After holding a spouse / civil partner visa in the UK for a consecutive period of 5 years, it is possible to apply for a spouse visa ILR. The leave as a spouse must have been held for a period of exactly 5 years (60 months) before being eligible to apply for indefinite leave to remain. This period must have also been spent as a spouse of a British national or settled person, on a 5 year route to settlement. 

There are two different settlement routes for spouses and partners of British or settled nationals in the UK. The 5 year route and the 10 year route. You should normally know which route you are on in order to calculate when you can apply for spouse visa ILR. If not, there are ways you can find out. The most obvious would be to check the Home Office correspondence when your most recent extension application was approved. 

Applicants on a 5 year route to settlement are also normally required to satisfy the requirements of Appendix FM, i.e. financial, accommodation, English language and relationship.  If you provided supporting evidence addressing those requirements during your most recent application, the chances are that you are on 5 year route to settlement.

Finally, the initial and extension applications on a 5 year route are made using form FLR (M) and on a 10 year route, applicants normally apply using form FLR (FP). If you are unsure about your situation, a consultation with an immigration lawyer is advisable.  

Spouse Visa ILR Requirements

The requirements will differ whether you are on a 5 year route or a 10 year route to settlement. In this article, we will explore the requirements of a 5 year settlement route for spouse ILR application. 

The main requirements for spouse visa ILR are very similar to the ones you would have had to satisfy for the initial application as a spouse and subsequent extension, with few additions and variations.

  • Financial Requirement of £18,600
  • Accommodation Requirement
  • KoLL – Knowledge of English and Life in the UK requirement
  • Relationship Requirement
  • Absences Requirement

The Home Office will also assess your suitability, any criminal records, county court judgments against your name, unpaid NHS debt etc. This information is outside the scope of this article. Main requirements for spouse visa ILR are discussed in detail below.

Absences for Spouse Visa ILR application

There are no specific requirements for maximum absences for those applying for ILR based on holding UK spouse visa. This is in contrast to other immigration categories, such as Global Talent Visa Route, Skilled Migrant Worker Visa Route, PBS (i.e. Tier 2 ILR), and family members of PBS migrants, where the absences should not exceed 6 months in any 12 months period. There has been a lot of confusion following the changes introduced by the Home Office on 11 January 2018, but those changes mostly affected PBS migrants and their family members. 

The Home Office’s guidance states that for spouse visa ILR, any absences from the UK must be for good reason and be consistent with the “intention to live together permanently in the UK”. The guidance goes on to state that good reasons may include periods overseas in connection with your work or that of your partner, holidays, training or even study. 

If the majority of time on UK spouse visa was spent overseas, the Home Office may doubt whether the couple intends to live permanently in the UK. Every application will be considered on its merits, and there is a variety of factors Home Office will assess, including reasons for the absence, length of the absence, whether the couple resided together during the absence in question etc. For particularly complex cases when applying for ILR based on a spouse visa, It is strongly advisable to seek a consultation with an immigration lawyer.  

Financial Requirement for ILR

The financial requirements for spouse visa ILR are very similar to the one you had to satisfy during the initial application and subsequent extension. The financial requirement is £18,600 per annum for the spouse, additional £3,800 fir the first child and £2,400 for each subsequent child. 

The financial requirement can be met through either earnings from the applicant and/or their spouse. Same exceptions for people on certain benefits apply. The main difference in the financial requirement for the spouse visa ILR application is how the required amount of savings is calculated. 

For the initial and extension spouse visa applications, any shortfall of earnings had to be multiplied by 2.5 and this amount must have been present in the account on top of the £16,000. For the spouse visa ILR stage, there is no need to multiple the shortfall by 2.5 and the whole amount can be used, again in addition to the £16,000. 

Accommodation Requirement for ILR

Accommodation requirement for the spouse visa ILR application is almost identical to the initial application and extension. You will need to show that there is adequate accommodation available for for the exclusive use of the couple and their children. 

The accommodation in question must not be “overcrowded” or contravene “public health regulations”. We explored this requirement in more detail in our UK spouse visa page. 

Genuine and Subsisting Relationship

Again, this requirement for spouse visa ILR stage is almost identical to the extension stage, except you would have now been living with your British / settled sponsor for an additional 2.5 year period. Updated evidence will be required to show that you continued to reside together from your last grant of leave and that your relationship is still subsisting. 

English Language Requirement

For the ILR application based on spouse leave, the English language requirement increases once more to B1 CEFR. The requirement can be satisfied if you:

  • Hold a UK degree or overseas equivalent that was taught and researched in English.
  • Pass an English language test, level B1, from one of the approved English test providers. 
  • Is a national of majority English speaking country.
  • Exempt from the English language test.

Life in the UK test

As is with most ILR applications, you will need to pass a life in the UK test. People with certain disabilities and mental illnesses are exempt. You can also be exempt by virtue of your age. If you are considering seeking an exemption from the test, it is advisable that you seek legal advice from our London immigration lawyers

ILR Spouse Visa Fees

The current Home Office fees for spouse visa ILR application are £2,389 per applicant. The decision on the ILR application can be expedited by using super-priority service, which costs additional £800 per applicant. 

The fees are correct at the date of publishing this article, therefore it is advisable that the actual fees are checked on the website when submitting your application. 

Why Edmans & Co for Spouse Visa ILR application?

Our London immigration lawyers have extensive experience in preparing spouse ILR applications of any complexity. Our lawyers can make sure the documents provided in support of the application are sufficient to meet the requirements of the Immigration Rules. 

We will also assist with filling the application forms, prepare a cover letter with the representations on a client’s behalf and submit the application to the Home Office. We will continue to act on the case until the decision is taken by the Home Office and will chase them if the need arises. 

Our Spouse Visa ILR Services Review
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If you need any legal assistance with your Spouse Visa ILR application, please contact our London-based immigration lawyers. You can also call us on 020 7439 3000. You can directly book a consultation with one of our UK immigration experts so that we can assess your case and advise you on the merits of your application.