UK Spouse Visa Processing Times
Getting married or entering into a new relationship with a partner is one of the most exciting experiences in life. For non-UK nationals with a British partner, there is an additional element to consider – where to live. If your partner is a British citizen and you have been living together in another country, or you currently live in different countries, if you both now plan to make the UK the centre of your life together, the chances are you will need a spouse/partner visa. In this article, we will discuss the requirements for a spouse visa, the processing time, and how you can ensure a speedy decision on your application.
What is a UK spouse visa?
A partner or spouse visa is a category of the UK family visa system and enables non-UK nationals to enter the UK and live with their married or de facto partner. To apply for a partner/spouse visa, you must be over 18 and have a partner who is one of the following:
- a British or Irish citizen
- a migrant who has settled in the UK – i.e. they hold indefinite leave to remain, settled status, or proof of permanent residence
- from the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein and have pre-settled status - they must have started living in the UK before 1 January 2021
- a Turkish Businessperson visa or Turkish Worker visa holder
- a person with refugee status or humanitarian protection in the UK
The Home Office requirements state that you and your partner must intend to live together in the UK. The scheme is open to non-UK nationals who are either in a marriage or civil partnership recognised in the UK or have been living together for two years. It is also possible for those who plan to get married in the UK within six months of arrival to apply for a fiancé, fiancée, or proposed civil partner visa. This is then upgraded to a spouse/partner visa once they are married.
In addition to meeting the relationship requirements outlined above, you will also need to prove to the Home Office that you have sufficient knowledge of English and you can financially support yourselves (more on these requirements later).
What Is The Processing Time For A Spouse/Partner Visa Application?
According to the latest information published by the Home Office, spouse or partner visa applications made outside the UK are typically processed within three months; for those submitted in the UK, this is reduced to eight weeks. Bear in mind, however, that this is the standard processing time, and it is possible to pay more to have a decision made much faster if needed.
For an additional £800, the Super Priority service will ensure you receive a decision on your spouse/partner visa application on the next working day. This is not guaranteed, however, as any issues discovered while your application is being processed may lead to a delay. For this reason, if time really is of the essence for you and your partner, we do recommend engaging the services of Immigration Solicitors in the UK who can handle the process for you and ensure that every element of your application and supporting documentation meets the Home Office’s requirements.
What Can I Do To Ensure My Application Is Processed Within The Timescale?
There is much you can do to ensure that your application is processed within the Home Office’s timescale. They advise that applications may be delayed if you:
- do not meet the minimum income requirement
- cannot prove your knowledge of English
- need to attend an interview
- have not provided all the evidence that the Home Office needs
- have a criminal conviction or another personal circumstance that needs to be reviewed
The Home Office will also delay or even refuse your application if they have reason to believe you are in a sham marriage or relationship, i.e. your marriage or partnership is not genuine and is for the purposes of unlawfully gaining a visa to live in the UK. For this reason, we recommend taking the time to gather as much evidence of your relationship as possible, including messages and emails, photos, correspondence, and include these with your application.
Many applications are refused because the applicant does not meet the minimum income requirement or they have been unable to provide sufficient evidence they do. You must provide tangible evidence that you and your partner have an annual income of at least £18,600 and, if you have children, an extra £3,800 for the first child and £2,400 for each additional child. Savings over £16,000 can also be used towards your income, as can money from pensions and non-work income (e.g. rental property income). If you are in any doubt that you meet the financial requirements or that you have the necessary proof, speak to an Immigration Lawyer who will check this for you before you apply. As a minimum, include at least six months of wage slips (for the six most recent months), bank statements showing the income being paid in, and a letter confirming current employment from the employer.
Some applications are refused because the applicant does not meet the English language requirement, but this is less frequent. If you are not from an exempt country, or if you are between 18 and 65, you will need to provide either a pass certificate for an English test at CEFR level A1 in speaking and listening or evidence that you have a degree which was taught in English (this may also need a certificate from Ecctis to prove your qualification is equivalent to a UK degree).
As with all family visa applications, receiving a positive decision is so important. For this reason, we always recommend taking your time to ensure your application and documents are accurate and complete. Unfortunately, even a minor error can lead to a significant delay or even refusal of your application. We wish you all the very best with your spouse/partner visa application and your new life together in the UK.