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UK Spouse visa

The UK Spouse Visa is designated for spouses of British or Irish citizens, individuals settled in the UK, those possessing pre-settled status, holders of a Turkish Business person or Turkish Worker visa, as well as individuals with refugee status or humanitarian protection seeking to reunite or continue residing with their spouse in the UK. This visa also caters to situations where a spouse is currently outside the UK but has plans to return with their partner.

Furthermore, the UK Spouse Visa offers a pathway to attain indefinite leave to remain or settlement in the UK following a continuous period of 5 years.

UK Spouse Visa Requirements

The eligibility criteria for obtaining a UK Spouse Visa encompass several key requisites that must be met according to the standards set by UK Visas and Immigration. To successfully qualify for this visa, it is essential to ensure compliance with the following conditions:

  1. Your partner holds British or Irish citizenship, is settled in the UK, possesses pre-settled status, holds a Turkish Business person or Turkish Worker visa, or holds refugee status or humanitarian protection;
  2. Both you and your partner are above the age of 18 and not within a prohibited degree of relationship;
  3. There is evidence of a physical meeting between you and your partner;
  4. The marriage between you and your partner is legally recognized in the UK;
  5. Demonstration of the genuineness and continuity of your relationship;
  6. A shared intention between you and your partner to permanently reside together in the UK;
  7. Any prior relationships have irreversibly concluded;
  8. Meeting a specified financial requirement;
  9. Availability of suitable accommodation for you and any dependents;
  10. Proficiency in the English language to a prescribed level.

It’s important to note that specific conditions for qualifying for a UK Spouse Visa can vary based on individual circumstances. Seeking guidance from an immigration lawyer can offer tailored advice and assistance aligned with your unique situation. Consulting with legal experts can clarify the intricacies of meeting these criteria and navigate the application process effectively.

Status of Sponsoring Partner

To meet the eligibility criteria for a UK Spouse Visa, your partner must fulfill one of the following conditions:

  1. Be a British or Irish citizen residing in the UK;
  2. Hold indefinite leave to remain, settled status, or permanent residence in the UK;
  3. Possess pre-settled status under Appendix EU;
  4. Maintain limited leave to remain as a Turkish Business person or Turkish Worker under Appendix ECAA;
  5. Hold refugee leave or humanitarian protection status in the UK.

It’s important to note that a British Citizen in the UK encompasses a situation where a British Citizen intends to accompany you to the UK as your partner. Additionally, an individual with indefinite leave to remain in the UK refers to someone being granted settlement simultaneously with your application.

These conditions delineate the various statuses and circumstances that qualify a partner for a UK Spouse Visa, ensuring compliance with the specified requirements outlined by UK Visas and Immigration.

Minimum Age for a Spouse Visa

Both you and your partner are required to have surpassed the age of 18 at the time of submitting your Spouse Visa application. It is a mandatory condition that both individuals involved in the application process have attained this minimum age threshold upon submission.

UK Spouse Visa Relationship Requirement

The relationship criteria for the UK Spouse Visa encompass several key elements:

  1. Prohibited Relationship: Both you and your partner must not be within a prohibited degree of relationship as defined by the UK Visa guidelines;
  2. Physical Meeting: There should be evidence that you and your partner have met in person, fulfilling the requirement of personal interaction;
  3. Legal Marriage: Your relationship must be legally recognized through marriage according to UK laws;
  4. Genuine and Ongoing Relationship: It’s crucial to demonstrate that your relationship is authentic, enduring, and continues to exist;
  5. Permanent Intent: Both you and your partner should have a shared intention to permanently reside together in the UK;
  6. Previous Relationship Conclusion: Any prior relationships must have definitively ended and broken down permanently.

These components form the essential criteria that need to be met to satisfy the relationship requirement for the UK Spouse Visa application. Meeting these conditions demonstrates the genuineness and commitment of the relationship, which are vital for the visa application process.

Prohibited Degree of Relationship Requirement

To be eligible for a UK Spouse Visa, you and your spouse must adhere to the guidelines stipulated in the Marriage Act 1949 and the Marriage (Prohibited Degrees of Relationship) Act 1986, ensuring that you do not fall within any prohibited degree of relationship. This entails avoiding the following connections:

  • Adoptive child;
  • Adoptive parent;
  • Child;
  • Former adoptive child;
  • Former adoptive parent;
  • Grandparent;
  • Grandchild;
  • Parent;
  • Parent’s sibling;
  • Sibling;
  • Sibling’s child.

Within this list, ‘sibling’ refers to a brother, sister, half-brother, or half-sister.

Moreover, it’s crucial to note that a marriage between a person and anyone listed below will not qualify for a spouse visa until both parties are 21 or over. This condition applies provided that the younger individual has not, before turning 18, been a child of the family concerning the other party:

  • Child of a former civil partner;
  • Child of a former spouse;
  • Former civil partner of a grandparent;
  • Former civil partner of a parent;
  • Former spouse of a grandparent;
  • Former spouse of a parent;
  • Grandchild of a former civil partner;
  • Grandchild of a former spouse.

Compliance with these outlined relationship criteria is fundamental for the successful application of a UK Spouse Visa. These regulations are in place to ensure the legality and validity of the marital union under UK immigration laws.

Requirement to Have Met in Person

A crucial criterion for the UK Spouse Visa application is the requirement for an in-person meeting between you and your spouse. The term ‘met’ entails demonstrating a direct face-to-face encounter that leads to the establishment of a personal acquaintance. It’s essential to emphasize that merely encountering each other in person, followed by subsequent communication through phone calls or written correspondence, would not suffice to meet the stipulated prerequisites for a successful UK Spouse Visa application. The emphasis lies on the initial face-to-face interaction resulting in a genuine personal acquaintance between both parties. This criterion aims to ensure the authenticity and depth of the relationship, reinforcing the importance of physical contact and interaction as a foundation for the visa application.

Requirement for Marriage to Be Recognised in the UK

To meet the eligibility requirements for a UK Spouse Visa, it is imperative that you and your partner are lawfully married in a union that holds recognition within the UK’s legal framework. This means that your marital status must comply with the standards and regulations acknowledged by the UK authorities. The marriage should be valid and officially recognized by the UK’s legal system, ensuring that it conforms to the established norms and criteria set forth for marriage within the country. Fulfilling this criterion signifies that your marriage is legally binding and recognized by the UK, a fundamental prerequisite for a successful UK Spouse Visa application.

Marriage in the UK

For a marriage to be legally recognized in the United Kingdom, it must adhere to specific criteria and be in compliance with the regulations outlined in the Marriage Act 1949 (as amended), the Marriage Act (Scotland) 1977, or the Marriage Order (Northern Ireland) 2003.

Here are the key requirements that validate a marriage in the UK:

  1. Monogamous Union: All marriages conducted in the UK must be monogamous, involving the union of two individuals;
  2. Compliance with Legal Procedures: To ensure validity, certain legal procedures must be followed. This includes giving the required notice of intention to marry, conducting the marriage at an authorized venue, and having the marriage officiated by a person authorized to register marriages;
  3. Minimum Age Requirement: Both you and your spouse must meet the minimum age criteria for marriage to be recognized as valid. In England and Wales, the minimum age is 18 years old, while in Scotland and Northern Ireland, it is 16 years old;
  4. Marriage Certificate: A legally recognized marriage in the UK must be substantiated by a marriage certificate, serving as official evidence of the marriage.

Meeting these stipulated conditions is crucial for the legal recognition of a marriage in the UK, ensuring that the union complies with the laws and regulations established within the respective regions of the country.

Marriage outside the UK

For an overseas marriage to gain recognition in the UK, specific criteria must be met:

  1. Legally Recognized Marriage Type: The type of marriage conducted overseas must align with the recognized forms of marriage in the country where it occurred;
  2. Compliance with Legal Requirements: The marriage ceremony must have adhered to the legal prerequisites mandated by the country in which it took place;
  3. No Legal Impediments: There should be no conflicting legal barriers in the laws of either individual’s country of domicile at the time of marriage that could hinder its recognition;
  4. Resolution of Previous Marriages: Any prior marriages of the couple must have conclusively and permanently ended before the current marriage.

Additionally, for a marriage conducted outside the UK to be acknowledged, there should be documentary evidence equivalent to a marriage certificate, sanctioned and considered valid under the laws prevailing in the relevant country.

Meeting these specific conditions is pivotal to ensure that an overseas marriage gains legal recognition within the UK, ensuring compliance with both local and international legal standards governing marriage validation.

Genuine and Subsisting Relationship Requirement

To be eligible for a UK Spouse Visa, it is imperative to furnish the Home Office with substantial evidence validating the authenticity and continuity of your relationship with your partner.

Assessment of the genuineness and continuity of a relationship for visa purposes is conducted on a case-by-case basis. This evaluation considers a comprehensive array of evidence and factors tailored to individual circumstances.

The evidence provided should comprehensively demonstrate the genuine nature of the relationship and its ongoing status. Such evidence might include, but is not limited to:

  1. Documentation illustrating joint financial responsibilities, such as shared bank accounts or joint utility bills;
  2. Evidence of cohabitation, like a joint tenancy agreement or correspondence addressed to both partners at the same address;
  3. Records of joint commitments, such as shared travel itineraries, joint social activities, or joint memberships/subscriptions;
  4. Testimonials from friends or family affirming the authenticity of the relationship;
  5. Photographs or correspondence showcasing the relationship’s progression and shared experiences over time.

Submitting a varied range of evidence substantiating the genuine and ongoing nature of your relationship is pivotal in supporting your UK Spouse Visa application. The decision regarding the legitimacy of your relationship will be based on the entirety of evidence presented in consideration of your unique circumstances.

Factors Considered by the Home Office When Deciding Whether a Relationship Is Genuine and Subsisting

The Home Office considers several factors when evaluating the authenticity and continuity of a relationship for a UK Spouse Visa application. These factors encompass various aspects of your partnership:

  1. Relationship Duration: The duration of your relationship is an important factor, particularly if it’s a current, enduring partnership with a long-term commitment;
  2. Co-Living Arrangements: Whether you and your spouse are currently cohabiting or have previously lived together can significantly contribute to demonstrating the genuine nature of your relationship;
  3. Children and Parental Responsibilities: The presence of children—biological, adopted, or stepchildren—and the shared responsibility in their care can serve as a compelling indicator of the genuineness of your partnership;
  4. Financial Commitments: Shared financial responsibilities, such as joint bank accounts, bills, or assets, can strengthen the evidence supporting the genuineness of your relationship;
  5. Family Involvement and Visits: Visits to each other’s home countries and interactions with respective families can showcase the integration of both partners into each other’s lives;
  6. Future Plans: Having concrete plans regarding the practical aspects of living together in the UK reinforces the seriousness and authenticity of your commitment.

Should the Home Office have reservations or uncertainties regarding the authenticity and continuity of your relationship, they may conduct further inquiries. This could involve interviews with you and your spouse or arranging a home visit to gather additional evidence.

Addressing these factors and providing substantial evidence aligned with each aspect of your partnership is crucial to support the authenticity and continuity of your relationship, thereby strengthening your UK Spouse Visa application.

Documents Required to Prove a Genuine and Subsisting Relationship

The Home Office places significant emphasis on compelling evidence illustrating consistent interaction, emotional connection, affectionate gestures, mutual companionship, and a profound interest in each other’s welfare and support.

Apart from presenting a marriage certificate, demonstrating evidence of cohabitation holds importance. Ideally, documents should be jointly addressed to both you and your spouse. Alternatively, documents bearing separate names but addressed to the same shared address can be utilized as evidence. These documents should be recent, within the last few years, and sourced from various reliable entities. While official documents are preferable, unofficial documents proving cohabitation can also be submitted if official ones are unavailable.

If the duration of your cohabitation with your spouse is relatively short, unofficial evidence can supplement your application to substantiate your relationship.

It’s crucial to reiterate that the Home Office requires substantial evidence showcasing the authenticity and continuity of your relationship. Doubts or uncertainties regarding the genuine and enduring nature of your relationship may prompt the Home Office to conduct additional checks, interviews, or arrange a home visit. If reasonable doubts persist regarding the authenticity or continuity of your relationship, your Spouse Visa application might face refusal.

Our immigration barristers specialize in advising Spouse Visa applicants on compiling the necessary documentary evidence to satisfy the Home Office regarding the authenticity of their relationship. We tailor our advice based on individual circumstances, ensuring that the evidence presented aligns with your unique relationship, demonstrating genuine affection, shared values, and ongoing commitment at the time of application. We refrain from relying on standard document checklists and focus on tailoring advice to the specific needs of our clients.

Intention to Live Together Permanently in the UK

To qualify for a Spouse Visa, UK Visas & Immigration requires assurance that both you and your spouse are committed to establishing a permanent residence in the UK.

During the initial Spouse Visa application stage, a decisive commitment from both parties is necessary, affirming the intent to live together permanently in the UK immediately following the Spouse Visa decision or as soon as practical circumstances allow.

Subsequent applications for further leave to remain or indefinite leave to remain as a spouse necessitate a demonstration that any periods spent outside the UK were reasonable, with purposes aligned to the intention of permanently cohabiting in the UK. Valid reasons might encompass professional commitments, vacations, educational pursuits, or training.

However, extended periods of time spent primarily abroad by either you or your spouse could raise doubts regarding the intent to establish permanent residency in the UK. The Home Office assesses the reasons for travel, the duration of absences, and whether both partners traveled and resided together during these periods spent outside the UK.

It’s crucial to provide evidence that supports your joint intention to reside permanently in the UK. Extended separations or spending the majority of time apart could potentially raise concerns regarding the genuine intent to establish a permanent home together in the UK. Factors such as shared living arrangements during overseas stays and the purpose behind extended absences will be scrutinized by the Home Office to assess the authenticity of your intention to reside permanently in the UK as a couple.

Previous Relationship Broken Down Permanently

The Home Office requires assurance that neither you nor your spouse is legally married to another individual at the time of applying for entry clearance as a spouse.

If either you or your spouse were previously married, it’s imperative to present evidence confirming the dissolution of this prior marriage. In the UK, a divorce must be supported by a decree absolute issued by a civil court. For divorces obtained outside the UK, an equivalent certificate substantiating the divorce, valid according to the laws of that country, is required.

In instances where a prior marriage remains legally binding and hasn’t been dissolved, an alternative avenue might be available through an Unmarried Partner Visa. To qualify for this visa category, evidence substantiating the genuineness and continuity of the new relationship is necessary. Additionally, evidence illustrating the permanent breakdown of the previous marriage is crucial.

The Unmarried Partner Visa application necessitates robust evidence affirming the authenticity of the current relationship, showcasing that it is genuine and ongoing. Furthermore, providing evidence that conclusively demonstrates the permanent cessation of the previous relationship is vital for consideration under this visa category.

The Home Office closely examines evidence to ascertain the legitimacy of the new relationship and the permanent termination of any previous marriages before considering an application for the Unmarried Partner Visa.

UK Spouse Visa Financial Requirement

To ensure that you can sustain yourself in the UK without relying on public funds, meeting the financial requirement for a UK Spouse Visa application is crucial.

The financial prerequisites for a UK Spouse Visa mandate that, unless exempt, your Spouse (or both of you collectively, if you’re in the UK with valid leave to remain) must exhibit an annual income that meets the following criteria:

  • A minimum gross annual income of £18,600;
  • An additional £3,800 for the first child (if the child isn’t British, holds indefinite leave to remain, pre-settled or settled status, or is an EEA national with the right to reside in the UK);
  • An extra £2,400 for each subsequent child meeting the same criteria.

However, there are variations in considerations if your Spouse receives specific state benefits or entitlements. In such cases, the requirement shifts to ensuring that the sponsor can adequately maintain and accommodate the family member being sponsored in the UK.

Compliance with the financial requirement is essential at various stages of your Spouse Visa journey: during the initial application to enter the UK as a spouse, when seeking an extension of stay as a spouse, and when applying for indefinite leave to remain as a spouse.

Navigating the intricacies of the Immigration Rules concerning the Spouse Visa financial requirement involves complex criteria and mandatory documentary evidence. It’s imperative to note that the responsibility lies with the applicants to substantiate that the financial criteria are met. Omission or inadequacy in providing mandatory financial evidence remains one of the primary reasons for the refusal of Spouse Visa applications.

Given the complexity involved, seeking professional guidance to compile the required documentary evidence and navigate the financial prerequisites can significantly enhance the success of your Spouse Visa application.

How to Satisfy the UK Spouse Visa Financial Requirement

The UK Spouse Visa financial requirement offers various avenues for fulfillment, which can encompass diverse sources such as:

  1. Income from either salaried or non-salaried employment held by your spouse (and potentially yourself, if authorized to work in the UK);
  2. Non-employment-related income sources, including rental income from properties or dividends received from share holdings;
  3. Cash savings exceeding £16,000, held and under the control of your spouse (and possibly yourself) for a minimum of 6 months;
  4. Pension funds, whether derived from state benefits, occupational pensions, or private pension schemes of your spouse (and potentially yourself);
  5. Earnings from self-employment, directorship, or employment within a specific limited company in the UK held by your spouse (and potentially yourself if authorized to work in the UK).

In certain situations, a combination of these income sources can be utilized to fulfill the Spouse Visa financial requirement.

It’s crucial to note that if your spouse receives specific state benefits or entitlements, different considerations may apply regarding the financial criteria.

Moreover, Spouse Visa applicants using cash savings to meet the financial prerequisite should be aware that the threshold for savings required differs between entry clearance and extension applications compared to applying for indefinite leave to remain as a spouse.

Exceptional circumstances, where refusal of the Spouse Visa application might violate Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), may prompt the consideration of other reliable and credible sources of income, financial backing, or available funds accessible to the couple.

Our immigration barristers possess expertise in the intricate regulations surrounding the Spouse Visa financial requirement. They routinely guide UK Spouse Visa applicants, aiding them in navigating the complex evidentiary requirements and ensuring compliance with the specific financial prerequisites.

Spouse Visa Accommodation Requirement

Regardless of whether you’re seeking entry clearance or extending your stay as a spouse, it’s imperative to furnish evidence affirming the availability of suitable accommodation for both you and your spouse. This accommodation should be accessible without the necessity of resorting to public funds, and it must be a property either owned by you or one that you exclusively occupy.

Documentation substantiating the property’s ownership or occupancy basis is necessary, demonstrating your legal and exclusive entitlement to inhabit the premises. Additionally, the evidence should establish that the property meets essential standards, ensuring it won’t be overcrowded or in breach of public health regulations.

The provided evidence should encompass:

  1. Confirmation of Property Ownership or Occupation: Documents verifying the legal basis of ownership or occupancy of the accommodation, such as property deeds, rental or lease agreements, or a letter from the landlord, are essential;
  2. Sole Entitlement to Occupy: Evidence showcasing your exclusive entitlement to reside in the property, clarifying that the accommodation is solely designated for your use as a spouse;
  3. Compliance with Housing Standards: Evidence ensuring that the property adheres to adequate living standards, confirming that it won’t be overcrowded and complies with public health regulations.

By presenting comprehensive and credible evidence pertaining to the ownership or exclusive occupancy of suitable accommodation, you enhance the likelihood of meeting the accommodation requirements for the Spouse Visa application, whether for entry clearance or further leave to remain.

Spouse Visa English Language Requirement

As an integral part of your Spouse Visa application, it’s imperative—unless exempt—to demonstrate to the Home Office that you fulfill the English language proficiency requirement.

When applying for entry clearance or switching into the Spouse Visa category, exhibiting English language competence at least to CEFR level A1 is mandatory. Subsequently, when seeking further leave to remain as a spouse, a higher proficiency level of at least CEFR level A2 in English is required.

To meet the Spouse Visa English language prerequisite, options include:

  1. Nationality of a Majority English-Speaking Country: Holding nationality from a country where English is the primary language;
  2. Passing an Approved English Language Test: Achieving the required CEFR level in an English language test conducted by an authorized provider listed on Approved Secure English Language Tests and Test Centres;
  3. Academic Qualifications: Possessing a Bachelor’s, Master’s, or PhD degree awarded in the UK or from abroad, deemed by Ecctis (formerly UK NARIC) to meet or surpass the recognized English language standards. Additionally, Ecctis should confirm that the degree program was taught or researched in English at or above the specified CEFR level.

Exemptions from the English language requirement generally necessitate proof demonstrating:

  1. Age Exemption: Being over 65 years old at the time of application;
  2. Disability Exemption: Having a physical or mental disability that prevents meeting the English language criterion;
  3. Exceptional Circumstances: Demonstrating compelling reasons or exceptional circumstances hindering compliance with the English language requirement before entering the UK.

Failure to demonstrate adherence to the English language requirement or exemption criteria could lead to refusal of your Spouse Visa application. Therefore, ensuring compliance or meeting exemption criteria is essential to avoid complications in the visa application process.

UK Spouse Visa Supporting Documents Checklists

The primary cause for refusal in Spouse Visa applications frequently stems from inadequacy in presenting sufficient documentary evidence to substantiate the application.

The Immigration Rules mandate stringent requirements concerning the documentation necessary to support a UK Spouse Visa application. Each case is unique, demanding a tailored approach in assembling the requisite supporting documents.

Pre-drafted document checklists for Spouse Visa applications, though widely available, may not comprehensively address individual circumstances. Relying solely on such templates could prove detrimental. Seeking guidance from an immigration lawyer is prudent to ensure that the listed documents align with specific circumstances.

Failure to provide a required document, inappropriate formatting, or incomplete information within essential documents may lead to the refusal of a Spouse Visa application. Appeals ensuing from refusals entail lengthy processes, extending over several months, and with an uncertain outcome. Subsequently, reapplying incurs additional costs and further delays.

Our team of immigration barristers specializes in offering tailored advice to Spouse Visa applicants concerning the requisite documentation for a successful application. Additionally, we meticulously review supporting documents to ensure their compliance with the Immigration Rules, aiming to mitigate the risk of refusal due to documentation inadequacies. This proactive approach serves to strengthen the credibility and prospects of a successful Spouse Visa application.

UK Spouse Visa Application Fee

As of the current regulations, the Home Office imposes specific application fees for various types of UK Spouse Visa applications.

For individuals submitting a UK Spouse Visa application from outside the UK, the Home Office application fee stands at £1,523. This particular fee is applicable to those initiating their Spouse Visa application process while residing outside the borders of the United Kingdom.

Conversely, individuals seeking to switch into the spouse category from within the UK or extending their stay as a spouse face a different Home Office application fee, which is currently set at £1,033. This fee applies to individuals already residing within the UK who are transitioning their visa status or extending their existing Spouse Visa.

It’s essential to note that these fees are subject to change, and applicants should verify the most recent fee structure at the time of application submission. Additionally, additional costs might apply for dependent family members included in the Spouse Visa application.

As the Home Office periodically revises its fee schedules, individuals planning to apply for a UK Spouse Visa should stay updated on the latest fee requirements to ensure accurate budgeting and compliance with the application process.

UK Spouse Visa Processing & Decision Waiting Times

The Home Office has specific service standards for processing various categories of Spouse Visa applications, depending on whether they are submitted from outside or within the UK.

For Spouse Visa applications submitted from outside the UK, the Home Office’s service standard for processing is typically 12 weeks (equivalent to 3 months). However, following a reduction in the backlog of applications under the Ukraine Visa Scheme, including standard marriage and family visa applications like Spouse Visas, the processing time has improved. Presently, these applications are being processed within approximately 60 working days.

If an individual is already in the UK and applies to switch into or extend their stay as a spouse, the Home Office aims to decide on these applications within a timeframe of 8 weeks.

Regarding expedited services, the Super Priority Visa, which offered an accelerated processing option, is currently suspended for new Family Visa applications submitted from outside the UK. Nevertheless, the Priority Visa Service has resumed for new Marriage and Family Visa applications submitted from abroad. Applicants utilizing this service can anticipate a decision within approximately 30 working days.

Furthermore, as of 9th January 2023, applicants with existing pending Family Visa applications are being offered the opportunity to upgrade to a Priority Service, specifically providing a decision within 15 full working days (equivalent to 3 weeks).

It’s essential to note that these processing times are subject to change, and applicants should regularly check for updates and variations in service standards to align their expectations accordingly during the application process.

Duration of a UK Spouse Visa

Upon the successful approval of your application for a UK Spouse Visa, the initial visa duration granted will be 33 months. However, if you choose to apply for leave to remain in the UK as a spouse afterward, the granted leave will be valid for 30 months.

Ahead of the expiration of your initial grant of leave, it’s essential to apply to UK Visas and Immigration for an extension of your stay. If your subsequent application for further leave to remain as a spouse is approved, you will receive an additional grant of 30 months to remain in the UK.

Following a cumulative period of 5 years spent in the UK as a spouse, you become eligible to apply for indefinite leave to remain (ILR). This significant milestone marks the opportunity for settlement in the UK without any time limitations or constraints related to your visa status.

Switching Into the Spouse Visa Route From Within the UK

An individual can apply for leave to remain as a spouse from within the UK, except if they are currently in the UK as a visitor or hold valid leave granted for a period of 6 months or less, with limited exceptions.

Visitors aspiring to establish settlement in the UK with their spouse should depart the country and seek entry clearance as a spouse from overseas.

However, in exceptional circumstances, individuals in the UK with permission as a fiancé(e) or granted leave pending the outcome of family court or divorce proceedings are eligible to apply for leave to remain as a spouse from within the UK. These unique situations warrant special consideration, allowing individuals in these specific circumstances to proceed with their Spouse Visa application while already residing in the UK.

Working in the UK on a Spouse Visa

Holders of a Spouse Visa enjoy complete rights to engage in employment throughout the UK without any restrictions. This privilege enables Spouse Visa holders to pursue various job opportunities, work in different sectors, and contribute to the workforce on equal terms as British citizens or permanent residents. The right to work encompasses a wide array of employment options, allowing Spouse Visa holders to seek both full-time and part-time roles, undertake self-employment ventures, and explore diverse career pathways across the UK. This entitlement provides Spouse Visa holders with the freedom and flexibility to actively participate in the UK job market, supporting their financial independence and integration into the local community.

Indefinite Leave to Remain as a Spouse

Upon a successful Spouse Visa application, you will initially receive permission to enter the UK for a period of two and a half years, with an additional three months granted if applying for entry clearance. It is crucial to submit an extension application before your leave expires. Should your spouse extension application be approved, you will receive an additional two and a half years of leave to remain in the UK.

Following your stay of 5 years (equivalent to 60 months) in the UK under the Spouse Visa category, you might become eligible to apply for indefinite leave to remain (ILR) in the UK.

To qualify for indefinite leave to remain as a spouse, you must fulfill additional requirements beyond the aforementioned:

  • Evidence of residing together with your spouse in the UK during your time under the spouse category, or substantiate compelling reasons consistent with a continued intention to permanently live together in the UK, even during periods when cohabitation did not occur;
  • Meeting the higher CEFR Level B1 English Language requirement mandated for settlement applications;
  • Successful completion of the Life in the UK test, unless exempted.

Should you apply for indefinite leave to remain as a spouse and not meet the above criteria, UK Visas and Immigration will assess whether you meet the prerequisites for an additional extension of stay as a spouse. This thorough evaluation ensures compliance with the eligibility standards for further residency in the UK under the Spouse Visa route.

UK Spouse Visa Frequently Asked Questions

How Can I Get Married in the UK?

If you plan to travel to the UK specifically for marriage purposes, there exist two primary immigration pathways: the Marriage Visit visa and the Fiance visa.

The Marriage Visit visa is tailored for individuals intending to visit the UK with the sole purpose of marrying or registering a marriage while within the country.

On the other hand, the Fiance visa is designed for engaged partners of British or Irish citizens, individuals holding indefinite leave to remain in the UK, those with refugee leave or humanitarian protection, as well as individuals with limited leave to remain under Appendix EU or Appendix ECAA. The Fiance visa allows entry into the UK for the purpose of marrying within a period of 6 months from the date of arrival.

Both visa options serve distinct purposes and cater to individuals with differing circumstances, offering a legal pathway for those seeking to marry in the UK, enabling them to comply with immigration regulations while embarking on their matrimonial journey within the country.

Where Can I Apply for A UK Spouse Visa?

When applying for a Spouse Visa from outside the UK, it’s advisable to lodge your application in the country where you currently reside, given that you’re residing there for a purpose other than as a visitor. It’s worth noting that citizenship of that country is not a prerequisite for application.

If you are already present in the UK and have been granted permission to stay for a period exceeding six months, you have the option to submit an application for leave to remain as a spouse from within the UK.

However, if your granted leave spans a duration of six months or less, such as in the case of being a visitor, the recommended course of action is to exit the UK and apply for entry clearance as a spouse from overseas. The previous exception that permitted visitors to apply from within the UK during the Covid-19 pandemic is no longer in effect.

Understanding these distinctions and following the appropriate application procedure based on your current residency status will facilitate a smoother and more compliant Spouse Visa application process.

How Do I Apply for a UK Spouse Visa?

Spouse Visa applications involve utilizing an online application form, which varies depending on whether the applicant is applying from within the UK or overseas.

Prior to initiating a UK Spouse Visa application, it’s highly advisable to consult with an immigration lawyer to ensure that you access and complete the correct application form tailored to your unique circumstances.

As you proceed with your Spouse Visa application form, it’s crucial to concurrently organize and prepare your supporting documents. Specific document requirements necessitate that your documents are dated before the submission date of the online application form. This alignment ensures compliance with the application process.

Currently, the system permits individuals to upload scans of their spouse visa supporting documents for review by the Home Office. Nevertheless, it’s imperative to stay updated with the specific application procedure applicable to the country where you intend to apply, as the Home Office periodically modifies this system. Keeping abreast of any changes or adjustments ensures that you adhere to the most current guidelines and procedures during your application process.

Will My Overseas Marriage Be Recognised by the Home Office?

The Home Office acknowledges marriages conducted outside the UK under specific conditions:

  • The marriage type must be legally recognized in the country where it occurred;
  • The marriage ceremony must comply with the legal requirements of the country where it was conducted;
  • No laws in the domicile country of either person involved should hinder the recognition of the marriage or civil partnership;
  • Prior marriages of the couple should have irreversibly dissolved.

However, in essence, if the country where the marriage occurred recognizes it as valid, the UK will similarly acknowledge its validity.

When Can I Apply for a British Passport?

Upon initially entering the Spouse Visa category, you’ll receive a duration of two and a half years, with an additional three months if you’re applying for Entry Clearance. Subsequently, you’ll be required to apply for an extension before this leave expires, securing an additional two and a half years.

For most individuals in the Spouse Visa category, there exists a path toward settlement within five years. This trajectory involves two grants of 30 months, paving the way for eligibility for Indefinite Leave to Remain.

However, some individuals follow a ten-year route to settlement, necessitating four grants of leave. Should you switch from the five-year route to the ten-year route after entering the UK, both grants of leave can contribute towards fulfilling the period required for the ten-year route.

After acquiring Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK, those married to a British national hold the immediate eligibility to apply for Naturalisation as a British Citizen. Conversely, if not married to a British national, a waiting period of 12 months is mandated before applying for Naturalisation.

What if My Spouse Visa Application Is Refused?

In case your application for a UK Spouse Visa faces refusal, you’re entitled to appeal due to the automatic categorization of a spouse application as a human rights claim.

The appeal process unfolds at the First-tier Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber) within the UK. If you and your spouse are in the UK, both of you can attend the hearing and provide testimony before the Judge.

However, if you’re outside the UK, your spouse can attend the hearing on your behalf. You can contribute by drafting a statement and submitting evidence for the Tribunal’s consideration. Depending on your situation, arrangements might be facilitated for you to remotely provide testimony if deemed appropriate.

It’s important to note that immigration appeal proceedings can extend over several months and their outcome may carry uncertainty. For a comprehensive understanding of the process and to increase your chances of success, seeking legal guidance and representation from a specialized immigration lawyer before appealing a decision to refuse a Spouse Visa application is highly recommended.

What if I Cannot Satisfy the Requirements for a UK Spouse Visa?

If you’re unable to meet the prerequisites for a UK Spouse Visa, there might still be a possibility to enter or remain in the UK on human rights grounds. This could apply in scenarios such as:

  • You have a child in the UK who holds British or Irish citizenship;
  • You have a child in the UK who has been residing in the country for a minimum of 7 years, and it would be deemed unreasonable for them to depart the UK;
  • There exist significant and insurmountable challenges for you and your spouse if you were to live separately as a couple outside the UK;
  • Preventing your entry to the UK or compelling you to depart would constitute a breach of your fundamental human rights.

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