Start typing and hit "Enter" to search.

My Partner Has Convictions in the UK Can We Apply for a Spouse Visa?

If you and your spouse or partner are planning to apply for a spouse visa to enable you both to live together in the UK, you may be concerned that a criminal conviction may prevent them from being granted a visa by the Home Office. As with most aspects of immigration policy, the question of whether a criminal offence will lead to refusal cannot be answered with a simple yes or no. While a prior history of criminality is one of the main for refusal of an application for a spouse visa, this does not mean your partner’s application will definitely be rejected. In this article, we will outline the guidance followed by case officers considering such cases and explain how criminal convictions will be assessed in order to make a decision on your spouse visa application.

Assessing if the refusal is ‘conducive to the public good’

Appendix FM outlines the suitability criteria for entry for anyone wishing to enter the UK to join their partner for the purposes of family life. The first section (S-EC.1.1) states, “The applicant will be refused entry clearance on grounds of suitability if any of paragraphs S-EC.1.2. to 1.9. apply”. Sections S-EC.1.2 to 1.9 are not all reserved for criminality, rather it covers range factors that would make the applicant unsuitable, including refusal to attend an interview, provide information, or undergo a medical examination.

Core to the factors which must be weighed up by the Home Office case officer is whether refusing the applicant would be ‘conducive to the public good’; S-EC.1.2. states, “The Secretary of State has personally directed that the exclusion of the applicant from the UK is conducive to the public good”. Appendix FM lays out in more detail what is meant by this ‘conducive to the public good’ in the following sections:

  • S-EC.1.4. The exclusion of the applicant from the UK is conducive to the public good because they have:
    • been convicted of an offence for which they have been sentenced to a period of imprisonment of at least 4 years; or
    • been convicted of an offence for which they have been sentenced to a period of imprisonment of at least 12 months but less than 4 years unless a period of 10 years has passed since the end of the sentence; or
    • been convicted of an offence for which they have been sentenced to a period of imprisonment of fewer than 12 months unless a period of 5 years has passed since the end of the sentence.
  • S-EC.1.5. The exclusion of the applicant from the UK is conducive to the public good because, for example, the applicant’s conduct (including convictions which do not fall within paragraph S-EC.1.4.), character, associations, or other reasons, make it undesirable to grant them entry clearance.

Based solely on duration, if your partner’s imprisonment was for less than four years, as long as the end of the sentence was far enough in the past, they may be allowed entry. Imprisonment of four years or more, however, will likely lead to refusal of a spouse visa.

On the one hand, while section S-EC.1.4 provides clarity on the duration and/or age of sentences, S-EC.1.5. makes matters much less clear by adding discretionary criteria to the assessment of what is deemed ‘conducive to the public good’. The challenge with such cases is that the Home Office may still consider that refusal is in the interest of the public good if the offence caused serious harm or the person is a “persistent offender who shows a particular disregard for the law (SEC.2.5), or even if they have “character, associations, or other reasons, make it undesirable to grant them entry clearance”. Even if your partner was not imprisoned, or they settled a criminal matter out of court, they may still fall foul of the ‘conducive to the public good’ test. As such, it is essential that if your partner has prior criminal convictions of any type that they seek the guidance of immigration Solicitors before submitting an application for a spouse visa. An immigration lawyers will review your partner’s case and history to determine if there any factors which may lead to a refusal, and if there are, recommend how these can best be handled.

Other criminal factors which may lead to refusal of a spouse visa

Under section S-EC.1.8 of appendix FM, another ground for refusal is whether the “the applicant left or was removed from the UK as a condition of a caution issued in accordance with section 22 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 less than 5 years prior to the date on which the application is decided”. In addition, there are other grounds for refusal which may not appear on face value to be related to criminality, these include:

  • S-EC.3.1. The applicant may be refused on grounds of suitability if the applicant has failed to pay litigation costs awarded to the Home Office.
  • S-EC.3.2: one or more relevant NHS bodies have notified the Secretary of State that the applicant has failed to pay charges in accordance with the relevant NHS regulations on charges to overseas visitors and the outstanding charges have a total value of at least £500.

It must be emphasised that even if you think your partner may fall foul of these restrictions, there are often ways of resolving such matters. For example, by making an offer to repay amounts that are due, and including documentary evidence of a mutual agreement to do so, then it may be possible to have a spouse visa granted.

Final words

While the Home Office guidance provides case officers with considerable scope to refuse an application for a spouse visa in relation to criminality, this does not mean those with a criminal conviction will be refused. Regardless of your partner’s specific situation, do not give up hope. The key to a successful application is to proactively provide information which will deal with any potential interpretation of the rules used as grounds for refusal. By doing so, your partner will have the best chance of being able to remain with you in the UK for the remainder of your lives.

Some of our Happy Clients

Reiss Edwards Awards

ACQ5 Awards Award
Lexis Nexis
Three Best Rated
Department For International Development
University Of Cambridge
ACQ5 Awards Award ACQ5 Awards Award
Lexis Nexis Lexis Nexis
Three Best Rated Three Best Rated
Department For International Development Department For International Development
University Of Cambridge University Of Cambridge

O.L

Andy Tieu is absolutely amazing.

As a lawyer myself I can categorically say that he knows his stuff, gentle, responsive, cares about you and not just about the money, very professional.
I mean I can go on and on!

Andy and the entire team at Reiss Edwards are amazing!

Thanks again Andy.

Kiran Sardar


I found Joe very helpful and tremendous patience which is a must in this professional as there are lots of emotions always involved in each and every case.

The way they dealt with my case during COVID19 Situation is highly appreciable. I would definitely recommend Joe D. and Anna F. Anna is an amazing lady, her patience is beyond my words.

Her hard work and professionalism have no boundaries. She is the right person for all type of cases.

Thanks to Anna and Joe for all your support and guidance which helped me fulfill my dream.

I would say Reiss Edwards is lucky to have Joe D. and Anna F. Great job Reiss Edwards.

thanks once again. Anna you’re a Gem and a Star.

Cheyam Shaked

"Anna Foley was the lawyer helping my partner obtain an EEA EFM visa. She was outstanding. Handling the case with constant correspondence over a lengthy, lockdown delayed 7-month application process. Her expert advice guided us successfully through some difficult times as a result of COVID-19. Some of the best service I have received for any service ever! Often replying to emails late at night, offering to send additional correspondence to the home office and going above and beyond in handling our case! Well done and thank you Reiss Edwards and thank you Anna!!".

Isaac .T

"Professional service. I was very impressed with the fact that my ILR application was successful 6 weeks after the submission amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. I also think the portfolio put together by the team at Reiss Edwards has played a big part in the quick turnaround of my application".

Jesse Lee

"Reiss Edwards did a great job, and so much work, for their reasonable fixed fee. I would heartily recommend them to anyone looking to secure a Visa and /or Visa renewal. I will use them again when mine needs to renew. Great value".

Majlinda Berisha

"The help, the professionalism, the kindness from this team is phenomenal. A massive thank you to Anna Foley.

I have had a really tough time with getting my husband’s visa. My last immigration lawyer made many mistakes that caused stress, disappointments and sadness.

I was weary about getting another lawyer as I thought I was going to go through the same experience but no, it turned out better than what I had hoped or even imagined.

What I received was: constant emails and calls updating me and asking if anything else is needed. If I called and they missed my phone call I would get a call back within 10 minutes. All of my documents were carefully checked and I would get a reply the next day if anything was missing or not correct. There were times that I was impatient and asked to just send the visa off, but was reminded that everything had to be perfect and correct before submitting the application. I was told about every option I had and discussed what the best would be. I was always spoke in a nice, calm, polite manner.

The overall intelligence of this team, especially Anna Foley for me, is outstanding. I am speechless. Anna done such an amazing job on my husband’s application that although we couldn’t apply for the fast service and was told to wait for 12 weeks, we got a reply within 5 weeks.

That alone shows what an amazing and talented team Reiss Edwards are. Thank you".

Christine .C

"I wholeheartedly recommend Reiss Edwards to anyone who is in search of immigration advice. I had the pleasure of speaking with Amar who has been very thorough in finding a solution to my enquiry, and followed up with additional information even after the consultation. I normally don't leave reviews, and this firm already has enough good reviews for me to need to my own anyways! However, in this instance, I do hope that my review can let anyone who reads it be aware that RE is a great choice, these people care enough to help you the best they can".

Zohaib Butt

"I had the chance to use Reiss Edwards services for my Tier 2 extension. Marija dealt with my case and I found her very professional and experienced in dealing with my application. The care and attention to detail was exceptional. I would definitely recommend Reiss Edwards!".

Quintus Liu

"Knowledgeable, experienced, and relatable. Translated a complex process into steps that are easy to follow. Cruised to 3 successive wins on my Tier 1 graduate/entrepreneurship visa which allowed us to play our part in making the UK a better and healthier place!".

Khasan Vosijonov

"Thank you, Ms. Anna Foley! I am writing this with tears of joy.

As a family, we are all grateful to Anna Foley and her firm Reiss Edwards, for doing all the hard work and giving us the best support. Finally We found the best law firm".

Saira Lawson-Brown

"Highly professional organisation and really supportive solicitors. Ina Iteva the solicitor that was provided to us was a blessing in disguise, as our first solicitor was let go off due to pandemic. She was so supportive and understanding throughout the process, and my husband spouse visa was granted due to their effort and attention to detail. We constantly try to keep in touch with her and consider her as more of a friend now than a solicitor. Sure, to bother her and the firm more in the future".

Nora Nkechi

"My Tier 1 Investor Visa was dealt with quickly and without issue. Would recommend Reiss Edwards as an Immigration law firm in London. Thank you to the team".

Deepak Chartbhurjh

"This is the only firm that i spoke with that didn't ask for money before listening to me, will be using them again. I used Reiss Edwards for my Tier 2 visa application and it was successful. The team was ever present and happy to answer my question. The caseworker that dealing with my case went on holiday yet by case did not suffer one bit. Another lawyer stepped and took over the case without any hassle".

Hakeem Salam

"I used Reiss Edwards immigration lawyers to assist with my immigration matter and that of my family. It was an EX1 application. They dealt with the matter properly and even when complications were coming up from the Home Office, they helped resolve the issue properly. They are very professional and are very popular in London. I am happy to have worked with them".

Top Notch Immigration Service

"Reiss Edwards is a top notch immigration service company. The way they handled our documentation and also the list of documents they sent was efficient and top quality. They helped us professionally throughout the process. We are very happy with the immigration advice we received from the team. We highly recommend them".

Mo Hussein

"I have been using Reiss Edwards for three years now for my family's immigration application. Both for my initial application and extension. They are really affordable. The team of solicitors at this firm are probably one of the most efficient and economical in terms of cost. They offered free advice over the phone and spent good time with us before inviting us for consultation".

Gallagher Jones

"I contacted Reiss Edwards to help me with my wife's UK settlement visa. They acted with utmost professionalism throughout the entire application. I spoke with Joe Dinh, he is an immigration solicitor and he is one of the best solicitors out there. He ensured that there was little to no room for error. At some point I thought he was over cautious. He remained calmed and continued to assure us on our immigration matter. Most people in his position would have panicked but he was calmed and continued to assure us. We received out positive outcome very quickly".

Richard Stone

"I have just had British Citizenship application approved. Prior to making the application, I was not sure which law firm i should hire to facilitate the paperwork. After a few hours of research, i decided to go with Reiss Edwards and i must confess that I wasn't disappointed. The immigration lawyers at Reiss Edwards handled my case well and they really knew what they were doing. They were fully aware of what documents I needed and it was easy for them to tell if my case was going to be easy or not. At the end of the day, I have not received my British citizenship within 3 months. If anyone is looking for a good immigration lawyer to handle their case, contact Reiss Edwards".

Fong Li

"Investing over 2 million pounds is definitely not a routine decision. We had to make sure that the Tier 1 investor immigration lawyers that we'd be picking has to be one of the best within the Tier 1 investor category. We contacted Reiss Edwards and they were able to get us not only the Tier 1 investor visa but also suggested profitable investment portfolios in addition to what we already had in mind".

Nancy Jacquard

"It's a shame that you don't have an 'Excellent' star rating on here, as my experience with Reiss Edwards is nothing short of an excellent rating. They handled my application for an Indefinite Leave to remain in April 2014 and did my husband's one very recently including my daughter. Every time i have approached them, they have continued to treat me with courtesy, respect and patience. Amar was indeed a very thorough and professional gentleman. He is very knowledgeable, corporative and engaging. He responded to my emails, calls and enquiries promptly. He was always reassuring. I could not have asked for a better Immigration service. I would recommend them over and over again for anyone looking for an immigration advice. They gave me a free immigration advice when i called them, and the quality of the advice was something other charge thousands for. If you need a particular, name, Amar would be it. He exemplifies, for me, the true, professional gentleman. He is a valuable asset to Reiss Edwards".

Florence Giwa

"I am glad that i instructed Reiss Edwards on my visa matter. It started with a 20 minutes free immigration advice. I met with Amar to discuss my ILR refusal. He gave me a great deal of quality advice and decided to take on my messy case. I had doubts on the merits of my case by he was relatively convinced he could win it. That made me quite secure. To be honest, things did not start as quick as I would have wanted, but they kept on communicating the process and state of things to me.A big thank you to Verusha and Foram. They were also very helpful. Brilliant and informative. Their fee was fair and reasonable, especially if you compare them to other law firms and immigration law firms in London; some of whom even told me that i would not be able to get an indefinte leave to remain in this country. The process was long but was worth it. In the end, a big thank you to Reiss Edwards".

Salisu Ibrahim

"Fantastic Solicitors!!! My wife's spouse visa extension application was refused by the Home Office and they gave her 14 days to leave the country. We contacted Reiss Edwards and they said "OK don't worry we will sort this out". They put together the list of documents for me to obtain and they prepared a bundle which was as thick as the printer it came out from.We followed everything they asked us to do and in the end we won our appeal and got our spouse visa. We can't recommend them enough and we have promised ourselves never to make any more UK visa applications without them".

Amir Sandeep

"The team of lawyers at Reiss Edwards are very professional and friendly people. Their experience in and around UK immigration law is quite extensive; be sure that you application is in safe and competent hands. My immigration matter was an indefinite leave to remain application based on Tier 1 on a self-employment basis. The immigration lawyers at Reiss Edwards made sure that the application was perfect and ready to be accepted. I got a positive decision and I recommend them highly for anyone who needs a UK immigration help".

Reiss Edwards Reviews

O.L

"Andy Tieu is absolutely amazing, as a lawyer myself I can categorically say tha...

Read More

Kiran Sardar

"I found Joe very helpful and tremendous patience which is a must in this profes...

Read More

Cheyam Shaked

"Anna Foley was the lawyer helping my partner obtain an EEA EFM visa. She was ou...

Read More

Isaac .T

"Professional service. I was very impressed with the fact that my ILR applicatio...

Read More

Jesse Lee

"Reiss Edwards did a great job, and so much work, for their reasonable fixed fee...

Read More

Majlinda Berisha

"The help, the professionalism, the kindness from this team is phenomenal. A mas...

Read More

Christine .C

"I wholeheartedly recommend Reiss Edwards to anyone who is in search of immigrat...

Read More

Zohaib Butt

"I had the chance to use Reiss Edwards services for my Tier 2 extension. Marija ...

Read More

Quintus Liu

"Knowledgeable, experienced, and relatable. Translated a complex process into st...

Read More

Khasan Vosijonov

"Thank you, Ms. Anna Foley! I am writing this with tears of joy. As a family, we...

Read More

Saira Lawson-Brown

"Highly professional organisation and really supportive solicitors. Ina Iteva th...

Read More

Nora Nkechi

"My Tier 1 Investor Visa was dealt with quickly and without issue. Would recomme...

Read More

Deepak Chartbhurjh

"This is the only firm that i spoke with that didn't ask for money before listen...

Read More

Hakeem Salam

"I used Reiss Edwards immigration lawyers to assist with my immigration matter a...

Read More

Top Notch Immigration Service

"Reiss Edwards is a top notch immigration service company. The way they handled ...

Read More

Mo Hussein

"I have been using Reiss Edwards for three years now for my family's immigration...

Read More

Gallagher Jones

"I contacted Reiss Edwards to help me with my wife's UK settlement visa. They ac...

Read More

Richard Stone

"I have just had British Citizenship application approved. Prior to making the a...

Read More

Fong Li

"Investing over 2 million pounds is defintely not a routine decision. We had to ...

Read More

Nancy Jacquard

"It's a shame that you don't have an 'Excellent' star rating on here, as my expe...

Read More

Florence Giwa

"I am glad that i instructed Reiss Edwards on my visa matter. It started with a ...

Read More

Salisu Ibrahim

"Fantastic Solicitors!!! My wife's spouse visa extension application was refused...

Read More

Amir Sandeep

"The team of lawyers at Reiss Edwards are very professional and friendly people....

Read More