What is a UK spouse visa?
Also known as a UK marriage visa, a spouse visa allows married partners of UK citizens to immigrate to the UK because they are married to someone who is ‘settled in the UK’ – i.e. a person who is ordinarily resident in the UK and has no immigration restrictions on how long they can stay in the UK.
Can I work on a uk spouse visa?
Yes, you are eligible to work, be self-employed or study in the UK once the visa has been granted.
UK Spouse visa requirements
To qualify for a UK spouse / marriage visa you must satisfy the following requirements:
- You and your spouse must be 18 years old or over.
- You must have met each other and be legally married – this is to prevent arranged marriages.
- You must intend to live together permanently.
- You must have enough money to support yourselves (and any dependents) without claiming public funds.
- Your sponsoring partner must earn more than £18,600 per year or have enough savings to be able to sponsor you. The minimum financial requirement is higher if they are also sponsoring dependent children.
- You must have suitable accommodation for you, your spouse and any dependents.
- You must satisfy the English language requirements.
How do I apply for a spouse visa?
You can apply for a spouse visa from overseas or from within the UK. If you are already in the UK on a fiance visa, work visa, or student visa valid for more than six months, you may be able to switch into a spouse visa.
How long does the application take?
The average processing time for a spouse visa application is 2 – 12 weeks from the date we submit the application to the UKBA. Processing times vary depending on the country where the application is made. You can apply on a same day visa service if you are in the UK and you find more details on how ICS Legal can help on this process by clicking here.
How long does a spouse visa last?
If applying from overseas, a spouse visa is initially issued for 33 months. If you are applying from within the UK a spouse visa is issued for a period of 30 months.
Can I extend my spouse visa?
You can apply for an extension for an additional 30 months which can take your total time in the UK on this visa up to five years. At this point you can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) provided you are still married and living in the UK with your spouse and continue to meet the maintenance requirements. After you have been granted ILR you may be eligible to apply for naturalisation as British citizen.
Spouse visa entry clearance
If you are seeking to enter the UK on the basis of your relationship with a UK national you must apply for entry clearance before coming to the UK. If you are applying from inside the UK you must have leave to remain in the UK on a visa that is valid for six months at the time you apply. You cannot switch to a spouse visa if you are already in the UK and were initially admitted for a period of less than six months – for example, if you were initially admitted entry as a visitor or prospective student.
English Language requirements for partners
As a spouse visa applicant you must be able to show that you can speak and understand English. You must meet the English language requirement if:
- You are a national of a country outside the European Economic Area and Switzerland; and
- You are in a relationship with a British citizen or a person settled in the UK; and
- You want to immigrate to the UK as that person’s spouse.
If you are not a national of a majority English-speaking country or do not have a degree taught in English then you will need to pass an English language test from an approved test provider. If you are applying from overseas we can make arrangements for you to take an approved English language test in your home country.
Contact us to find out more about the English language requirements. Click here to complete our contact form or call us on 0207 237 3388.
Spouse visa dependants
Children under 18 years of age can enter the UK as your dependants. You should make an application for them at the same time that you make your spouse visa application. Please note that your sponsoring spouse must show income of a specified amount, the level of which varies depending on the number of dependent children being sponsored.
What if your relationship ends?
If your relationship ends while your partner only has limited permission to enter or remain in the UK (i.e. during the probationary period before they can apply to live here permanently) you should notify the UKBA by writing.
Include your partner’s full name as shown in their passport, their date of birth, and their entry clearance or UKBA reference number (if known). The UKBA will decide whether to cancel your former partner’s permission to stay in the UK. However, this will not automatically happen if the basis of their stay has changed. For example, they may qualify to remain in the UK on another basis, or there might be compassionate or other reasons why it would be inappropriate to cancel their stay.
Switching Into UK Spouse Visa
You can apply for a UK spouse visa on the basis of your marriage with a British Citizen or a person present and settled in the UK. The application will be considered in accordance with requirements of the Immigration Rules as set out in Appendix FM of the Immigration Rules.
For a spouse visa application to succeed, there are 4 main requirements:
- The evidence of relationship between the sponsor and the applicant.
- The documentary evidence to comply with the financial requirement as set out in Appendix FM.
- The adequate accommodation.
- English language requirement.
Additionally, the applicant should also meet the suitability criteria as set out in the immigration rules.
Switching Into UK Spouse Visa
A person who is in the UK with leave to remain which was originally granted for period of more than six months and who is married to:
- a British Citizen,or
- a person with ILR, or
- a person with refugee status,or
- as a person with humanitarian protection.
Can apply to switch into spouse visa from inside the UK as long as he meets all the relevant requirements of the Immigration Rules. An application for switching into spouse visa from inside the UK is submitted to the Home Office by completing application form FLR (M). We can provide Same Day Visa Service for FLR (M) application for switching into spouse visa.
Same Day Visa Service For FLR (M) Application
We are registered with the Home Office, Public Enquiry Office (PEO), Croydon to provide same day visa service for an application for switching into spouse visa as a spouse of a British Citizen or a person present and settled in the UK i.e. FLR(M) application. We can prepare and submit your FLR(M) application to the Home Office, PEO, Croydon and get quick decision on your application.
As FLR(M) application is a bio-metric application, therefore you will have to attend the Home Office, PEO, Croydon along with our legal representatives for your bio-metrics and submission of your application. Our legal representative will accompany you to the Home Office, Public Enquiry Office (PEO) and assist you with the enrolment of your bio-metrics and submission of your application. The application submitted through our same day visa service is generally decided the same day.
Settlement – ILR for UK Spouse Visa Holders
After 5 years in the UK with Spouse Visa status you and your children should be able to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain, (also known as ILR or Permanent Residence). Applicants who applied for a Spouse Visa prior to 8 April 2012 might qualify for Settlement after 2 years in the UK.
If your relationship ends then you may still be able to remain in the UK and qualify for ILR in due course depending on the length of time in the UK and how the relationship ended.
Can I apply for a UK Spouse Visa while I am in the UK?
If you are in the UK with a visitor visa or other visa granted for less than 6 months then you would usually be expected to leave the UK and submit your UK Spouse Visa application from your home country. In most other cases where you are in the UK with a visa granted for more than 6 months you should be able to submit your visa application from within the UK. If you are currently outside the UK then you should submit your Spouse Visa application from your home country.
Supporting evidence for a UK spouse visa:
Communication evidence for a UK spouse visa
The Immigration Rules does not specify what evidences are required, therefore both the applicant and the sponsor need to provide the evidences to show how you have maintained contact with each other.
Relationship evidence for a UK spouse visa
The UK Home Office will make an assessment of whether an applicant’s relationship with their partner is subsisting (which was regarded as including whether a relationship was genuine) has always formed part of the consideration of an application by the UK Home Office.
Family migration must be based on a genuine and subsisting relationship. An applicant and their partner must provide evidence that they are in a genuine and subsisting relationship. These evidences can range from cohabitation documents to evidences of travels. The Immigration Rules does not specify the evidences required.
When deciding on the application, a UK Home Office Caseworker will consider the objective factors set out below when assessing an application for leave to enter, leave to remain or indefinite leave to remain in the United Kingdom. The outcome of an assessment may prompt additional scrutiny from the UK Home Office Caseworkers to identify and evidence a non-genuine, non-subsisting relationship (which may include a sham marriage or forced marriage).
A number of applications for a UK spouse visa are refused based on the lack of evidences provided to support the application, so it is important to provide the evidences which would demonstrate the relationship is genuine and subsisting. If your application for a UK spouse visa is refused, you can read more information on “challenging the decision” by clicking here.
When completing the UK spouse visa application, you should make sure the questions are answered with the correct details. The UK Home Office are made aware to be alert and sensitive to the extent to which religious and cultural practices may shape the factors present or absent in a particular case, particularly at the entry clearance/leave to remain stage. For example, a couple in an arranged marriage may have spent little if any time together prior to the marriage. For many faiths and cultures marriage marks the start of a commitment to a lifelong partnership and not the affirmation of a preexisting partnership.
Taking the above as your guidance, simply not having any cohabitation does not mean the the UK spouse visa application would be refused. The UK Home Office Caseworkers will take into account normal practices for marriages and family living according to particular religious and cultural traditions when considering the factors present or absent in each case. In particular, evidence of pre-marital co-habitation and joint living arrangements can be a factor associated with a genuine relationship; equally, their absence can be too. In some cultures it is traditional for the household accounts, bills etc to be in the name of the male head of the household (who could be the male partner or their father or grandfather).
Evidence of meeting the financial requirement for a UK spouse visa
- Letter from the sponsor’s employer confirming his/her employment and letters confirming relevant employment details as specified.
- Payslips to show that the relevant financial requirements are met.
- Bank statements to cover the periods of meeting the financial requirements.
Evidence of meeting the accommodation requirement for a UK spouse visa
When deciding on whether the threshold to meet the adequate accommodation is met, the UK Home Office Caseworker will require evidences of the accommodation to where the applicant would be coming to join you. Depending on the evidences provided, there may be a requirement to provide the permission of the owner of the accommodation has been given.
The sponsor would need to satisfy the Caseworker that there will be sufficient accommodation for the applicant. The evidences to prove the accommodation must demonstrate that there will be no additional public funds will be necessary for accommodating the applicant in cases where the sponsor lives in accommodation from public funds.
The UK Home Office Caseworker must be satisfied that the accommodation complies with the following requirements:
- it is (or will be) owned or legally occupied for the exclusive use of the couple and
- it is capable of accommodating the couple, and any children, without overcrowding as defined in the Housing Act 1985.
Depending on the circumstances of the case, there may be other relevant factors; for example, the UK Home Office Caseworker should be satisfied that housing the couple in rented accommodation will not be in breach of any tenancy agreement as regards sub-letting. The Immigration Rules related to the accommodation are not designed to disadvantage applicants and their sponsor’s, however the sponsor should provide sensible evidences to support the fact that they will have exclusive use of one room. That rule changes if there are dependants and depending on this, the definition of meeting the criteria for suitable accommodation changes. The UK Home Office Caseworker will accept that the sponsor and applicant can live at an existing household.
The onus is on the applicant to provide confirmation that there is no objection to an additional resident moving into the accommodation. The Housing Act 1985 contains statutory definitions of overcrowding in residential housing. A UK Home Office Caseworker cannot simply refuse an application if the requirements set out in the Act is met. Following a number of judgements made by the First Tier and Upper Tribunal on matters related to accommodation requirements on UK spouse visa application, that adequacy of accommodation must be assessed on an individual basis. It is not enough to equate adequacy with overcrowding.
A house is considered to be overcrowded if 2 persons aged 10 years or more of opposite sexes, who are not living together as husband and wife, must sleep in the same room. The Act also details the maximum number of people allowed for a given number of rooms or a given room floor area. Account is taken only of rooms with a floor area larger than 50 square feet and rooms of a type used either as a living room or bedroom. Rooms such as kitchens or bathrooms are excluded.
Evidence of meeting the language requirement for a UK spouse visa
- Applicant’s IELTS certificate (original).
- Evidence of exemption from the English language requirement.
Identification evidence for a UK spouse visa
- The sponsor to the application will need to provide the correct evidences to prove they are “present and settled” in the UK.
- Applicant’s passport and previous passports.
- 2 recent passport photos of the applicant.
Additional evidence for a UK spouse visa
All applications are unique because evidences would differ substantially between applications made. Therefore getting correct information and advice on your own circumstances are important. If you would like us to provide you with guidance on ensuring your application for a UK spouse visa is successful, speak to us today on 0207 237 3388 or simply complete the contact form, by clicking here and we will call you back.
UK Spouse Visa Appeal Service
How To Avoid Spouse Visa Refusal For The UK
There are many ways to avoid a possible refusal of spouse visa for the UK, grounds might have different from the others or likely similar too, but how can you battle to present the application that would have a better chance of the approval than a refusal? Here are some tips of information on which you may use to prepare on to your application.
- Check which route would best apply to you i.e. Family permit (Surinder Singh) or Spouse/Partner of a person settled in the UK/Citizen.
- If you choose to apply for an Entry Clearance as Spouse or Partner for a route such as 2.5 years, one must have a valid application, make sure all the necessary documents as to evidence your genuine relationship is genuine and subsisting, the UK Home Office Caseworker will scrutinise as a whole if the relationship is genuine or not.
- The more evidence of documents the better, but the consistency, accuracy and credibility of the documents are the primary concern, that is material for your application. Avoid presenting documents or evidence that is not relevant to your claim to evidence a particular requirement which might bring confusion to the UK Home Office Caseworker.
- Writing a “legal submission” supporting letter is beneficial to avoid a UK spouse visa refusal.
- Arrange your documents depending on how you would like to see it by the UK Home Office Caseworker.
- Never withhold any relevant information from your previous and current circumstances. Re-check all the information you have provided online on your visa application page and review them all together prior to the submission.
- There should not be a record of the offence or conviction of the applicant (unless the penalty or punishment of that office has rendered and served, and a period of 5 or 10 years have passed since the end of the sentence (depending on the weight of the offence/conviction). The Immigration Rules criteria which is known as the “suitability of leave to enter” which considers a persons good character is part of this application.
- Do not fail to provide additional information if there is a request of the UK Home Office Caseworker to provide additional information or to provide medical report.
- Provide evidence as that of the English requirement is met (unless you are exempt).
- Don’t try to provide or declare false information or documents submitted, or fabricate the documents in relation to your application for the purpose to enter and remain in the UK, it is better to declare the information or documents are unobtainable, lost, in nature rather than providing a fabricated one.
- The financial requirement must be met E-ECP.3.1, E.LTRP.3.1 and therefore the applicant should not recourse to the public funds 11. There is strong documentation that the applicant will live permanently with his/her sponsor in the UK.
- If your sponsor declared that the financial requirement is met, through a combination of certain category such as; Category A – salaried and non salaried for a person in the UK for a period of 6 months or more. With the combination of your Category C- source of income from non employment, e.g. rental income, interest from the bank, stocks or bands and etc. Or with the combination of Category D- cash savings in the bank. These combinations may apply depending on the situation of the sources of your sponsor in the UK, as to meet the financial requirement, however a clear sources and valid requisites of documents should support the sources of the upper mentioned income or savings.
- Following the landmark changes implemented on the 10th of August 2017, there are new rules allowing sponsors to use relevant third party support as well as other ways to meet the financial requirements.
- Re-check the bank statements if they are in a valid format as required by the guidance of the financial requirement for a family member, bank statements should cover the period for which the income is relied upon.
- The applicant/sponsor must not submit the sources of funds/income derived from: third party, loans or credit, income from related benefits, job seeker’s allowance, incapacity allowance, child benefit, working tax credit, employment support allowance (or equivalent), universal credit, unemployment allowance because these are not permitted as sources to meet the financial requirement.
- Provide the original and photocopy of each of the documents as required and check them again if the information listed is clear and readable enough to understand in English One may choose to appeal the application if you are being told to do so, as usually the refusal letter comes with the appeal form (which may take some time to get the decision) Or the same goes, by with the request for the administrative review within the 28 days of the issuance of refusal (in case you are permitted), wherein you can point out the viable points were the reasons of refusal is due to some error, or overlooking of the documents by the UK Home Office Caseworker.
Getting the right legal advice is important and at ICS Legal, we conduct a number of these applications. You can email our team on email@example.com, complete our contact form by clicking here or call us on 0207 237 3388 between the hours of Monday to Friday 9am to 6pm. Our “independent reviews” on Freeindex provides you with the reassurance that we can assist on all immigration based applications and you can click here to read our independent reviews.