Understanding the UK Spouse Visa
The UK Partner Visa, also known as the UK Spouse Visa, falls under the category of settlement visas. It allows individuals to live together with their British partners in the UK for a duration of up to 30 months. This visa is categorized within the Family visa group and can be extended for an additional 30 months, provided specific eligibility criteria are met. Holding a Partner Visa is a significant step toward attaining Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) and, ultimately, British Citizenship.
To apply for a UK Spouse Visa and relocate to the UK, you must be legally married to or in a civil partnership with a British citizen, someone with settled status in the UK, or a UK refugee. Primary eligibility criteria involve proving the authenticity of your relationship and meeting specific financial conditions.
For comprehensive guidance on your UK Partner Visa application and to understand the legal aspects of residing in the UK with your UK citizen partner, we recommend consulting our immigration advisors.
It’s important to note that the UK Spouse Visa differs from the UK Marriage Visitor Visa, which permits entry into the UK solely for marriage or civil partnership purposes, regardless of your partner’s citizenship.
Exploring the UK Spouse Visa:
The UK Spouse Visa is designed for individuals aged 18 and above who are engaged, married, or planning to enter into a civil partnership with someone aged 18 or older residing in the UK. This visa falls under the category of settlement visas, specifically the UK partner visa.
Eligibility requirements for the UK Spouse Visa vary depending on your partner’s circumstances. If you are planning to join your partner or spouse from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) in the UK, applying for a UK Partner Visa is essential.
Holders of a UK Spouse Visa enjoy the right to work in the UK, akin to British citizens. However, they are generally ineligible for most benefits, including public funds, housing allowances, or tax credits.
Who Can Apply for a Spouse Visa?
You are eligible to apply for a UK Spouse Visa if you:
- Are 18 years of age or older
- Are married or in a legally recognized civil partnership
- Are married to a British citizen or a UK settled person
- Have cohabited in a genuine relationship for the past two years and can provide evidence of this
- Are engaged or hold a Fiance Visa UK, with plans to marry within six months of arriving in the UK
British citizens can submit ‘leave to remain’ forms on behalf of their partners if they meet the eligibility criteria and provide accurate applicant details.
Spouse Visa Requirements
Before submitting your application for a UK Spouse Visa, ensure that you:
- Possess all the necessary documents
- Pass the ‘Genuine Relationship Test’ to demonstrate the authenticity of your relationship
- Meet the minimum income threshold and financial requirements
- Demonstrate proficiency in the English language
- Provide evidence of suitable accommodation for yourself, your partner, and any dependents
- Undergo biometric data collection for obtaining leave to remain
- Depending on your country of residence, you may also need to undergo a medical examination to confirm your absence of Tuberculosis (TB).
The ‘Genuine Relationship Test’
Applicants for the UK Spouse Visa must substantiate the authenticity of their relationship, such as a civil partnership, with their British partner. The Home Office accepts diverse forms of evidence, including:
- Joint mortgage or tenancy agreements (within or outside the UK)
- Proof of shared children, like birth certificates
- Frequent presence together, evident through photographs
- Shared financial accounts or savings
- Correspondence via text messages or social media
- Travel records demonstrating prior visits before marriage
- Any documentation indicating the intent to cohabit in the UK.
Financial Requirements for a Spouse Visa
The sponsoring UK national must meet specific criteria:
- The UK spouse requires a pre-tax income of at least £18,600 if no dependent children are involved.
- An additional £3,800 pre-tax income is necessary for one dependent child. For each subsequent child, an extra £2,400 per child is needed.
Addressing Financial Shortfalls
If your income from eligible sources is insufficient to meet the mandatory financial requirement, or if you’re uncertain about your financial standing, consulting our specialized immigration advisors is advisable, as exceptional circumstances might be applicable.
Required Documents for a Spouse Visa
To ensure the success of your UK Spouse Visa application, it’s crucial to assemble the correct supporting documents, avoiding delays. Documents to submit to the Home Office include:
- Original marriage or civil partnership certificate
- Evidence of cohabitation for the past two years
- Valid passport for obtaining leave to remain
- Valid English language qualification certificate
- Proof of suitable accommodation
- Evidence substantiating the genuineness of the relationship
- Evidence demonstrating financial threshold fulfillment
- Confirmation of marriage to a British citizen or a person with settled status (e.g., a copy of their passport).
Translation of Non-English Documents
Non-English documents must be accompanied by professionally translated versions. All evidence must adhere to the Home Office’s specific formatting guidelines.
Qualifying Sources for Financial Criteria:
To meet the minimum income requirement for the UK Spouse Visa, several sources can be considered, including:
- Savings exceeding £16,000
- Earnings from employment or self-employment
- Benefits such as maternity, paternity, adoption, or sick pay
- Additional income, e.g., rental or share-based income
- Combination of savings and earnings, which must cover the entire permit duration.
Exemptions for Benefits
Certain benefits exempt you from meeting the mandatory criteria, such as:
- Disability-related allowances
- Various benefits for the armed forces
However, sufficient financial support for dependents is necessary, usually amounting to at least £120 per week after housing costs.
English Language Test
Applicants seeking to live in the UK must demonstrate English language proficiency. The English Language Test is valid for two years upon passing.
Applicants must complete a speaking and listening English test through an approved Secure English Language Testing (SELT) Provider. Accepted providers are Trinity College London and the IELTS Consortium.
Exemptions from English Test
Certain exemptions from the English test include:
- Being a national of a majority English-speaking country
- Age below 18 or above 65
- Long-term physical or mental condition
- Having a degree from an English-taught institution, confirmed by UK NARIC.
Accommodation Requirements for a Spouse Visa
Proof of accommodation meeting UK standards is essential for a successful UK Spouse Visa application. The UK sponsor must demonstrate the ability to provide suitable accommodation for themselves, the applicant, and dependents in the UK.
Evidence for accommodation includes:
- Property description for intended cohabitation
- Confirmation of sufficient rooms to accommodate all
- Proof of financial capability to cover accommodation costs.
Application Process for a Spouse Visa
Commence your Spouse Visa application well in advance of your planned move to the UK. Avoid booking travel or flights until you receive visa approval from the Home Office.
The application process begins online by completing Appendix FM and related forms if applying from outside the UK. You may need to visit a visa application center to provide biometric data. There are multiple forms and documents involved, all of which must be accurately completed with sufficient evidence to enhance your chances of securing a UK Spouse or Partner Visa.
For those applying from within the UK, the process varies, necessitating proof of eligibility while already present in the country on an eligible visa.
In case of Home Office doubts about your application, you may be invited for a Spouse Visa interview to assess the authenticity of your relationship and intent in the UK.
The Spouse Visa application process can be complex and time-consuming. We recommend seeking assistance from our immigration advisors for guidance on your UK Spouse Visa application.
Cost of a UK Spouse Visa Application
The current Home Office fee for a Spouse Visa is £1,538 for applications submitted from abroad. For applications made within the UK, the cost is reduced to £1,048. Additional charges apply when applying with dependents, increasing for each dependent.
Applying from within the UK is only possible if not entering as a visitor or having leave to stay in the UK for over six months. Fiance(e) or proposed civil partner permits cannot be applied for from within the UK.
Additional costs for a UK Spouse Visa application include
- Translation services for non-English or non-Welsh documents
- Mandatory English test (for most applicants)
- Optional Priority Premium Service for expedited processing
- Immigration health surcharge.
Accepted UK Spouse Visa Application
Upon acceptance, you’ll receive leave to remain, allowing entry to the UK within 30 days. Within the first 10 days in the UK, collect a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP). Failure to enter within the specified timeframe may necessitate applying for another 30-day entry permit, incurring additional fees.
Rejected UK Spouse Visa Application
In the event of a rejection, you have the option to appeal the Home Office decision. The appeals process can be lengthy and intricate, warranting assistance from an immigration adviser.
Immigration Secure offers comprehensive support for your case, including Spouse Visa appeal applications. Reach out to our immigration specialists for guidance. Our offices are located throughout the UK, including London, Manchester, and Birmingham.
Renewing or Extending a UK Spouse Visa
You can renew and extend your UK Spouse Visa for an additional 2.5 years, provided your current leave to remain is still valid. After accumulating 5 years on the Marriage Visa in the UK, you can apply for settled status (ILR). Contact our advisors for UK Spouse Visa renewal assistance.
Processing Time for a Partner Visa
The processing time for a UK Spouse Visa application typically ranges from 2 to 12 weeks. Variations in processing times may arise due to the provided documents and the application’s country of submission.
Spouse Visa Appeal Process
If you intend to appeal a Spouse Visa decision, prompt action is crucial. Follow these steps:
- Submit your appeal to the Immigration Asylum Chamber within 28 days (if overseas) or 14 days (if within the UK) of receiving the refusal decision.
- Ensure your grounds for appeal are legitimate and likely to be accepted.
- Prepare a robust case with supporting documents demonstrating the merits of your application.
- Attend any relevant Tribunal hearings.
Spouse Visa Appeal Processing Time
Unfortunately, the appeal process can be protracted, with some applicants waiting up to 12 months or more for a decision on their Spouse Visa appeal.
Common reasons for rejection include failure to meet financial or language requirements, insufficient proof of genuine and subsisting marriage, incorrect documentation, or incomplete applications.
To avoid undergoing the Spouse Visa appeal process, strive for precision in your initial application.
How Immigration Secure Can Assist You
Navigating the various visa categories and application procedures can be challenging. Immigration Secure offers expert guidance to help you choose the right Visa category and ensure you meet all specific requirements for a successful application. Our services include comprehensive document checks, assistance with application forms, and the provision of a Letter of Representation to strengthen your case.