- Requirements for a Spouse Visa
- Spouse Visa documents
- ‘Genuine Relationship’ requirements
- Accommodation requirements
- Financial requirements
- English language requirements
- Processing times
- Spouse Visa fees & costs
- Reasons for refusals
- Appeal information
- Extension information
- Settling from a UK Spouse Visa
- Frequently Asked Questions
What is a Spouse Visa?
This type of visa is used by married couples who want to be united and live together in Britain. In order to be eligible, a person needs to be married to a British person, or person with settled status in the UK. This includes people with Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR). This type of visa lasts for 33 months and can be extended after this time. After spending five years in the UK with leave to remain as a spouse, the visa holder can also apply for settled status. There are several requirements that need to be met if a person wants to apply for a Spouse Visa for the UK. These include the genuine relationship test, the accommodation requirements, and the UK Spouse Visa financial criteria.
To find out more about how our Manchester immigration lawyers can help call us on 0161 826 9783. We offer advice and application services to suit your needs as a couple and an individual.
Requirements for a Spouse Visa
There are several Spouse Visa requirements you need to meet if you want to join your partner in the UK. These requirements are as follows:
- You are in a ‘genuine and subsisting’ relationship with a British partner. Settled people, including people with ILR, also count as ‘British’ in this sense
- You are married to them and this marriage is recognised by international marriage laws
- You have met your partner, in person, on at least one occasion and you can prove this
- Your marriage is not a marriage of convenience and it has not been conducted for fraudulent purposes (also sometimes referred to has a ‘sham marriage’)
- You can prove that you and your partner meet the Spouse Visa financial requirements (you must earn a combined income of at least £18,600)
- You have accommodation set up for you and your partner to live in that meets the Home Office’s criteria
- You meet the English language requirements for this visa category
UK Spouse Visa document requirements
You will need extensive amounts of documents to apply for a Spouse Visa. These need to prove every requirement. Some examples include:
- Proof that your relationship is genuine: photographs, phone conversations, emails, Skype sessions, events attended together, video chat logs
- Proof of your income: job contracts, bank statements, proof of investments/property
- Proof you meet the accommodation requirement: house leases, letting contracts, temporary accommodation bookings
- Proof you meet the English language requirement: degree in English, IELTS test, proof you’re a national of a predominantly English-speaking country
There is no limit to the documents you can use to prove that you meet the eligibility requirements. However, you can be seen as manipulative by the Home Office if you provide too much evidence. For this reason, it is often best to consult an immigration lawyer if you want to ensure you get this right.
Call our team on 0161 826 9783 to find out more about what you need to provide to demonstrate you meet the criteria for this immigration category.
‘Genuine Relationship’ requirements
To be eligible for this type of UK Family Visa, you need to prove that your relationship with your British/settled partner is ‘genuine and subsisting’.
You can use anything you want to do this, but it must show that your marriage is based on a real relationship that you genuinely intend to stay in when you reach the UK.
There are different forms of evidence you can use to do this, including:
- Photographs/videos of the two of you together
- Evidence of phone conversations, texts, or chat logs
- Tickets from events you attended together
- Proof of shared finances (e.g bank statements, joint mortgages etc)
- Social media accounts
- Proof of travel together/to and from each other
You should be careful when providing evidence to support your application that you do not provide insufficient documents. This can mean the difference between it being accepted and denied.
A Manchester lawyer can provide you with comprehensive immigration advice or application support if you are unsure of how to demonstrate that you meet the genuine relationship criteria.
As part of the requirements for a Spouse Visa, you need to prove that you have accommodation set up for when you arrive in the UK. You must intend to live together permanently in the UK if you are granted a visa.
This accommodation must meet UK living standards. You should be able to demonstrate this by providing the following alongside your application.
- An official description of the property (e.g from a letting agent or from a listing on a website)
- Proof that you have enough rooms in the property to house you and your partner and any dependents you are bringing with you
To properly meet the living standards for the UK, the property you intend to live in must have
- One bedroom per couple and baby under the age of one
- A bedroom each per child over 10 years old
You must show that the accommodation you and your partner intend to live in together meets these standards so that your Marriage Visa can be granted. You should set up your accommodation – even if it just temporary – before you make an application. This shows the Home Office that you intend to live together permanently in Britain.
Spouse Visa financial requirements
The Spousal Visa financial requirements are outlined below:
- You must earn a combined income of £18,600 (gross annual income) at least
- For each child you bring with you this increased by £2,400
- This income includes both partner’s finances
- It can include income from employment, ownership of business, or self-employment
- Non-employment finances (like property rentals, investments, shares, and stocks can also be used
- You can use savings but only to the amount of £16,000. This has to have been held by either you or your partner for a minimum of six months
If your British partner receives some types of benefits (including disability allowance, police injury pension, or industrial injuries disablement benefit) you will be exempt from the Partner Visa financial criteria.
English language criteria
You need to meet the UK Spouse Visa English language requirement in order to qualify for this route.
In the majority of scenarios, this means taking and passing an English language test. This allows you to demonstrate that you have enough knowledge of speaking and understanding English. This test must be completed through a Secure English Language Testing (SELT) provider.
If you have a degree that was taught in English, you do not need to take an English language test.
You also do not take to take a test if you are a national of a majority English speaking country.
Other exemptions for the English language test include:
- If you are under the age of 18 or over the age of 65
- If you have a disability that stops you from being able to take the test (such as a severe learning disability)
UK Spouse Visa advice package
If you simply want to know your options, requirements, and next steps we can book you in for an advice session with one of our Manchester immigration lawyers.
In this session, we can discuss with you (and your spouse if required) your options. We will conduct an eligibility assessment that considers your circumstances. In this, your lawyer will look at your supporting evidence and review all the information you have pertaining to your relationship and marriage.
During the session, the lawyer will explain any jargon for you and work with you so that you understand your requirements and the application process for you. You will also be given advice on your documents and what to include in a successful application. As well as this, we will estimate our fees if you choose to instruct our services.
Call us on 0161 826 9783 to find out more information about our immigration advice packages, and how our team can help you.
UK Spouse Visa application package
Our application package is a bespoke service that is tailored around our clients and their needs. As part of this, a Manchester-based immigration lawyer will oversee your entire application for you.
Our application service is a complete package. Your lawyer will work closely with you to evaluate your best course of action and begin compiling your supporting evidence to show that you meet the financial, relationship, accommodation and language requirements for the Spousal Visa category.
They will then organise your documents into a comprehensive Evidence Portfolio. This displays all the relevant information and evidence for your case chronologically, in a way that appeases Home Office guidelines and preferences. This is particularly helpful for trying to show how and when you and your partner first met one another, as well as proving that your relationship is a genuine one.
After doing this, your lawyer will write a detailed cover letter to support your application. This includes information on your case, of which it argues for the merits. This will be submitted alongside your application.
Spouse Visa processing times
The Spouse Visa application process can take different amounts of time depending on how complex or straightforward your case is. It can take anywhere between 30 days and six months.
Once your application has been received by the Home Office, it can take weeks to process. This is because caseworkers are very thorough with Partner Visa applications, as they are trained to detect fraudulent applications.
Once the assessing official has made a decision on whether or not to grant your application they will get back to you with a decision on it.
If you apply with dependents this could make the decision-making process longer, as caseworkers have more evidence to review.
Spouse Visa fees
The most up-to-date costs for a Partner Visa are:
Application fee: £1,033 if applying from inside the UK, and £1,523 if applying from outside the UK
English test: £150
Immigration Health Surcharge (fee to use the NHS during your time in the UK): £1,000 if applying from inside the UK, £1,200 if applying from outside the UK
TB test: £65-£110
Housing report (to demonstrate that you meet the accommodation requirement): £80 – £120
Spouse Visa refusals
UK Spouse and Partner visas are often refused. This can be for several different reasons, but the main reason is usually related to the ‘genuine relationship’ requirement.
If an application is refused on this basis it is because caseworkers judge it to be fraudulent.
Common reasons that may lead to having your UK Spouse Visa refused include:
-If you provide too much evidence to prove your relationship is genuine and subsisting (which can sometimes be seen at manipulative)
- Providing too little information to prove your relationship is genuine and subsisting
- Providing false/fraudulent information
- Not providing a housing report
- Not providing evidence that you meet the financial requirements for this category
- Not providing evidence that you meet the English requirements for this category
Appealing a refusal
If you have a Partner Visa refused by the UKVI you may be able to appeal the decision. This applies if you have grounds. If you do not have grounds for appeal you will need to make a fresh application.
You can lodge an appeal if you feel a decision was genuinely unfair, or if your Spouse Visa was denied because your caseworker made a mistake on your application.
You can make an appeal either on paper or in person (a caseworker can represent you). In both of these scenarios, a judge will review your case for an appeal and decide whether or not the decision should be sustained or overturned. If you opt to lodge an appeal in person your case will be reviewed at a Tribunal hearing.
You won’t have grounds for an appeal if you submitted an application you weren’t eligible for or that you made a mistake on yourself (without legal representation).
Most immigration lawyers will recommend that you make a fresh application unless there are clear grounds for refusal, as this is usually the more straightforward and reliable option.
Spouse Visa extensions
You can apply to extend a Marriage Visa once yours has expired.
This will let you stay in the UK for a further 2.5 years.
To meet the Spouse Visa extension requirements, you need to:
- Apply for it within 28 days of your current visa’s expiry
- Show that you have continued to live with your partner and that your relationship is still genuine
- Show that you still live in accommodation with your partner and any child dependents and that this accommodation meets the UK Living requirements.
- Show that you and your partner still meet the financial requirements
Although renewals are often more straightforward that your initial application, you should ensure the process is not rushed. If you fail to submit the right evidence, or a mistake is made on your form, you will not be eligible for a refund.
Getting ILR from a Spouse Visa
Once you have held your visa for 5 years, you can qualify for a form of settled status, called Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR).
ILR means you will no longer be bound by the terms of your visa. You will be able to work, study, and travel in and out of the UK without being restricted.
You can apply for ILR as the spouse of a British citizen/settled person if you meet the following eligibility requirements:
- You have lived in the UK for a continuous five-year period while holding and abiding by the terms of your Spouse Visa
- You have not been absent from the UK for more than 180 days in the final 12 months of your time in the UK
- You have taken and passed the Life in the UK test
- You meet the English requirements for ILR
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There is no where in the Home Office’s guidelines that say that a person with a Spousal Visa must stay inside the UK.
But if you hold this kind of visa and you plan to either extend it or use it as a route to settlement, you must be wary of leaving the UK for too long during your time. If you wish to do either of these things, you should avoid spending “the majority” of your time outside Britain.
If you are applying for ILR you also need to make sure that you meet the ‘continuous residency requirement’ which means you can’t have left the UK for more than 120 days in the last 12 months before you apply for your Spousal Visa.
As the UK-based partner making a Spouse Visa application, you are required to write something called a sponsor letter.
This letter is used to support your partner’s visa application.
In it, you should include information such as your legal position in the UK (for example, British by birth, settled with Indefinite Leave to Remain, etc) and your income. You should also include the sources of this income (for example, if your income is £32,000 per annum and it comes from working as a doctor at a local practice).
You should also include information that backs up your spouses’ claim that your relationship with them is genuine. You should include information that says when you and the applicant:
- Met each other
- Began your relationship
- Were married
Spouse and Family Visas are not part of the five-tier visa system. They fall under a different category of visa law.
The five-tier points-based visa system is used by people coming to the UK for business, work or study purposes.
Spouse and partners of these people can apply for visas under the tier system if they are dependent and their partner has acquired a visa under one of these categories. The application process for this kind of visa is different from the Spouse Visa application process.
This type of UK visa lasts for 2.5 years. Once this period is over, you can apply for a Partner Visa extension and, after 5 years, for ILR (settled status).
If you are in a serious, long-term relationship with someone from outside the UK, and you are not married, you may still be able to sponsor them to come to the UK.
To do this, you can apply for an Unmarried Partner Visa. This visa falls under the same category as the Spouse Visa category, but it has different requirements.
As well as proving that your relationship is genuine and subsisting and that you and your partner meet the financial, accommodation and English language requirements, you also need to have lived with your partner for a minimum period of 2 years in a relationship “akin to marriage”.
Alternatively, if you intend to bring your partner over for the purpose of marrying them in the UK, you can apply for a Fiance Visa. This entitles the applicant to six months leave in the UK, providing you get married during this time. After this, the non-British partner can switch to a Spouse Visa.
If you are the civil partner of a British citizen you can apply for a Civil Partner Visa. This falls under the same category as the UK Spouse Visa, and the application process and requirements are the same.
If your relationship/marriage ends while you hold a Partner Visa in the UK your leave to remain will be curtailed. This means you will need to apply for a new visa or leave the UK once the relationship is ended.
If you are the victim of domestic abuse within your relationship you are eligible to remain in the UK once the relationship ends. You also qualify for legal aid if you need advice or assistance claiming this.
You can work on a Spouse Visa. You can work in the majority of roles, and also be self employed or study at a UK institution.
You cannot work as a professional sportsperson or coach.
You cannot claim any benefits or public funds such as jobseeker’s allowance while living in the UK with this visa.
You need to show that you can speak and understand English to the required level in order to be eligible.
If you are using an IELTS test to prove this, you need a score of 4.0 or above in both areas. Once you have completed this test you will receive a certificate from IELTS (or any other provider you use) tat confirms you level in each area tested. This should be submitted with your application.
A Partner Visa application can be delayed for a number of reasons. According to the UKVI’s decision-making unit, the aim is to make a decision on UK visa applications within 15 working days, but this is not a guarantee.
Sometimes, your case may be delayed because there is a discrepancy in information. Also, if the initial reviewing caseworker is unsure of whether to grant or refuse your application, they will ask for the application to be reviewed by another caseworker. This means that the decision-making period can be doubled to 30 days.
If your case is particularly complex, it will naturally take longer for it to be considered.
You should also factor in delays caused by factors outside your control, such as the Covid-19 pandemic. This has led to many civil servants being furloughed or made redundant and because of this processes are being delayed and decisions are taking longer to reach across the board. Some visa categories are seeing 6-month delays because of this reason, so it is important to bear this in mind when factoring in processing times.
Applications for UK Spouse Visas — often referred to as Marriage Visas – can be complicated. Because of this, using the services of a legal professional is highly recommended. This will help ensure that you meet all the mandatory requirements before you apply. If your visa is refused because you are not eligible or you make a mistake on your application you will not receive a refund.
To start your application process, you need to complete the relevant forms (usually form FM) and compile your supporting evidence. This must prove you meet the financial, genuine relationship, accommodation, and language requirements for the Marriage Visa UK. This bundle is then submitted to the UKVI, who will make a decision on it.
You should not book your travel until you receive the Home Offices’ decision.
In 2017 it was ruled that some exemptions to the Spouse Visa financial criteria would be put in place. These allow some people to get a Spousal Visa for the UK even if they do not meet the financial criteria through the usual means (employment salary).
Alternative methods of reaching the minimum income requirement now include self-employment, self-sustainability, or continued financial aid from a relative.
If you have a disability or are a carer you may be exempt from meeting the financial requirements for a Spouse/Partner Visa at all.
If you have joined your partner in the UK through another visa category, you might be eligible to switch to the Partner Visa category in-country.
For example, if you are the fiancé of a British/settled person, you can use a six-month type of UK visa called a Fiance Visa. This grants you leave to remain on the basis that you will use it to marry your UK-based partner. Once you have been married, you qualify to switch immediately onto the Spouse Visa category, providing you can demonstrate you meet all the usual requirements.