- Who is eligible to join their partner in the UK with this visa
- What are the Spouse Visa financial requirements?
- How to prove the Spouse Visa financial requirement
- What are the Spouse Visa genuine relationship requirements?
- How to prove the ‘genuine relationship’ requirement
- English language requirements
- Accommodation requirements
- What evidence is needed to prove the accommodation requirement?
- Frequently asked questions
What are the UK Spouse Visa requirements?
Often called the UK marriage visa, family visa, or partner visa, the UK Spouse visa is one of the most used immigration routes.
However, it can be extremely difficult to prove that you meet all the Spouse Visa requirements. Of all visa categories in the UK immigration system, it is one of the most difficult categories to get approved.
The requirements for this visa cross a number of different categories. They include requirements related to personal finance, English language abilities, the nature of the couples’ relationship, and accommodation arrangements, amongst others.
There is a lot of information that must be submitted to the UK Home Office as part of the application process to evidence each of the above requirements. Read the contents of this page for the requirements for your spouse visa application.
Who is eligible to join their partner in the UK with this visa?
Before making any visa application, you must be certain that you are applying for the correct visa for your circumstances. The Spouse Visa category has been designed for couples who are legally married or in a civil partnership. The person applying to come live with their spouse or civil partner in the UK must ensure that their partner is either an Irish or British citizen, or holds valid settled status in the UK.
The UK-based partner should be an Irish or British citizen or hold indefinite leave to remain. If this is not the case, the partner should hold settled status or be able to provide proof of permanent residence.
Further, it is possible for the following categories of people to sponsor their partner’s Spouse Visa application:
- An EU, Swiss, Norwegian, Icelandic, or Liechtenstein citizen who has pre-settled status and who has begun living in the UK prior to 1 January 2021
- A holder of a Turkish Businessperson Visa or Turkish Worker Visa
- A holder of refugee status or humanitarian protection in the UK
The Home Office caseworker assessing your spouse visa application must be satisfied that you and your spouse or civil partner intend to live together permanently in the UK.
If a couple wish to live together in the UK and they are not married, there are other potential visa categories that may be more suitable for their circumstances (for example, the Unmarried Partner Visa or the Fiancé Visa – for fiance, fiancee, and proposed civil partner).
What are the Spouse Visa financial requirements?
The financial Spouse Visa requirements are one of the most difficult criteria for applicants to meet. The two main financial requirements for the UK spouse visa involve the minimum income and the adequate accommodation stipulations.
It is important to note that there are some different criteria for people applying from outside the UK (leave to enter) and people applying inside the UK (leave to remain).
What financial evidence do you need to show?
The Immigration Rules Appendix FM Section E-ECP.3.1 state that applicants for a UK Spouse Visa must provide evidence of a gross annual income of at least £18,600.
If the applicant has a dependent child, they must also provide evidence of an additional £3,800 for the first child, and £2,400 for each additional child.
If there is no minimum income requirement, evidence of savings must be provided, which should be a minimum of £16,000. It is also required to show additional savings equalling 2.5 times the amount of the difference between the gross income and the total amount required.
If you need help with your Spouse Visa application or any immigration case, contact Newcastle Immigration Lawyers at 0191 303 8965. You can also use the contact form to speak with one of our helpful advisers about your case.
Sources of financial funds
There are a number of sources from where the financial requirements may come from, but the following are the only sources that may be used as part of the application:
- The partner’s income from employment or self-employment
- The applicant and/ or their partner’s pension income
- The partner’s maternity or bereavement benefits received in the UK
- The applicant’s or the partner’s HM Forces service payments received in the UK
- Other specified income of the applicant and partner
- The savings of the applicant and partner
Eligible forms of benefits or allowances
Not all forms of benefits or allowances are eligible to provide proof of the minimum financial threshold. The following are acceptable forms:
- Disability living allowance or severe disability allowance
- Industrial injury disablement benefit
- Attendance allowance
- Carer’s allowance
- Personal independence payment
- Armed Forces Independent Payment
- Guaranteed Income Payment (Armed Forces Compensation Scheme)
- Constant Attendance Allowance, Mobility Supplement, or War Disablement Pension
- Police Injury Pension
How to prove the Spouse Visa financial requirement
Only particular forms of documentation will be accepted by the Home Office as evidence of meeting the financial criteria.
The format of this evidence is outlined in Appendix FM-SE. In general, the financial requirements include the following:
- Bank statements must be from a valid financial institution
- Bank statements must be in the name of the applicant, their partner or both
- Bank statements must be submitted on official, headed bank stationery
If the applicant is submitting financial evidence from a building society, the passbook from the institution must show:
- Account number
- Building society name and logo
- Transaction information, funds in the account, the time period that funds have been in the account
An applicant submitting payslips from an employer should:
- Submit formal payslips issued by the employer with the employer’s details clearly displayed
- A letter from the employer on official headed paper and signed by a senior executive of the organisation confirming the authenticity of the payslips
For assistance or advice on the documents to provide, discuss with our UK spouse visa lawyers. Call us on 0191 303 8965
What are the Spouse Visa genuine relationship requirements?
Meeting the minimum financial requirement is not the only criteria for applying for a Spouse Visa UK. The caseworker overseeing your case must be satisfied that you and your partner are in a ‘genuine and subsisting’ relationship.
If you are an overseas resident who wishes to come to the UK to join your legally married or civil partner, it is important to show that your relationship fulfils the criteria set out in Appendix FM E-ECP.2.1.
Unlike the financial requirements or English language requirements for the Spouse Visa UK, the Home Office does not clearly specify the exact forms of evidence that should be submitted.
However, it is highly recommended to provide as much relevant information as possible to ensure that the caseworker has adequate information to assess your case.
What are the Spouse Visa relationship requirements?
If you are applying for a UK Spouse Visa, your partner must be either an Irish or British citizen or hold some form of valid settled status.
Both partners must be aged over 18 years of old, have met in person, in a legal marriage or civil partnership, and any other previous relationship must have broken down permanently.
One significant requirement is that the applicant and their partner must intend to live together in the UK on a permanent basis.
How to prove the ‘genuine relationship’ requirement
It can be difficult to gather evidence to show that the relationship between you and your legally married or civil partner is genuine and subsisting.
Although it is necessary to submit your marriage or civil partnership certificate, this information alone is not enough to prove that your relationship is genuine.
Some of the following forms of evidence can be used to submit as evidence during your UK spouse visa application process:
- A 2-page letter outlining the nature of your relationship, how you both met, the growth of the relationship and your intention to live together permanently in the UK
- Valid marriage or civil partnership certificate
- Birth certificates of any children born within the relationship
- Any divorce or legal separation certificates (where relevant)
- Any evidence of previous cohabitation or joint financial management
- For example a lease or mortgage statement, utility bill, council tax letter, joint bank statements, service statements, formal documents that link the couple (e.g., an invoice), or official government letters addressed to both partners
- A statement from members of your family or friends vouching for the genuine nature of your relationship (including identification and contact details of the person)
- Evidence of trips that you have taken together (e.g., passport stamps, travel tickets, airline tickets, hotel bookings, etc.)
- Proof that you have visited each other’s home countries
- Photographic evidence of different time periods within your relationship
- Phone or call logs between the couple spanning different time periods in your relationship
- Logs of your messages on messenger apps (such as WhatsApp) spanning different time periods in your relationship
It is important to note that it is not necessary to submit ‘X’ number of years of call or message logs of your relationship. Aside from being impractical, it may be too much information for the caseworker to identify key points in your relationship.
Consider curating this information into a digestible format, perhaps showing key moments in your relationship, for example when you were making decisions together about your future relationship.
The ultimate criteria when gathering evidence to prove the relationship requirement for the Spouse Visa is to ensure that the caseworker has more than enough information to assess the validity of the relationship.
English language requirements for the UK partner visa
The requirement for Spouse Visa applicants to evidence a minimum level of English language ability became law in 2010.
You can meet the English language requirement if you are from a majority English language speaking country, you have a university degree that was taught through English, or you pass an approved English language test.
The level of English language level must meet the level of least A1 on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages.
Which degrees are evidence of English language level?
If you undertook a university degree through the medium of English, you may be exempt from having to take an approved English language test.
However, not all university courses are deemed acceptable in fulfilling this requirement. The Home Office stipulates that the academic qualification must be a Bachelors, Masters or PhD degree awarded by a UK educational institution.
If you received your degree from an institution outside the UK, it must be deemed acceptable by the UK’s National Academic Recognition Information Centre (NARIC).
As well as this, if an applicant is from or studied their degree in one of the following countries, they will be deemed to meet the English language requirements: Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Ireland, Jamaica, New Zealand, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, and the USA.
It will be necessary to submit the degree certificate and/ or transcripts as evidence of meeting the English language requirements of the Spouse Visa.
Which English language tests can be used to prove English language level?
One of the ways that applicants can prove their English language level is by taking an exam in English in speaking and listening.
The three requirements of this test are:
- It must be a valid English language test
- The applicant must take a test organised by a Secure English Language Test (SELT) provider
- The test must be taken at an approved English language testing centre
The full list of approved tests and test providers can be found in this document. As of October 2020, there are five approved A1 level tests. These include:
- Graded Examinations in Spoken English (GESE) offered by Trinity College London
- IELTS Life Skills offered by IELTS SELT Consortium
- International ESOL offered by LanguageCert
- PTE Home offered by Pearson PTE
- Skills for English UKVI offered by PSI
You should ensure that you are taking a test that is approved for UKVI purposes rather than for general learning or academic English purposes. In most cases, your test results will be valid for two years.
English language exemptions
Most applicants will need to prove their English language abilities. However, some people are exempt from this requirement.
If the applicant is aged 65 years old or over, or if they have a disability that prevents them from meeting the requirement, or there are other exceptional circumstances that pose an obstacle for the applicant to meet the requirement, they may be exempt.
Accommodation requirements for UK partner visa application
Along with the minimum income requirement, couples applying for a Spouse Visa must show that they can financially meet the Home Office’s accommodation requirement.
Immigration rules state that a couple planning to live together with one partner on this visa must be able to provide “adequate” accommodation for themselves and any dependents.
Furthermore, the family unit must be able to provide financial proof that they have access to adequate accommodation arrangements without recourse to public funds.
According to the Home Office, accommodation will not be considered adequate if it is (or will be) overcrowded or is in breach of public health regulations.
The definition of accommodation refers to an apartment, house, or room in a shared property that is owned or occupied solely by the family. The accommodation may be prospective (i.e., planned accommodation) rather than an existing arrangement.
What is ‘adequate’ accommodation?
The guidance on what is considered ‘adequate’ information is relatively clear.
There must be evidence that the family unit of the applicant and sponsor (and any dependents) will have exclusive use of (at a minimum) a bedroom which is appropriate for the number, age, and gender of family members.
Under the Housing Act 1985 in England and Wales, a room standard must not breach the definition of overcrowded.
According to this Act, the room standard is not upheld if the number of people sleeping in a property and the number of rooms available for sleeping accommodation means that 2 people aged 10 years or older (who are not living together as a couple) are required to sleep in the same room.
Similarly, the space standard is breached if the number of people sleeping in a property is over the permitted number, with respect to the number and floor area of rooms available for sleeping.
How to assess if accommodation is overcrowded
In order to assess if a proposed property would meet the accommodation requirements for the Spouse Visa, the following calculation should be applied.
For calculation purposes, a child under the age of one does not count as a person and a child aged between one- and ten years old counts only as half a person. It is possible for two children under the age of ten to share a bedroom, and a couple in a relationship may also share a room.
Calculating accommodation requirements
- Count how many people would occupy the property and then count the number of rooms available for the purposes of sleeping.
- Next, there should be a comparison between the number of people who would occupy the accommodation with the number of rooms available for sleeping to ascertain whether overcrowding would be a possibility.
- It is possible to count a living room as a room for the purposes of sleeping. However, rooms of less than 50 square feet may not be counted, nor can bathrooms or kitchens be used for sleeping areas.
What evidence is needed to prove the accommodation requirement?
Depending on your individual circumstances, the documents you will be required to submit will vary. If you and your partner plan to live in rented accommodation, it is recommended to submit a signed letter from your landlord or estate agent outlining your accommodation intentions with this property.
If you or your partner are the legal owners of a property, you should submit a copy of the title deeds with your visa application.
If there is a mortgage on the property, an official bank letter on headed paper should be submitted with confirmation of the property owner.
Further, it is recommended to submit a signed and dated Housing Report to evidence that the accommodation does not fit the legal definition of overcrowded.
If the couple intends to live in shared accommodation with a family or friend, they should submit a signed and dated letter outlining their consent for the couple to live with them in their property. The official title deeds, lease, or mortgage documents should also be submitted along with the application.
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There are a number of UK Spouse Visa requirements that must be demonstrated in order to have the application approved.
Among other requirements, there are requirements to show that the couple can meet the financial requirements (including a minimum income level of £18,600). The Spouse Visa applicant must show that the relationship is ‘genuine and subsisting,’ that they meet the required English language level.
Finally, they must also show that their accommodation meets the necessary level of space required by health and safety rules.
The minimum income requirement for UK Spouse Visas is £18,600 yearly gross income. If an applicant has a child dependent, there is an additional threshold of £3,800 for the first child, and £2,400 for each child after that.
The application fee for a UK Spouse Visa is £1,523 if made outside the UK. If made inside the UK, the application fee is £1,033.
It is also required to pay an immigration health surcharge as part of the Spouse Visa application. If made outside the UK, the cost is £1,872, but is £1,560 if the applicant is living in the UK.
Depending on the applicant’s circumstances, there are additional costs and fees involved in the process (e.g., English language test, tuberculosis test, Housing Report, bank statement fees, etc.)
If your Spouse Visa application has been accepted, you can stay in the UK for up to 33 months if your application was made outside the UK or 30 months if you applied inside the UK.
If you wish to extend the Spouse Visa, you may apply for a Spouse Visa extension. If granted, you may stay for a further 30 months. Following this, if you have stayed in the UK for five years, you may be eligible to apply for indefinite leave to remain.
If granted, after one year, you may able to apply for British citizenship.
The nationals of some countries will be automatically viewed as having met the English language requirement. These countries include the following: Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, New Zealand, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, and the USA.
The only evidence of language attainment will be the applicant’s passport if they are from one of the above countries.