Switching from a Tier 2 ICT Visa to a Spouse visa
Life can be full of twists and turns. One moment you are transferring from your company’s office in your home country to one in the UK, and the next you are married to a British national or a settled person. If these circumstances apply to you, you may be considering whether you should switch to a spouse visa and whether you are eligible. In this article, we will explain whether it is possible to switch from a Tier 2 Intra-company Transfer (ICT) Visa to a spouse visa under the family route, the eligibility criteria which must be met, and the relative advantages and disadvantages.
Is it possible to switch from a Tier 2 ICT visa to a UK spouse visa?
Yes, assuming you are eligible, there is nothing to stop a current Tier 2 ICT visa holder switching to a family spouse visa, however, there are implications that must be understood at the outset.
One of the downsides of switching to a spouse visa from a Tier 2 ICT visa is that the time you have accrued so far in the UK will be reset to zero. This means that if you were close to the five years required for indefinite leave to remain (ILR), you will have to start building up your time again from scratch. While it is possible to make the switch, with this fact in mind, you may decide to wait until you are eligible for settlement under your current visa. On the other hand, switching from an ICT visa to a spouse visa will mean that you are no longer restricted in terms of where you can work.
Am I eligible to switch from a Tier 2 ICT visa to a UK spouse visa?
The eligibility criteria for a UK spouse visa are as follows:
- Your partner must be either a British citizen, have settled in the UK (e.g. they have acquired ILR, EU settled status, or have proof of permanent residence), or they have refugee status or humanitarian protection in the UK.
- You and your partner must intend to live together permanently in the UK after you apply.
- You and your UK based partner must be in a civil partnership or marriage recognised in the UK, or have been living together in a relationship for at least two years as of the date of application
- You must meet the English language requirement – this means you either come from one of the approved countries which speak English (see the full list on the Home Office website), have passed an approved English language test at CEFR level A1 in speaking and listening when you first apply or have a degree (or higher) which was taught in English. If you are over 65 or have a health condition that may mean you are exempt from meeting the requirement, you will not need to provide evidence of your English language proficiency.
Related Article: Read also ‘ Five Things to Remember When Applying for a UK Spouse Extension’
Meeting the minimum income requirement
You will also need to prove that you and your partner meet the minimum income requirement. This requires that you and your partner have a combined annual income of £18,600. If you do not, it is possible to use any cash savings in excess of £16,000 towards your income. If your cash savings are sufficient, it may even be possible to cancel out the need to have an annual income. To work this out, you need to calculate the average amount of savings held in the savings account in the last six months, minus £16,000 from that amount, and then divide the answer by 2.5 (the number of years your visa will be granted for). For example, if you have savings of £21,000, this will contribute £2,000 towards your annual income.
If your partner is in receipt of benefits, such as disability living allowance, carer’s allowance, or a Police Injury pension, they may meet the minimum income requirement.
Meeting the adequate accommodation requirement
The immigration rules state that spouse visa applicants “must provide evidence that there will be adequate accommodation, without recourse to public funds, for the family”. Adequate accommodation means, a flat, house, or a room in a shared property which is not over-crowded and does not breach public health regulations. When making your application, you will be asked to provide information on the number of rooms, the number of people sleeping in each room, and the ages of the people who will be living in the house. They will also want to make sure that the accommodation is suitable for any children. This means that any children over the age of ten and of the opposite sex cannot share a room.
How much does it cost to apply for a spouse visa, and how long will it take?
As you will be applying from within the UK, the cost of a spouse visa application is £1,523, and a further £1,523 for any dependant who will be included on your application. You will also need to pay the healthcare surcharge, which is £400 per year. As your spouse visa will, if granted, last for 2.5 years, you will need to pay £1,000. If you also pay a further £1,000 for each dependant child included in your application. There will also be a charge of £19.20 to have your biometric information was taken (your fingerprints, photo, and signature).
A decision on your application will typically be made within eight weeks, however, you can apply for the super-priority service (this is currently not available due to the COVID-19 pandemic), which will provide a decision within one working day, or two working day if your biometric information is provided on a weekend day. The charge for this service is £800.
If you are considering making the switch from a Tier 2 partner visa to a spouse visa, it is important to weigh up the benefits and disadvantages of doing so first. While you will have more freedom in terms of where you work, you will need to start to build up your time towards ILR from zero. If you are unsure of the best option given your circumstances, speak to immigration Solicitors. Doing so may save you a great deal of time, money, and uncertainty if a better immigration route is available to you, or you would be better served to stay on your current visa type. If switching from Tier 2 to a family visa is the best course of action, they can prepare your application for you, giving you the best chance of securing a positive decision.
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