Spouse Visa Refusal Common Reasons and Appeal Process
With so much resting on a spouse visa application decision, receiving a refusal from the Home Office can be deeply distressing and worrying for both partners. Refusal can also have negative implications for family members and the couple’s children. The spouse visa immigration route is the main way that overseas nationals can travel to, enter, and remain in the UK with their partner, hence it is important to ensure that the visa application process proceeds smoothly. Whether you are about to submit your spouse visa application or you have received a negative response from the Home Office, understanding the reasons for refusal and what you can do if you find yourself in this situation can be extremely useful. Here we will discuss the common reasons for spouse visa refusal and the appeal process.
Why your UK spouse visa might be refused
Broadly speaking, the reasons why spouse visas applications are refused falls into two main types: eligibility and validity.
Eligibility refers to whether you meet the requirements for the visa. and Validity is concerned with whether your application is correct (e.g. have you completed the correct form and paid the required application fee). In most cases, such reasons can be avoided or mitigated by taking the time to ensure the application process is completed carefully. The most common reasons for refusal of spouse visas include:
Refusal on eligibility grounds
The eligibility requirements for a spouse visa under the family migration route are laid out in detail on the Home Office website 1.
Reason 1: The Home Office do not believe you are in a genuine relationship
UKVI case officers are always alert to spouse/partner visa applications that are not genuine; i.e., the relationship on which the application is based is not authentic and ongoing (this is often referred to as a “sham” marriage or relationship. If the Home Office have any reason to suspect that you are not in a genuine relationship with your British or settled partner in the UK, they will simply refuse the application. They will typically invite you to an interview before making such a decision to allow you to explain the circumstances of your relationship. This is why it is so important to submit plenty of recent evidence with your application to show you have met your partner, you have ongoing communication in the manner one would expect of a couple, and you have both made arrangements to live together.
The immigration guidance used by Home Office Entry Clearance Officers explains that spouse visa applicants must provide evidence of a valid marriage or civil partnership or that they have been living together in a relationship for at least 2 years when they apply. Alternatively, they will need to prove that they intend to get married or enter into a civil partnership in the UK within 6 months of arrival if applying for a fiance, fiancée or proposed civil partner visa.
Where there is insufficient proof of communication between both partners, UKVI may refuse a visa extension application. For this reason, we recommend providing message transcripts such as emails, WhatsApp messages, and texts.
If you are unsure if your documents prove you are in a genuine relationship, it is advisable to have these checked by an immigration Solicitor before you submit your application.
Reason 2: You do not meet the financial requirement
Those applying for a spouse/partner visa are required to meet a set of strict financial requirements. The financial requirement states that both partners must have a combined income of at least £18,600 per year. If you have children, you will need to show additional income of £3,800 for your first child and £2,400 for each child you have after your first child. It is possible to meet this requirement in other ways, such as:
- Income from employment before tax and National Insurance
- Cash savings above £16,000
- Money from a pension
- Non-work income, for example, from property rentals or dividends
Remember, when it comes to cash savings, every pound you have over £16,000 effectively reduces the income you need to prove. UKVI will calculate this by dividing any amount over £16,000 by 2.5. And if you have £62,500 in savings, this brings the annual minimum income requirement to zero.
If you are concerned you may not meet the income requirement, speak to an immigration Solicitor before you apply, as they will be able to offer possible ways to satisfy the requirement in accordance with the rules. Taking the time to check this before you submit your application, documents, and payment will avoid any potential problems with meeting this requirement.
Other factors to consider may include:
Spouse visa refused payslips
In some cases, we have seen spouse visa refusals due to not providing enough payslips. We recommend ensuring you provide at least six months’ worth of payslips (the most recent six months) with your application.
UK spouse visa refused self-employed
Another common reason for refusal is whereby applicants submit evidence of meeting the income requirement through self-employment but use pre-tax figures. It is essential that you show sufficient personal income after business expenses and taxes.
Out of date bank statements
It is important to ensure the bank statements you provide to support your application are recent (i.e. no older than 28 days from the date you submit your application).
Refusal on validity grounds
Refusal of a spouse visa based on validity grounds can be easily avoided in most cases, as these often reflect mistakes or omissions (i.e. items or information missing) when you apply. Reasons for refusal on validity grounds may include:
- Using an out of date form or using the wrong form – as many applications are made online, this has largely removed the problem of using out of date forms.
- Incomplete application forms – for this reason, it is essential that you complete every applicable box on your application form and ensure that every box you tick is correct given your circumstances (we have seen many examples of applications refused simply due to an incorrect box being ticked).
- You made a mistake when completing your application form
- You have not paid the required fees (including the application fee, biometric fee, and healthcare surcharge for the full period of your initial visa).You have not provided the necessary documents to support your spouse visa application, including:
- Certificate of divorce or dissolution from previous relationship
- Employers letter
- Accommodation including a rental agreement (i.e. showing you have suitable accommodation in the UK)
- Certificate of divorce or dissolution from previous relationship
- Documents provided are not translated properly
- Documents are not in the correct format or are out of date
- Your English language test is not an approved secure English language test (SELT)
- TB document not provided (if you are from a country for which a TB test is required)
- If there is a discrepancy in the addresses (e.g., two different addresses being used) provided or on tax/electoral roll records, this may lead to refusal.
An immigration solicitor can review your application form and documents prior to submission, providing you with the reassurance that you have done all you can to ensure a successful outcome of your spouse visa application. Contact our immigration lawyers on 020 3744 2797 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
What if your spouse visa is refused?
If you receive a refusal of your spouse visa, the options available to you will depend on your circumstances and the reasons for the refusal. For this reason, it is important to engage the services of an immigration Solicitor. While this is not mandatory, it will ensure that your case is fully assessed and the pressure of responding to the Home Office and dealing with the appeal process can be removed from your shoulders. In some cases, they may recommend that a new application be prepared and submitted, in others, it may be prudent to appeal the decision made. If you do proceed down the appeal route, you will need to robustly challenge the reason for the refusal and back this up with sufficient evidence that you are eligible for a spouse visa. The key challenge will be time, as you will only have 14 days from receiving your refusal decision to formally lodge an appeal (this is 28 days if you are outside the UK). Once the appeal is submitted, you may then need to wait several months until your hearing – sometimes, it can take up to 12 months to complete the process.
Appealing the decision
Your Home Office decision letter will explain if you have a right of appeal against a refusal. This is typically only available where there are human rights grounds under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). Article 8 states:
"1. Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence.
2. There shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others."
Spouse visa appeal process
The process for appealing will be explained in the decision letter you receive from the Home Office. The first step will be to complete an appeal form and lodge this within 14 (if you are in the UK) or 28 days (if you are outside the UK) of receiving your decision. The form you will need to complete depends on the type of appeal you are lodging. When completing the form, you will have the option to have a decision made:
- On the information in your appeal form and any documents supplied to the tribunal
- At a hearing that your representatives can attend (an oral hearing).
You will also need to pay an appeal fee – this is either £80 if you do not wish to have a hearing or £140 if you have requested an oral hearing.
As part of your appeal, you should provide any new information you have to demonstrate why you are eligible for a spouse visa. The key when providing any information to the Home Office, do not give them the same documents and information as previously provided. By providing new information which adds to your case and proves your eligibility for a spouse visa, you can maximise your chances of overcoming the main reason/s for your visa refusal.
If you have requested an oral hearing, once your application is processed, you will receive a date for your hearing. You may be requested by the Home Office to attend your hearing either in person at a tribunal office or remotely by a video link or by phone.
If your appeal is successful, the Home Office will then be asked to reconsider their decision and, in most cases, will grant you a spouse visa. In the event that your appeal is not successful, it may be possible to bring the case to the Upper Tribunal. It is the role of the Upper Tribunal to consider decisions made in the First-tier Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum). An immigration Solicitor will explain if this option is available and recommended given your circumstances.
How long will a spouse visa appeal take?
This will depend on how busy the courts are at the time you apply. In many cases, it can take up to 15 weeks, however, this can be as long as 12 months.
How can Reiss Edwards help with your spouse visa refusal?
Our specialist immigration solicitors will guide you through the process of appeal. They will take a thorough history of the case and present you with options on how to proceed. The years of experience that make up the knowledge base of our business means that we will always be able to provide options for those even in the most complex and urgent cases.
We recommend speaking to us as soon as possible about bringing an appeal case. By ensuring we have the maximum amount of time possible to work on your case, the better your chance of a successful appeal and securing your spouse visa in a timely manner. Contact our immigration lawyers on 020 3744 2797 or by email at email@example.com