UK Partner Visa Guide
Table of content
- Genuine and Subsisting Relationship
- Unmarried Partners
- Financial requirement
- UK Spouse visa – 10 years route
- Other sources of income in “exceptional circumstances
- Accommodation Requirements
- English Language Requirement
- Tuberculosis (TB) test
- Application process
- UK Spouse Visa Duration
- Spouse Visa Extensions
- Spouse Visa Switching
- Settlement after Spouse Visa
- Supporting documents
- Unmarried Partners
A UK spouse / civil partnership visa is a type of family visa enabling an applicant to join their partner in the UK.
You are eligible for a spouse visa if your partner is settled in the UK based on one of the following categories:
- British or Irish citizen;
- have indefinite leave to remain or permanent residence;
- have pre-settled status – they must have started living in the UK before 1 January 2021;
- have refugee status or humanitarian protection in the UK.
The settled person is called the ‘sponsor’ for the Spouse visa UK application purpose. Spouse visa and civil partnership visa applications are treated in exactly the same way by the immigration authorities.
For a partner visa application to succeed, there are, in general, 5 main requirements: evidence of relationship; comply with the financial requirement; have an adequate accommodation, meet the English language requirement and, in some cases, provide a Tuberculosis certificate.
Genuine and Subsisting Relationship
Both parties to the relationship must be aged 18 or over at the date of application and not be within the prohibited degree of relationship. They must also prove that:
- They have met in person as marriages in absentia, by telephone, by proxy etc. may not be treated as valid by the Immigration Authorities.
- They must intend to live permanently with the other as his or her spouse and the marriage must be subsisting.
- The marriage must be valid, i.e. recognised by UK law.
- Any previous relationship of the applicant or their spouse must have broken down permanently.
Although there are no set requirements for any documents proving a relationship, the most common are marriage certificate, photographs, evidence of shared financial responsibilities, evidence of cohabitation, children etc.
Not everyone needs to get married to settle in the UK with their partner. For those who do not want to get married there is the option of the Unmarried Partner visa. The main requirements in this category are the same as those for the spouse visa, except of course the requirement to get married.
The Home Office requires vigorous evidence to demonstrate your living arrangements and cohabitation for a 2-year period.
The sponsor must meet the income threshold to support their partner and any dependents without recourse to public funds. They must earn at least £18,600 per year. Employment will need to be proven to the Home Office with documentary evidence which could include:
- Employment contract
- Payslips covering: a period of 6 months prior to the date of application.
- A letter from the employer(s) who issued the payslips confirming:
- the person’s employment and gross annual salary;
- the length of their employment;
- the period over which they have been or were paid the level of salary relied upon in the application; and
- the type of employment (permanent, fixed-term contract or agency).
- Personal bank statements corresponding to the same period(s) as the payslips showing that the salary has been paid into an account in the name of the person or in the name of the person and their partner jointly.
- P 60/45
In order to rely on cash savings, in part or in full, the minimum amount of savings you must hold is £16,000 and the savings must be under either the sponsor or applicant’s control or jointly for at least 6 months and readily available.
To rely solely on cash savings, you will need to show £62,500 in cash savings: (£18,600 x 2.5 + £16,000 = £62,500).
If you hold less than £62,500 you may still partially rely on those savings, as long as they exceed £16,000, and make up the shortfall in other permitted sources of income, for example: if you hold £25,000: (£25,000-£16,000) ÷ 2.5 = £3,600. Requiring an additional £15,000 in another source of income, such as employment, to meet £18,600.
Your savings must be held in cash in a personal bank/savings account in your name or your partner’s name or jointly. The savings must be from any legal source, including a gift from a family member or other third party, provided the source of the cash savings is declared but it cannot be a loan. The bank/savings account can be a current, deposit, or investment account, provided by a financial institution regulated by the appropriate regulatory body for the country in which that institution is operating.
The Appendix FM financial requirement can also be met by relying on the gross annual income from a pension which is received by the Applicant or Sponsor. The gross annual income received from either a state pension (UK or foreign), occupational pension or private pension received by the applicant or their partner can be counted as income providing that the pension has been a source of income for at least 28 days prior to the date of application.
When meeting the financial requirement through pension income, the evidence required in support of this is minimal. An applicant will be required to provide official documentation from the pension provider confirming the entitlement to the pension and the amount. The applicant will also be required to provide a bank statement or similar, dated within the last 12 months, showing receipt of the pension.
You can rely on income from the rental of a property owned by the Applicant and/or Sponsor to satisfy the financial requirement in Appendix FM. However, you cannot rely on income from renting part of your main residence. Therefore, you cannot rely on income from a lodger who rents one room in your house, for example.
Income from property rental can be combined with savings and pension income.
Exception from the financial requirements: Adequate maintenance
Where the UK based sponsor is in receipt of certain benefits or allowances, the applicant will be exempt from meeting the financial requirement for spouse visas by providing evidence of “adequate maintenance”.
- Carer’s Allowance.
- 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.
- Police Injury Pension.
You must, however, also provide evidence that you and your partner are able to maintain and accommodate yourselves and any dependants adequately in the UK, without recourse to public funds.
You will have to provide the following documentary evidence in support of the application:
- Official documentation from the Department for Work and Pensions or Veterans Agency confirming the current entitlement and the amount currently received.
- At least one personal bank statement in the 12-month period prior to the date of application. The bank statement should show payment of the benefit or allowance into their account.
Types of UK Visas
Get in touch with our expert immigration lawyers to learn how to apply for your visa.
UK Spouse visa – 10 years route
You can make an application for leave to remain as spouse under the 10 years route if you do not meet all the requirements of the Immigration Rules for spouse visa under the 5 years route. Generally, the applicants within the UK who cannot meet the immigration status requirement, English language requirement or financial requirement can make an application for spouse visa under the 10 years route under certain circumstances for instance when a child under 18 is involved in the application.
Other sources of income in “exceptional circumstances
Following the case of MM in the Supreme Court, the general legality of the financial requirement was found to be lawful, however, the Home Office is now obliged to conduct a more rounded view of the applicant’s financial circumstances where they do not meet the strict criteria outlined above. If you don’t meet the financial requirements under the Immigration Rules, you may still be able to apply for a visa or extend your permission to stay if:
- you have a child in the UK who is a British citizen or has lived in the UK for 7 years and it would be unreasonable for them to leave the UK; or
- there would be very significant difficulties for you and your partner if you lived together as a couple outside the UK that couldn’t be overcome; or
- it would breach your human rights to stop you coming to the UK or to otherwise require you to leave the UK.
In some “exceptional circumstances” cases, consideration can be given to other sources of income. The following can then be taken into account:
- credible guarantee of sustainable financial support from a third party, e.g., family members.
- prospective employment or self-employment of the applicant or their partner, e.g., if the applicant has a new job starting in the UK within a couple of months following his/her arrival to the UK
- any other credible and reliable source of income or funds available to the couple.
The couple must be able to accommodate themselves and any dependants adequately without recourse to public funds. There should be adequate accommodation available for the exclusive use of the family when applying for a UK spouse visa. Adequate accommodation is considered as one which is ‘not overcrowded’ and ‘does not contravene public health regulations.
If the accommodation is not owned by the couple (or one of them), the rules require that there be adequate accommodation which is for their exclusive use. This does not necessarily need to be a separate flat or a house.
It is acceptable for a couple to live in an existing household, for example, that of a parent, uncle, aunt, sibling or friend, as long as they have at least a bedroom for their exclusive use and the house is not “overcrowded”. In some instances, an accommodation report may prove useful, but it is not mandatory.
Legislation details the maximum number of people allowed for a given number of rooms or a given room floor area.
English Language Requirement
A spouse visa applicant has to prove their knowledge of English language. This requirement can be satisfied in several ways. Applicants must pass a mandatory A1 Common European Framework of Reference for Languages test. In order to extend an existing visa after living in the UK for 30 months, applicants must pass A2 language test.
An applicant will automatically satisfy language requirements if he or she: holds a degree or academic qualification that was taught or researched in English.
Applicant’s foreign English qualification may, on application, be recognised by UK NARIC as being equivalent to a UK Bachelor’s degree or higher.
Citizens of some countries are exempt from the English Language test as well. If you are a national of countries including 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, and the USA, you don’t need to prove your knowledge of English.
Tuberculosis (TB) test
You’ll need to have a tuberculosis (TB) test if you’re coming to the UK for more than 6 months and are resident in any of some listed countries. You will have to Provide a TB test certificate from an accredited clinic to be found on the Home Office’s website. Mamy countries are exempt from this requirement including USA, Canada, Australia etc.
Spouse visa applications must be made from outside the UK or, in some circumstances, from inside the UK, so the applicant may be applying either to come to the UK as a wife or husband, or to remain in the UK as a spouse. It should be noted that it is not possible to apply for a spouse visa inside the UK on a visitor visa or with a visa which is valid for six months or less (expect fiancée visa).
When making an application for a spouse visa you will need to use an online application form. As part of the application process, you will be required to provide both of the applicant and sponsor’s details.
The following fees will apply for a spouse visa:
- Home Office application fees: £1523
- Immigration Health Surcharge: £624 per year
- £470 per year for an applicant who is under the age of 18 at the time of application
Processing time may vary depending on the country where the application is made. It usually takes around 8 weeks for UKVI to make a decision on the application on settlement visas.
The decision can be expedited for an additional fee. Please check the UKVI website for availability and additional fees for any premium services for your visa application.
If you wish to find out more about your immigration matters, our team of experienced lawyers is happy to assist.
UK Spouse Visa Duration
A spouse visa is granted for an initial period of 30 months if you apply within the UK and 33 months if the application was granted from outside the UK.
Upon your UK spouse visa expiration, you will be able to extend your visa for another 30 months. Upon reaching five years of continuous residence on a spouse visa, you may be eligible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR). Once the spouse visa is approved you will be allowed to live, work or study in the UK.
Spouse Visa Extensions
You can extend your leave to remain in the UK under the spouse visa 28 days before your current leave to remain expires. You will need to fulfil an almost identical set of requirements, as for the initial application, except for a higher level of English language is needed at A2 CEFR.
For the applicant to succeed in the spouse visa extension under the 5 years route, the applicant must: meet the suitability criteria as set out in Appendix FM of the Immigration Rules; show that he/she has been living with the UK spouse during the last grant of leave as spouse and the relationship of the applicant is genuine and subsisting; meet the financial requirement of earning £18,600 gross per year (or above if there are non-British children), individually or jointly; meet the requirement of adequate accommodation to be accommodated in the UK without any recourse to public funds; prove that the applicant meets the English language proficiency at CEFR level A2 in listening and speaking only.
Given that the applicant will be already living in the UK with permission to work, both the applicant’s and the Sponsor’s income can be counted towards meeting the requirement.
Spouse Visa Switching
A person already in the UK on a valid visa of more than six months validity (this will normally exclude short-term category visas such as visitor or short- term students) may qualify to apply to vary their leave in the UK on the basis of a legal marriage or civil partnership with a settled person in the UK.
Settlement after Spouse Visa
Spouse visa leads to Settlement after 5 years if you meet all the way the English and financial requirements. When applying for settlement, the applicant will need to meet similar requirements as for the initial application and extension, except Life in the UK test will be required, a higher level of English will be needed and the Home Office will consider absences from the UK more closely.
To qualify for indefinite leave to remain through a UK spouse visa, an applicant must:
- have completed 5 years continuous lawful residence with a UK spouse visa;
- the relationship must be subsisting and both parties must intend to live together permanently;
- continue to meet the financial and accommodation requirements;
- not have any unspent criminal convictions (including motoring offences);
- have passed the Life in the UK Test; and
- demonstrate a higher level of competence in the English language at B1 CEFR.
However, in some cases where the person obtained leave on a 10-year route to settlement, the earliest the person will be eligible for ILR is after 10 years.
The Immigration Rules on spouse visa are very prescriptive and all the specified evidence must be provided in support of the application for it to be approved. You will be required to submit various documents in support of your application including:
- Marriage or civil partnership certificate original with English translation
- Tenancy agreement, Mortgage statement or title deed
- Sponsor’s Passport
- Income details: employment, self-employment, bank statement
- Utility bills
The legal requirements for a UK spouse visa are complex and we strongly recommend taking good legal advice from an immigration solicitor. Kas & Co Solicitors are specialist immigration solicitors accredited with the Law Society of Scotland and have assisted many clients to successfully obtain UK spouse visas.
Kas & Co Solicitors immigration team will guide you through the complex evidential requirements and assist you from start to finish with your UK spouse visa application.
For further information on obtaining UK spouse visa, feel free to contact our office to speak to our immigration lawyers +44(0)7869806506 or contacting us by email at email@example.com and we’ll be happy to call you and discuss your situation without obligation.
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This visa is a subcategory of the standard visitor visa enabling visitors only to get married in the UK and leave the country on the expiry of their visa; it should not be confused with fiancée visa which is intended to those who want to settle in the UK after their wedding.