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Guide to Entry Clearance for UK Spouse Visa

In order to settle in the UK with a Spouse visa, you will first need to be given entry clearance so you can enter the country.

For more information about the UK Spouse visa, including how to apply and what you need to do in order to get entry clearance, reach out to one of our professional immigration advisers on 0333 4149244, or contact us online today.

Overview of Entry Clearance for Spouse Visas

UK Spouse visas are visas that allow foreign nations to come and settle in the UK with their spouse or partner. The spouse or partner must be either a British citizen or someone with settled status in the UK, such as indefinite leave to remain.

However, there are a number of requirements and criteria that all Spouse visa applicants must fulfil before they cross the border to enter the UK and join their spouse or partner.

Broadly speaking, being allowed to enter the country is known as being granted ‘entry clearance’.

Entry clearance is used by Entry Clearance Officers (ECOs) to ascertain whether a visa applicant can be allowed to enter the country based on the UK’s immigration rules.

If a visa applicant doesn’t succeed in meeting the requirements under the immigration rules, they will not be granted entry clearance and, therefore, not be allowed into the UK.

It’s therefore essential to ensure that you fulfil all of the necessary criteria for the Spouse visa in order to be granted entry clearance to the UK. Otherwise, you may not be able to enter the country.

What Are the Entry Clearance Requirements for the UK Spouse Visa?

The entry clearance requirements for the Spouse visa are extensive and quite complex. However, the following are some of the key main criteria that you need to fulfil in order to be granted entry clearance for a Spouse visa:

  • You and your spouse or partner must be over the age of 18
  • Your UK spouse or partner must be any of the following:
    • A British or Irish citizen
    • A person with settled status in the UK, such as indefinite leave to remain, right of abode, or settled or pre-settled status through the EU Settlement Scheme (they must have started living in the UK before 1 January 2021 for this to apply)
    • A person with a Turkish Businessperson visa or Turkish Worker visa
    • A person with refugee status or humanitarian protection in the UK
  • You must meet the relationship requirements
  • You must have access to adequate accommodation for the whole duration of your stay in the UK and plan to live permanently with your spouse or partner
  • You must meet the minimum financial requirements
  • You must meet the minimum language requirements

What Are the Relationship Requirements for Entry Clearance?

One of the most complex parts of being granted entry clearance for a Spouse visa is ensuring that you meet the relationship requirements.

This is because there are several components to consider, some of which are left up to the discretion of Entry Clearance Officers or Immigration Officers.

As a general overview, the following are all important criteria that must be met in order to be granted entry clearance for a Spouse visa:

  • You and your spouse or partner must not be within a prohibited degree of relationship
    • This includes being closely related, such as by being their sibling, parent, child, adoptive parent, adoptive child, etc.
  • You and your spouse or partner must have met in person
    • You must demonstrate that at least one face-to-face meeting has taken place before the date of application
  • You and your spouse or partner must be in a marriage or civil partnership that is legally recognised in the UK
  • Your relationship must be genuine and subsisting
  • You and your spouse or partner must intend to live together permanently in the UK
  • Any previous relationships must have broken down permanently
    • You will need to prove that if you or your partner or spouse have been previously married, that these marriages have ended. This can be done by showing evidence of a divorce in the form of a decree absolute, or a lawful equivalent from another country where the divorce was filed

What Are the Genuine and Subsisting Relationship Requirements for Entry Clearance?

A key element of being granted entry clearance for a Spouse visa is demonstrating that your relationship is ‘genuine and subsisting’.

This is the element that may trip some applicants up, as it can sometimes be difficult to persuade the Entry Clearance Officer that you meet this requirement without substantial and compelling proof or evidence.

In addition, this is the part of the entry clearance approval procedure where the Home Office will be scrutinising your UK Spouse visa application most closely.

The following are all important factors that Entry Clearance Officers will use when considering if you fulfil the genuine and subsisting relationship requirement. They will consider if you and your partner or spouse:

  • Are in a current, long-term relationship
  • Are now, or have been, living together
  • Have children together (whether biological, adopted, or step-children) and if you both have shared responsibility for them
  • Share financial responsibilities, such as through a joint tenancy agreement, mortgage, utility bills, council tax bills or joint accounts
  • Have visited each other’s home countries and families
  • Have made definite plans for the future, including those that pertain to you living in the UK long term

In order to demonstrate that you fulfil these requirements for entry clearance, you must provide a wide range of documentation, proof and evidence to demonstrate that your relationship is genuine and subsisting. The type of evidence specifically will differ greatly depending on your own individual circumstances.

If you require assistance with seeking entry clearance with your UK Spouse visa application, including meeting the relationship requirements or assembling a portfolio of proof and evidence for the Home Office, reach out to us on 0333 4149244, or contact us online for expert advice and assistance.

What Are the Accommodation Requirements for Entry Clearance?

The accommodation requirements for Spouse visa entry clearance refer to the need for you, your spouse or partner, and any dependents to have somewhere adequate to live while in the UK.

This requirement is also partly in place to ensure that you do not need to rely on public funds or benefits while in the UK, as the Spouse visa does not allow you access to public funds.

Below are a few ways in which you can fulfil this requirement for entry clearance:

  • Demonstrate ownership of a property through either:
    • A title deed
    • Mortgage agreement, along with proof that the necessary obligations and conditions of the mortgage agreement are being met
  • Demonstrate legal occupancy of a property through a tenancy agreement, along with a letter from the landlord, local authority or letting agency confirming that the rent is being paid each month on time
  • A letter from a friend or family confirming that you will be staying with them and that they will be providing accommodation and financial support for the whole of your stay

In addition to all of this, you must ensure that your accommodation does not exceed the overcrowding guidelines. These guidelines mostly dictate that individual adults must have their own individual bedrooms.

What Are the Financial Requirements for Entry Clearance?

The financial requirement for Spouse visa entry clearance is another requirement that is in place to ensure that you won’t need to be accessing public funds during your stay in the UK.

In order to fulfil the financial requirements for entry clearance, you will need to demonstrate that you and your spouse or partner have a shared income that meets or exceeds the necessary threshold for your family unit. These thresholds are as follows:

  • £18,600 between you and your spouse or partner, as well as
  • £3,800 for an initial dependent child
  • £2,400 for each additional dependent child

The financial requirement for dependent children only applies if they are not British, do not have indefinite leave to remain, do not have pre-settled status or settled status, and are not EEA nationals with a right to reside in the UK.

In order to satisfy the Entry Clearance officer that you do meet the immigration rules for this requirement, you must provide proof of your income, financial assets or savings. The types of evidence that you can use for entry clearance are as follows:

  • You or your spouse or partner’s income from salaried or non-salaried employment, including self-employment
  • Income from non-employment sources, such as stocks, shares, property or dividends
  • You or your spouse or partner’s cash savings amounting to £16,000 or over, held for at least 6 months and wholly under your or their control
  • You or your spouse or partner’s state, occupational or private pension

You may be able to rely on a combination of the above options in order to prove that you meet the financial requirements for entry clearance.

In addition, if your partner or spouse is in receipt of certain benefits or allowances, such as a Disability Living Allowance or Guaranteed Income Payment, you may be exempt from the financial requirement by providing proof of this.

Contact us today if you require assistance with applying for Spouse visa entry clearance.

What Are the Language Requirements for Entry Clearance?

To be granted entry clearance for your Spouse visa, you will need to show that you meet the minimum English language requirements.

To do this, you must either pass an approved English language test at CEFR level A1 or above or demonstrate that you are exempt from this requirement.

You won’t need to demonstrate your English language knowledge if either of the following apply to you:

  • You’re from a majority English-speaking country
  • You have a Bachelors, Masters, or PhD qualification that was either:
    • Awarded in the UK
    • Mostly taught in English and has been verified by Ecctis that it is equivalent to a Bachelors, Masters, or PhD level qualification by UK educational standards

You will also be exempt from the English language requirement for entry clearance if any of the following apply to you:

  • You are over the age of 65 when you apply for entry clearance
  • You have a physical or mental disability that prevents you from meeting the English language requirement
  • There are exceptional circumstances that apply to you that prevent you from satisfying the English language requirement before you receive entry clearance

How Can I Apply for Entry Clearance?

You must apply for your Spouse visa entry clearance online, prior to your arrival to the UK.

You must use Gov.uk’s online application form to enter your details and upload your supporting documents. You will also pay your application fees and immigration health surcharge during this application process.

You may also have to attend an appointment at your local visa application centre in order to give your biometrics in the form of your photograph and fingerprints.

When you submit your application, the Home Office and an Entry Clearance Officer will carefully examine your application to ensure that it adheres to the necessary requirements for a Spouse visa.

If the Entry Clearance Officer has any doubts or concerns about your application, they may request for you to attend an interview. This may occur if they have doubts that you satisfy the eligibility criteria for a Spouse visa, such as if they have doubts over the legitimacy of your relationship with your spouse or partner.

However, if your application is approved, you will be granted entry clearance to come to the UK, subject to further checks at the port of entry conducted by an Immigration Officer.

How Much Does it Cost to Get Entry Clearance With a Spouse Visa?

The cost of applying for entry clearance to the UK with a spouse visa is £1,523.

It also costs £1,523 for each dependent you wish to add to your application so that they can also receive entry clearance.

Note that when applying for entry clearance, you will also likely have to pay the immigration health surcharge. This is a mandatory fee you will have to pay in order to access NHS services while in the UK.

Initially, you will have to pay £1,872 for the first 2 years and 9 months of leave in the UK. If you choose to extend your Spouse visa, you will then pay another £1,560 for the next 2 years and 6 months of leave that follow.

Note that there are also other costs that you must factor in as well when applying for Spouse visa entry clearance. The may include fees for the following:

  • Tuberculosis test, if you’re from one of the required countries
  • Translation of documents into English
  • English language test
  • Legal fees
  • Priority visa services, if you require a faster decision on your entry clearance application

What is the Difference Between Entry Clearance and a Visa?

In broad terms, applying for entry clearance is very similar to applying for a visa.

Both entry clearance and a visa allow the applicant to enter the UK. They are also both generally applied for outside of the UK, and are necessary for foreign nationals to cross the border to enter the country.

However, entry clearance can also be granted to foreign nationals without the need for a visa. This may occur when non-visa nationals have compelling or exceptional reasons in which they may be granted leave outside of the normal UK immigration rules.

In this instance, they would be given an entry certificate to enter the UK.

For most foreign nationals however, entry clearance would come in the form of a visa, such as a Spouse visa.

How Can IAS Help?

Gaining entry clearance for a Spouse visa can be a lengthy and complicated process. You must ensure that you both fulfil the eligibility criteria listed and also satisfy the Entry Clearance Officer that your relationship is genuine and subsisting, which can become a stressful process if not managed correctly.

If you require further assistance with applying for entry clearance for your Spouse visa, IAS can help.

We offer complete and comprehensive immigration services for foreign nationals both inside and outside of the UK. We have helped thousands of people successfully navigate the UK immigration system, from obtaining visas, having entry clearance granted, or having applications for permanent settlement approved.

Whether you need someone to help guide you through the application process, assist you with supporting documents or to give advice about how to prepare for an entry clearance interview, we can help.

We can also help if you’re looking to join your fiance or proposed civil partner in the UK on a UK Fiance visaUnmarried Partner visa, or any other type of visa that you might be looking to obtain.

For more information about the services we offer and what we can do for you, reach out to us today on 0333 4149244, or contact us online.

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