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UK Spouse Visa

The partner and spouse visa is part of the family immigration scheme and enables an eligible foreign national to join and live with their partner in the UK if they are a British citizen or settled person.

Contact our immigration lawyers for a free telephone consultation on 020 3744 2797 or complete our enquiry form to discuss your UK spouse visa.

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What is the UK spouse visa?

The spouse visa (also referred to as the partner and spouse visa) enables an eligible foreign national to join and live with their partner in the UK if they are a British citizen or settled person (e.g. a person with Indefinite Leave to Remain or EU Settled Status). You won't automatically get the right to live in the UK through the marriage to a British citizen. You must apply for a Spouse Visa to live in the UK with your partner. Eligible applicants include those who are married, in a civil partnership, or unmarried.

Applicants must meet a set of eligibility criteria as outlined in detail below. If granted, a partner and spouse visa is initially granted for up to 2 years and 9 months. It is then possible to extend your stay and later acquire ILR, allowing you to remain permanently in the UK without being subject to immigration rules. After gaining ILR, you might be eligible to apply for British citizenship by marriage.

Who can apply for a spouse visa?

As a foreign national, you can apply for a UK partner and spouse visa as long as your partner based in the UK:

  • Is a British or Irish citizen (either by birth or naturalisation)
  • Has settled in the UK and has Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR), permanent residence, or EU Settled Status
  • Has refugee status or humanitarian protection in the UK
  • Has a Turkish Businessperson visa or Turkish Worker visa

You must intend to live together in the UK after you move here (if you’re not here already), and you will also need to provide evidence of your genuine and subsisting relationship.

UK spouse visa requirements 2022

To make a successful application for a partner and spouse visa, you will need to meet a set of strict eligibility requirements, including providing evidence of:

  • You are in a genuine and eligible relationship
  • You have the ability to financially support yourselves: a minimum gross annual income of £18,600
  • You have suitable accommodation in the UK
  • You meet the English language requirement: at least level A1 for your first visa application

1. Genuine relationship requirement

You will need to show you are in an eligible relationship as follows:

  • You are in a civil partnership or marriage that is legally recognised in the UK, or;
  • Have been living together in a relationship for at least 2 years, or;
  • Plan to get married or enter into a civil partnership in the UK within 6 months of arriving in the UK.

Crucially, UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) will want to be assured that you are in a genuine and subsisting relationship. As such, they are always alert to the potential for “sham” marriages or relationships, whereby applicants falsely state they are in an eligible relationship when they are not.

If you are unsure if you meet the requirements for a genuine relationship, speak to one of our immigration solicitors, who will be able to confirm this for you.

2. Financial requirements for UK spouse visa

The spouse visa application requires the applicant and their UK based partner must have a minimum gross annual income of £18,600. If the applicant has children, an additional £3,800 per year is needed for the first child and an additional £2,400 for each subsequent child. This means the minimum income for an applicant with two dependant children will be £24,800, and for three children, £27,200.

Only the sources of income listed below will be considered:

  • Income from employment or self-employment
  • Pension of the applicant and/or partner
  • Maternity allowances or bereavement benefits received by the partner in the UK
  • Any other income and/or savings specified by the applicant and/or partner

Exemptions from meeting the financial requirement are available where a sponsor is receiving income from any of the following sources:

  • Disability living allowance
  • Severe disablement allowance
  • Armed Forces Independence Payment or Guaranteed Income Payment under the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme
  • Mobility Supplement, Constant Attendance Allowance, or War Disablement Pension under the War Pensions Scheme
  • Police Injury Pension
  • Industrial injury disablement benefit
  • Attendance allowance
  • Carers’ allowance

This means that sponsors will not need to show they earn £18,600 (or more). 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). For further assistance, please speak to one of our immigration solicitors who will be able to advise you.

If none of the exemptions above apply, applicants may be able to ask that exceptional circumstances be considered by the Home Office. This may be possible, for example, if they can show that, in line with human rights law, their child or children would be at harm if the application is refused. If you are able to rely on exceptional circumstances, you will still need to prove you have sufficient funds, but the source of these will be widened to include other credible sources, such as a guarantee of financial support from another person.

3. English language requirement

As a partner and spouse visa applicant, you will need to show that you have sufficient knowledge of the English language; this can be achieved in 3 ways:

  • Passing an English language test

You will meet the English language requirements if you pass a Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) English test from an approved testing centre. This must be at least level A1 in speaking and writing. If you wish to extend your stay in the UK at a later date, you will need to be able to pass at least a CEFR level A2 to show continuing improvement in line with the time that you have been in the country.

  • Academic qualifications

You will also meet the English language requirements if you have a degree or other academic qualification which was taught in English.

  • Exemption: you will not need to meet the English language requirements if you are exempt, including if:
    • You are over 65 years of age
    • You have a physical or mental condition that prevents you from meeting the requirement
    • You come from any of the following countries: Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, New Zealand, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, USA

4. Accommodation requirements

Applicants must show they have suitable accommodation in the UK and that it:

  • Is owned or occupied exclusively by the applicant and their family members
  • Has sufficient living space
  • Meets any public health requirements

UK spouse visa required documents checklist

You will need to provide several documents with your visa application, these may include:

  • Completed application form and application fee
  • Valid passport
  • Previous passports
  • Evidence of your genuine and subsisting relationship (e.g. shared bills, photographs, correspondence, messages).
  • Proof you meet the English language requirements (e.g. CEFR exam certificate).
  • Two passport-sized colour photos that are in line with the requirements set by the UK.
  • Proof you meet the financial requirements (e.g. bank statements, savings statement, wage slips)
  • Details of any previous immigration applications, if any
  • Details of any criminal convictions
  • Your national insurance number (if you have one)
  • Proof of accommodation in the UK
  • Biometric information (fingerprints and a digital photograph).
  • Tuberculosis test results if from a country where you have to take the test

To ensure you receive a positive decision on your partner and spouse visa application, it is essential that you provide all of the evidence and documentation required by UKVI. Failure to provide all items in the correct format (and properly translated where necessary) may lead to refusal or delay of your visa.

Given the complexity of the partner and spouse visa documentation requirements, we recommend seeking legal advice from a family immigration Solicitor before submitting your application. Our team will ensure that all evidence necessary for your application is provided to UKVI and any errors or omissions are corrected. Call us on 020 3744 2797 for advice on your partner/spouse visa.

How to apply for a UK spouse visa

The application process for a UK partner and spouse visa is completed online (on the Home Office website). The application steps are as follows:

  1. Check your eligibility for a partner and spouse visa
  2. Prepare the documents you will need to prove your eligibility
  3. Complete the online application form
  4. Pay the application fee (see below)
  5. Upload any documents required to support your application
  6. Arrange a biometric appointment to have your fingerprints and photo taken
  7. Attend an interview if invited

UK spouse visa fee / cost in 2022

The UK spouse visa application fee in 2022 is £1,048 if your application is made inside the UK and £1,538 if your application is made outside the UK. Other costs include Immigration Healthcare Surcharge £624 for each year and biometric fee £19.20. The super priority service charge is £800 if you want to get a decision by the end of the next working day.

Spouse visa extension

After the initial period of 2 years and 9 months, it is possible to further extend a partner and spouse visa for a further 2 years and 6 months. You must be in the same eligible relationship with your UK based partner, and you must apply before your current visa expires.

Spouse visa to ILR

Once you have resided in the UK for 5 years on your partner and spouse visa, you will be able to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR). This will mean you can remain permanently in the UK and will no longer be subject to immigration control. To gain ILR, you will need to:

  • Have lived in the UK for 5 years on a family visa as a partner
  • Have lived with your partner since you last renewed your visa
  • Be in a genuine and subsisting relationship with your partner
  • Intend to continue your relationship after you apply for ILR
  • Meet the English language and Life in the UK requirements
  • Prove you have suitable accommodation
  • Continue to meet the financial requirements

For more information, please find our article: how to apply for ILR as a spouse visa holder

Spouse visa refused

There are several grounds on which an application for a spouse/partner visa may be refused, including if:

  • The Secretary of State determines that the exclusion of an applicant from the UK is conducive to the public good
  • The applicant is subject to a deportation order as of the date of application
  • The exclusion of the applicant from the UK has been deemed conducive to the public good as a result of the applicant’s conduct, character, or association
  • 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
  • It is undesirable to grant entry clearance for medical reasons
  • The mandatory IHS surcharge, alongside other compulsory charges, have not been paid or have failed
  • You have not provided sufficient evidence of maintenance and accommodation

For more information on spouse visa refusal, please see our article: spouse visa refusal common reasons and appeal process

If your partner or spouse visa application has been refused, speak to one of our immigration Solicitors, who will be able to advise on the best steps to take to ensure a successful outcome of your case.

Reference:

GOV.UK: Family Visas: apply as a partner or spouse

Frequently Asked Questions

  • You can expect to receive a decision within 12 weeks of attending your appointment at the visa application centre. How fast the processing of your visa will depend on what country you are applying from. If time is of the essence, you can pay an extra £800 for the Super Priority Service. This will ensure you receive a decision on the next working day in most cases.
  • You can sponsor your partner as long as you both meet the financial requirements for a spouse visa, there is no requirement for you to have a job. This may be through savings or income from other sources (such as rental income and investments).
  • Under the current immigration rules, there is no limit on the length of any absence if you hold a partner and spouse visa. This is because family visa holders are exempt from the 180 day absence period rule to gain ILR. That said, it is important to understand that when applying for a partner and spouse visa, you state your intention to live with your partner in the UK. Any prolonged absence may jeopardise your visa extension or ILR application.
  • To use savings towards the minimum income requirement for a partner and spouse visa, you will need savings of over £16,000. If you have enough savings (£62,500), you will not need to show evidence of any income. When submitting your application for a spouse visa, you will need to make and sign a declaration of the source of your cash savings.
  • Yes, you will be free to work full or part-time in the UK on a spouse visa.
  • No, a spouse visa holder is not able to claim state benefits, including universal credit, tax credits, or housing allowance.
  • Yes, you can add your children to your partner and spouse visa application. You will need to pay an additional application fee and show evidence that you meet the additional financial income requirements for your children.

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