- Document checklist
- The Spouse Visa requirements
- The Minimum Income requirement
- How to Sponsor a Spouse Visa
- The Accommodation requirement
- The Genuine Relationship Test
- The English Language Requirement
- How to Appeal a Spouse Visa refusal
- The Spouse Visa cost
- How to Extend a Spouse Visa
- Frequently Asked Questions
Complete Guide to the Spouse Visa UK
The Spouse Visa or Marriage Visa UK falls into the category of a family visa and therefore UK family immigration law. It is accessible for couples who intend to live together permanently that are already married or who are in a civil partnership. However, one of the participants must be a British citizen or a ‘settled person’ in the UK, including one of the proposed civil partners. Those who are engaged but not yet married may be best suited to apply for the UK Fiance Visa instead, providing they intend on marrying within 6 months of coming to the UK.
The Spouse Visa UK allows the legal spouse of UK citizens and permanent residents to come live with their partner and work in the UK for up to 33 months. After two and a half years, the applicant must renew their Spouse Visa. Eventually, Spouses can progress onto Indefinite Leave to Remain and then British Citizenship.
However, there are stringent requirements to be met in order to be deemed eligible and a plethora of documents that need to be submitted in order to be successful with any partner or family visa.
Document checklist to apply for the Spouse Visa UK
The UK Spouse Visa application is one of the lengthiest and most scrutinised routes across the entire UK immigration system. It is therefore of utmost importance that applicants adhere to the document guidance and ensure that they are submitting the right evidence to support their application.
The UK Spouse Visa document checklist includes the following:
- A valid marriage or civil partnership certificate
- A valid passport
- The ‘sponsor’s’ identification to prove that your marriage is to a British citizen/settled person in the UK
- Providing proof of income such as employment contracts, wage slips, P60 or bank statements
- Providing proof of accommodation such as a house lease or letting contract
- Providing proof of English language ability which can be achieved either by having an English-taught degree, originating from an English-speaking country or scoring 4.0 or above in an English IELTS test
- An in-depth portfolio demonstrating that you are in a long-lasting and subsisting relationship which includes evidence that you have met your other half at least once
- Certificates of divorce or dissolution of civil partnership for any previous partners (where relevant)
Documents that aren’t in English need to be accompanied by a translated version from a professional translator.
What are the UK Spouse Visa requirements?
There is a great array of requirements that applicants must consider before attempting to apply for a UK Spouse Visa.
This includes but is not limited to:
- Being age 18 or over
- Passing the ‘genuine relationship’ test
- Being married to a British Citizen or settled person
- Having a valid marriage or civil partnership certificate that is recognised in UK law
- Proving that you have cohabited together for at least 2 years
- Demonstrating an intention to live together in the UK in adequate accommodation
- Earning a minimum of £18,600 per annum and/or having proficient savings
- Passing an English language test
All of the above require extensive evidence to back up your claims.
In addition, applicants are required to have their biometric information registered and may need to pass a medical test to prove that they do not have Tuberculosis (TB). However, this depends on the foreign spouse’s country of residence.
Get in touch with our Birmingham immigration lawyers on 0121 667 6530 to speak to our client care team. Our dedicated team of immigration lawyers in Birmingham are here to help you and can ensure you meet all the requirements before you submit your application.
The UK Spouse Visa Minimum Income Requirement
As with most aspects of the UK Marriage Visa, the mandatory financial requirement can be lengthy and, at times, difficult to meet.
Until full British citizenship is granted, non-British residents in the UK cannot claim welfare benefits of housing allowance, including spouses of British citizens. This is called ‘No Recourse to Public Funds’. For this reason, the foreign Spouse must be able to demonstrate that they will not become a burden on the UK and that they can support themselves without public funding.
The financial requirements are as follows:
- The British/Settled spouse earning an income of at least £18,600 per year
- Meeting adequate maintenance for dependents in which the income requirement rises by £2,400 per every child intending to live with the couple
- Having adequate savings in a bank account for six months or more to prove that the applicant can support themselves in the UK
The financial requirement can be met by either one application or by both the couple’s income. This can be from employment, self-employment, investment or stocks or through ownership of a business or property.
How to Sponsor a Spouse Visa
Like many types of visas in UK immigration law, foreign nationals seeking entry into the country must have a ‘sponsor’ to endorse their application. The immigration status of the non-UK visa national is dependent on the sponsorship, whether this is their employer for a Work Visa or partner for a Spouse Visa. This means that if the sponsorship is withdrawn, the immigration status of the applicant becomes insecure.
In the case of the UK Spouse Visa, the British national or Settled person who resides in the UK becomes the sponsor. To successfully sponsor their loved one, the sponsor must support their spouse’s application via an in-depth Sponsorship Letter.
This letter must detail:
- The sponsor’s position in the UK – i.e. A British Citizen since birth or by naturalisation
- The sponsor’s income, such as via employment and a regular salary
- The relationship with the applicant that outlines where the relationship began, where the couple met and why they decided to marry with specified dates for each
- Information about the sponsor’s home to ensure it is up to UK living standards and has adequate room for their spouse
The UK Spouse Visa Accommodation requirement
UKVI not only wants to know that the British person and their spouse has lived together two years prior but that the accommodation that they intend on living together in the UK is adequate and prepared (i.e. has enough space for two or more people and meets UK living standards.)
The UK Spouse Visa requirements dictate that accommodation in the UK must be scheduled ahead of the foreign spouse’s arrival into the UK. It must have adequate rooms to accommodate for a couple, which increases if any children are joining the household.
This can be achieved by:
- Providing an official description of the property (from a letting agency or letting website)
- Photographic evidence of the number of rooms
- Proof that the couple have either already paid for the housing or can afford to pay for it
The rules change slightly if the couple are living with children. For instance, there must be one bedroom per couple and baby under the age of one. But, there must be an additional bedroom per each child over the age of 10. Children aged 1-9 years old are considered ‘half a person’ in this respect, so two children in this age range are able to share a bedroom.
What is the Genuine Relationship requirement?
The so-called ‘genuine relationship test’ of the UK Spouse Visa is the measurement to which UKVI decides if your relationship is legitimate, genuine and long lasting. It is largely subjective and falls into the hands of a decision-maker within the Home Office.
It is worth noting that there is no set guidance on what applicants must submit, and the test applies to couples who are in a civil partnership too. There is no upper limit on the amount of evidence applicants can submit, however, it is best to proceed with caution as supplying too much evidence can appear manipulative and deceptive whilst too little will see your application refused. It is imperative to find the right balance and ensure that each piece of evidence ticks off a key requirement that you need to meet.
However, a good place to start would be to include:
- Travel documents evidencing that you have met at least once throughout your relationship
- Proof of correspondence and time together such as social media chat logs, emails, Skype calls, text messages, photographs together or events/tickets that you have been to
- Proof of cohabitation such as a shared bank account, jointly paid utility bills, joint tenancy agreement or mortgage
- Evidence of any gifts or money exchanged
- Birth certificates or school records of any children the couple has together
The English Language requirement
The English language requirement is as important to meet as the other criteria.
In most circumstances, the non-UK foreign spouse will need to pass an English language test that demonstrates that they have adequate knowledge of English in order to live in the country. This includes speaking, reading, writing and understanding the language.
The English language test is mandatory and must be sat prior to making the visa application. The test must be done via a registered provider, such as the Secure English Language Testing (SELT) which is stationed in the Trinity College London and IELTS (International English Language Testing System) Consortium. Once the applicant has passed and has a certificate to prove it, the certification lasts for two years after which the applicant will need to re-sit the test again.
There are some circumstances where applicants are exempt which include:
- People from English-speaking countries such as Australia, the US or Canada
- Applicants under the age of 18 or over the age of 65
- Applicants who have a degree that was taught in English
- Applicants who have a disability
UK Spouse Visa refusals and appeals
There are numerous reasons why the Spouse Visa can be refused. Most commonly, applicants attempt to fulfil the requirements and eligibility criteria themselves without professional advice and guidance. The result is that they either submit too much evidence or too little. The UK Government particularly scrutinises Spouse Visa applicants in a bid to crack down on fraudulent ‘sham’ marriages or ‘marriages of convenience’.
While you will not receive a refund for your attempted application, you may be able to Appeal the Home Office’s decision and make some amendments to your initial application.
Even if you began your application alone or with a third-party immigration consultant, We are here to help and will assist you when launching your Appeal.
Can I appeal my Spouse Visa refusal?
It is possible to appeal against the Home Office’s decision if your visa application has been refused.
However, it is important to note that lodging an appeal can be a lengthy and exhausting process. You must present your case before an immigration judge and to a Tribunal. This option is best if the refusal genuinely wasn’t your fault, but it may be best to start a fresh application if the reason for refusal was due to a mistake you have made or if you supplied insufficient evidence.
A Spouse Visa extension UK
It is possible to renew and extend your UK Marriage Visa for a further 30 months after your initial application, providing that you seek to apply within the UK. It is crucial that you seek an extension of your leave to remain before your current Spouse Visa expires.
To extend your Spouse Visa, you must:
- Apply within 28 days of the visa’s expiry date
- Demonstrate that you have been living with your partner and intend to live together permanently
- Provide evidence that the relationship is genuine and subsisting
- Supply proof of accommodation for yourselves and any children
- That you still meet the financial requirement of £18,600 per year
What are the Spouse Visa financial requirements?
At a base fee, the Spouse Visa itself costs £1,523 when made outside of the UK.
This doesn’t include:
- Lawyer fees
- Fast track or priority service
- The English language test
- The compulsory Immigration Health Surcharge
The cost also doesn’t include additional fees such as translation services, the Tuberculous test or housing report.
There are no refunds in the event that your Spouse Visa is refused.
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The highest hurdle applicants must overcome is the Spouse Visa application itself. This application is particularly demanding and requires a plethora of documented evidence that is then assessed by the Home Office’s immigration department.
Many applicants trip up over the ‘genuine relationship’ test as UKVI comb through spouses relationship history with excessive scrutiny. This is to verify that the couple is legitimate and to crack down on what’s called sham marriages or marriages of convenience whereby foreign individuals marry for the sole purpose of visa advantages.
We will work with you to outline the UK Marriage Visa requirements and assess your eligibility.
By entrusting us with your case, you can rest assured that your application will be dealt with in a professional and efficient manner. If you opt for our comprehensive Application Package, you will be assigned your own immigration lawyer who will take over your case and walk you through every step and aspect of the application and even fill it in for you on your behalf. We also offer Advice Sessions where your specialist immigration lawyer will advise you on the next steps of your case, including which documents you may need.
Our services include:
- A thorough document check
- Meeting with you and your partner in person, on the phone or via Skype
- Supporting your application with a Letter of Representation
- Completing your application for you to the highest standard
- Premium or fast-track applications to speed up the process
- Advise on how to obtain your biometric residence permit
- Liaising with the Home Office over your case
Call 0121 667 6530 to see how we can start your Spousal Visa application or family visa application to come to the UK today.
As it currently stands, it is not possible to progress directly from a UK Spouse Visa application to British Citizenship. This is because applicants must be able to ‘naturalise’ as a citizen, which entails racking up considerable time in the UK.
However, time spent on a Spouse Visa while abiding by UK laws will contribute towards the ‘continuous residency’ aspect of the British Citizenship application. Yet there is also the possibility to reduce the number of years required for full citizenship in the UK after residing in the country on a Spouse Visa, for instance, while other non-British nationals in the UK may need to accumulate up to ten years to be eligible for citizenship, Spouses may be eligible after 5 years.
The rules stipulate that it is not possible to jump from a partner visa onto this permanent status. The normal route is usually compiled of two and a half years under an initial Spouse Visa, a further two and a half years on a second Spouse Visa sought via a Spouse Visa renewal and then a fresh application for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR). After 12 months under Indefinite Leave to Remain status, Spouses may then seek to naturalise as a British citizen.
Use our Indefinite Leave to Remain document checklist to see whether you have the appropriate documents to apply, or whether a non partner visa would be more appropriate for your circumstances.
The UK Spouse Visa is only applicable to couples who have entered a legally binding marriage or civil partnership.
However, there are other routes that apply to partners.
The Fiance Visa UK grants applicants to bring their foreign partner to the UK on the grounds that the pair will be married within 6 months of their arrival in the UK. Afterwards, newlywed couples can switch onto the Spouse Visa.
The Unmarried Partner Visa is an alternative route for couples who have been in a long-term relationship but who haven’t married or entered a civil partnership.
There is also an option for individuals applying on behalf of a proposed civil partner.
However, the rules and requirements can be far more stringent to meet, particularly when proving that the relationship is genuine and long-lasting.
It is recommended to speak with an immigration lawyer about your partner visa or proposed civil partner application to maximise your chances of a successful application.
If you have been accepted for a Spousal Visa into the UK, you will be granted a temporary permit to enter the country that lasts for only 30 days.
In this time frame, you must physically come to the UK. Within 10 days of your first arrival, you will need to collect your Biometric Residence Permit. Failure to do so within this window will mean that you will need to apply for another 30-day entry permission permit again.
However, once you have completed this process, you can legally live in the UK for 33 months before seeking an extension or renewal. If you apply for an extension for leave to remain in the UK whilst in the country, your leave to remain can be extended for another 30 months.
The UK Spouse Visa processing time can take anywhere between 2 to 12 weeks to be processed by the UK Government. In some circumstances such as busy periods, this can be extended from three months to as long as six months.
Any errors made in the application can jeopardise the case and make the process time longer. For this reason, it is paramount that applicants seek legal and professional guidance to mitigate the possibility of a Spouse Visa refusal or serious delay. Get in touch with us to see how our expert immigration lawyers in Birmingham can ease the burden and maximise your chances for you.
Read more about the UK Spouse Visa processing time.
The UK immigration rules do not specify if you choose to spend your time in or out of the UK during your Spouse Visa.
However, you will be penalised if you decide to spend the ‘majority’ of your time outside the UK and you could jeopardise any future applications. This is particularly evident when seeking Indefinite Leave to Remain as you cannot be absent for more than 180 days in the last 12 months of your residency in the UK. Failure to meet this will mean you will need to wait another 1 year on a Spouse Visa before pursuing Indefinite Leave to Remain.
If you are bringing your spouse to the UK under a valid immigration status or UK visa, they will be considered a legal resident. This opens up the UK labour market and allows them to apply for jobs.
Throughout the duration of your UK Spouse Visa, you must be able to fund yourself either through employment or otherwise. This is because you are prohibited from any form of welfare of benefit support – called No Recourse to Public Funds – under this specific visa category.
Once you have settled in the UK and have Indefinite Leave to Remain, you may be able to claim benefits.
If you split from your civil partner or your marriage breaks down, your Spouse Visa becomes automatically curtailed. You must notify the Home Office of the separation if you want to be able to stay in the UK.
You might need to leave the UK and return to your country of origin if you are not able to apply for a different visa such as the Skilled Worker Visa.
However, in some exceptional circumstances, applicants may be eligible for a form of humanitarian protection. If you have been living in the UK but have become a victim of domestic abuse, modern slavery or human trafficking, you may be able to apply for a temporary leave to remain status. In this event, you will become eligible for Legal Aid support and you may be able to stay in the UK and live independently as a single person.
Where the minimum income requirement cannot be met, savings may be used if they accumulate more than £16,000 and have been held in either of the couple’s bank account for at least six months. Maternity, paternity, adoption, sick pay and pensions may also be used. However, there are rules in itself around meeting the financial requirement via savings, for instance, only the overseas national may contribute to the Minimum Income Requirement through savings while the UK partner uses their earnings to make up the remainder.
If you are unsure about meeting the financial requirement, contact our specialist immigration lawyers in Birmingham to see which approach is best suited to your circumstances.
Each declaration that the Sponsor outlines in their letter must be backed up with evidence.
This can include:
- Any payslips
- An employment contract
- An employer letter
- A most recent P60
- The couple’s marriage certificate
- Bank statements
The spouse of a British citizen may apply for a British passport if they meet the eligibility requirements. The non-British national can apply for British naturalisation if they are aged over 18, are married to an eligible British settled person or citizen, and have been living in the UK for at least three years.
According to the immigration rules (Appendix FM), there is no limit to how long you can stay outside the UK if you hold a Spouse Visa (UK).
However, you must be aware of the following rules:
- You are issued the visa on the basis you and your spouse intend to live together permanently
- If you are normally absent from the UK without your partner, you may find it difficult to renew your visa and demonstrate that you are living together permanently
If in doubt, it is recommended to consult a specialist immigration lawyer for advice on your situation.