- What is the UK Spouse Visa?
- What Are the Eligibility Criteria?
- What is the Genuine and Subsisting Relationship Requirement?
- What Are the Financial Requirements?
- What Are the English Language Requirements?
- What Are the Accommodation Requirements?
- How to Apply for a UK Spouse Visa
- Required Documents for a UK Spouse Visa
- What Are the Application Costs of the Spouse Visa?
- What Are the Processing Times for a UK Spouse Visa?
- Refusal Reasons for the Spouse Visa
- How to Appeal Against a Refusal
- Can You Extend a Spouse Visa?
- How to Apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain
- How Can Newcastle Immigration Lawyers Help Me?
- Frequently Asked Questions
What is the UK Spouse Visa?
The UK Spouse visa is a type of family visa that allows legally married spouses of UK residents and people with an eligible immigration status to come to the UK. Equivalents also include the Civil Partner visa and Unmarried Partner visa, which also share similar requirements.
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.
What Are the Eligibility Criteria?
There are a number of UK Spouse visa requirements, 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
- Both partners must have met in person
- The partners must be legally married and have met in person
- The partners must be in a genuine and subsisting relationship
- There is evidence of an intention to live together permanently in the UK
- Any previous relationships must have broken down permanently
- The applicant should meet the minimum financial requirements without recourse to public funds
- There is evidence of appropriate accommodation for the couple and any dependents
- The applicant has the required level of English language skills
Some of these eligibility criteria will be covered in subsequent sections.
What is the Genuine and Subsisting Relationship Requirement?
One of the most important criteria for a Spouse visa is proving to the Home Office that your relationship with your spouse is genuine and subsisting.
This means that your relationship should be authentic, real and lasting.
For example, a relationship where two people have married for the sole reason to help one person obtain a favourable immigration status would not be considered a genuine and subsisting relationship.
The following are examples of what you can use to prove that your relationship is genuine and subsisting:
- Evidence that you currently live together or have lived together in the past, such as utility bills, council tax bills or other proofs of address
- Evidence that you share financial responsibilities together
- Evidence that you both participate in your children’s upbringing and upkeep, if you have children
- A letter of support including details of your relationship such as the following:
- How you and your spouse met
- How your relationship developed
- What your future plans are in the UK
- Formal and informal pieces of correspondence between you and your partner, such as text messages, letters, photographs and receipts
What Are the Financial Requirements?
As part of the Spouse visa financial requirements, you will have to prove that you have a minimum amount of funds or earn enough money between you and your spouse.
This requirement is in place to ensure that you will not have to access public funds while in the UK.
The minimum annual salary requirements for you and your spouse are £18,600.
If you have any dependent children you wish to bring to the UK with you, you will also need an additional £3,800 for the first child, and £2,400 for each subsequent child.
You may also be able to use any cash savings above £16,000, income from self-employment, or passive income such as a pension or property rentals in order to meet the minimum financial requirements.
In addition, you may not have to meet the minimum £18,600 requirement if your spouse receives certain state benefits, such as disability living allowance, carer’s allowance or Armed Forces Independence Payment or Guaranteed Income Payment under the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme. If this applies to you, you will only need to show that you have enough money to adequately support yourself and your family.
What Are the English Language Requirements?
As a Spouse visa applicant, you may have to prove your knowledge of the English language when applying.
You will need to do this unless:
- You’re 65 or over
- You have a physical or mental condition that prevents you from meeting the requirement
- You’re a national of one of the countries exempt from the requirement
If you need to prove your English language skills, you can do so by either passing an approved English test or demonstrating that you have a degree or academic qualification that was mostly taught or researched in English.
If taking an English test, you will need to pass at level A1 or higher for speaking and listening on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) scale.
If demonstrating that you have an eligible degree or academic qualification, you will need to do one of the following:
- Show your degree certificate if your course was taught in the UK
- Show a valid statement of comparability from Ecctis if your course was taught in one of the eligible majority English-speaking countries
- Show a valid visa and nationality statement from Ecctis if your course was taught in any other country
What Are the Accommodation Requirements?
Part of the Spouse visa requirements is the need to have adequate accommodation for you and your family in the UK.
This includes all of the following. Your accommodation must:
- Be legally owned or occupied exclusively by you or your family
- Be obtained without recourse to public funds
- Not be overcrowded
- Not breach public health and safety guidelines
Whether accommodation is overcrowded or not depends on a few factors, namely the size of the accommodation, the number of bedrooms, and the number of people occupying the property.
Public health and safety guidelines refer to common guidelines that all accommodation in the UK is subject to, so it’s likely that most accommodation will meet these standards. However, violations include accommodation where mould is present, if there is no gas safety certificate, or if there is internal or structural disrepair.
If you need to prove that your accommodation is adequate, you may need to acquire a property inspection report to submit with your Spouse visa application.
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
- After your application is approved, travel to the UK and collect your biometric residence permit
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
- Property inspection report from chartered surveyor or local authority
- 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 the Spouse 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 £1,538. If made inside the UK, the cost will be £1,048 (fees correct as of February 2023).
- 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
- Priority or super priority visa services: Between £500 and £956, depending on your circumstances
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.
What Are the Processing Times for a UK Spouse Visa?
If applying from outside the UK, you will normally receive a decision on your application within 24 weeks.
If you’re applying from within the UK, you will normally receive a decision on your application within 8 weeks.
If you’re applying from inside the UK, you may be able to receive a faster decision on your application if you use the priority or super priority services to have your application processed within five working days or one working day, respectively. However, note that these services may not always be available to you depending on your own circumstances.
There are a number of ways to ensure that a UK Spouse Visa application is not delayed, such as ensuring that you’ve met all of the eligibility criteria and that you’ve provided all of the necessary documents the Home Office needs to process your application.
Note that having a criminal history, particularly immigration offences, may cause your application to be delayed.
It’s important to ensure that your Spouse visa application is as complete and comprehensive as possible to minimise the chance of delays or rejection. Newcastle Immigration Lawyers can help with this. We can guide you through every step of the application process and help maximise your chances of visa approval. Contact us on 0333 305 3779 or contact us online today.
Refusal Reasons for the Spouse Visa
It can be extremely frustrating when a visa application is refused. However, a Spouse 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 has not met the minimum English language requirements or has failed their English language test
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 instead.
Appeals can be lengthy and difficult procedures, and may be made easier with the help of a legal expert to guide you through things. For expert and professional advice on how to register and process an appeal for your Spouse visa application, contact Newcastle Immigration Lawyers on 0333 305 3779 or contact us online today.
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 (you may need to take another English language test, this time to A2 level on the CEFR)
- That the extension application form has been completed in full and with 100% accuracy
You should always ensure that you submit the application for your Spouse visa extension before your current immigration permission expires.
Applications for Spouse visa extensions are generally processed within 8 weeks.
How to Apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain
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 in the UK (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 0333 305 3779 or contact us online today.
How Can Newcastle Immigration Lawyers Help Me?
The Spouse visa is one of the most popular yet complex immigration routes available to foreign nationals.
If you’re a foreign national looking to come to the UK with a Spouse visa, or you’re already in the UK looking to extend your Spouse visa, Newcastle Immigration Lawyers can help.
There are a number of valuable services that Newcastle Immigration Lawyers can provide with your immigration application.
We can do the following to help you with your application:
- 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
- Guide you through the process of Spouse visa refusal and lodging an appeal
- Assist you if you need to obtain refugee status or humanitarian protection
Last modified on March 10th, 2023 at 3:49 pm
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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.
Yes. To sponsor an unmarried partner to come to the UK, you will be able to apply for an Unmarried Partner visa, which is similar to a Spouse visa. The only major change is that you must have been living together as a couple for at least two years prior to the date of application rather than being married.
You will still need to demonstrate that your relationship is genuine and subsisting, along with the other standard Spouse visa requirements.
Alternatively, if you would like to come to the UK to get married or enter into a civil partnership and then settle in the UK on a Spouse visa, you may apply for a Fiance visa (also known as a UK Marriage visa) or Proposed Civil Partner visa.
This visa will allow you to come to the UK temporarily to get married or enter into a civil partnership, after which you will be able to apply for a Spouse 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).