What is a Spouse Visa Extension?
Non-British spouses of British or settled citizens in the UK must first seek permission to enter the country under the terms and conditions of the Spouse Visa UK rules. Once the initial permit has been granted for 30 or 33 months, applicants should seek an extension before their first visa expires in order to legally remain in the country.
Similarly to the UK Spouse Visa, a renewal awards the applicant with residency rights in the UK for 30 months. Foreign nationals normally only need to seek a Spouse Visa extension once as they can then progress onto the more permanent status, Indefinite Leave to Remain. Having lived in the UK under this type of Leave to Remain status, applicants can then switch onto British Citizenship which grants them full UK rights as British-born residents.
However, it is important to note that, although this type of renewal is a continuation of the status that has currently been granted, it is by no means an automatic or entitled right. This means applicants must ensure that they still meet the stringent Spouse Visa requirements. Failure to do so may see the application refused and the foreign national will need to leave the country.
What are the Spouse Visa renewal requirements?
To apply for an extension, you will need to ensure that you continue to meet the Married Partner Visa requirements. Unlike your initial application, you do not need to apply while outside the UK. If successful, you will be granted a second Spouse Visa for another 30 months.
However, while progressing onto a renewal is largely dependent on your individual circumstances, there is a general checklist of requirements that you must meet. This includes but is not limited to:
- Passing the Genuine Relationship Test
- Re-taking the English Test
- Demonstrating you are of Good Character
- Meeting the Minimum Income Requirement
- Satisfying Accommodation rules
In addition, your Spouse or Civil Partner must be a British citizen or be someone who has Settled Status such as Indefinite Leave to Remain. Your partner may also have some form of humanitarian protection such as Refugee Status.
What is the Spouse Renewal document checklist?
In order to meet the aforementioned requirements, both the foreign partner and the British citizen must provide substantial evidence in the application form (FLR M).
This means as a couple, you will need to submit your personal identification, such as your passports.
The British citizen or resident with Indefinite Leave to Remain who is the partner of the applicant may also need to provide an updated Sponsorship declaration form.
Generally speaking, to apply for an extension, you will need to provide:
- Evidence of your finances
- Your English Language certificate
- Proof of your relationship
- Proof of your UK accommodation
Get in touch with us now on 0121 667 6530 to see how we can help you.
Meeting the Genuine Relationship Requirement
Although you may have lived in the UK with your partner for 30 months already, this alone is not enough evidence to satisfy the ‘genuine relationship’ test. As you may remember from your initial application, the Home Office assesses this particular immigration category with great scrutiny. The same level of assessment still applies when you come to seek an extension.
As a result, you cannot submit the same application as you did 2 and a half years ago as you will need to provide fresh and updated information in your extension application.
To satisfy the Home Office that you are in a long-lasting and legitimate relationship, you could provide:
- Proof of cohabitation such as joint utility bills, council tax bills and other correspondence to your shared UK address
- Proof that you intend to live together as a family unit for the foreseeable future
- Your valid marriage or civil partnership certificate
- Birth certificates of any children you may have together
- Photographs, event tickets, holiday photographs, text or email correspondent and/or any other evidence you may have that shows you are in a subsisting relationship
Passing the genuine relationship test is arguably the highest hurdle of the Spouse Visa rules to meet. Contact our Birmingham immigration lawyers today to see how we can help you build your portfolio of proof on 0121 667 6530.
The Financial Requirement of the Married Partner Visa extension
As per your first Spouse Visa application, both you and your partner must demonstrate that you satisfy the minimum income threshold. This dictates that you have a combined income of at least £18,600.
If you have a job in the UK, you can use your payslips as well as any bank statements your partner may have to demonstrate that you meet the financial criteria. However, there are other methods and ways to meet the financial requirement if you don’t earn enough money. For instance, if you are in receipt of disability living allowance or other welfare benefits. In addition, you may use cash savings If you have over £16,000 that has been in your bank account for at least 6 months.
It is important to note that if you have any children, the financial requirements rise. Per every dependent in your household, you are expected to earn £2,400 for each additional child. Your cash savings will also rise accordingly if you have children under the age of 18.
The Accommodation Criteria
To successfully apply and renew your Spouse Visa, you must show that you and your partner have been living together under the same roof in the UK and that you intend on doing so.
To achieve this, you can provide proof of your tenancy agreement, joint mortgage or utility and bill payments.
The Good Character criteria
Similarly to the ‘genuine relationship test’, renewal and extension applications will still need to meet the Good Character requirement.
What this basically means is that the Home Office will take into account your entire immigration history, both inside and outside the UK. The immigration officer will certify that you have legally abided by State rules which includes checking if you have ever overstayed a visa.
Due to this rule, it is best to seek your Spouse Visa extension before your current permission expires. If you are found residing in the UK without legal status or visa, this may be used against you and could jeopardise your chances of a Spouse Visa renewal.
Meeting the English language requirement
If you took an English language test in order to secure your initial Spouse Visa, it is likely that you will need to re-sit the test again as the certification only lasts for two years.
This test will need to be provided in a Secure English Language Testing (SELT) centre, of which there are few stationed across the UK.
Some are excluded from needing to take the test in the immigration rules. This includes foreign nationals of English speaking countries, such as the US, Canada or Australia, and applicants who have undertaken a degree in English. If you have a certain disability, you may also be exempt from needing to sit the test.
The Spouse Visa extension application and cost
To apply for a Spouse Visa extension, you must seek the form FLR M and send this to the Home Office. You must ensure that FLR M is filled to the highest standard because the immigration officer may decide that you have provided insufficient evidence. In this event, you may be requested for a face-to-face interview.
The current fee for the extension sits at £1,033. However, this doesn’t include additional fees such as document translation, the English language test, lawyer fees, the Biometric Residence Permit and the Immigration Health Surcharge.
It can take at least eight weeks until you hear a verdict on your application. If you and your partner need a decision in a quicker turnaround, you can apply for a Super Priority Service, but this costs an additional £610 on top of the other fees. Birmingham immigration lawyers can assist you to apply for a Super Priority Service as our immigration lawyers can provide advice and even fill out your application for you in a 24-hour window. Contact us on 0121 667 6530 to hear more about our Fast Priority Service.
Switching from a Spouse Visa to Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)
Once you have lived legally in the UK for a period of five years, you may be able to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR). This form of settlement lifts many restrictions that migrants experience in the UK, allowing you to work, live, change jobs and leave and return to the UK without barriers.
However, to achieve this, you must not have been absent from the UK for a period of longer than 180 days in total in the last 12 months of your Spouse Visa. It is important to remember this key criterion as applicants who leave the UK for longer than this time may not be eligible for ILR and may need to apply for a Spouse Visa again.
You will also need to fulfil the Life in the UK test. This is an in-depth and advanced English test as it assesses your integration into British life and quizzes you on your knowledge of British culture.
Once ILR status has been held for 12 months, applicants can then move onto British Citizenship.
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Our Birmingham immigration lawyers deal with family immigration law every day. We know how important it is for families to stay together, and remain together as one unit.
By entrusting your case with us, you can rest assured that your application is in the best hands. Our legal professionals are OISC trained and certified, maximising your chances of success in your visa application.
Not only can your personally assigned immigration lawyer meet you face-to-face, via Skype or over the phone, but we offer a plethora of custom-made packages to suit your circumstances. This includes but is not limited to:
- A comprehensive Advice Session
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Our lawyers go above and beyond to secure your stay in the UK, and will even write a Letter of Recommendation to accompany your application which highlight the merits of your case and character to the Home Office.
Contact us today on 0121 667 6530 to see how our immigration lawyers in Birmingham can advise you with your Spouse Visa extension.
It is not an automatic right that applicants will have their Spouse Visa extension granted. Applicants must ensure that they are able to meet the requirements in the same way that they did in their initial Spouse Visa application.
If you are unsure or concerned that you may not meet some of the requirements, get in touch with us to speak to one of our immigration lawyers who can help you.
If you have been rejected from extending your Spouse Visa in the UK, you will be granted a Rejection Letter from the Home Office which details why you have been unsuccessful.
In most circumstances, people face refusals due to the amount of evidence they submit to accompany their application. Some submit too much evidence whereas others submit too little.
If you believe that you have been unfairly refused and the mistakes in your application weren’t your fault, you may be able to appeal the Home Office’s decision. However, this can be a lengthy, complicated and expensive approach. You only have 14 days from the date you received your letter to appeal to the First Tier Tribunal. Your immigration lawyer might advise you to make a fresh application instead.
Even if you filled your Spouse Visa application with a third party, we can take over your case and help you with your Appeal. See more on our Appeal Service assistance.
If you have been in a subsisting relationship with your partner for at least 2 years but you are not married/in a civil partnership, you may be able to seek an extension. However, the rules and requirements are different from the Married Partner Visa.
Get in touch with us to see how we can help you with your Unmarried Partner Visa.