UK Spouse Visa
UK spouse visa refusal rates are increasing as many applicants are uninformed regarding the copious requirements of Appendix FM. Eliminate the risk of refusal and secure your UK spouse visa first time.
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UK Spouse Visa Overview
If you are married to a British Citizen or a UK Permanent Resident (PR) holder, you may be eligible to apply for a UK spouse visa entitling you and your family to move to the UK for an initial period of 2 ½ years. A UK spouse visa can be extended for a further 2 ½ year period. After 5 years of lawful residence in the United Kingdom, you will be eligible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR).
There are several requirements that must be met when applying for a UK spouse visa. Applications are often refused due to minor adminstrative errors or for more serious issues including misrepresentation or failing to provide key documents in the format required by the UK immigration authorities.
UK Spouse Visa - Entry Clearance
The four main requirements you need to satisfy to be able to apply for an initial UK spouse visa are:
Accommodation – show that you have adequate accommodation available for you and your sponsor upon your arrival in the UK and filing a Housing Evaluation Report in support of your application.
English Language – demonstrate proficiency in the English language.
Maintenance – demonstrate you have an annual income of £18,600 or £62,500 in cash savings.
Relationship – demonstrate that you and your sponsor are in a genuine relationship.
It is worth noting that most refusals are based on failing to show that the Sponsor meets the maintenance requirements in the specified format.
The accommodation requirements for UK spouse visa applications state that the sponsor must have adequate accommodation for themselves, their spouse or partner, and any dependents without the need for housing assistance from public funds. This means that the sponsor must have their own home or rented accommodation that is owned or leased by a private landlord, and that is considered to be suitable for the size of the family and in a suitable location. Additionally, the sponsor must have enough income or savings to support the family without relying on public funds.
The evidence you will need to provide in support of your application will vary according to whether you will be living in the United Kingdom with family or friends, renting your own accommodation or living in your own privately owned accommodation.
The UK Appendix FM Maintenance requirements refer to the financial requirements that must be met by applicants who are applying for a UK spouse visa. These requirements are in place to ensure that the applicant and their spouse will not become a burden on the UK’s public funds.
To meet the maintenance requirements, the sponsor must have an annual income of at least £18,600 or savings of at least £62,500. If the sponsor does not meet these requirements, they may still be able to sponsor the applicant’s visa application if they have a financial supporter willing to provide a written undertaking to support the applicant financially.
In addition to the income or savings requirements, sponsors must also be able to provide evidence of their employment, such as a letter from their employer confirming their employment status and salary. If the sponsor is self-employed, they must provide evidence of their income, such as their tax returns or accounts. In all cases, evidence must be provided in the exact format required by the UK immigration authorities and the combination of documents must match those outlined in the immigration rules. When relying on evidence from overseas such as the US or Canada, the documents must be the exact equivalent of the accepted UK version.
It’s important to note that if the couple has children or children that are joining them later, the income requirement will be higher.
Genuine & Subsisting Relationship
The genuine relationship requirement in UK spouse visa applications refers to the requirement that the relationship between the applicant and their sponsor is genuine and subsisting. This means that the UK government must be satisfied that the couple has a real and ongoing relationship and that they intend to live together permanently in the UK.
To satisfy this requirement, applicants will need to provide evidence of their relationship, such as:
- Photos of the couple together
- Correspondence (e.g. emails, letters, text messages) between the couple
- Proof of joint finances (e.g. bank statements, bills, mortgage/rent agreements)
- Evidence of joint social activities and commitment to each other.
It is important to note that the evidence provided should be recent and cover the relationship’s entire duration.
Extending a UK Spouse Visa
If your initial application for a UK spouse visa is approved you will be granted limited leave to remain in the United Kingdom for a period of 2 ½ years. In order to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (permanent residence), you will need to lawfully residence in the United Kingdom for at least 5 years. Therefore, you will need to extend your initial UK spouse visa for a further 2 ½ year period. To apply for an extension of a UK spouse visa, you must meet the following requirements:
- You must remain married to your British Sponsor, and your marriage must remain genuine and subsisting.
- You must have lived with your spouse in the UK for at least two years before the date of your application.
- You must pass the Life in the UK Test and meet the English language requirements.
- You must be able to support yourself and any dependents without relying on public funds.
- You must not have a criminal record or pose a threat to national security.
- You must meet the suitability requirements for the UK spouse visa extension, including not breaking any UK immigration laws.
- You will also need to provide supporting documents such as your valid passport, proof of your relationship, evidence of your partner’s immigration status in the UK, and the fee for the visa application.
- You must submit your application from within the UK before your visa expires.
- You will need to provide evidence of your relationship with your partner, such as photographs, shared bills or bank statements, or a joint tenancy or mortgage agreement.
- You will need to provide evidence that you meet the financial requirements for a UK spouse visa grant, such as your income, savings, or proof that your partner can support you.
It is also important to note that during the application process, the UKVI might ask you to attend an interview to confirm your relationship with your spouse. This interview is usually in person, and you will be asked various questions about your relationship. It is essential to be well prepared, know your story, be honest, and have all the necessary evidence in hand.
Another vital thing to consider when applying for a UK spouse visa extension is that the rules and requirements may change over time, so it is important to keep up-to-date with any changes and follow the guidance from the UKVI website.
If your UK spouse visa application is refused, it is possible to appeal the decision, but the process can be time-consuming. It is possible to hire an immigration solicitor to help you with the appeal process if you choose.
Finally, it is worth noting that a UK spouse visa extension is a temporary status. If you wish to stay in the UK permanently, you will need to apply for settlement (also known as Indefinite Leave to Remain) once you have fulfilled the requirement of living in the UK for a certain period (usually five years).
Keep in mind that obtaining a UK spouse visa extension can be complex and time-consuming. It is always recommended to consult with a qualified immigration solicitor for professional guidance in the process.
Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)
To apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) in the United Kingdom as the spouse of a British citizen, you must meet the following requirements:
- You must have lived in the UK for at least five years on a UK Spouse Visa.
- You must have passed the Life in the UK test and met the English language requirements.
- You must not have any immigration violations or criminal convictions.
- You must have enough money to support yourself without claiming public funds.
- You must meet the suitability requirements.
- You must meet the knowledge of language and life in the UK requirement.
It’s worth noting that the requirements may vary depending on your individual circumstances and the immigration rules in place at the time of your application. It is best to consult with an immigration lawyer or the Home Office for the most up-to-date and accurate information.
The processing time for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) applications as the spouse of a British citizen can vary depending on several factors, including the Home Office’s workload and the application’s completeness and accuracy. The standard processing time is between 3 and 6 months. However, it can take longer if additional checks are needed, or the application is complex. Additionally, it may take longer to process your application if you have a criminal conviction or if there are any other complications with your application.
The UK Home Office offers a priority processing service for certain applications, including Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) applications as the spouse of a British citizen. By using priority processing, your application will be prioritized and processed more quickly than a standard application.
It’s also worth noting that, even with the priority service, there is no guarantee that your application will be processed any faster if additional checks are required. There may be some cases where it takes longer. The priority processing fees are also expensive, so this method should only be used if your application has no complicating factors and you genuinely need the application to be processed urgently.
It is always recommended to double-check with the Home Office or an immigration lawyer before making any decisions.
Fiancée Visa/Marriage Visitor Visa
If you are engaged to be married to a British citizen or Permanent Resident and wish to get married in the UK then you would require a UK Fiancé Visa or UK Marriage Visitor Visa.
If successful, this visa will be valid for 6 months. Even if you are from a visa-exempt country you would still require this visa in order to get married in the UK. You must intend to marry during your visit to the UK and must demonstrate that you intend to leave the UK before the expiry of your visa.
Our UK Spouse Visa Services
The legal and evidential requirements for entering the UK as a spouse or partner are becoming much tougher. With UK spouse visa appeal waiting times increasing to over a year, it is imperative that your application is well-prepared at the outset to ensure a successful outcome. Sterling Immigration are committed to ensuring that you start an exciting new chapter in your family life quickly with minimal disruption and expense.
Sterling Immigration will guide you expertly through the copious requirements of the Immigration Rules and Policy Guidance with respect to the financial criteria.
For more information, please schedule a consultation.