional child
You can prove that you meet the MIR through income from employment in the UK, self-employment or as a director of a limited company in the UK, pension income or non-work income such as property rental income or dividends. Any cash savings above £16,000 will be considered towards meeting the MIR. You can also meet the MIR through cash savings, in which case you need at least £62,500 in your bank account.
Partner Visa Genuine Relationship Test
In addition to your marriage certificate (or civil partnership certificate), you must prove that your relationship is genuine and subsisting. You can prove that your relationship is genuine through various documentation, including evidence of a joint mortgage or tenancy agreement either inside or outside the UK, joint assets or liabilities such as bank accounts or credit cards, evidence of correspondence between you and your partner, trips taken together abroad and so on.
Furthermore, if you or your partner have previously been married, you will need proof that the previous marriage has ended in the form of a divorce certificate.
UK Spouse Visa English Language Requirement
You may need to prove your English language knowledge when applying. You only need your degree certificate if you hold a qualification from a UK university or college. If your qualification is from outside the UK, You’ll need to provide a certificate from Ecctis (formerly UK NARIC) to show that your qualification is equivalent to a UK bachelor’s degree or higher and that it was taught in English.
If you do not have a qualification, you can prove that you meet the English language requirement by taking an English language test at least a level A1 on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) scale at a Home Office UKVI approved test centre.
You do not need to prove your knowledge of English if you are a resident of one of these countries: Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, The Bahamas, Barbados. Belize, Canada, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, New Zealand, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucis, St Vincent and the Grenadines,Trinidad and Tobago or USA.
If you are over 65 or have a physical or mental condition, you are exempt from the English language requirement. Dependants under 18 do not need to take the English language test.
As part of the Spouse Visa application process, you will need to prove that you, your spouse and any dependents will have adequate accommodation where you can reside for the foreseeable future. Accommodation is inadequate if it is not owned or legally occupied by the family unit.
This accommodation must meet UK living standards under the Housing Act 1985. The room standard is contravened under the Act when the number of persons sleeping in a dwelling and the number of rooms available as sleeping accommodation is such that 2 persons aged 10 or over of the opposite sex who are not living together as a couple must sleep in the same room.
In other words, the property you are planning to live in will not become overcrowded for your family, including other family members/individuals who are not included in the application but may live in the same household. For example, you are planning to live with your parents or in a House in multiple occupation (HMO). You may need proof that there are enough rooms in the property to accommodate everyone.
To discuss your UK Spouse Visa application with an experienced immigration adviser, contact our team on 0208 757 5751 or complete our contact form.
Spouse Visa UK Document Checklist
Your supporting documents are used to prove your identity and to prove to the Home Office UKVI that you can meet the Spouse Visa requirements. Failure to supply the correct documents may delay your visa application or be refused. You will need to provide some of these documents:
- A valid passport or another form of valid travel ID
- Your marriage certificate or civil partnership certificate that is recognised in the UK
- Proof that your relationship is genuine; this may include jointly addressed correspondence or proof of joint commitments or liabilities
- Proof that you meet the financial requirement; this may include bank statements, employment records
- A TB Test Certificate from a Home Office-approved clinic
- Proof that you will have adequate accommodation whilst in the UK; this could include a tenancy agreement or a mortgage statement
- An English language certificate unless you have an academic qualification that meets the English language requirement.
Any documents not in English will need to be accompanied by a translated version from a professional translator. Furthermore, your documentary evidence must be in the exact format required by the Home Office. The specific documents will vary based on your circumstances.
UK Spouse Visa Application Fee
The Home Office’s current fee is £1,846 for any application submitted abroad. If you submit your application from within the UK, this fee is £1,048. This charge will increase if you apply with dependents and for each dependent.
In addition, you will have to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge fee, which is £624 per year. Depending on your situation, other costs will be associated with the spouse visa application, such as the English language test, document translation, priority services, etc.
You can only apply from inside the UK if your present visa has been granted for more than 6 months, for example, if you are switching from a student visa to a spouse visa.
You cannot apply in the UK on a visitor visa.
How long can I stay in the UK with a Spouse Visa?
If you have applied to join your spouse, you will get permission to stay in the UK for 2 years and 9 months. After this period, you will have to extend your stay or switch to this visa you can stay in the UK for 2 years and 6 months.
UK Spouse Visa – How to Apply
- The first step in the process is to plan when you are planning to arrive in the UK and where you will be living with your partner. It is recommended to apply at least 12 weeks before you plan to arrive in the UK. At the time of writing, the current processing time for family visas is 24 weeks. However, do not book your flight or travel before the Home Office UKVI approves your visa. If you are already in the UK, you must ensure that you apply before your current leave expires.
- Prepare your documentary evidence as per the Home Office UKVI format and requirements.
- Submit your online application by completing the appropriate form as per your circumstances. The application form varies depending on whether you are applying from outside the UK or inside the UK.
- Book your visa centre appointment to prove your identity, submit your biometric information and submit your supporting documents. This process will differ if you are applying from inside the UK.
- If the Home Office UKVI has any doubts about your application, they may contact you or invite you to attend a spouse visa interview to assess the genuineness of your relationship and intent in the UK.
You can add children to your application as dependents if they are under 18 when you apply and do not live an independent life. Your child is living an independent life if, for example, they’ve left home, got married and had children.
What happens if my UK Spouse Visa application is accepted?
When your application is accepted, you will be given leave to enter or remain in the UK for 2 years and 9 months. Upon arrival in the UK, you will have 10 days to collect a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) card.
If you fail to enter the UK within this time frame, you can apply for another 30-day entry permit. However, you will be charged an additional fee.
Spouse Visa Processing Time
It usually takes up to 12 weeks for a Spouse Visa to be processed if you apply from outside the UK. If you apply from within the UK, the processing time is around eight weeks. You may be able to speed up your application with priority services at an additional cost.
However, application processing might take longer if:
- You do not meet the requirements
- You have not provided sufficient evidence
- need to attend an interview
- have a criminal record
At the time of writing, the Spouse Visa processing time is up to 24 weeks. This is because priority is being given to applications from Ukrainian nationals.
Extending Spouse Visa UK
You can apply to extend your status as a partner in the UK. You can apply up to 28 days before the expiration of your current leave and will need to meet specific requirements, mainly that your relationship is subsisting. Once granted, your visa will be extended for another 30 months, provided you have made an application on time.
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’ll need to provide the following:
– all your names
– your date of birth
– your current passport or other valid travel ID
– copies of the photo page and any visa or entry stamps in your previous passports
– a copy of your biometric residence permit, if you have one
– details of any previous immigration applications you’ve made
– details of any criminal convictions
– your national insurance number, if you have one
– your parents’ date of birth and nationality if you’re applying from outside the UK
– your tuberculosis test results if you’re from a country where you have to take the test
– a certified translation of any document that is not in English or Welsh
Yes, an unmarried partner visa exists for those who have lived together for at least 2 years. Or a fiancé visa for those looking to get married in the UK and settle afterwards. There is also the marriage visitor visa category for those who wish to get married in the UK and return to their country after marriage.
After you have completed 5 years on the Spouse Visa route, you may be eligible to settle in the UK permanently.
You are required to notify the Home Office UKVI of the breakdown in your relationship. Since your leave depends on your relationship, the Home Office will issue what is known as a Spouse Visa curtailment. This will usually allow you enough time to make a new application under a new route to stay in the UK or leave the country.