A UK spouse / civil partnership visa is a type of family visa in the UK. The application is made by the wife, husband or civil partner of a person settled in the UK.
A settled person is someone living in the UK who is either a British citizen, holds indefinite leave to remain, or holds leave as a refugee or under humanitarian protection. The settled person is called the ‘sponsor’ for the Spouse visa UK application purpose.
Similar to the spouse visa, a civil partner visa application is made by the same-sex civil partner of a person settled in the UK. Spouse visa applications and civil partner visa applications are treated in exactly the same way by the immigration authorities.
You can learn more about Spouse Visa UK requirements, required documents, and guidelines in this detailed article below.
Applying for UK Spouse Visa
Spouse visa applications may be made from outside the UK or, in some circumstances, from inside the UK, so the applicant may be applying either to come to the UK as a wife or husband, or to remain in the UK as a spouse.
Please note it is not possible to apply for a spouse visa inside the UK on a visitor visa or with a visa which is valid for six months or less (expect fiancee visa).
UK Spouse Visa Requirements
There are four main requirements for the UK Spouse visa or Civil Partner visa applications:
- A financial requirement of £18,600. This can be met through employment, self-employment, being director of own company, savings, non-employment income or, in some cases, a combination of a few sources mentioned previously. There are separate rules for those claiming certain benefits.
- A requirement that the relationship is genuine and subsisting.
- Accommodation requirement. The applicant must also show that there will be sufficient accommodation for them and their partner and any dependants.
- English language requirement of A1 CEFR for the initial application and A2 CEFR at the extension stage.
Let’s look at some of the major requirements of the UK Spouse Visa in detail below:
Financial Requirements for UK Spouse Visa
The applicant will need to satisfy the financial requirement of £18,600 per annum.
If the Spouse visa application includes children, the applicant will need to show extra £3,800 for the first child and £2,400 for each subsequent child. If the applicant is in the UK with permission to work, both the applicant’s and the Sponsor’s income can be counted towards meeting the requirement.
The Immigration Rules on the financial requirement are very prescriptive and all the specified evidence must be provided in support of the application for it to be approved.
Following recent developments, in some cases, consideration can be given to other sources of income, if the applicant is unable to meet the financial requirement but there are “exceptional circumstances”. The following can then be taken into account:
- credible guarantee of sustainable financial support from a third party, e.g. family members
- prospective employment or self-employment of the applicant or their partner, e.g. if the applicant has a new job starting in the UK within a couple of months following his/her arrival to the UK
- any other credible and reliable source of income or funds available to the couple.
Genuine and Subsisting Relationship
You will need to show that you are legally married according to the law of the country where the marriage or civil partnership ceremony took place.
Please note that some marriages, e.g. religious marriages such as Nikah as are not recognised under British law. There are also special rules for sponsors who have more than one wife. The couple must have met at the time of the application as marriages in absentia, by telephone, by proxy etc. may not be treated as valid by the Immigration Authorities.
The general rule is that there should be no evidence of putting parties’ intention in doubt. Every client’s case will differ slightly, including the type of evidence that they may be able to provide in support of their spouse visa application. Although there are no set requirements for any documents proving a relationship, the most common are photographs, evidence of shared financial responsibilities, evidence of cohabitation, children etc.
There should be adequate accommodation available for the exclusive use of the family when applying for a UK spouse visa. Adequate accommodation is considered as one which is ‘not overcrowded’ and ‘does not contravene public health regulations’.
If the accommodation is not owned by the couple (or one of them), the rules require that there be adequate accommodation which is for their exclusive use. This does not necessarily need to be a separate flat or a house.
It is acceptable for a couple to live in an existing household, for example, that of a parent, uncle, aunt, sibling or friend, as long as they have at least a bedroom for their exclusive use and the house is not “overcrowded”. In some instances, an accommodation report may prove useful, but it is not mandatory.
A house is considered to be overcrowded if 2 persons aged 10 years or more of opposite sexes, who are not living together as husband and wife, must sleep in the same room.
The Act also details the maximum number of people allowed for a given number of rooms or a given room floor area. Rooms such as kitchens or bathrooms are excluded.
English Language Requirement
A spouse visa applicant has to prove their knowledge of English language. This requirement can be satisfied in several ways.
Applicants must pass a mandatory A1 Common European Framework of Reference for Languages test. In order to extend an existing visa after living in the UK for 30 months, applicants must pass A2 language test.
An applicant will automatically satisfy language requirements if he or she:
- Holds a degree or academic qualification that was taught or researched in English.
- Applicant’s qualification is recognised by UK NARIC as being equivalent to a UK Bachelor’s degree or higher.
- Citizens of some countries are exempt from the English Language test as well. If you are a national of countries including 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, and the USA, you don’t need to prove your knowledge of English.
UK Spouse Visa Duration
A spouse visa is granted for a period of 30 months if you apply within the UK and 33 months if the application was granted from outside the UK.
Upon your UK spouse visa expiration, you will be able to extend your visa for another 30 months. Upon reaching five years of continuous residence on a spouse visa, you may be eligible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR).
Spouse Visa Extensions – Further Leave to Remain
You can extend your leave to remain in the UK under the spouse visa. You must apply for the extension before your current leave to remain expires.
You will need to fulfil an almost identical set of requirements, as for the initial application, except for a higher level of English language is needed at A2 CEFR.
ILR – Settlement after Spouse Visa
Spouse visa leads to Settlement (Indefinite Leave to Remain – ILR ) after 5 years. Please refer to our page for more information on applying for spouse visa ILR. In some cases where the person obtained leave on a 10-year route to settlement, the earliest the person will be eligible for ILR is after 10 years.
When applying for settlement, the applicant will need to meet similar requirements as for the initial application and extension, except Life in the UK test will be required, a higher level of English at B1 CEFR will be needed and the Home Office will consider absences from the UK more closely.
Spouse Visa UK Fees
There is a fee of £1,033 if you make a standard application by post. You can pay additional for super-priority 24-hour service, which is available only to those applying from inside the UK.
If you are applying along with dependants, you will need to pay additional £1,033 per dependant for a standard application service.
|Single Applicant - No Dependants||£1,033|
|Main Applicant & One Dependant||£2,066|
|Main Applicant & Two Dependants||£3,099|
|Main Applicant & Three Dependants||£4,132|
The fees are correct at the time of updating this article. UKVI changes the fees every year and as such please check the Gov.uk website and appropriate application form for correct fees at the time of your application.
Spouse Visa UK Processing Time
Processing time may vary depending on the country where the application is made. It usually takes around 8 weeks for UKVI to make a decision on the application on settlement visas.
The decision can be expedited for an additional fee. Please check the UKVI website for availability and additional fees for any premium services for your visa application.
Why Edmans & Co for Spouse Visa?
We have years of experience dealing with UK Spouse visas and we can help you advise, prepare and manage your entire application process for a successful outcome.
Based on your specific circumstances, our immigration lawyers will draft you a list of documents required for the application, those documents will then be checked thoroughly to make sure they are compliant with the requirements.
We will assist you with preparing an application form, submitting the form and we will draft legal representation on your behalf in support of your UK Spouse Visa application.
Our Spouse Visa Services Review
If you need any legal assistance with your UK Spouse Visa 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.