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Spouse Visa Right To Work

The UK Spouse Visa (also referred to as a marriage Visa) enables individuals from outside of the European Economic Area (EEA) to move to the UK to live with their partner. The process of applying is complex, involving a large number of eligibility rules which must be met. If successful, you will be able to stay in the UK for 33 months if you applied outside of the UK, or 30 months if you applied within the UK. If you wish to remain in the UK, you will then need to apply to extend your Visa. After a total of 60 months, you will then be eligible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR).

During the five year period prior to obtaining ILR, it is common for Spouse Visa holders to be unsure of their rights. While they are unable to claim benefits, they will have the right to work in the UK without restrictions.

If I am planning to marry my UK partner, can I work?

If you are planning to enter the UK to marry your UK partner, you will need to apply for a fiancé(e) Visa. The fiancé(e) Visa is typically granted for a period of six months. Unfortunately, one of the specific restrictions on this Visa type is that you will be unable to work.

Can I claim benefits while working?

Until you secure Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR), you will be unable to access public funds. There are, however, some benefits which are not classified as ‘public funds’ which are based on your personal National Insurance (NI) contributions, which you may be eligible for; these include:

• contribution-based jobseeker’s allowance
• incapacity benefit
• retirement pension
• maternity allowance
• widow’s benefit and bereavement benefit
• guardian’s allowance
• statutory maternity pay

Can my earnings contribute to the minimum income requirement?

To obtain a Spouse Visa, you and your partner will need to prove to the Home Office that you both meet the financial requirement (i.e. minimum income). In order to do so, you will need to submit evidence showing that you and your partner have a total annual income of £18,600 or more. And if you have children, you will need to show proof of an additional £3,800 per year for your first child and £2,400 for each child after your first child. If you are already working, your income can be used towards this minimum income requirement. This may be income from employment, but only for work in the UK.

Can I work for myself while on a UK Spouse Visa?

Yes; there is no specific restriction on being self-employed if you are in the UK on a Spouse Visa. In addition, you are able to use your income from self-employment towards satisfying the minimum income requirement.

Are there any work restrictions for UK Spouse Visa holders?

UK Spouse Visa holders can work full-time and without restrictions. In addition, there are no limitations on the type of employment which can be undertaken or the sectors in which you can work.

How can I find work in the UK?

Assuming you have been granted your Spouse Visa, you can start seeking employment immediately. If you are unfamiliar with the process of applying for work in the UK, it is recommended that you seek the expertise of an employment agency specialising in your area of expertise. You may also consider using the services of a company specialising in helping individuals to secure employment. Either way, you will need to create a Curriculum Vitae (CV) which outlines your education, employment history, skills, and qualifications. For each job you apply for, it is recommended you also draft a tailored covering letter outlining your suitability in accordance with the job advertisement. In addition, online services such as Linkedin are now proving invaluable in connecting suitable candidates with job opportunities.

It is highly likely that with the backdrop of Brexit, once UK businesses can no longer benefit from unfettered free movement from the EU/EEA, there will be considerable demand for skilled workers in all sectors.

If you do have professional qualifications from your home country, you may need to undertake further training or a conversion course in order to work in the UK. It is recommended that you speak to the appropriate body responsible for overseeing qualifications for your profession to see if this can be done. For example, a qualified overseas dentist may need to pass an Overseas Registration Exam (depending on the country in which they qualified), and an English Language test (if dental training was given in a language other than English).

Final words

The UK Home Office provides considerable flexibility when it comes to working on a UK Spouse Visa. Allowing both partners to work can remove the burden on the UK partner to meet all of the financial needs of the family, and to meet the minimum income requirements of the Spouse Visa. As a Spouse Visa holder, you can choose whether you wish to be employed on a part-time or full-time basis, or be self-employed. Whichever route you choose, we wish you well in your endeavour to secure employment in the UK, and we will continue to keep you updated on the latest changes to immigration laws for Spouse Visas. For more expert assistance with your immigration matter, you can speak to one of our experienced immigration lawyers.

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

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