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The UK Immigration Rules enable partners of British citizens, partners of persons with indefinite leave to remain or with limited leave to remain under Appendix EU to enter or live in the UK by applying for a UK Spouse Visa. The UK Spouse Visa category also allows you to apply for a UK Spouse Visa if you have a British partner who is living abroad, but intends to return to the UK with you to settle.
The UK Spouse Visa applications are determined under the term of the Appendix FM: Family Members (https://www.gov.uk/guidance/immigration-rules/immigration-rules-appendix-fm-family-members) as annexed to the Immigration Rules. The Appendix FM sets outs the substantive requirements to be satisfied in an application for a UK Spouse Visa, whilst the evidential requirements of a UK Spouse Visa are set out in Appendix FM-SE (https://www.gov.uk/guidance/immigration-rules/immigration-rules-appendix-fm-se-family-members-specified-evidence).
UK SPOUSE VISA APPLICATION REQUIREMENTS
To successfully apply for a UK Spouse Visa, you must demonstrate to the UK Visas and Immigration that you meet:
- The suitability criteria outlined in Appendix FM annexed to the Immigration Rules;
- The Financial Requirements of an application for UK Spouse Visa, whereby you must have a gross annual earnings of at least £18,600 or savings of at least £62,500 if the applicant or the sponsor are unable to show income from employment or self-employment;
- Your partner is a British Citizen, a person with indefinite leave to remain or with limited leave to remain under Appendix EU;
- You and your partner are both over the age of 18 at the time of submitting your application;
- You and your partner have met each other in person and, you have entered into a legal marriage;
- You have a genuine and subsisting relationship with your partner, and that you intend to live together permanently;
- Any previous relationship that you or your partner may have been part of has broken down permanently;
- You and your dependents will be adequately maintained in the UK without recourse to public funds;
- You and your dependents will have adequate accommodation in the UK;
- You are able to satisfy the English Language requirement of a UK Spouse Visa.
The specific requirements, that may be applicable to you, will differ depending on your circumstances. You may wish to seek expert advice from an immigration lawyer.
If you wish to apply for a Spouse Visa, speak to one of our specialised immigration lawyers for expert advice by completing our “Enquiry Form”.
In order to succeed in your application for a UK Spouse Visa, you will need to prove that you will be adequately maintained in the UK, if granted a UK Civil Partner Visa, without recourse to public funds.
To meet the Financial Requirements, you will need to demonstrate that your British or settled partner (or if you’re living in the UK with a valid visa, both you and your British or settled partner jointly) has a gross annual earning of at least:
- £18,600; plus
- £3,800 for your first child (who is not a British citizen or has settled status); plus
- £2,400 for each additional child (who is not a British citizen or has settled status).
Meeting the Financial Requirements
The Financial Requirements of a UK Spouse Visa application can be met through one of the following sources:
- Income generated from salaried or non-salaried income of the British or settled partner (or your own or joint salaried or non-salaried income where you are in the UK with a valid visa);
- Non-employment income of your British or settled partner (or your own non-employment income where you are in the UK with a valid visa), e.g., income generated from property rental or dividends from shares, income from investments, bonds, trust fund or stock;
- Your cash savings or your British or settled partner’s cash savings above £16,000 which you/ your British partner must have held under your control for at least 6 months prior to the date of the application for a UK Spouse Visa;
- Payments from yours or your British partner’s pension (state, occupational or private);
- Income generated in the course of self-employment or as a director or employee of a limited company registered in the UK.
It is important to note that in some circumstances, you may be able to rely on a combination of the above sources to demonstrate that you meet the financial requirements.
Exemption from meeting the Financial Requirements
You may be able to claim exemption from meeting the financial requirements if your British or settled partner is receiving certain types of benefits, which are listed below. In those circumstances, you will simply need to demonstrate “adequate maintenance” to be able to apply for a UK Spouse Visa and will not need to meet the financial requirements.
The types of benefits that allow you to claim exemption from meeting the financial requirements are set out below:
- Carer’s Allowance.
- Disability Living Allowance.
- Severe Disablement Allowance.
- Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit.
- Attendance Allowance.
- Personal Independence Payment (PIP).
- Armed Forces Independence Payment or Guaranteed Income Payment under the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme.
- Constant Attendance Allowance, Mobility Supplement or War Disablement Pension under the War Pensions Scheme.
- Police Injury Pension.
To succeed in an application for UK Spouse Visa, you must show evidence that you will have access to adequate accommodation in the UK without recourse to public to funds. The UK Visas and Immigration will not deem your proposed accommodation in the UK adequate if it is likely to amount to overcrowding as defined by the provision of the Housing Act 1985 or if it is likely to contravene public health regulations.
English Language Requirement
In order to qualify for your Spouse Visa, you must be able to satisfy the UK Visas and Immigration that you speak and understand English at a required level depending on whether it is your first spouse visa application or an application for an extension of your spouse visa.
To meet the English Language requirements, you must demonstrate that you are:
- A Citizen of a majority English speaking country;
- You have passed an English Language test at Level A1 (if you’re applying for your first spouse visa) or A2 (if you are applying for an extension to your spouse visa) of the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR); or
- You have been granted an academic qualification recognised by UK NARIC to be equivalent to the standard of a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree or PhD in the UK, which was taught in English; or
- You are exempt from meeting the English language requirement of a UK Spouse Visa application because you are over age of 65, have a disability that prevents you from sitting the English exam or that there are exceptional circumstances that prevent you from meeting the English language requirement prior to entry to the UK.
Evidential Flexibility in Meeting the Requirements
The Appendix FM-SE to the Immigration Rules states that decision makers at the UK Visas and Immigration have a residual discretion to contact you where they feel that any mandatory evidence relating to your UK Spouse Visa application is missing. The decision maker has discretion to delay a decision on the application and make a request for the missing document within a reasonable timeframe. Decision makers are not under a duty to defer a decision on your application where they are of the view that the missing document, even if furnished, will not lead to grant of a UK Spouse Visa.
The UK Visas and Immigration decision makers also retain discretion to grant your spouse visa application where there are minor evidential issues, but it is apparent that you meet the requirements of a UK Spouse Visa. Decision makers at UK Visas and Immigration also retain a general discretion to request any further information that they may think will assist them in reaching a proper decision on your application.
UK Spouse Visa Processing Times
UK Visas and Immigration do not provide specific timeframe for reaching decisions on Spouse Visa Applications. However, it has historically announced that it aims to reach a decision on spouse visa applications submitted via the standard service within 6 months of the date of submission of the application.
Although in some cases, decisions can be made within 2 – 3 months of the date of submission of a UK Spouse Visa, it is advisable not to make travel arrangements or any other travelling commitments until you have received a decision from the UK Visas and Immigration on your application.
The UK Visas and Immigration also offers a priority service, whereby a decision on your application can be reached within 24 hours of submission of the application. The priority service naturally carries an extra fee in addition to the standard Home Office application fee. It is important to note, however, that a decision on your Spouse Visa application can only be reached within 24 hours if all of the necessary evidence is provided to the decision maker. Failure to do so will lead to a request for further documents and a subsequent delay to the decision making process.
UK Spouse Visa Validity Period
If you are successful in obtaining a UK Spouse Visa from outside the UK, you will be granted a Spouse Visa with a validity period of 33 months. If you apply for a UK Spouse Visa from within the UK, you will be granted leave to remain as a Spouse for 30 months.
You must apply for an extension of your UK Spouse Visa before the expiry of your initial leave to remain as a Spouse. The earliest you can apply for an extension of your spouse visa is 28 days prior to the expiry of your initial spouse visa. Once you have lived in the UK for a continuous period of 5 years on UK Spouse Visas, you will be able to apply for indefinite leave to remain, whereby you will be settled in the UK.
Right to Work in the UK with a Spouse Visa
If you have been granted a Spouse Visa in the UK, you will have the right to work in the UK and there is no restriction on the type of work you undertake or the number of hours you work.
Are you unable to satisfy the requirements of a Spouse Visa application?
If you are unable to satisfy all of the requirements of a UK Spouse Visa application and you are also unable to meet the requirements of an application under any other immigration categories, you may still be able to join or remain with your British or settled partner in the UK on compassionate and human rights grounds.
To succeed in an application, to join or remain with your partner, on human rights grounds, you must satisfy the UK Visas and Immigration that you and your partner would be unable to continue your family life outside the UK or that you will face significant difficulty in continuing your family life outside the UK.
How our lawyers can help you with your UK Spouse Visa Application
Our lawyers are specialists in UK immigration law with almost a decade of experience. We have assisted hundreds of UK Spouse Visa applicants to prepare and submit successful UK Spouse Visa applications.
Our immigration lawyers can provide you expert advice on meeting the requirements of the Immigration Rules, carry out a detailed assessment of your prospects of qualifying for a UK Spouse Visa and can assist you with the preparation and submission of immigration applications from within or outside the UK.
Our lawyers combine creative energy with deep technical legal expertise to uncover innovative, out-of-the-box and unconventional strategies that help you succeed in your application even when you’re facing inherent challenges in meeting the requirements of a spouse visa application.
We do this by deploying the following:
- Taking a holistic approach to analysing every facet of each case and formulating strategies to comprehensively address every element of the case;
- Bringing deep technical and substantive legal expertise;
- Collaborative strategizing among specialist lawyers, who operate at different levels of seniority, bringing a wealth of technical expertise, tactical know-how and diversity of perspective on your matter;
- Using Design Thinking to reframe the challenges you face with a view to redefining value and opening up the scope of solutions;
- Designing customised strategy to meet your specific challenges.
What this means for you?
If you instruct us to take on your case, our scope of work will comprise of the following:
- Taking detailed instructions to carry out a thorough analysis of your case;
- Assessing your eligibility for a UK Spouse Visa in line with the requirements as set out in the Appendix FM, Appendix FM-SE, the accompanying Policy Documents and the wider case-law jurisprudence;
- Notifying you of the strengths and weaknesses of your case;
- Advising you on strategies, where possible, to remedy the weaknesses in your case and better evidence the strengths of your case;
- Providing you detailed and customised advice on the documents you need to provide in support of your application;
- Reviewing your documents to assess whether they meet the evidential requirements of your application and to advise you if further documents are required;
- Drafting the application form to provide to you for review and, if required, amending the application in line with your observations;
- Preparing a detailed letter of representations to be submitted in support of your application;
- Submitting the application form online and arranging an appointment for the enrolment of your biometrics;
- Responding to any queries from the Home Office regarding your application
- Addressing any queries that you may have regarding your application and any issues arising relating to your immigration status;
- Corresponding with the UK Visas and Immigration (Home Office) to ensure a timely decision on your application.
- Upon approval of the application, reviewing and ensuring that the approval documentation has been issued correctly.