The UK Spouse Visa application criteria consist of relationship, finances and English language requirements. This visa will allow you to live with your spouse in the UK for 2.5 years. Contact our experienced team for a no-obligation consultation and assessment for your Spouse Visa application.
What is a UK Spouse Visa?
The UK Spouse Visa immigration route allows applicants to live alongside their spouse in the UK. To qualify, you must demonstrate that you meet the requirements for the 5-Year Partner route under Appendix FM of the Immigration Rules. The Spouse Visa rules are extensive, and failure to prove that you meet these criteria may result in a refusal.
Initial leave under the Spouse Visa route is granted for 33 months. An application for further leave to remain can be made to extend your visa for another 30 months. After five years under the Spouse route, you can apply for indefinite leave to remain to settle permanently and eventually attain British citizenship.
UK Spouse Visa Requirements
An applicant looking to apply will need to meet the following UK Spouse Visa Requirements:
- You and your partner must be 18 years old or over
- You must have met each other and be in a genuine and subsisting relationship, legally married or a civil partnership.
- Any previous relationships must have permanently broken down
- You and your Sponsor must meet the minimum income requirement of £18,600 annually. The financial condition is higher if you have dependent children.
- There must be adequate accommodation for you, your spouse and any dependents.
- Unless exempt, you must demonstrate your knowledge of the English language at the required level.
- You may need to prove that you are free from tuberculosis
- You must not fall for refusal under Suitability Grounds, such as having a criminal conviction.
- You must intend to live together permanently in the UK.
UK Partner Requirement
As per the Immigration Rules, a partner is defined as either a spouse by marriage or a partner by a civil partnership recognised under UK Law. The applicant’s UK-based Sponsor must be one of the following:
- A British Citizen in the UK
- A British Citizen returning to the UK along with spouse applicant
- Permanently settled in the UK, holding Indefinite Leave to Remain or Settled Status under the EU Settlement Scheme
- In the UK, with refugee leave or with humanitarian protection
- In the UK, with limited leave under Appendix EU (pre-settled status).
Under the Spouse Visa requirements, You and your partner must demonstrate that your relationship is genuine and subsisting. In addition, you must prove that you have physically met your partner at least once during your marriage and spent time together as a couple.
You must not be within the prohibited degree of relationship, meaning be so closely related that you would be prohibited from marrying or entering into a civil partnership with each other in the UK. In addition, you must prove evidence that previous relationships have broken down; this will include documents such as a court divorce decree.
Most couples can prove their relationship by evidence such as chat and call logs, joint bank accounts or other financial commitments and photographs of you two together.
Financial Requirement UK Spouse Visa
The Sponsor must be capable of financially supporting their foreign spouse and any dependents without relying on public funds. They must demonstrate the financial requirement through income, savings, or a combination to meet this Spouse Visa requirement.
The financial requirement is a gross annual income of at least £18,600, with an additional £3,800 for the first child and an additional £2,400 for each child.
You can demonstrate the financial requirement with the following sources or a combination thereof:
- Employment or self-employment income
- Pension income
- Non-employment income sources, such as rental income or income from investments
- Cash savings above £16,000
Your British partner can also demonstrate their overseas employment or self-employment income if they plan to return to the UK at the same time.
The Immigration Rules specify an adequate accommodation requirement for UK Spouse Visas. This rule requires applicants to prove that the accommodation where they plan to live with their family in the UK will meet the following criteria for a UK family visa application, the accommodation:
- is owned or occupied exclusively by the applicant and their family
- is not, or will not, be overcrowded when the applicant joins their family
- will be obtained without recourse to public funds
- meets the UK public health regulations.
An example of suitable accommodation would be a rented apartment or a mortgaged house. Generally, an apartment with one room with a shared bed is sufficient for a couple. Nevertheless, your home must have an additional bedroom for each of your children over one.
You will have to describe the property, provide proof that there are enough rooms available to accommodate everyone and provide evidence that you can afford to pay for your family’s accommodation.
Where the accommodation is owned or rented by another family member or friend, they should specify their consent to the applicant and their family to occupy their property with a supporting letter. Applicants must also provide evidence confirming that the friend or a family member has the legal right to own or occupy the property with evidence such as a tenancy agreement or proof of property ownership.
English Language Requirement
The English language requirement can be met in any one of the following ways:
- By having passed an approved English language test at or above the required CEFR level A1
- by being a national of a specified majority English-speaking country such as Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Malta, New Zealand, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago or the USA
- Obtaining an academic qualification at a degree level or above taught in English.
You would meet the English language requirement by studying for an undergraduate or postgraduate degree in the UK. You can provide your UK degree certificate to prove the requirement. However, suppose your degree is from another country. In that case, the degree certificate will need to be submitted along with confirmation from the National Academic Recognition Information Centre for the UK (Ecctis) that the following:
- The degree was taught or researched at CEFR Level A1 or A2; and
- The qualification is equivalent to or greater than the recognised standard of a Bachelors’s/Masters’s degree or PhD in the UK.
Under the Immigration Rules Appendix T, to fulfil the Spouse Visa requirements, you will need to provide evidence that you are clear of tuberculosis by providing a TB test certificate if you usually live in one of the specified countries.
The Home Office UKVI will not accept a tuberculosis test certificate from a clinic they have not approved. Unfortunately, some listed countries do not have an approved clinic, so the test must be taken in a neighbouring country.
If you are switching from a qualifying category within the UK, you may not need a TB Test.
Non-British child dependants can apply provided they are under the age of 18 years and applying for a visa as a dependant of the applicant or the Sponsor who meet the requirements for a Spouse Visa UK.
The minimum income requirement increases with each dependant as specified above. Further, if your child dependant is applying to join your family in the UK, you must prove that your accommodation is suitable.
Documents Required Spouse Visa UK
The specific documentation required for your Spouse visa application will depend on your circumstances. Some of these documents will include the following:
- Proof of identity, such as a valid passport
- Sponsoring partner’s UK Immigration status, such as a British passport
- Official evidence such as the title deeds or a mortgage statement
- Proof of your relationship, such as marriage or civil partnership certificate
- Evidence of knowledge of the English language
- Financial documents such as wages slips and corresponding bank statements
- Proof of cohabitation, such as letters from public authorities
To prevent unnecessary delays or refusal, you must ensure that your documentation is correct as per the requirements of the Home Office UKVI. A well-organised application will likely be processed more quickly, whereas an application with insufficient documentation will probably be refused.
Returning to the UK with British Spouse
The financial requirement rules differ in case your British partner and you are returning to the UK. In case of employment or self-employment income, your British Sponsor must prove that their income will continue in the UK.
For example, the minimum income rules for income from specified employment will depend on whether the partner is still employed on the date of application and, if so, whether the partner has been with their current employer for six months more.
Before the application, if the Sponsor has been employed for at least six months by the same overseas employer and is earning a gross annual salary of £18,600 or above (without dependants), then they can rely on this income for the Spouse Visa application. In addition, the Sponsor must have a confirmed offer of salaried employment to which they will return to the UK. The employment must start within three months of their return at a salary level of at least £18,600 per year.
Overseas income in a foreign currency can be converted to pounds sterling (£) using the closing spot exchange rate, which appears on www.oanda.com on the date of application.
UK Spouse Visa Application Fee
The Home Office UKVI presently has a visa fee of £1,523 for an out-of-country UK Partner Visa application. Each dependant added to your application will be an additional £1,523.
And £1,033 for an in-country application. Similarly, each dependant added to your application will be an additional £1,033.
In addition to the Home Office application fee, the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) is payable for each applicant towards health care in the UK. The IHS fee is £624 per year, so an additional £1872 must be paid to make a valid application for Partner entry clearance.
Depending on your situation, you may incur additional costs, such as TB tests, document translations, English language test, lawyer fees, housing report, and premium visa services.
How do I apply for a Spouse Visa?
The application is made online on the gov.uk website. After that, applicants and dependants (if any) must attend a visa application centre (VAC) in the country they are applying from.
The applicant must provide proof of legal residence there if the application originates from a third country. Otherwise, they may be asked to return to their country of origin to apply for a VAC there.
The applicant must submit their biometric information (photo and fingerprints) at a VAC near them.
The applicant must hold valid leave to switch from a different category if the application is being made inside the UK.
What happens if my Spouse Visa application is accepted?
When your application is successful, you will be given a letter from the UKVI informing you that your visa application has been successful.
Your UK Spouse Visa will be 33 months, known as Leave to Enter. You will be given a vignette (visa sticker) in your passport that will allow you to travel to the UK.
The vignette is usually valid for 90 days; if you do not arrive in the UK within these 90 days, you will need to apply for a vignette transfer (at an additional fee).
You must present your letter and vignette to the Immigration Officer upon arrival in the UK. Once here, you will have ten days to collect a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP). Your BRP card is proof of your Immigration status in the UK.
What happens if my Spouse Visa is refused?
If you receive a letter saying your visa was refused, you will usually have the right to appeal the decision if you think it was unfair. Your letter of refusal will inform you if you are eligible to appeal. You can submit new evidence if it proves that you were suitable at the time of your initial application.
Switching to a Spouse Visa
If you are in the UK on a visa valid for more than six months, you can apply for a UK Partner visa without returning to your home country.
This is also the case for those in the UK on a fiance or proposed civil partner visa who have married their Partner and intend to reside permanently in the UK following their marriage. A typical example would be students switching to a spouse visa.
Extend Spouse Visa UK
Following the initial period of residence, an application for further leave to remain will be required to extend your visa. The second visa grant will allow you to continue living here for another 30 months. The requirements for further leave are similar to the initial application. In addition, you must prove that your relationship is subsisting and you continue to meet the financial criteria to support your family.
After reading in the UK for five years under the Spouse Visa route, you may apply for settlement as a spouse. And upon being granted ILR, you may immediately apply for British Citizenship by marriage if your partner is a British national.
UK Spouse Visa Processing & Decision Waiting Times
UKVI’s published processing time for Partner visa applications is up to 12 week to 24 weeks.
Most visa application centres outside the UK offer a Priority Settlement Visa Service if you require a faster visa processing timeline. A well-prepared visa application may result in a quicker processing time. In contrast, an application will take longer when the Home Office caseworker feels a further investigation is required or they need to interview you before deciding on the application.
Suppose you apply to switch into or extend your stay as a Partner from within the UK. In that case, you can choose either a Priority Service to get a decision within five working days or a Super Priority Service to get a decision by the next working day.
How can we help
Our expert immigration advisers can help you to prepare for the Spouse Visa application process. Call our friendly professionals to discuss your case on 02087575751 or use our contact form.
Frequently asked questions
What if I do not meet the minimum income requirement for a Spouse Visa?
You and your spouse may combine your income and savings to meet the financial requirement. However, we recommend seeking professional advice to see if you can combine certain income and savings.
Can the applicant use their income to meet the minimum income requirement?
Income earned lawfully in the UK may be used towards the Spouse Visa financial requirement.
Can I work on a Spouse Visa?
Yes, you can work on a spouse visa in the UK.
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