The UK spouse visa is another visa category that allows you to move to the UK without an employment or job offer (but your marriage partner living in the UK will be your sponsor). UK Spouse visa (also known as UK Marriage Visa or Partner and Spouse Visa) is one of the sub-categories of UK family visas. It is issued to non-citizens of the UK who are married to British citizens or settled persons (for example, a person with Indefinite Leave to Remain or EU Settled Status) in the UK, and wish to join their partner and remain in the UK for more than 6 months. In this article, you will learn all about the UK partner and spouse visa program, the relationship, financial, document, English and accommodation requirements, the visa extension guide, switching from spouse visa to ILR, UK Spouse visa vs Fiance visa, etc.
NOTE: If you wish to visit your partner living in the UK in order to get married and stay not more than 6 months in the UK with your partner, then you should apply for the UK Fiancé(e) visa. For more details, check out this guide: UK Fiancé(e) Visa Guide.
Who can Apply for the UK Spouse Visa?
You can apply for a UK partner and spouse visa if your UK-based partner meets any of the following criteria:
- Is a British citizen or Irish citizen, either by birth or by naturalization.
- Is settled in the UK and has permanent residence, Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR), or EU Settled Status.
- Has a Turkish Worker visa or a Turkish Businessperson visa.
- Has humanitarian protection or refugee status in the UK.
On your own part as the UK Spouse visa applicant, you need to prove that your relationship with the UK-based partner is genuine and subsisting. Also, you must intend to live together with your partner in the UK when you eventually move there.
For your UK partner and spouse visa to be approved, you need to meet these strict eligibility requirements and also provide the following details:
- Proof that your Relationship is Genuine and Eligible
- A Proof of Financial Capability (a proof of a minimum gross annual income of £18,600 is required).
- Proof that you meet the English language requirements (at least level A1 is required for your first visa application.
- Proof of a Suitable Accommodation in the UK.
Genuine Relationship Requirements for UK Partner and Spouse Visa
The UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) wants to ensure that you are truly in a genuine and subsisting relationship with the UK-based partner. Therefore it is a serious offense for a Partner and Spouse visa applicant to claim a false relationship with a UK-based partner. Once it is confirmed that your marriage or relationship claim is false, your visa application will automatically be rejected. So if you are unsure if you truly met the requirements for a genuine relationship, kindly seek the guidance of an immigration solicitor to help you out.
Here are some of the ways to prove that you are in a genuine and eligible relationship with a UK-based partner:
- Provide evidence that you are in marriage or civil partnership that is legally recognized in the UK.
- You also need to provide documents to prove that you have been living together in the relationship for at least 2 years.
- If you are not yet married to the UK-based partner, then you need to prove that you plan to get married or enter into a civil partnership within 6 months of your arrival in the UK.
Also, you need to understand some of these relationship terms and the type of documents required for their proof:
- Registered Marriages: For any registered marriage, a marriage certificate is usually issued by the government or other authorized government bodies in that country. So, the visa applicant and the UK-based partner need to submit the marriage certificates.
- Civil Partnership: Civil partnership is fully not recognized as marriage, as it is the relationship between same-sex couples (male-male or female-female). But they have equal rights as married couples.
- Traditional Marriages: Traditional marriages are not usually recognized legally, mainly because they are not usually registered, and no marriage certificate is issued. For traditional marriage relationships to be recognized legally, they must be registered at Home Affairs.
- Fiancé, Fiancée or Proposed Civil Partner: A Spouse visa applicant applying as a fiancé, fiancée or proposed civil partner needs to submit a proof to show that their previous marriage(s) or civil partnerships have ended (if any). Then the applicant also has to provide a proof that he/she is planning to marry the UK-based partner within 6 months of arrival in the UK.
Financial Requirements for UK Partner and Spouse Visa
Before commencing the spouse visa application, the applicant and the UK-based partner must ensure they have a minimum gross annual income of £18,600. If the applicant has dependent children who are not British nationals or EEA nationals but are moving to the UK with the applicant, then an additional £3,800 per annum is required for the first child. Then for subsequent child(ren), an additional £2,400 is required each. For example, an applicant with two dependent children, a minimum of £24,800 is required. For an applicant with three children, a minimum of £2,700 is required.
The following income sources are considered:
- Income from employment or self-employment.
- The pension of the applicant and/or that of the UK-based partner.
- The maternity allowances or bereavement benefits of the UK-based partner.
- Other income and/or savings specified by the applicant and/or the UK-based partner, such as non-work income (from dividends or property rentals).
If the UK-based partner (sponsor) is receiving income from any of the following sources, then they are exempted from meeting the above stated financial requirements: Disability living allowance; Armed Forces Independence Payment or Guaranteed Income Payment under the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme; Severe disablement allowance; Police Injury Pension; Attendance allowance; Mobility Supplement, Constant Attendance Allowance, or War Disablement Pension under the War Pensions Scheme; Carers’ allowance; or Industrial injury disablement benefit.
In any of the above exempting income sources apply, the sponsor (UK-based partner) will not need to prove that they earn £18,600 or more. Also note that even in such financial requirements exemption circumstances listed above, the spouse visa applicant still needs prove that he/she alongside the dependent children (if any) and the UK-based partner have enough funds to take care of themselves in the UK, and also have adequate accommodation.
English Language Requirements for the UK Partner and Spouse Visa
A very good knowledge of English Language is required of the applicants of UK spouse visa applicants before their applications will be approved. For first time spouse visa applicants, the minimum required level is the A1 level of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR), both in speaking and in listening. As the applicants submit their visa application, some documents to prove their English knowledge are also requested of them.
The two main ways to prove your English language knowledge include:
- Taking and passing an approved English language test, obtaining at least a CEFR level A1 in speaking and listening.
- Submitting a document to prove that the applicant has an English-taught Bachelor’s degree or higher from a university in the UK; or that the applicant has an English taught academic degree that is equivalent to a Bachelor’s degree or higher in the UK that was taught outside the UK.
- The residents of the following countries are exempted from the English language requirements: USA; Antigua and Barbuda; Australia; Barbados; Belize; The Bahamas; Canada; Dominica; Guyana; Grenada; Jamaica; New Zealand; St Vincent and the Grenadines; St Kitts and Nevis; St Lucia; and Trinidad and Tobago.
- Also, applicants that fall into the following categories are exempted from the English language requirements: Children; Applicants who are up to 65 years and above; Disabled applicants who are coming over to the UK to be taken care of by a relative; Applicants with rare physical or medical conditions that prevents them meeting the English language requirement.
Accommodation Requirements for the UK Partner and Spouse Visa
The spouse visa applicant and the UK-based partner must prove that they have suitable accommodation in the UK, and the accommodation must meet the following requirements:
- The accommodation must be owned or occupied exclusively by the applicant and their family members.
- It must have sufficient living space.
- It must meet all the public health requirements.
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UK Spouse Visa Required Document Checklist
Below is a list of documents that will be required of you when you go to meet the consular officer for your UK Partner and Spouse visa:
- Completed UK Spouse visa application form and the application fee (submit the receipt that confirms you have paid the required visa fee).
- Valid passport with at least an empty page where your UK Spouse visa will be affixed.
- Your previous passports
- Proof to show that your relationship is genuine and subsisting (for example, photographs that you snapped together with your spouse, shared bills, correspondence, messages, etc.)
- Two passport-sized colour photos that are in line with the set requirements by the UK visa and immigration. For more details, check out this guide.
- Proof of English language requirement (for example, CEFR exam certificate).
- Proofs that you meet the financial requirements (for example, wage slip, bank statements, savings statement, etc.).
- Your full name.
- Your date of birth.
- Details of any previous immigration applications (if any).
- Details of any criminal convictions (for example, Certificate of criminal record).
- Your national insurance number (if you have one).
- Date of birth and nationality of your parents if you are applying from outside the UK.
- Proof of a comfortable accommodation in the UK.
- Your Biometric information (fingerprints and a digital photograph).
- Tuberculosis test results (if you are from a country where TB tests are required).
UK Spouse Visa Fee/Cost
If your UK Partner and spouse visa application is made outside the UK, your application fee is £1,538. If the application is made inside the UK, the application fee is £1,048. You will also need to pay the Immigration Healthcare Surcharge which is £624 per annum, and also pay the biometric fee which is £19.20.
If you wish to get a decision on your visa by the end of the next working day, you will be charged an extra fee of £800 for the Super Priority Service Charge.
Extending your UK Spouse Visa
The validity for the Partner and Spouse visa is 2 years and 9 months (that is 33 months), but it is possible to further extend the visa for a further 2 years and 6 months. Note that you can only apply for Spouse visa extension if the same relationship with your UK-based partner is still eligible. Also, you need to apply for visa the extension before your current visa expires.
Switching from Spouse Visa to ILR (Requirements)
A UK Partner and Spouse visa holders can be able to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) after they have resided in the UK for 5 years as a partner under the family visa. With ILR, they can reside permanently in the UK, and will no longer be subject to immigration control.
Some of the ILR eligibility requirements for UK Spouse visa holders include:
- You must have lived in the UK as a partner for at least 5 years with a Spouse visa.
- You must have lived with your partner since your last Spouse visa renewal.
- Your relationship with your UK-based partner must have been proven to be genuine and subsisting.
- You must have the intention to continue your relationship with your current partner after applying for ILR.
- You must also prove you have a suitable and comfortable accommodation.
- Also, you must meet the English language, Life in the UK and financial requirements.
UK Spouse Visa Refused?
Here are some of the reasons why a Spouse/Partner visa application was refused:
- The visa applicant was subject to a deportation order as of the visa application date.
- The applicant failed to provide some specific information, show up for a compulsory interview, undergo a medical examination, or report to the visa application center when required, without any reasonable reason. It does not matter whether the misrepresentation was intentional or not.
- Because of misconduct, association, or character, the excluding the applicant from the UK was deemed conducive for the public good.
- Failure to pay the mandatory IHS surcharge, alongside other compulsory visa application charges, as at when due.
- Failure to provide sufficient and convincing evidence of a comfortable accommodation in the UK and the UK financial maintenance capacity.
- For medical reasons, it was undesirable to grant the visa applicant a UK entry clearance.
For more details about the UK Partner/Spouse visa, check out these guides:
UK Spouse Visa vs. Fiancé Visa
Most people mistake UK Spouse visa for UK Fiancé visas. The UK Spouse visa (also known as Partner and Spouse visa, or Marriage visa) and Fiancé visa are both similar and fall under the category of UK family visa, but are not the same or interchangeable. With any of the visa, you can join your UK-based partner over there. But the eligibility requirements and validity periods of both UK Spouse visa and Fiancé visa are different.
One of the main eligibility requirements of UK Spouse visa is that you must be married to, or be in a civil partnership with a British citizen or someone living in the UK, with settled status. While the main eligibility requirements of the UK Fiancé visa is that you must be in a relationship with a British citizen or settled person in the UK, and you must also be planning to get married in the UK within the first 6 months of your entry into the UK.
Also, the UK Spouse visa usually have a validity period of 33 months (that is 2 years and 9 months), after which it can be extended for another 30 months (that is 2 years and 6 months), if and only if the applicant continues to meet the Spouse visa requirements. Also, Spouse visa holders can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) after they have resided in the UK for at least 5 years. The ILR will grant them permanent residency in the UK. Once they have been granted ILR, they can also apply for British citizenship. While the validity period of Fiancé visa is just 6 months, and within this period, you must get married to your UK partner. If you were unable to get married and your Fiancé visa expires, you will have to go back to your home country, as it is very rare to extend UK Fiancé visas. But if you succeed in marrying your UK partner within 6 months of your arrival in the UK, and wish to stay a longer period, you now have to switch your Fiancé visa to Spouse visa.
Lastly, the applicants of UK Spouse visa must their biometric information (fingerprint and photograph) captured at a visa application center. These captured biometric information will be used to process their Biometric Residence Permit (BRP), which they must collect within the 10 days of their arrival in the UK. The Spouse visa holders can use the BRP to prove their right to live, work and study in the UK. BRP is required for those who hold UK visas that have over 6 months validity. Therefore, Fiancé visa holders don’t need, as their biometric information are not captured during the visa application.
The application processes of the UK Spouse visa and the Fiancé visa are very similar, and the applicants of either of the visas must apply online using the available forms at Gov.uk website. For both types of UK family visa, the applicants must prove that they have good knowledge of English language and also be able to support themselves any of their dependents over there in the UK.
For more details about the UK Fiancé visa, check out this guide: Fiancé Visa UK Requirements and Application Guide.
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You have now learnt all about the UK Partner and Spouse visa program, the relationship, financial, document, English and accommodation requirements, the visa extension guide, switching from spouse visa to ILR, UK Spouse visa vs Fiance visa, etc. If you are eligible, then go ahead and apply. If you not yet married, and you are not also in a serious relationship, but wish to relocate to the UK, live their permanently and get established there, then check out All about the UK Innovator Founder Visa & How to Apply.
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