UK Spouse Visa Application Timeline 2021
Each year, thousands of migrants come to the UK to create a new life with their British or settled partner. The prospect of coming to the UK to be with your partner or spouse may be exciting and daunting in equal measure, especially if you are coming from a country with a different language and culture. But this need not be the case; the UK has a highly diverse population and is extremely welcoming to new immigrants from around the world. There is also a wealth of opportunities here for the lifestyle, work, and education. From an immigration standpoint, the UK’s partner/spouse visa scheme enables non-UK citizens to acquire the permission they need to enter the UK at the border and to remain here with their loved ones. In this article, we will explain the timeline for acquiring a UK spouse visa in 2021.
Am I eligible to apply for a UK spouse/partner visa?
You will be eligible for a UK spouse/partner visa if you are both over 18 and your partner is either:
- a British or Irish citizen
- settled in the UK – they will be considered ‘settled’ if they have indefinite leave to remain, permanent residency, EU settled status, or if they have acquired citizenship.
- from the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein and have pre-settled status (they must have started living in the UK on or before 31st December 2021)
- a Turkish Businessperson visa or Turkish Worker visa holder
- a person with refugee status or if they have humanitarian protection in the UK
You will also need to provide evidence to the Home Office as part of your application that you and your partner:
- are currently in a civil partnership or marriage recognised in the UK, or;
- have been living together in a relationship for at least two years when you apply, or;
- will get married in the UK within six months of arrival
In addition to the relationship requirements above, you will also need to show you have sufficient knowledge of the English language and can financially support yourself while here. To meet the financial requirement, you must have an income of at least £18,600 per year (this is more if you have children).
It is important to note, however, that if you are unable to meet all of these requirements, you may still be able to make a successful application if:
- you have a child in the UK who is a British or Irish citizen or has lived in the UK for seven years, and it would be unreasonable for them to leave the UK
- there would be very significant difficulties for you and your partner if you lived together as a couple outside the UK that could not be overcome
- it would breach your human rights to stop you from coming to the UK or make you leave
Proving you are in a genuine eligible relationship
If you are considering making an application for a spouse/partner visa, you will need to provide enough evidence to satisfy a Home Office case officer that your relationship is entirely genuine. The Home Office are always alert for potential cases of sham marriages/partnerships and hence ask for evidence in the form of photos, emails, messages, correspondence, and other documents which prove your relationship is not solely for the intention of acquiring residency in the UK. As such, we recommend that you take the time needed to collate plenty of evidence to prove this is the case. Doing so will reduce the potential for a visa refusal or a request for further information, which may delay a decision. The Home Office website provides details on its website regarding the types of evidence you may need to provide to support your application.
What is the timeline for a spouse/partner visa in the UK?
The UK’s Home Office processing time for a spouse/partner visa is approximately three months (if applying from outside the UK), however, this may be longer if they request more information on your case or an interview with you. This is why it is so important to ensure that your application is complete prior to submission. It is also important to note that this three-month timescale is only from when you have applied, and you have attended an appointment at a visa application centre to have your biometrics scanned and uploaded.
Accelerated spouse visa decision
You may be able to accelerate the process of securing a partner/spouse visa depending on which country you live in; either by using the priority or super-priority service. You can check if you can use these services by contacting the visa application centre in your home country; a list of these is available on the Home Office website. The priority service will provide you with a decision on your case within five working days, for an additional cost of £500. The super-priority service will provide a decision on the next working day, for an additional cost of £800. Using these services does not, however, guarantee a decision will be reached within the stated time if your application is complex and/or requires further checks to be carried out.
Importance of immigration law expertise
Ultimately, most partners applying for a spouse visa will want to secure a positive decision as quickly as possible in order to make the journey to the UK to be with their loved ones. To ensure the timescale is as short as possible, we recommend speaking to an immigration law professional who can handle your application on your behalf or check your draft completed form and accompanying details. Immigration Solicitors understand the exact process which the Home Office follow in order to vet applications and will spot any potential issues which require attention. Where necessary, they will prepare a covering letter to explain any circumstances which may be questioned by the Home Office to assure them of your eligibility.
If you have already submitted your application for a spouse visa, are just about to do so, or if you plan to do this later in the year, it is important to take your time to ensure your application is as complete as possible. This is the very best way to minimise the timeline for your spouse visa and to ensure your application does not go onto the pile of cases marked “require further investigation”.