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Spouse visa – what are the requirements for a spouse visa

‘How do I apply for a spouse visa?’ ‘What are the requirements for a spouse visa? Common questions. You may be a British national living in the UK and would like your overseas spouse to join you. It should be a simple enough process. It is not. In an attempt to demystify the spouse visa applications, I have put together an outline of the process for applying for a spouse visa, the documents required and some general guidance to bear in mind.

Background

A spouse visa is appropriate when you are already in the UK and you would like your overseas spouse or civil partner to join you in the UK for over 6 months. Overseas national refers to your partner being a national of a country outside of the European Economic Area (EEA) and who is living abroad.

As part of the immigration process, you will need to sponsor your partner’s application to join you as a dependant and you will need to fall within one of the following:

  • Be a British citizen
  • Have settlement or indefinite leave to remain in the UK
  • Have asylum or humanitarian protection in the UK

Much of this information may apply to unmarried partners also though for the purposes of this article, the focus will be on spouses and married partners.

Application

As the sponsor you are supporting the application. Your partner will need to complete and submit the application online in their country of nationality or residence. The only exception to the online process is where your partner resides in or is from North Korea in which case, they will need to download and complete a paper application form.

The application form can be saved and returned to, allowing you to assist with the preparation of the application form or to review the application to ensure that all the information provided is correct.

The application type normally causes confusion. As you are a British citizen or settled and living in the UK, your partner will need to apply for a ‘Family of a Settled Person’ visa.

If you have children, your partner should their details within their application form and also complete separate online applications for each child.

Key requirements:

Genuine Relationship

Your partner must be over 18 and your relationship must be genuine and that you intend to live together as a family in the UK. When submitting the application to UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI), they will wish to see evidence that the marriage or civil partnership is legal and that the relationship is one that exists and has not an ‘arranged marriage’ or has been entered into to circumvent immigration laws.

Earnings

One of the most onerous requirements is the need for you to meet the financial requirements for your partner to successfully apply to join you in the UK. This means that you need to show that you earn above a certain threshold.

The salary threshold currently stands at:

  • £18,600 per annum – partner only
  • £22,400 per annum – partner and first child
  • £24,800 per annum – partner and 2 children
  • £27,200 per annum – partner and 3 children
  • £2,400 for each additional child

So as an example, if you are sponsoring your wife and 3 children to join you in the UK as your dependants, you will need to show the following savings or earnings:

  • £27,200 per annum – partner and 3 children

Total = £27,200

The financial requirement is usually evidenced via your income but can be a combination of:

  • Income from employment or self-employment – if you’re in the UK with permission to work
  • A pension
  • Maternity, paternity, adoption or sick pay
  • Other income such as from rent or shares
  • Cash savings – you’ll need at least £16,000, and the savings must have been in your name for 6 months or more

You will not need to meet the financial requirement if you have one or more of the following benefits:

  • Disability Living Allowance
  • Severe Disablement Allowance
  • Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit
  • Attendance Allowance
  • Personal Independence Payment
  • 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
  • bereavement benefits

The above requirements do not apply if you have either humanitarian protection or refugee status and are subject to change.

You will also need to complete a Financial Requirement Form or Appendix 2 to further evidence that you meet the financial requirements.

The evidential flexibility for meeting the financial requirements is set out in paragraph D of Appendix FM-SE.

Accommodation

As part of the application process, you must show that you and your partner (and any children) will have adequate accommodation in the UK. This is to prevent individuals later seeking public assistance.

English language

Your partner will need to show that they have a knowledge of the English Language when they apply to join you in the UK.

If your partner is from a national of a majority English language, their language skills will be implied. Those countries are:

  • 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
  • US

Otherwise, English language can be evidenced by way of:

  • An academic qualification that both:
    • was taught or researched in English
    • is recognised by the body, UK NARIC, as being equivalent to a bachelor’s or master’s degree or PhD

A partner may be exempted from evidencing a knowledge of the English language where:

  • They are 65 years of age and older
  • Unable to do so due to a long term physical or mental condition
  • There are exceptional circumstances preventing them from meeting the requirements

UKVI will expect to see evidence if any of the above applies.

Tuberculosis Testing

As part of the immigration process, your partner may need to provide evidence of Tuberculosis (TB) screening if they are a resident of a particular country. Further information on TB screening can be found here.

It is advisable for your partner to book a test well in advance of the UKVI appointment as TB screening appointments in some countries can be subject to long waiting times.

Once your partner has been screened and found to be clear of infectious TB, they will be given a certificate which must be submitted as part of their application.

If you have children traveling as part of the application, they will need to be seen by the clinician who will decide if they need a chest x-ray. For any children under 11, a chest x-ray is rare. Once cleared, their certificates will also need to be included in their applications.

Children under 11 will not normally have a chest x-ray.

The TB certificate is normally valid for 6 months so this needs to be factored into your overall applications timescales.

Sponsorship Form

You will need to confirm your sponsorship of your partner’s (and child or children’s) application by way of an undertaking. This is done by completing a Sponsorship Form

By signing the Sponsorship Form, you are confirming that you will be responsible for your partner’s (and child’s or children’s) maintenance, accommodation and care, without relying on public funds:

  • For at least 5 years, if they are applying to settle
  • Throughout their stay in the UK

Documents

The key documents to be submitted with the application will depend on your and your partner’s circumstances. Each person’s circumstances are different and there have been instances when I have advised clients to submit additional documents or made detailed representations to UKVI in order to make the application process as smooth as possible.

Whilst this is not an exhaustive list, some of the key documents to be submitted are:

  • Printed application form
  • Your current passport or valid travel identification document
  • Any previous or expired passports
  • Your partner’s passport sized photographs
  • Evidence of your identity and status in the UK
  • Evidence of marital status
  • Evidence that you and your partner intend on living together in the UK and of your relationship
  • Proof of adequate accommodation in the UK
  • Proof that you can meet the financial requirement/ maintenance requirements
  • Financial Requirements Form
  • Your partners proof of their knowledge of the English language
  • Your partner’s valid TB test certificate – see above
  • Sponsorship Form

If your child or children are applying to travel to the UK with your partner, the following should also be included, though this is not an exhaustive list:

  • Your child’s current passport or valid travel identification document
  • Your child’s previous or expired passports
  • Your child’s passport sized photographs
  • Your child’s valid TB test certificate

How long are processing times?

Processing times are at the mercy of UKVI and depends on a number of factors. For that reason, it is advisable to leave nothing to chance so as to prevent delay to your application.

On average, however, spouse applications can take up to 12 weeks to be decided. The latest  UKVI processing timescales can be found here.

Application fees

As of 2016/2017, application fees for your dependant to join you in the UK stand at £1,195. Fee increases apply as of 6 April 2017.

In addition, your partner will need to pay an Immigration Health Surcharge towards the National Health Service of £200 per year.

How long will the visa be issued for?

Spouse visas are issued for 33 months. Before the end of the visa, your partner will need to apply to extend their visa for a further 2 years and 6 months. The application will be made UKVI from within the UK so there is no need for your partner to leave the UK and make the application from abroad.

Can my partner work in the work?

Once the visa has been issued, your partner may work, take up employment and study in the UK.

Can my partner apply for settlement?

Your spouse may apply for indefinite leave to remain in the UK or settlement once they have resided in the UK for 5 years continuously.

My suggestion is that as soon as your spouse enters the UK as your dependant, they you both take a long term view to your situation and collate documents over the next 5 years to with a view to submitting an application to first extend their leave in the UK and later to seek settlement.

Conclusion

Spouse visas allow an overseas partner living abroad to join their British or settled spouse or civil partner in the UK. Once obtained, the overseas partner may travel to the UK, live beyond 5 years, work and study. Yet, the fact that the sponsoring spouse of civil partner might be British or settled in the UK does not necessarily mean that the immigration process will be a straightforward one. There are a number of strict requirements that could lead to a delay or a refusal of a spouse visa application if those requirements are not met.  With this in mind, this article has sought to explain the spouse visa immigration process and clarify the requirements to be met by UK sponsors and their overseas partners.

Call to action

If you would like further guidance or assistance with an application for a UK spouse visa, contact us at Thomas Chase Immigration to arrange a consultation. Or learn more about immigration from our blogs.

You may also like: Q&A: UK spouse visas and Disability Living Allowance.

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Join the discussion

  1. Tee

    Can a spouse of a British citizen who lives outside UK becomes a British citizen without living in UK

    • C. Thomas

      A non-EEA spouse of a British national will be entitled to settlement and to naturalise as a British citizenship based on their lawful and continuous residence in the UK.

  2. Nafees

    Hi

    Due to valid IELTS UKVI test, I received a refusal for my spouse settlement visa on 22 Jun 2018. The applicant passed normal IELTS not UKVI category.

    I m planning to resubmitt the visa application on 18 Jul 2018.

    I need guidance in relation to TB test. The TB test is valid until 5 Aug 2018.

    Can I use the old TB test instead off new one, because by the time I submit the application, it would b expired on 5 Aug.

    Would Home Office refuse the my settlement application again based on TB test validity.

    Please advise.

    • C. Thomas

      Hi and thanks for getting in touch.

      We cannot advise on individual matters.

      However, in general, TB certificates are valid for 6 months from the date of the x-ray. The valid certificate will need to be included with the UK visa application.

      All the best!

  3. Graham Duffy

    Thanks for this very informative article!

    Can I please just check, is this the correct type of visa to apply for if you want to bring your partner to the UK and you are not yet married? (But you wish to live together in the UK as a couple or perhaps marry in the future.)

    Thank you.

    • C. Thomas

      Hi Graham,

      Glad you found the article to be helpful!

      As a guide, an unmarried partner visa is suitable for those that have lived together, in a relationship akin to marriage, for at least 2 years.

      A fiancée/ fiancé visa is suitable where the sponsor and applicant intend to marry in the UK within 6 months. Once married, the applicant may apply for a spouse visa from within the UK.

      Of course, there are a number of strict requirements to be met with each visa category.

  4. Peter Dalton

    Hi

    Regarding the income requirement for a spouse visa, if I can show £62,500 in a bank ac in my name for a period of 6 months I wont be asked to prove income?
    If that is correct do I have to show source of funds or any paperwork other than bank statements showing that I have had the money for 6 months?
    Can I remove the money from the ac as soon as the visa is granted?

    Thank you

    • C. Thomas

      Hi Peter,

      That’s correct.

      If you, your partner, or both of you, hold cash savings of £62,500 at the time of the application, it will not be necessary to evidence income from other sources.
      Savings must be held for at least 6 months prior to the date of the application.

      Bear in mind however, you / your partner must evidence, in the application, that the financial requirements are met when making an application to extend the spouse visa.

  5. Miranda Rost

    Wow, this is exactly what I’m looking for. I was helping my sister process her spouse visa we take it from here https://www.migrationexpert.co.uk/ it’s a third party to avoid stressing yourself and we were gathering information or any tips as many as we can for reference. Thanks for your article!

  6. Saroj Shah

    Very helpful blog. I just wanted to ask that can I work in the UK on my UK Spousal Visa?
    Thank You

    • C. Thomas

      Hi Saroj,

      Thank you! 🙂

      Yes – The UK spouse visa allows you to work in the UK.

  7. phiona J

    Help please? Are the requirements needed the same for the partner who is under disabled allowance?

    • C. Thomas

      A person in receipt of Disability Allowance or Personal Independence Payment is not required to meet the minimum income requirements of £18,600 per year.

      Instead, the applicant’s spouse/ sponsor must show that they are in receipt of the above allowance and can adequately look after the applicant.

  8. Kansas Overseas

    Thanks for sharing such type of information.

    • C. Thomas

      Thank you! Glad you found it useful.

      • Nic

        Hi there,

        I’m a uk citizen along with my eldest son who was born in uk but my husband and youngest son are Australian, we have currently been residing in Australia but want to return to the uk to work and spend time with my family for a few years.

        My husband has a specialised trade but my question to you is if a spouse visa is more suitable for our situation or is sponsorship via work for my husband the better option?

        Your blog covers so many areas regarding spouse visa but we are outside the uk so does this information also apply to us?

        Thanks Nicole.

        • C. Thomas

          Hi Nicole,

          An EEA national from overseas may apply for a visa to accompany their British spouse to the UK. This applies to qualifying family members also.

          Much will depend on the individual circumstances.

          We cannot provide specific immigration advice here, but please feel free to contact us at [email protected] to arrange a consultation.

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