- Who can apply for a UK Spouse Visa?
- Required documents
- How to apply for a UK Spouse Visa
- What are the processing times?
- What are the application costs?
- Refusal reasons
- How to appeal against a refusal
- Can you extend a Spouse Visa?
- How to apply for settlement
- How can Newcastle Immigration Lawyers help me?
- Frequently asked questions
What is the UK Spouse Visa?
Also known as the Relationship Visa, Marriage visa, or Married Partner Visa, the UK Spouse Visa is an immigration category that allows legally married spouses and civil partners of UK residents and people with an eligible immigration status to come to the UK.
Not everyone is eligible to apply for this visa to join their partner. The UK-based partner must be an Irish or British citizen or hold indefinite leave to remain (ILR), or some categories of limited leave to remain.
There are strict eligibility standards that both partners must meet to be granted a Spouse Visa. It lasts for up to 33 months and if eligible, can be extended. Under some circumstances, a Spouse Visa holder may be able to apply for settled status in the UK (also known as indefinite leave to remain).
Depending on your situation, the process can be complex and lengthy, with a significant amount of documentation and evidence required as part of the application. It is recommended to consult with a specialist immigration lawyer to maximise your chances of a successful application.
Newcastle Immigration Lawyers are ready to speak with you about your individual case and advise you on the next steps in the process. Call us on 0191 303 8965 or use the contact form to get in touch with us.
Who can apply for a UK Spouse Visa?
There are a number of eligibility criteria for the spouse visa UK, as well as a significant number of documents that must be submitted to the Home Office.
The primary requirements are:
- The partner living in the UK must be a British or Irish citizen OR
- The partner must hold indefinite leave to remain or a category of limited leave to remain
- Both partners must be aged over 18 years old
- The partners are legally married and have met in person
- There is evidence of a genuine and subsisting relationship
- There is evidence of an intention to live together permanently in the UK
- There are no other existing relationships
- The Spouse Visa holder can provide evidence of being able to meet the minimum financial requirements without recourse to public funds
- There is evidence of appropriate accommodation for the couple and any dependents
- The Spouse Visa holder has the required level of English language skills
There are strict rules around spouse visa financial requirements, English language requirements and ‘genuine relationship’ requirements. We provide further information on Spouse Visa requirements here.
What are the processing times for a UK Spouse Visa?
For the majority of visa applicants, the status of the application will be decided between six weeks and three months. The factors that will impact visa waiting times can include the following:
- The type of visa being applied for
- The volume of visas currently being submitted for review
- The country or area where the applicant was made
- The applicant’s circumstances and eligibility
- COVID-19 restrictions have impacted waiting times to an extent
There are a number of ways to ensure that a UK Spouse Visa application is not delayed. It is important to include a tailored and informative supporting letter outlining how you fulfil the criteria.
Next, if the applicant has never had had any marks recorded on their immigration or criminal record, it is more likely that their application will not face a delay.
The caseworker must be able to read all the documents submitted with the UK Spouse visa application. If there are any issues in viewing the documents, it is possible that there will be a longer waiting time. Similarly, if any documents are not provided, this could also impact the length of time an applicant must wait.
How to apply for a UK Spouse Visa
The application process for a spouse visa UK varies depending on where the applicant is based and their circumstances. However, there are some common elements that will apply to all applicants.
The following is an outline of what the UK Spouse Visa application process looks like:
- Go to the Gov.uk website to begin the online application. Here you will be asked to provide the country that you are applying from
- Identify the relevant visa application centre for your location (VFS Global and TLS are the two primary visa application centres)
- Gather the documents that you will need to submit as part of the process. In some visa application centres, there are document submission services available
- Complete the online form at the Gov.uk website. If you are applying on behalf of dependents, it is recommended to complete your own form first
- Choose how you will provide your biometric information (facial photograph and fingerprints)
- Sign a declaration stating that the information provided is true to the best of your knowledge
- Choose the service type: the standard application will result in normal processing times. Alternatively, the priority service will be more expensive but you can receive a decision in approximately six weeks
- Book your appointment at the visa application centre
- Pay the fee for the application to the Home Office and the Immigration Health Surcharge
- Upload scans of your documents or indicate that you have submitted them physically
- Attend your pre-booked appointment at the visa application centre
Required documents for a UK Spouse Visa
As with all visa applications, there is a significant amount of information that must be submitted to the Home Office to prove why you are suitable to be granted this visa. Those will prove that you are married or in a civil partnership with a British citizen or settled person along with the other spouse visa requirements.
We have put together a list of the most common documents you will be required to submit. Please note that this list is not exhaustive and will vary based on your individual circumstances.
Required personal documents:
- The official application form(s)
- Your passport or valid travel document
- Proof of English language abilities (minimum A2 level on the CEFR scale)
- Your UK-based partner’s passport or valid travel documents
- A letter of support from your UK-based partner
- Evidence of your UK-based partner’s ability to meet a minimum financial threshold
Adequate Accommodation requirement documentation with spouse:
- Correspondence letters addressed to you and your UK-based partner in an appropriate shared accommodation
- Bank statements or utility bills
- Council tax letter
- Letters from a registered GP or NHS body
- Letter from HMRC
Documents/proof of relationship with your UK spouse or partner:
- Evidence of conversation logs between you and your partner
- Photographs or videos of you and your partner at different stages of the relationship
- Letters from family, friends, or members of your community vouching for the validity of the relationship
- Certificate of marriage
- Supporting letters from both partners outlining the history of the relationship and how the couple meets the eligibility requirements
The Home Office will assess each case individually and it may be the case that you will be required to provide more information. Your caseworker will make a judgement on your case and make a decision on whether to grant, refuse, or ask for more information for the visa.
What are the application costs of this UK partner visa?
There are a number of costs for a UK Spouse Visa application. The primary charges are outlined below, but this may vary based on your circumstances.
- Home Office application fee: If the application is made outside of the UK, the cost is £1,523. If made inside the UK, the cost will be £1,033.
- Immigration Health Surcharge: If made outside the UK, the cost is £1,872, while inside the United Kingdom is £1,560.
Depending on your circumstances, you may have to pay for some of the following as part of your Spouse Visa application:
- English language test: The same fee for applications made inside and outside the United Kingdom is £150
- Accommodation report: The same fee for applications made inside and outside the UK is between £80-£100+
- Bank statements: The same fee for applications made inside and outside the UK could be up to £80
- Tuberculosis test: The same fee for applications made inside and outside the UK could be between £60-100+
- Official document translation: The same fee for applications made inside and outside the UK could be up to £300, depending on how many documents must be translated and the cost of the service
In addition, there may be solicitor fees for the application if the applicant wishes to retain a lawyer to support their application.
Working with a specialist immigration lawyer could maximise the chances of a successful application in the first instance.
If you would like the support of a specialist immigration lawyer, contact Newcastle Immigration Lawyers today for a discussion of your case. Call 0191 303 8965 or use the contact form to speak with one of our advisers.
Refusal reasons for this UK partner visa
It can be extremely frustrating when a visa application is refused. However, a family visa rejection doesn’t necessarily mean that this is the end of the process for you and your loved one.
The first step you should follow is to identify whether there is a reason provided for the application being denied or refused.
Here are some of the most common reasons why a Spouse Visa may be refused:
- The requirements have not been met or not enough proof has been submitted in evidence
- The minimum financial threshold has not been met
- There has been a judgement that the relationship is not ‘genuine and subsisting’
- There have been some errors or inaccuracies in completing the application form
- There has been a history of refusing to grant this particular application to this individual
- The applicant has a relevant criminal history or has committed some immigration offences that were not disclosed
- Official certified translations have not been supplied
- The applicant failed the English language test
With the help of an immigration lawyer, you may be able to reduce the chances that your application will be refused, which could lead to a more lengthy and expensive process.
How to appeal against a refusal
While some visa categories allow refused applicants to appeal the decision, it is important to note that not every visa that is refused has the right to appeal.
A UK Spouse Visa that has been refused does not have the right to an administrative review. Instead, the applicant may submit an appeal, on the grounds that not granting the visa would infringe on your human rights and right to private family life.
If the applicant is successful at the appeal stage, it is likely that the Home Office will grant the visa. However, if the appeal is unsuccessful, an applicant may have recourse to the Upper Tribunal.
Some people whose visa has been refused may opt to apply for a different visa category in order to come to the UK.
Can you extend a Spouse Visa?
If you are granted a UK Spouse Visa, you will be allowed to stay in the UK for 33 months (for an application made outside the UK) or 30 months if you applied inside the UK. Under some circumstances, you may be eligible to extend the visa for longer than this stay.
Similar to the initial application, you should be prepared to show the following in order for your visa to be extended:
- That you and your partner are still in a committed and permanent relationship, living together in the UK
- That you and your partner still have a combined income of at least £18,600
- That you (the visa holder) have not breached any immigration laws and have abided by all conditions of stay
- That character and language level requirements are met to a satisfactory standard
- That the extension application form has been completed in full and with 100% accuracy
How to apply for settlement in the UK
It is possible for eligible applicants to apply for a more permanent form of settlement in the UK if certain criteria are met.
If a person accrues 60 months (five years) of leave, they may apply for indefinite leave to remain (ILR). For Spouse Visa applicants, an application for ILR will only be granted if the person has been with the same partner for five years.
There is also a requirement that the applicant has not spent an excessive amount of time outside the UK during the five-year period. This means that in the last 12-month period when you are applying for ILR, you should not have been outside the country for more than 180 days.
There is also a requirement to pass the Life in the UK test and meet the English language requirements.
If you wish to apply for British citizenship, you must hold Indefinite Leave to Remain ILR for one year and fulfil all the eligibility criteria.
All visa categories may benefit from the support of a specialist immigration lawyer. If you would like to speak to an immigration solicitor about your case, contact us on 0191 303 8965 to talk to us today.
How can Newcastle Immigration Lawyers help me?
There are a number of valuable services that Newcastle Immigration Lawyers can provide with your immigration application.
The services we provide include:
- Provide you with a full eligibility check to let you know whether you are likely to be granted the visa
- Perform an assessment on whether your UK-based partner may act as your sponsor
- Give you a full understanding of the documents needed for your application
- Speak with you over the phone or via video call to discuss each aspect of the case with you
- Provide you with a Letter of Representation to submit with your application outlining how you fulfil the application criteria
- On your behalf, liaise with the Home Office
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There is no set period of time in the Home Office guidance that indicates how long you must stay in the UK. There is an indication that if a visa holder spends the majority of their time outside the UK, this may be taken into account when a visa extension application is submitted.
Similarly, if an applicant is applying for ILR, they should ensure that they haven’t spent over 180 days within the 12 months preceding the date of application outside the UK.
A sponsorship letter is typically a requirement of a Spouse Visa application. This letter is written by the UK-based partner of the person applying for the visa.
The information you include in your sponsor letter should include the following:
- Your contact details
- Your citizenship, income, and employment details (where relevant)
- A brief overview of the relationship between you and your partner
- An account of where you met, how you met, how the relationship developed and the marriage
You should also provide evidence of everything in your letter. For example, this could include, payslips, employment contract, marriage certificate, bank statements, and your passport or travel document.
The joint income for the couple must be a minimum of £18,600. This should be evidenced by payslips, bank statements, etc.
There is also a possibility of showing how the couple’s savings meet the minimum financial threshold.
If a British citizen (or person with settled status) wishes to sponsor their girlfriend or boyfriend to come to the UK, a couple must show that there is intent to live with your partner in a similar way to a married couple.
A Fiancé Visa allows a partner to bring their fiancé(e) or proposed civil partner to the UK on the basis that they will marry and live together in the UK. With this, you must marry or enter into a civil partnership within 6 months and then switch to the spouse or marriage visa to be able to continue to live in the UK.
The Unmarried Partner Visa has been designed for long-term couples who are in a relationship that is similar to a marriage (De Facto Visa).
The UK spouse visa allows holders to work in the UK without restrictions.
Immigration rules allow holders of a UK spouse visa to live and work in the UK during the validity period of their visa. For spouse visas, that is two and a half years or 30 months initially.
You can apply to extend your stay after that time and apply for further extension if you wish to again. If you have lived in the UK for up to five years on the UK Spouse Visa, you may be eligible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR).