The Spouse visa category is for individuals who are married to British Citizens and people who hold Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK. It can also be used by partners of those with leave as a refugee or humanitarian protection, those with leave under Appendix EU or with leave as a Turkish Worker or Turkish Businessperson. Deciding to make a Spouse visa application to enter to remain in the UK can be a daunting task, and so in this post we will look at some of the most frequently asked questions for people who are planning to make an application in this category.
Where can I make my UK Spouse visa application from?
Anyone who is already in the UK and has been granted leave other than as a visitor and for more than a period of six months can make an application for leave to remain as a spouse from within the UK.
People who are in the UK but have been granted a period of leave for six months or less, such as visitors, will need to leave the UK and apply for entry clearance as a spouse. Due to a concession in place for Covid-19 it may be possible for people to apply from within the UK, even after entering as a visitor. If you intend to do this, you should seek advice and check the currently applicable policy.
People applying for a spouse visa from outside the UK should apply in the country where they are resident.
How do I make a UK Spouse visa application?
Applications in the spouse visa category are made using an online application form. There is a different application form, depending on whether you are intending to apply from inside the UK or abroad.
Before you apply for a UK spouse visa you should check the correct application forms for your individual circumstances with an immigration lawyer.
You should prepare your supporting documents while you are preparing your spouse visa application form, as there are some specific document requirements which necessitate that your documents are dated before the date that you submit the online application form. The current system allows individuals to upload scans of their spouse visa supporting documents for the Home Office to review. However, you should check the individual procedure for the country in which you intend to apply at the time when you are applying, as the Home Office changes this system from time to time.
What are the required documents for a UK Spouse visa application?
In order to make a successful UK spouse visa application you will need to satisfy UK Visas and Immigration that:
- Your partner is British or holds leave in one of the above categories;
- You are both over the age of 18;
- You have met in person and are legally married or in a civil partnership;
- Your relationship is genuine and you intend to live together permanently;
- Any previous relationships have broken down permanently;
- You will be adequately maintained in the UK without recourse to public funds;
- There is adequate accommodation for you and any dependents;
- You speak and understand English to the required level.
In order to demonstrate that you can be adequately maintained in the UK without recourse to public funds, you will need to satisfy a financial requirement. To meet the financial requirement, you will need to have income of at least £18,600; plus additional funds if you have children who are not British or settled.
The financial requirement can be met in a number of ways including through employment, self employment, property rental income, pension income, savings etc. In some circumstances it is possible to combine different types of income to meet the requirement. If you want to meet the Spouse financial requirement through savings you will need to have access to £62,500 plus additional funds for any relevant children. The financial requirement will often be the most complex part of the application to prepare so it can be helpful to get advice from an immigration lawyer about this aspect of your application.
The required documents will vary depending on your circumstances. Everyone making a spouse application will need documents to prove that they are married and that their relationship is genuine. The English language requirement can be met in a number of different ways and so the evidence that you need will vary depending on how you meet this requirement. For example, if you have a degree that was taught in the UK, then you will just need the degree certificate, but if your degree that was taught in English from outside of the UK then you will also need a confirmation from UK ECCTIS (the new name for UK NARIC). Applicants should be very careful when using pre-prepared document checklists for spouse applications. Advice from an immigration lawyer will ensure that the documents listed are appropriate for individual circumstances.
We got married outside of the UK, will the UK recognise our marriage?
The Home Office will recognise a marriage or civil partnership which has taken place overseas where:
- The type of marriage or civil partnership is recognised in the country in which it took place
- The marriage or civil partnership was properly conducted to satisfy the requirements of the law of the country in which it took place
- There is nothing in the laws of either person’s country of domicile at the time of the marriage or civil partnership which prevents the marriage or civil partnership being recognised
- Any previous marriages or civil partnerships of the couple have broken down permanently
There are some additional requirements about age and prohibited degrees of relationship and previous divorces, but broadly if the country in which your marriage took place will recognise you as married then so will the UK.
How long will it take the Home Office to decide my UK Spouse visa application?
The Home Office states that for applications made outside of the UK it decides 95% of settlement applications (this includes Spouse visas and some other categories under Appendix FM) within 12 weeks (3 months) of the application date and 100% within 24 weeks (6 months) of the application date. However, in some application centres there are priority services for Spouse visa applicants available to allow a faster processing time.
For those applying in the UK, there is a 24 hour service available.
Priority services will incur an additional cost.
During Covid-19 not all priority services are available so it is best to check likely processing times before making plans and not to make inflexible travel bookings until your application is resolved.
Will I be able to work in the UK when I am here as a Spouse?
Yes. Those who are granted leave in the Spouse category have a full right to work in the UK.
What happens if my partner changes job after I arrive as a Spouse?
You will need to meet the financial requirement when you first enter, when you apply to extend your stay as a spouse and when you apply for indefinite leave to remain as a spouse. It may have been that you relied on your Sponsor’s income to meet the requirement in one of these applications. However, once your leave has been granted, it doesn’t matter if your circumstances change, providing you can still meet the financial requirement when you make your extension application.
Can we live in shared accommodation or with relatives when I get my spouse visa?
Yes. The Immigration Rules require that you will have ‘adequate accommodation, without recourse to public funds, for the family, including other family members who are not included in the application but who live in the same household’
As long as you have permission to live in the property from whoever owns it and living in the property won’t cause it to be overcrowded, this should not be a problem. The evidence that you need to prove this will vary depending on your circumstances. You may want to speak to an immigration lawyer for expert advice.
When can I apply for a British passport?
When you first enter the spouse visa category you will be granted a period of two and a half years (plus an additional three months if applying for Entry Clearance). You will then have to make an extension application before the expiry of this leave and will be granted a further two and a half years.
Most people in the Spouse visa category are on a five year route to settlement. This means that after two grants of 30 months, they are eligible for Indefinite Leave to Remain.
Some people are on a ten year route to settlement, and they will need to have four grants of leave. If, after you enter the UK you switch from the five year route to the ten year route, then you can count both grants of leave towards the period you need for the ten year route.
Once you have obtained Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK, if you are married to a British national you can immediately apply to naturalise as a British Citizen. If you are not married to a British national, you will need to wait a period of 12 months before you can apply.
What happens if my Spouse visa application is refused?
If your application is refused you should have a right of appeal. This is because a spouse application is automatically deemed a human rights claim. The appeal will be heard at the First-tier Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber) in the UK. If you are in the UK, you and your spouse will be able to attend and give evidence before the Judge. If you are outside of the UK, your spouse will be able to attend, but you can write a statement and provide evidence for the Tribunal to consider. Arrangements may be made for you to give evidence remotely if this is appropriate in your case. Again, we recommend seeking legal advice and representation from a specialist immigration appeal lawyer before appealing against a decision to refuse a spouse visa application.