UK Spouse Visa What is it?
A UK Spouse Visa is for non-UK residents aged 18 or over who are engaged, married to, or have a proposed civil partner who is aged over 18 living in the UK. It is a type of visa also commonly referred to as a partner visa, marriage visa or settlement visa.
The qualifying criteria vary depending on your partner’s situation. You need to apply for a UK Partner Visa if you are coming to the UK to join your partner or spouse and it is your intention to settle in the UK.
If you hold a Spouse Visa in UK, you have the right to work like all British citizens. However, you cannot claim most benefits, such as public funds, housing allowance or tax credits.
Who can apply for a Spouse Visa?
You can apply for a UK Spouse Visa if you are:
- Aged 18 years or over
- Married or in a civil partnership that is recognised by the UK
- Married to a British citizen or UK settled person. Or you have been living together in a relationship for the past 2 years and you can prove it
- You are engaged, or you hold a Fiancée Visa UK and will get married within 6 months of being in the UK
What are the requirements for a Spouse Visa?
Before you submit your application for a UK Spouse Visa, you need to:
- Have all the required documents
- Pass the ‘Genuine Relationship Test’
- Meet the minimum income threshold and the financial requirement
- Demonstrate your knowledge of the English language
- Have proof of suitable accommodation for you, your partner and any dependents
- Get your biometrics taken to get leave to remain
- To remain in the UK, you may also need to pass a medical test to show you don’t have Tuberculosis (TB), depending on the applicant’s country of residence
Can I renew or extend a UK Spouse Visa?
You can renew and extend your spouse visa for another 2 years and 6 months, as long as your current leave to remain hasn’t expired and you continue to meet the same requirements.
After you have lived in the UK for a total of 5 years, you can apply for settled status, also commonly known as Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR). Once you have obtained ILR you can then apply for British Citizenship based on your marriage.
What are the Spouse Visa financial requirements?
The UK national of the relationship is known as the sponsor and he or she is required to meet a specific financial income criteria.
First, you will need to prove that you and your partner meet the financial requirement and have enough money to support yourselves without claiming public funds.
The UK spouse needs an income of at least £18,600 before tax if there are no dependent children.
If you have one dependent child, you will need an income of £22,400 before tax to meet the financial requirement. For any other children, the sponsor will need an additional £2,400 for each subsequent child.
What sources of income can be included towards the Spouse Visa financial criteria?
To meet the minimum income requirement for your UK Spouse Visa application, you can use:
- Savings over £16,000
- Earnings from employment or self-employment
- Maternity, paternity, adoption or sick pay
- Other income such as that generated from rent or shares
Usually the £18,600 will come from a spouse’s specified employment. In respect of salaried employment in the UK, the following evidence must be provided:
- Wage slips for the past 6 months with one employer or the past 12 months with more than one employer;
- A letter from the employers who issued the wage slips;
- Personal bank statements corresponding to the same period as the wage slips.
The employer letter will need to contain specific information about the employment and bank statements will need to be in accordance with the policy guidance e.g. online bank statements are not accepted unless certified stamped by the issuing bank.
If your sponsor is a self-employed director of a limited company, you will need to demonstrate that he or she is indeed the director of the company and that the shares are held directly or indirectly by him or her. The following documents must be provided:
- Tax Returns for the last financial year and evidence that this has been filed with HMRC. This evidence may take the form of an electronic or written acknowledgement from HMRC;
- Evidence of registration with the register of companies at Companies House;
- If the company is required to produce annual audited accounts, copies of such accounts;
- If the company is not required to produce annual audited accounts, the latest unaudited accounts and an accountant’s certificate of confirmation. This must be issued by an accountant who is a member of a recognised UK supervisory body;
- Corporate/business bank statements for the last year and one of the following documents:
- Certificate of VAT registration and the latest VAT return confirming the VAT registration number if the turnover of the company is in excess of £73,000;
- Proof of ownership or a list of business premises;
- proof of registration with HMRC as an employer for the purpose of PAYE and national insurance;
- a PAYE reference number.
- Where the person is listed as a director of a company and receives a salary from the company, all of the following documents must also be provided:
- Pay slips and P60s covering the same period as Company Tax Returns CT600;
- Personal bank statements covering the same 12-month period as the company Tax Returns CT600. The statements must show that the salary as a director was paid into an account in the name of the person.
- Where the person receives dividends from the company, all of the following documents must also be provided:
- Dividend vouchers for all dividends declared in favour of the person during or in respect of the period covered. In addition, you must provide the Company Tax Return CT600 showing the company’s and the person’s details with the person’s net dividend amount and tax credit;
- Personal bank statement(s) showing that those dividends were paid into an account in the name of the sponsor.
- Evidence of ongoing employment as a director of the company or of ongoing receipt of dividend income from the company.
There is no financial requirement of an income of £18,600 or above where the sponsor can satisfy a savings requirement.
This requirement is £16,000 plus 2.5 times the shortfall of the sponsor’s employment under £18,600. This means that if your sponsor is unemployed, he or she will need to show savings of £16,000 plus 2.5 times £18,600. This would be a total of £62,500. Therefore, the sponsor and the applicant will have to show savings totalling £62,500. Any amount of cash savings being relied upon must have been held for a continuous period of six months prior to the date of application.
What if I don’t meet the financial requirement?
If you don’t have enough money from all the listed sources of income to meet the financial requirement or you are unsure then contact our offices as there may be alternative ways to meet the requirement. For example those Sponsors who are receiving a qualified UK benefit such as Personal Independence Payment (PIP), Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or may be a carer receiving Carers Allowance (CA) may still qualify under the adequate maintenance requirements. Seek our expert advice if you fall under this category.
There may also be the possibility of applying based on your Human Rights although these applications will be on a discretionary basis.
What is the Spouse Visa English Language Test?
Applicants who wish to live in the UK, need to be able to prove that they can speak English. Once you have passed an English Language Test, it will be valid for two years. The relevant test for entry will be a minimum of Level A1 in speaking and listening of the CEFR Framework.
Your qualification will be valid only if your English exam is taken through an approved Secure English Language Testing (SELT) Provider. Your test result will normally need to be verified through a unique reference number which is displayed on your certificate.
You do not need an English Language test if you:
- Are a national of a majority English speaking country
- Are aged under 18 or over 65
- Have a long-term physical or mental condition
- Hold a degree or any educational establishment that was taught or researched in English. Your qualification will only be valid if confirmed by Ecctis (UK NARIC).
How much does a UK Spouse Visa application cost?
The Home Office’s current fee is of £1,523 for any application submitted from abroad. If you are submitting your application from within the UK, the cost is reduced to £1,033. This charge will increase if you are applying with dependents and will increase for each dependent.
You can only apply from inside the UK if you are not trying to enter the country as a visitor or have been given leave to stay in the UK for more than 6 months. However, you cannot apply for a fiance(e) permit from inside the UK.
There are additional costs related to your UK Spouse Visa application that you should consider when you send your forms. This includes:
- Qualified translation services for your documents that are not in English or Welsh
- An approved English test, that is a mandatory requirement for the majority of applicants
- Additional fees for the booking of visa appointments and associated costs of providing your supporting documents.
How long does it take to process a UK Spouse Visa?
Usually the Home Office informs that decisions on applications outside the UK will usually be made within 12 weeks and that if you apply in the UK a decision usually will be made within 8 weeks of the application date. However, it can take longer in some instances. There is also the option of paying for an expedited service where the Home Office aim to make a decision within 30 days for applications from abroad and a same days service for application from within the UK.
What happens if my visa is refused?
For applications from those who are outside of the UK, the immigration rules for the spouse visa appeal process state that the applicant has 28 days to lodge an appeal to the first tier tribunal immigration and asylum chamber in the UK. It will normally be for the UK resident spouse to attend and provide oral evidence together with any other witnesses that are available to participate in and provide evidence in support of the appeal. For example where the genuiness of a relationship may be questioned. There will be much documentary evidence needed as well, such as witness statements from those giving evidence.
If the refusal is as a result of an in-country application to the Home office, then the immigration rules for the spouse visa appeal process state that there are 14 days to appeal the decision to the asylum and immigration tribunal.
Once you have received a decision advising you that your application has been refused, you normally have three main avenues on how to proceed. Our advice is that a consultation with a qualified immigration lawyer should be sought at the earliest opportunity. Fighting a case that is doomed to fail can be very time-consuming and financially exhausting at the same time.
- Following receipt a refusal with a right of appeal, the first option is to, of course, appeal the refusal of your visa application. The reasons for refusal must be examined in detail and matter assessed thoroughly to understand why the application was unsuccessful and how it can be challenged.
- The second option is to assess the refusal and reapply in an attempt to address the reasons for refusal. This option may lead to a result quicker than going through an appeal process. For entry clearance refusals, i.e. those applying from overseas, it may be possible to appeal and reapply at the same time.
- The final option is to attempt to overturn the refusal before the appeal is lodged by requesting reconsideration by the UKVI. This is the most difficult option and usually applies where an obvious error has been made by the UKVI. A lot will also depend on the timeliness of your actions, since you may only have less than 14 or 28 days to resolve the issue.
If the appeal is filed from abroad and the appellant is abroad, until the result of the appeal is to hand, and the appellant succeeds in the appeal, that individual will not be able to come to the UK to join their spouse or partner, whereas if the appeal is filed from the UK following an in-country refusal, the appellant would be here, and able to enjoy family life with their spouse or partner pending the result of the appeal hearing.