Applying for UK Spouse Visa Post-Brexit
With Brexit behind us and a glint of light at the end of the long and dark tunnel that is COVID-19 visible, 2021 will hopefully mark a year of great change and progress. For many, this may mean making a move to a new country; a move which may have been put on the back burner due to the pandemic. For some, 2021 will be the year they plan to move to the UK to join their spouse, or apply for a visa to stay in the UK with their partner if already here. In this article, we will explain the process of applying for a spouse visa in the UK post-Brexit, including the eligibility criteria, and application fees.
Who Can Apply For A Spouse Or Partner Visa?
Under the UK family visa scheme, you may be eligible for a visa if you are from outside of the UK and you have a partner or married spouse who:
- is a British or Irish citizen
- has settled in the UK – i.e. they have acquired indefinite leave to remain (ILR), EU settled status, or permanent residence
- is from the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein, and have pre-settled status (they must have started living in the UK before 1 January 2021)
- holds a Turkish Businessperson visa or Turkish Worker visa
- has refugee status or humanitarian protection in the UK
Importantly, you can apply from within the UK if you are already living here, or from outside. When you submit your application, you will need to provide evidence that:
- you are in a civil partnership or marriage that is recognised in the UK, or;
- you have been living with your partner in a relationship for at least two years when you apply, or;
- you are a fiancé, fiancée or proposed civil partner and will marry or enter into a civil partnership in the UK within six months of arriving
What Are The Eligibility Requirements For A Spouse Or Partner Visa?
In addition to the relationship requirements outlined above, you will also need to provide evidence that you speak English to the required standard and that you can support yourself financially.
Meeting The English Language Standard
The immigration rules state that in order to acquire a family partner or spouse visa, you will need to provide evidence of your English language proficiency if you are between 18 and 65. You can do this by either showing that you have a university degree taught in English, or you have passed an approved English language exam at CEFR level A1 in speaking and listening. If you have a degree taught in English, you may need to request a statement of comparability or visa, and nationality statement certificate from UK NARIC – the type of certificate depends on where the degree was awarded – for more details see the Home Office website.
Meeting The Financial Support Requirement
When assessing your application for a partner/spouse visa, the Home Office case officer will check that you and your partner have a minimum income of £18,600 per year. If you have children, this minimum income requirement increases depending on how many children you have. For your first child, you will need an extra £3,800, and a further £2,400 for each additional child. For example, if you have three children, you will need to show you, and your partner earn at least £18,600 + £3,800 + £2,400 + £2,400 = £27,200.
If you don’t meet the income requirement, you may be able to rely on other funds at your disposal, including savings. Cash savings over £16,000 can be used towards your income, as can:
- income you earn from self-employment or as a director of a limited company in the UK
- money from a pension
- non-work income, for example from property rentals or dividends
To work out the effect of using savings, you need to divide the amount of savings over £16,000 by 2.5 (this is the number of years your visa will be initially granted for if your application is successful).
The rules also state that you may not need to provide evidence of your income or your English language proficiency if:
- you have a child in the UK who is a British or Irish citizen or has lived in the UK for seven years and it would be unreasonable for them to leave the UK
- there would be very significant difficulties for you and your partner if you lived together as a couple outside the UK that could not be overcome
- it would breach your human rights to stop you coming to the UK or make you leave
How Do I Apply For A Spouse/Partner Visa In The UK Post-Brexit?
Whether you are applying within the UK, or from outside, you can do so online. The current application fee is £1,523 if applying outside the UK, or £1,033 if applying within the UK. In addition, you will also need to pay the immigration healthcare surcharge of £624, and £19.20 to have your biometric information (your photo and fingerprints) taken/scanned. The application process can take up to 12 weeks from outside the UK, or eight weeks within, however, you can pay extra for a faster decision. The Super Priority service will ensure you receive a decision on the next working day for a fee of £800.
The key to applying for a spouse visa is to remove any doubt that your relationship or marriage is entirely genuine. The Home Office are always alert to the possibility of ‘sham marriages’ (i.e. relationships which are not genuine and are just to acquire a visa) and will look for any evidence that this may be the case. If you are unsure if you are eligible for a spouse/partner visa in the UK, it is important to speak to an immigration Solicitor before applying. They will guide you through the process and, where needed, they can provide a covering letter to explain any circumstances which would otherwise risk refusal of your case.
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