UK Spouse Visa: Requirements & Application Process

April 18, 2023
8 minutes, 31 seconds

A UK Spouse Visa is a type of visa that allows the spouse of a British citizen or settled person to join them and live together in the UK. The visa is also known as a Partner visa or Marriage visa. The spouse visa is initially granted for 30 months, after which it can be extended for another 30 months. After five years of continuous residence in the UK, the spouse can apply for indefinite leave to remain (ILR) and eventually British citizenship.

The importance of a UK Spouse Visa is that it enables married couples to live together in the UK without being separated by immigration restrictions. It provides the non-UK spouse with the right to work and study in the UK, as well as access to the National Health Service (NHS) and other public services. The visa also provides a pathway to settlement and citizenship in the UK, which can provide greater security and stability for the family's future. For many couples, obtaining a UK Spouse Visa is the first step in building a life together in the UK.

british passport

Eligibility Requirements for UK Spouse Visa

The eligibility requirements for a UK Spouse Visa, including:

  1. Age requirement: Both the applicant and their partner must be at least 18 years old.
  2. Relationship requirement: The applicant must be married to or in a civil partnership with a British citizen or a person with settled status in the UK. Additionally, the marriage or civil partnership must be recognised under UK law.
  3. Financial requirement: The sponsor (the British citizen or person with settled status) must meet a minimum income threshold or have sufficient savings to support the applicant without recourse to public funds. The specific amount depends on various factors, such as whether the sponsor has any dependent children.
  4. English language requirement: The applicant must be able to demonstrate their proficiency in English by passing an approved English language test or by holding a recognised English language qualification.
  5. Accommodation requirement: The sponsor must provide suitable accommodation for the applicant and any dependents without the need for public funds. This means that the accommodation must meet certain minimum standards, such as being free from serious hazards and having adequate space and facilities.

It's important to note that there may be additional requirements depending on individual circumstances, such as previous immigration history or criminal convictions. It's always advisable to seek professional advice to ensure that all eligibility criteria are met before making an application.

Documents Required for UK Spouse Visa Application

Here are some of the main documents that are typically required for a UK Spouse Visa application:

  1. Personal documents:
  • A valid passport
  • Two passport-sized photos
  • Previous passports, if any
  • Biometric residence permit (if already in the UK)
  • Police clearance certificates from any country where the applicant has lived for more than 12 months in the past 10 years
  • Tuberculosis test results, if applicable
  1. Relationship documents:
  • Marriage or civil partnership certificate
  • Evidence of cohabitation (e.g., joint tenancy agreement, utility bills, council tax statements)
  • Photos or evidence of the couple's relationship
  1. Financial documents:
  • Bank statements, wage slips or employment contract of the sponsor
  • Evidence of any self-employment income or rental income
  • Evidence of any cash savings or investments that can be used to support the applicant and any dependents
  1. English language documents:
  • A valid English language test certificate (e.g., IELTS) or evidence of a recognised qualification in English
  1. Accommodation documents:
  • Evidence of the suitability of the accommodation, such as a tenancy agreement or property deeds
  • Evidence that the accommodation is not overcrowded or does not breach any health and safety regulations

The exact documents required may vary depending on individual circumstances. It's always advisable to check the UK government's guidance or seek professional advice to ensure that all necessary documents are included in the application.

UK Spouse Visa Application Process

Here is a step-by-step guide to the UK Spouse Visa application process:

  1. Check eligibility: Ensure that you meet all the eligibility requirements for a UK spouse visa.
  2. Gather documents: Collect all the necessary documents to prove your eligibility, including personal, relationship, financial, English language, and accommodation documents.
  3. Create an account: Create an account on the Visa4UK website and complete the online application form.
  4. Pay the application fee: Pay the application fee online during the application process. The fee depends on the length of the visa and whether the applicant is applying from inside or outside the UK.
  5. Book an appointment: Book an appointment at a visa application center to provide biometric information (fingerprints and a photograph).
  6. Submit application and documents: Attend the appointment at the visa application center and submit the application form, supporting documents, and biometric information.
  7. Wait for a decision: The application will be processed by UK Visas and Immigration. The processing time can vary, but standard processing times for spouse visas are typically around 12 weeks, but it can take longer, up to 24 weeks, if there are any issues with the application or if additional documentation is required.  The applicant can pay an additional fee for priority processing, which can reduce the processing time to 24 or 48 hours.
  8. Receive a decision: If the visa is approved, the applicant will receive a vignette (sticker) in their passport that allows them to travel to the UK. Once in the UK, they will need to collect their biometric residence permit (BRP) within 10 days of arrival. If the visa is refused, the applicant will be provided with a reason for the refusal and information about their right to appeal.

The application fee for a spouse visa is currently £1,538 for applications made outside the UK and £1,048 for applications made from within the UK. Other costs include an Immigration Healthcare Surcharge of £624 for each year and a biometric fee of £19.20. The super priority service charge is £800 if you want to get a decision by the end of the next working day.

Additional fees may also be required for priority processing or other optional services. It's important to note that fees are subject to change and applicants should check the UK government's guidance for the most up-to-date information.

The process may vary depending on individual circumstances, and applicants should always check the UK government's guidance for the most up-to-date information.

The UK spouse visa interview is not a mandatory part of the application process. However, if the Entry Clearance Officer (ECO) reviewing the application has doubts about the relationship or eligibility of the applicant, they may request an interview.

UK Spouse Visa Interview

What to expect during the interview:

  • The interview will be conducted in English.
  • The applicant will be asked a series of questions about their relationship with their partner, their plans for living in the UK, and their financial situation.
  • The interview may be conducted in person or over the phone.
  • The interviewer may ask for additional documentation to support the application.

How to prepare for the interview:

  • Review the application and ensure that all the information is accurate and up-to-date.
  • Rehearse potential interview questions with your partner, including questions about your relationship, plans for living in the UK, and finances.
  • Bring any additional documentation that may support the application, such as photographs, bank statements, or proof of accommodation.
  • Dress appropriately and arrive on time for the interview.
  • Stay calm and focused during the interview, and answer questions truthfully and clearly.

Note that not all applicants will be required to attend an interview. If an interview is requested, it does not necessarily mean that the application will be refused. However, it's important to take the interview seriously and prepare accordingly.

Common Reasons for UK Spouse Visa Application Rejection

These are some common reasons for UK Spouse Visa application rejection:

  1. Inadequate supporting documents: The applicant must provide all the required supporting documents with their application, and these documents must be accurate, up-to-date, and in the correct format. Failure to provide adequate supporting documents can result in the application being rejected.
  2. Inadequate financial resources: The UK Spouse Visa requires the applicant to meet certain financial requirements, including a minimum income threshold. If the applicant cannot demonstrate that they meet these financial requirements, their application may be rejected.
  3. Inadequate English language skills: The applicant must demonstrate a certain level of English language proficiency to be eligible for a UK Spouse Visa. If the applicant cannot demonstrate this proficiency, their application may be rejected.
  4. Inadequate accommodation: The applicant must provide evidence that they will have adequate accommodation in the UK and that the accommodation meets certain standards. If the applicant cannot demonstrate this, their application may be rejected.

There can be other reasons for UK Spouse Visa application rejection and each case is evaluated on its merits. It's crucial for applicants to carefully review the eligibility requirements and application guidelines, and to seek professional guidance if needed, to ensure their application is complete and meets all the requirements.

After Approval of a UK Spouse Visa

After the approval of a UK Spouse Visa, the applicant will be granted a visa that is valid for 33 months. During this time, the visa holder is allowed to live, work, and study in the UK.

If the applicant wishes to extend their stay in the UK beyond the initial visa period, they can apply for an extension of their UK Spouse Visa. The extension application must be submitted before the current visa expires, and the applicant must continue to meet the eligibility requirements, including the financial and English language requirements.

After living in the UK for a continuous period of five years on a UK Spouse Visa or other eligible visas, the applicant may be eligible to apply for settlement in the UK, also known as Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR). The settlement allows the applicant to remain in the UK without any time restrictions, and they may also be eligible to apply for British citizenship after a certain period of time.

The visa holder needs to comply with all UK immigration laws and regulations while in the UK, including reporting any changes in circumstances and ensuring that they maintain their eligibility for their visa category.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, a UK Spouse Visa allows a non-UK citizen who is married to or in a long-term relationship with a UK citizen or resident to live and work in the UK. The eligibility requirements include age, relationship, finances, English language, and accommodation requirements. 

Applicants must also provide supporting documents and pay the application fee. The application process can take several months, and an interview may be requested in some cases. It's important to carefully review the eligibility requirements and application guidelines, and to seek professional guidance if needed, to increase the chances of a successful application.

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