If you’re thinking of applying for a spouse visa in the UK, the process can be quite complex. This is especially true if you’re living apart from your partner or have children living with one of you. The stakes are high, both practically and emotionally, so it’s important to be well-informed.
What is a spouse visa?
A UK family visa, also referred to as a UK marriage visa, enables married partners of UK citizens to move to the UK. This is possible because they are married to someone who is considered ‘settled in the UK’. To be settled in the UK means that the person is a resident of the UK and has no limitations on how long they can remain in the country.
Can you work on a spouse visa?
Yes, you are eligible to work or study in the UK once the visa has been granted.
Spouse visa requirements
To be eligible for a UK spouse or marriage visa, several requirements must be satisfied. Firstly, both you and your spouse must be at least 18 years of age and have legally tied the knot, as this helps prevent arranged marriages. Additionally, it is necessary to demonstrate a permanent intention to live together and have the financial means to support yourselves and any dependents without relying on public funds. Your sponsoring partner must either earn a minimum of £18,600 annually or have enough savings to sponsor you, with higher financial requirements if supporting dependant children as well. Adequate accommodation for all parties involved is also necessary. Finally, it is required that you meet the English language proficiency requirements.
Check if you must apply from outside the UK
If you are currently in the UK with a different visa, it might be possible to change to a spouse visa without having to leave the country to apply for it from outside. For guidance on this matter, you can consult with a UK Immigration lawyer.
Be clear about your partner’s settled status in the UK
To apply for a spouse visa, your partner must meet certain requirements. They must be a British citizen or have settled status in the UK, which can be demonstrated through Indefinite Leave to Remain, proof of permanent residence, or having refugee status or humanitarian protection in the UK. If you are uncertain whether your partner has settled status in the UK, it is advisable to consult an Immigration solicitor for guidance.
Check that your marriage or civil partnership is recognized in the UK
As long as you follow the proper procedures for getting married or civil partnered in the country where your ceremony takes place, your marriage will typically be acknowledged in the UK.
If you’re not married yet and planning to get married abroad, to apply for a spouse visa to join your partner in the UK, it’s important to know what the requirements are in the country where you plan to get married. Depending on the country, your partner may be required to provide UK documents.
Demonstrate that you intend to stay in the UK permanently
When applying for a spouse visa, it is necessary to prove that you plan to live together permanently in the UK.
Consider how you will prove your knowledge of English
To obtain a spouse visa or any other UK visa, having a strong command of the English language is a must. You can show your proficiency by presenting academic credentials that are recognized by UK NARIC. Alternatively, you can opt to take a speaking and listening test with at least a CEFR A1 level.
Individuals from certain countries, such as Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and the USA, as well as several Caribbean nations, are not required to demonstrate their proficiency in English.
Work out whether you meet the minimum income requirement
The most stressful part of the spouse visa application is proving that you and your partner have a combined income of at least £18,600 per year. This minimum income requirement increases if you will be bringing children with you to the UK.
To obtain a spouse visa, you need to demonstrate that the funds originate from 5 specific sources. However, if you can prove that there are extenuating circumstances that would result in a violation of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which guarantees family and private life if the visa is denied, you may be exempt from this requirement.
It would be beneficial to consult with an immigration solicitor who specializes in Article 8 cases to gain a better understanding of how this can benefit you.
Make sure your application includes any ‘Human Rights issues
If you’re seeking advice from top immigration lawyers, they’ll let you know that there are limited chances to appeal a spouse visa application denial since 2015. However, one way to appeal is by claiming a violation of human rights. At OTS Solicitors, we have extensive experience with Article 8 of immigration case law, which protects the right to private and family life. They can help you draft your application to ensure the best possible chance of success and the right to appeal if necessary.
Collect together all your documentation
When applying for a spouse visa in the UK, it is important to have extensive documentation to support your application, including documentation related to the minimum income requirement. Gathering all necessary documents in advance can help ensure a smoother application process.
If you don’t meet the requirements
In case you do not meet the spouse visa requirements, there are still options available for you to apply to enter or extend your stay in the UK. For instance, if you have a child who is either a British Citizen or has lived in the UK for 7 years, and it would be unreasonable for them to leave, you could apply. Additionally, if there would be significant and insurmountable challenges for you and your partner to live outside of the UK, you could also apply to stay.
Require an Immigration solicitor to assist you with your application
The UK’s immigration rules can be difficult to navigate. It may be beneficial to seek assistance from top immigration lawyers to help with your spouse’s visa application.