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The Spouse Visa allows anyone who is present and settled in the UK to bring over their spouse to join them. A British citizen or settled person (a person with Indefinite Leave to Remain or permanent residence) is eligible to bring their spouse to join them in the UK.

The Marriage visa

Difference between a Marriage Visa and a Spouse Visa

The The UK Marriage Visa is a term commonly used to refer to the Spouse Visa however, there lies a minor difference between the two. A Spouse Visa allows the spouses of British citizens and/or persons free from immigration control to join their partners in the UK. A Marriage Visa refers broadly to several visa categories which allow partners of persons with lawful residence to bring their overseas partners to join them in the UK. This may include dependants of persons who would normally need a visa to come into the country as opposed to the Spouse Visa which is issued solely to spouses of British citizens settled persons.

Important to note, what is commonly referred to as a Marriage Visa does not in itself exist as an immigration route, while the Spouse Visa does. A Marriage Visa may include both a Spouse Visa and PBS Dependant Visa as a spouse or someone with a valid leave to remain in the country (Tier 1, 2, or 4).

The kind of Marriage Visa you need will normally depend on your circumstance.

British citizen->Spouse visa

Person with ILR or permanent residence -> Spouse Visa

EEA National married to a non-EEA -> EEA Family permit (submitted outside the UK)

Person with refugee status or humanitarian protection -> Family reunion

Tier 4 student visa - Dependant of a Tier 4 visa holder

Tier 2 general visa - Dependant of a Tier 2 General visa holder

Conditions of a Spouse Visa

A Spouse Visa is normally issued for 2.5 years and allows the holder to work in the UK without restriction. At the end of the first granted 2.5-year period, the holder can apply for an extension and be eligible for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) after 5 years.

Please note that for ILR applications you will need to provide evidence of cohabitation throughout the 5-year period.

To make this application, both parties must be able to prove the following: -

  • They have physically met each other;
  • They are legally married;
  • That there is an intention to live permanently together in the UK as couple; and
  • That the sponsor meets the financial requirements as described in the immigration rules

Other Requirements

The requirements for the Spouse visa can be found in the Appendix FM of the immigration rules.

Importantly, four main requirements would need to be met.

  1. Proof of a genuine and subsisting relationship between the two partners;
  2. Meeting the financial requirements as stated in Appendix FM (currently a minimum of £18,600 gross per year);
  3. Meeting the English language requirement; and
  4. Meeting the accommodation requirement.

Spouse Visa Fees

The Spouse Visa allows the spouse or civil partner of a British citizen (or "settled" person) the right to live and work in the UK. As visas go, the Spouse Visa is one of the more generous, and therefore most popular, visa routes. The benefits include the 2.5 years stay it allows in the UK (which can be extended), the ability to gain ILR after 5 years of stay, and the ability to work without restriction.

What is the Eligibility Criteria for a Spouse Visa?

The eligibility criteria for a Spouse Visa is as follows:

  • Spouse or civil partner must be a British citizen or "settled" person (has ILR or a protected status, such as a refugee)
  • You must be in a provable relationship (documentation will be required) having lived together for at least 2 years
  • Have good English language skills (may need to be proven depending on your country of origin)
  • Be able to financially support both yourself and your dependants (will require proof of finances)

If you can meet these criteria, then you should have a very strong application - it is also possible to apply even if all these conditions have not been met.

How Much is the Application Fee for a Spouse Visa?

The fee for making a Spouse Visa application is £1,523. The application will need to be completed online (apart from some cases where eligibility criteria is an issue - we will advise you on which to use). You will also need to pay additional fees, such as the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS), which is £200 per year per applicant. If you have used legal help (such as ours), you will need to pay that separately - we will advise you of the costs involved in using our service once we've established your needs.

You will need to pay the total upfront for your application to be processed - the prices quoted only cover standard fees. If you are looking to have your application processed faster, you will need to use a premium service, which adds further additional costs.

The Financial Requirements

To bring your spouse to the UK, you must be able to prove you can look after them during their stay. You need to be earning above a certain threshold to prove they will not be a burden on the state whilst in the country.

It is important to note, however, that you will be exempt from the financial requirement if you are in the UK as a refugee, or under humanitarian protection. However, you will still need to show that you earn a minimum gross salary/wage; the amount will depend on who you are applying for.

If you are applying for your spouse alone, you will need to show that you earn a minimum gross annual income of £18,600.

If you are applying for your spouse and one child, the financial requirement is £22,400 gross per year.

For every additional child (in addition to the point above) you will need to add £2,400 for each child to the £22,400 gross per year.

Please note that maintenance funds will be taken into consideration in line with the source of the funds in question. Only the sources listed below will be considered:

  • Income of the partner from specified employment or self-employment, which, in respect of a partner returning to the UK with the applicant, can include specified employment or self-employment overseas and in the UK
  • Pension of the applicant and/or partner
  • Maternity allowances or bereavement benefit received by the partner in the UK
  • Any other income and/or savings specified by the applicant and/or partner

Please note, exemptions from meeting the financial requirement will be applicable if the sponsor is receiving income from any of the following sources:

  1. Disability living allowance
  2. Severe disablement allowance
  3. Industrial injury disablement benefit
  4. Attendance allowance
  5. Carer's allowance

It is important to note however, that in the event of a partner qualifying for exemption in line with the above, the applicant will still need to show that they have enough funds to maintain themselves in the UK, as well as having adequate accommodation (while having no recourse to public funds).

Combining Your Income

If you are not able to meet the financial requirement using one source of income, you can combine the following sources:

  • Self-employment/employment income
  • Pension
  • Maternity, sickness, adoption or paternity pay
  • Income from rent or shares
  • Minimum cash savings of £16,000 for at least six months

What Documents Are Required to Make a Spouse Visa Application?

Due to the nature of the visa, there is often a concern as to which documents are required to satisfy UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI). We are now going to look at the application process for a Spouse Visa in the UK and what documents you are likely going to need to support your application.

So, What Documents Are Required to Apply for a Spouse Visa?

As you may expect, for a visa that comes with rather generous terms, you will be expected to provide a lot of documentary evidence. Most of this documentary evidence will be linked to the relationship and will be used as a way of testing how genuine the relationship is. The UK has historically had problems with so-called "sham marriages", which resulted in the rules being significantly tightened for visas involving relationships/marriages. As a result of this, you will be expected to produce a substantial amount of paperwork.

As well as paperwork pertaining to your relationship, you will also need to provide identifying information (such as passports), as well as documentation relating to you criminal past (if any), your financial situation and, depending on your specific situation, your health.

How Do I Apply for a Spouse Visa?

You can apply for a Spouse Visa online from outside of the country. If you are already in the UK, you can also apply online given you've met all the eligibility criteria. If this isn't the case, you may be required to fill in a form for a postal application instead. In this case, the eligibility criteria are as follows:

  • A high level of English-speaking ability
  • Meeting the minimum income requirement
  • Having permission to be in the UK

Is a Civil Partnership Treated the Same as a Marriage for a Spouse Visa?

Yes, as far as the Spouse Visa is concerned, there is no difference between a Civil Partnership and a marriage. The main concern is whether your relationship is genuine or not. You will be expected to provide significant amounts of evidence to prove this, therefore making it unimportant as to whether you are in a Civil Partnership or marriage.

Recent changes in the UK now allow for heterosexual couples to enter into a Civil Partnership as well. So, if you find a Civil Partnership to be more suitable to your relationship, do not be put off entering one on the grounds of your Spouse Visa application - it still satisfies the UKVI requirements.

What is the Cost of Applying for a Spouse Visa?

The cost of applying for a Spouse Visa is £1,523. This only applies to the online application and does not cover additional fees such as the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS), which covers your use of the National Health Service (NHS) during your stay in the country. If you use our services, there will also be additional charges, which will depend largely upon your situation - we will ensure you are fully aware of exactly what you need to pay during your dealings with us.

Once you have made your application, you will then need to wait approximately 8 weeks for a decision. This can be reduced by using additional premium services to speed up the process (which will incur further costs).

I'm Worried That I May Not Have the Right Documents to Make an Application, Can You Help?


We have a long history of helping applicants successfully move to the UK to live and work. Our process will help make your application run as smoothly as possible - we can do as much or as little of the work as you wish. Many people are happy to leave the process entirely in our hands, providing only what we ask for, while others prefer having more control. Our adaptable process ensures you are kept up to date and well informed throughout. If there are any application queries then we can also take care of them, allowing you to sit back and wait for your application to be processed, safe in the knowledge that it has been completed professionally and without mistake.

Entry Clearance for a Spouse Visa

The immigration rules allow the spouse of a person present and settled in the UK to apply for entry clearance as a spouse. The definitions of a person present and settled in the UK also include persons who have been granted settlement at the same time as the applicant.

The following are the requirements for entry clearance as a spouse:

  • The applicant must be outside the UK
  • The application for entry clearance as a spouse must be a valid one
  • Must not fall for refusal under any of the grounds in Section S-EC: Suitability-entry clearance; and
  • The applicant must meet all the requirements of Section E-ECP: Eligibility for entry clearance as a partner

Entry clearance applications will be refused if:

  1. There is a directive from the Secretary of State that the exclusion of an applicant from the UK is conducive to public good
  2. The applicant is subject to a deportation order as of the date of application
  3. The exclusion of the applicant from the UK has been deemed conducive to public good as a result of the applicant's conduct, character or association
  4. Without a reasonable excuse, the applicant failed to show up for a compulsory interview, provide specified information, undergo a medical examination or report when required to do so. It is immaterial whether the misrepresentation is intentional or known to the applicant or not
  5. It is undesirable to grant entry clearance for medical reasons
  6. The mandatory NHS surcharge, alongside other compulsory charges, have not been paid or have failed
  7. Failure to provide a requested maintenance and accommodation undertaking

Eligibility For Entry Clearance as a Spouse

The following requirements are required to be met in order to be eligible for entry clearance to the UK:

  • The applicant's spouse must be either a British national, present and settled in the UK or with refugee leave or with humanitarian protection
  • The applicant must be 18 years old or over at the date of application
  • Both partners must not be within the prohibited degree of relationship
  • The applicant and his/her spouse must have met in person
  • The relationship must be both genuine and subsisting
  • The marriage between both parties must be valid and legal
  • Unless the marriage is a polygamous one, every previous marriage must have been completely dissolved
  • There is an intention to permanently live together in the United Kingdom

The English Language Requirement

The applicant would need to show that they have an adequate knowledge of the English language. The following are the ways in which an applicant can meet the English language requirement:

  • Being a citizen of a majority English speaking country
  • Possess an educational degree from a higher educational institution in the United Kingdom
  • Pass a UKVI recognised English Language test
  • If the applicant is over 65 years old they can be exempt
  • Where the applicant suffers from a disability preventing them from meeting the English Language requirement
  • If there are exceptional circumstances which prevent the applicant from being able to meet the requirement prior to entry to the UK

Switching into the Spouse Visa

Migrants currently in the United Kingdom with a valid leave to remain or enter for a period of more than six months and are married to a British national, a person present and settled in the UK, or with a refugee status or humanitarian protection, can apply to switch into a Spouse Visa from within the country.

One option is switching to a Spouse Visa wherein the proposed applicant is married to a citizen of the EEA. The benefit of switching into a Spouse Visa is that your case for remaining as a spouse may be stronger than your claim to extend your current visa. The Spouse Visa is one of the UK's longer lasting visas and is also extendable to cover the possibility of gaining ILR after 5 years.

The process is reasonably straightforward - like many other visa programmes, it is all down to eligibility.

The main areas of eligibility for switching to a Spouse Visa are:

  • Evidence of a relationship
  • Documentary evidence to support the financial requirements (please note that after August 2017 the Home office must take specific conditions in mind when it comes to the minimum income threshold)
  • Adequate accommodation
  • Good English language skills

These are pretty common among the visa programmes in the UK and are designed to ensure that applicants are who they say they are. The UK is currently trying to reduce net migration and so is ensuring that every applicant is genuine.

Spouse Visa Renewal / Extension

If you have been last granted leave as a spouse of a British citizen or a person present and settled in the UK (or a refugee), you should be able to apply for a renewal or extension as the case may be - provided you are still married to your visa sponsor and continue to meet the other immigration requirements.

Please note that if your spousal application was granted prior to 09 June 2012, your extension application will be considered in line with Appendix FM of the Immigration Rules.

It is also important to note that Spouse Visa applications, which are considered under Appendix FM (as mentioned above), would be subject to meeting the financial requirements, which involves showing an annual income of at least £18,600 before tax.

Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) as a Spouse

If you have been granted a Spouse Visa under the Appendix FM, you will need to apply for ILR using the SET (M) application form; provided you have continually resided in the UK for 5 years under the Spouse Visa. Exemptions are applicable to individuals who are normally exempt from meeting such requirements under Appendix FM.

A person who was granted a Spouse Visa under the rules set in place before 9 July 2012 can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) using the SET (M) application upon completion of 2 years residence in the UK on a Spouse Visa. The applicant can submit the SET (M) application 28 days before completion of 2 years residence in the UK as a spouse.

UK Spouse Visa Lawyers in London

We have a team of professional immigration lawyers who specialise in assisting clients with Spouse Visa applications. Our Spouse Visa lawyers boast over 20 years worth of experience in Spouse Visa applications and will be more than happy to assist you.

Call us today for a free assessment on 020 3744 2797 or drop us an email on

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  • If you made the application inside the country and submit it through the same day premium service, your application will be decide upon in 24 hours.
  • If you made the application in the UK and it was submitted by post, you will receive a decision as contained in the Guidance for Processing Visa Applications.
  • If the application is made outside the country and submitted to the British Embassy, your application will be decided upon as contained in the Guide to the visa processing times of the UKVI
You are needed to meet the English Language requirement. You will be qualified if you are a citizen of a country that speaks English as its official language; If you have successfully obtained a certificate that was tutored in English language equivalent to a British Bachelor's Degree; and if you are successful in a suitable English Language examination endorsed by the UKVI. However you will not need to meet this requirement if you are:
  • 65 years and above when the application was made
  • Physically or mentally challenged and as such could not meet the requirement
  • Constrained by an exceptionally sympathetic circumstance.
If you want to make the application outside the United Kingdom, you are required to make the application online through this website . if you are a country where the application cannot be made through the internet, you are permitted to make the application through the VAF4A application form as well as with the additional applicable appendix.
If you are making your application inside the United Kingdom you are required to make the application through the FLR (M) application form. You can submit the application through the same day visa premium service.
You will need to show the following:
  • The relationship you are in is long-term
  • You live together with your spouse
  • You and your spouse have the intension of living with each other in the country.
  • You along with your spouse bear the same responsibility for your children
  • You along with your spouse share financial commitment such as agreement of tenancy or mortgage, bank saving, and both of your names appear on utility bills.
  • You and your partner have both visited each other's member of family in each other's country of nationality
Yearly you are expected to earn a salary of £18,600. You will be required to earn £22,400 if you intend to support and sponsor a child as well as your spouse.

If you have another child you will be required to earn an additional £2,400. To show that you are financially qualified you will be expected to provide supporting documents in relation to it.

However, if your sponsor is a recipient of funds related to disability or sums of money as a caregiver, you will not be required to meet this requirement. You will be required to show that your sponsor can house you and meet your maintenance needs without seeking for help from public fund.
A switch into the UK Spouse Visa is permitted as long as you are not in the United Kingdom as a:
  • Visitor
  • Leave holder for less than 6 months unless granted entry as a proposed civil partner or fianc�(e)
  • Temporary holder of an admission
  • Person who is in the country unlawfully or an over stayer.
If your application was done outside the United Kingdom, you will be normally issued entry clearance for 33 months. You are further permitted to make an application for extension under this category for which you will be given an additional 30 months if the application is successful. You will be permitted to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) if you have stayed for 5 years under this category.

On the other hand, if you application was made in the United Kingdom to switch into the UK spouse category, you will be granted a further leave to remain for 30 months. You are permitted to make an application for an extension under this category for which you will be granted stay for an additional 30 months. You will be permitted to apply for an Indefinite Leave of Remain (ILR) if you have stayed in the country for 5 years under the UK spouse visa category.
Whenever the application fee is paid is your application date. Depending on if the payment was made online or at a visa application center, the date will be contained on your receipt of payment.
You are permitted to apply for ILR 28 days before you complete 2 years of stay in the UK as a UK Spouse visa holder if your UK spouse visa was firstly granted to you in conformity with the Immigration Rules existing prior to the 9th of July, 2012.

You are permitted to make an application for ILR 28 days before you complete 5 years in the United Kingdom as a UK Spouse visa holder if your visa was firstly issued in conformity to the Rules of Immigration in existence from the 9th of July, 2012.

In a situation where your first spouse visa was granted to you in conformity of the Immigration Rules that existed from the 9th of July, 2012 and it was granted to you relying on paragraph EX1 of the Appendix FM of the rules that oversea the United Kingdom Immigration, you may apply for ILR 28 days before the completion of 10 years residence in the country as a UK spouse visa holder.

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