Overview of Switching to the Spouse Visa
The UK Spouse visa is a visa intended for foreign nationals who wish to settle in the UK with their British spouses or partners.
There is a range of eligibility criteria that all applicants must meet, including accommodation, financial and language criteria. Applicants must also prove that their relationship with their spouse is genuine and subsisting.
There are two main ways to apply for a Spouse visa. The first is to apply from outside the UK, with an approved Spouse visa granting the application entry clearance into the UK.
The second method is if an applicant is already within the UK and wishes to switch to the Spouse visa.
Most people already in the UK on a long-term visa will be able to switch to the Spouse visa, provided that they meet the eligibility requirements.
However, certain visas, particularly those that only allow short-term visits to the UK, will not allow you to switch to a Spouse visa.
- Overview of Switching to the Spouse Visa
- What Are the Eligibility Requirements for the Spouse Visa?
- Switching From a Fiance Visa
- Switching From Work and Student Visas
- Switching From a Marriage Visitor Visa
- Switching From a Visitor Visa
- How Do I Apply to Switch to a Spouse Visa?
- How Much Does it Cost to Switch to a Spouse Visa?
- Can I Switch to the Spouse Visa if My Spouse is on a Visitor Visa?
- How Can IAS Help?
What Are the Eligibility Requirements for the Spouse Visa?
If you wish to switch to a Spouse visa from another visa, you will first have to satisfy all of the Spouse visa eligibility requirements. These include the following:
- You must be in a marriage or civil partnership with a British citizen or Irish citizen, or someone who has any of the following:
- 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 Turkish Businessperson visa or Turkish Worker visa
- Refugee status or humanitarian protection in the UK
- You and your spouse or partner must be over 18
- Your relationship must be genuine and subsisting
- You and your partner must intend to live together permanently in the UK with adequate accommodation that doesn’t require access to public funds
- You must meet the minimum financial requirement
- You must meet the minimum language requirement
Switching From a Fiance Visa
The Fiance visa is a short-term visa that allows foreign nationals to travel to the UK in order to get married to their British or Irish partners. It grants 6 months’ worth of leave in the UK, during which you will be expected to marry your partner as one of the conditions of your visa.
After you get married in the UK, you will then be able to apply for the Spouse visa without having to leave the UK.
You will have to demonstrate that you meet the Spouse visa eligibility criteria to be granted further leave to remain as a spouse in the UK. After you do so, you will be granted an additional 30 months’ worth of leave to remain in the UK.
Note that time spent in the UK on a Fiance visa will not count towards your residency requirement for indefinite leave to remain.
Switching From Work and Student Visas
Most UK work and student visas will allow you to switch to a Spouse visa.
Generally speaking, you will be able to switch to a Spouse visa as long if your current visa:
- Has allowed you to stay in the UK longer than 6 months
- Has not granted you permission to stay on the basis of a visitor
Note that the only exception to the 6 months rule is the Fiance visa and Proposed Civil Partner visa, which are the only short-term UK visas that allow you to switch to a Spouse visa (or Civil Partnership visa).
Some of the most common visas you can switch to a Spouse visa from include (but are not limited to) the following:
In most cases, the application process for the Spouse visa will be the same, regardless of the visa. You must ensure that you have validity left on your current visa before applying for a Spouse visa, as you will not be able to apply after your current visa expires.
Switching From a Marriage Visitor Visa
The Marriage Visitor visa and Fiance visa are very similar visas in that they both grant the holder permission to enter the UK to get married.
However, the Marriage Visitor visa differs from the Fiance visa in some key aspects. For example, the Marriage Visitor does not allow you to stay longer in the UK beyond its initial 6 month validity period, nor does it allow you to switch to any other visa.
This is because the Marriage Visitor visa is only intended for people who only intend to get married in the UK and not live or settle there.
For this reason, you cannot switch from a Marriage Visitor visa to a Spouse visa.
If you wish to get married in the UK and you wish to settle in the UK afterwards, you will have to apply for a Fiance visa instead of a Marriage Visitor visa.
Switching From a Visitor Visa
Similarly to the Marriage Visitor visa, the Visitor visa is a short-term visa intended for foreign nationals looking to visit the UK for a short period of time.
Because it is not intended as a pathway to settlement in the UK, you will not be able to switch to the Spouse visa from the Visitor visa.
If you wish to apply for a Spouse visa when you’re in the UK on a Visitor visa, you will have to first leave the UK. Once you’ve done so, you can then apply for a Spouse visa to enable you to return to the UK under UK immigration rules, provided that you meet all the mandatory eligibility criteria.
How Do I Apply to Switch to a Spouse Visa?
If you’re applying to Switch to a Spouse visa from inside the UK, you must apply online through the Gov.uk website.
The process will be similar to your initial visa application in that you will have to provide your personal information and a range of supporting documents and evidence.
You will have to ensure that you specify that you’re applying from within the UK, as the application process will be slightly different to those applying from outside the UK.
Note that if your current visa expires while your UK Spouse visa application is being processed, you will still be able to remain in the UK while you wait for your decision. However, if your Spouse visa application is refused or rejected, you will have 14 days in which to submit an appeal or leave the UK.
How Much Does it Cost to Switch to a Spouse Visa?
It will cost £1,048 to switch to the Spouse visa from within the UK.
If you haven’t done so already, you will also have to pay the immigration health surcharge in order for you to keep accessing NHS services. This costs £624 for every year you’ll be in the UK.
Note that you may also have to pay some additional costs for your Spouse visa application, such as fees for the following:
- An English language test, if you need to prove your English language proficiency
- Certified translations for your documents
- Ecctis certificates if you need to get your academic qualifications certified in order to meet the English language requirement
- Using the Home Office’s super priority service if you need a decision on your visa application quickly
Can I Switch to the Spouse Visa if My Spouse is on a Visitor Visa?
One of the stipulations of the Spouse visa is that your spouse (who will act as your sponsor) is a British or Irish citizen, or holds settled status in the UK.
Because of this, you will not be able to switch to, or apply for, a Spouse visa if they are only in the UK on a short-term or temporary visa, such as a Visitor visa or a work visa.
If you want to apply to join your spouse in the UK, or apply to stay with them in the UK in this instance, you will have to apply as their dependent.
The process of applying as a dependent of your spouse will vary based on the type of UK visa they have.
How Can IAS Help?
The process of switching to the UK Spouse visa can sometimes be a complicated and complex process, as you have to juggle the conditions of your current visa alongside your new visa.
This is especially the case with the Spouse visa, which has reasonably thorough and extensive eligibility criteria that all applicants must adhere to.
If you require assistance with switching to the Spouse visa from a different visa in the UK, or you have any other immigration issue that you need assistance with, IAS can help.
We are industry-leading immigration lawyers and expert Spouse visa solicitors working in the field of UK immigration and beyond. We are well-versed in Spouse visa and UK visa applications, as well as the most common problems and pitfalls that occur when applying for Spouse visas.
Whether you need help in understanding the terms and conditions of Spouse visa applications and UK immigration rules, assistance in ensuring that your application is as comprehensive and well-formatted as possible, or if you just need some expert advice, we can help.
Last modified on August 26th, 2022 at 2:42 pm
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