The process of applying for a UK Family Visa as a partner or spouse is one which requires careful planning, plenty of time, and lots of evidence to support your application. Rushing to submit an application which is not complete, incorrect, or where the documents provided do not meet the requirements defined by the Home Office, is a recipe for frustration and delay, and possibly even refusal.
Spouses and partners of British citizens or individuals who are settled in the UK can apply for a spouse visa to join or remain with them in the UK. Depending on your circumstances, you may need to a) apply to enter the UK from another country (as known as 'leave to enter'), b) apply from within the UK ('leave to remain'), or c) if you have already been in the UK on a spouse Visa for five years or more you may apply for 'indefinite leave to remain'(ILR).
You may see reference to Appendix FM (FM stands for 'family member') and Appendix FM SE (SE stands for 'specified evidence'), both of which outline the detailed rules which must be met by those applying for a spouse Visa or extension.
In order to apply, you will need to satisfy the following requirements:
Following your application, if successful, you will likely be granted limited leave to remain for 2.5 years (30 months). You will then need to apply for an extension before the 30-month period expires. Once you reach the five-year point on a spousal Visa, you will then be eligible to apply for indefinite leave to remain (ILR).
Several documents will need to be submitted with your spouse Visa application, including:
In addition to the above evidence, you will need to satisfy the Home Office that you meet the financial requirement (i.e. minimum income). To do so, you will need to submit douments demonstrating that you and your partner have a combined annual income of £18,600 or more. 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. The documents you will need to send to the Home Office will depend on the source of income. If you are relying on income from employment, you will need to send:
The letter from your employer must confirm that:
If your financial situation is complex, it is recommended to either seek legal advice from an immigration lawyer or to review the detailed guidance provided by the Home Office outlining the financial requirements for family migration. Your finances may be more complex if you have a variable income, or you receive income other than from employment (e.g. share dividends, property rental, or maintenance grants etc.).
Evidence of cash savings
Cash savings of over £16,000 can be counted towards your annual income. In order to do so, you will need to submit bank statements showing the cash savings in an account held by you or your spouse for at least six months prior to the application being made.
Income from self-employment
If the applicant's partner receives an income from self-employment, it will be necessary to submit documents which show income for the last full financial year, or an average of the last two financial years. Income from self-employment can be combined with income from salaried and non-salaried employment, pension income, and non-employment income as appropriate. The documents required as evidence will vary depending on the type of self-employment. For sole-traders, partnerships, and franchises, evidence of tax payable, annual self-assessment to HMRC, and an SA300 or SA302 will be required, in addition to other information. Directors of a limited company will need to submit a Company Tax Return CT600, evidence of company registration, and annual financial accounts, an addition to other evidence.
The documents to be included within your family Visa as a spouse will depend on your precise circumstances. It is important that you only submit the documents which you are asked to send (which will be outlined when you make your application), and that these meet the criteria provided. However, if you are in any doubt as to which documents to send, or whether the documents you have will meet the requirements of the Home Office, do seek expert immigration law advice as early as possible. Doing so will ensure your application for a Spouse Visa has the best chance of success and will remove the likelihood of delays, problems, or refusal.
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