Five Things To Remember When Applying For a UK Spouse Visa Extension
Given the UK's current political climate, it is understandable that people in the UK on Spouse Visas may feel uncertainty regarding their long-term stability and security. If you are working towards indefinite leave to remain (ILR) but are yet to meet the necessary five years of continuous residence in the UK, it is likely you will need to extend your existing Spouse Visa before the 30-month validity comes to an end, via the Further Leave to Remain based on marriage to a settled person route - FLR (M). But be assured, you are not alone. Even the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle will need to need to apply to extend her own leave to remain if she wishes to pursue permanent residence. In this article, we will outline five of the main considerations when applying to extend your family Visa as a partner or spouse of a British Citizen.
Apply before your existing Visa expires
Do not wait until your current Visa expires. It is advisable to submit your application for an extension as early as possible in the period of 28 days before your current Visa runs out (i.e. at the end of the 30 months).
That said, do not worry if you submit your application before the expiry date, but your appointment at a visa centre is after it expires. What matters is the date of application. The same applies if you are waiting for a decision on your FLR (M) application. Once you have applied and until you have a decision you are covered under 'section 3C' leave, which will prevent you from becoming an overstayer.
Submit Proof that you meet the spouse visa extension financial requirement
Unfortunately, more many applicants, this requirement poses the most significant hurdle. According to the 'Evidence of Financial Requirements under Appendix FM', applicants must meet the necessary financial requirements, which currently equates to an annual income of £18,600. It is important to understand, however, that this income may be from:
- The applicant, OR
- The applicant's partner (sponsor), OR
- Include a contribution from the applicant
Furthermore, the minimum income requirement can be reduced, or even eliminated completely if the applicant and/or their UK partner have cash savings. In order to calculate if cash savings can reduce the annual income requirement, simply take the lowest amount of cash savings from the past six months (by referring to the bank relevant bank statement), take away £16,000, and divide that by 2.5. That amount can then be counted towards your annual income. Using this formula, savings of £20,000 will reduce the annual income requirement by £1,600, £30,000 by £7,600, and £40,000 by £9,600. To understand more about the financial requirements for FLR (M) applications, it is useful to read the Home Office guidance, or if you are in any way unsure, seek the guidance of experienced immigration lawyers.
Meet the English language requirement
If you are a national of an English-speaking country as defined by the Home Office (see the full list), then you will not need to prove your knowledge of the English language; only your passport will be required. In addition, you will not be required to sit an English language test if you are 65 years old (or over), or have a physical or mental disability which would prevent you from taking the test, or if you can prove exceptional circumstances. Anyone who has studied a degree taught in English at undergraduate or postgraduate level, at a UK based university, will also not be required to sit an English exam. Those who are required to sit an English language test must do so at a Secure English language Tests (SELT) centre approved by the Home Office - this must be at A2 level.
The fees involved in applying for a Spouse Visa extension
At present levels, the FLR (M) application fee is £1,033, however, you may need to pay additional costs. Firstly, you will be required to pay another £1,000 for the healthcare surcharge, which will enable you to access the NHS during the period of the Visa. Secondly, there is a charge of £19.20 for your biometric to be taken (including photos, fingerprints, and signature). You may also need to pay for an English test, translation of documents (e.g. marriage certificate), and if you engage the services of an immigration lawyer, legal fees. If you need your application to be expedited using the priority (a decision within 5 working days) or super-priority service (a decision by the next working day), you will need to pay an additional processing fee; £500 for the priority, and £800 for super-priority service.
Only submit documents when you are sure they meet the requirements
(uk spouse visa extension documents)
It is all too common for applicants to rush into submitting documents which do not meet the requirements defined by the Home Office. In addition to the evidence required for financial requirements, it is also important to review the specified evidence guidance. This guidance is the same as that used by decision-makers who will be determining your application. For example, to prove salaried employment in the UK, six months of payslips must be provided if you have been with your current employer for six months or more. If the period of time with the current employer is less than six months, then payslips covering the last 12 months are required. This is just one of many examples of where without reading the guidance provided, an applicant may not provide the level of documentation required by the Home Office.
Be in no doubt, the application process for an UK visa extension of a UK Spouse Visa is not a mere formality. If you are unsure if you meet the requirements, have the necessary documents to prove your eligibility, or need assistance with the application process, do consider engaging the services of immigration solicitors. In doing so, you can be assured that not only will your application have the best chance of a prompt and successful outcome, you can focus on your family, work, and personal life, in the knowledge your matter is fully in hand.