Spouse Visas & Civil Partner Visas

If you would like to join your partner in the UK and they currently hold settled status, you can apply for something known as a spouse visa, partner visa or unmarried partner visa. This type of settlement visa will allow you to live in the UK for up to 30 months, after which you can apply for a further extension of 30 months if you continue to meet the requirements. This can then lead to an application for Indefinite Leave to Remain.

Non-European nationals can apply to enter or remain in the UK as either the spouse/partner of a British citizen or a person with settled status, refugee leave or humanitarian protection under a spouse visa, partner visa or unmarried partner visa. Settled status, also known as Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR), means having been given permission to settle here permanently. If you are outside the UK you must obtain your spouse visa or partner visa before travelling.

UPDATE: changes to minimum income requirement for spouse visa uk

Recent changes to immigration law mean that the Home Office must now take into consideration specified circumstances if the UK spouse does not currently meet the minimum income threshold. After August 10th 2017, decisions for spouse visa applications must take into consideration other methods of financing. This might include self-sustainability, self employment or continued financial support from a relative. These changes will offer some hope for those who have previously had their spouse visa or unmarried partner visas rejected, or for those who have put off applying.

Why choose IAS for your spouse visa?

IAS are the UK’s leading immigration solicitors and, as such, we have a wealth of experience, as well as a strong track record of success with unmarried partner visa and spouse visa applications. We understanding the changing landscape of the British immigration system and are quick to respond to policy updates that can benefit our clients.

What are the spouse visa requirements?

As the non-European spouse, civil partner, unmarried or same-sex partner of a British citizen or a person with settled status, subject to satisfying the criteria for the relevant visa under the Immigration Rules (including suitability, relationship, financial and English language requirements), you will be given permission to stay in the UK for 30 months. If you continue to meet all the requirements you can apply to stay for a further 30 months.

After a 5-year period, you can apply for settlement (ILR) in the UK. Alternatively, you may be eligible to apply under the less stringent 10-year route which overlooks the financial and English language requirement, although you will need to show insurmountable obstacles to family life with your spouse or partner continuing overseas.

If you do not meet the spouse visa requirements for either route you may be given permission to remain here on the basis of your private life, subject to evidence that you have resided continuously in the UK for a required period of time. Both the private life and 10-year settlement route can only be made via applications from within the UK.

Can I switch to a spouse visa?

If you have already joined your spouse or partner in the UK you may apply to switch to a spouse visa or an unmarried partner visa from a different immigration category. You will not be allowed to switch categories if you are here as a visitor on temporary admission if permission to stay was given for a period of less than 6 months (unless that leave was specifically as a fiancée or proposed civil partner on the relevant visa), or if you are in breach of the Immigration Rules (a period of overstaying of less than 28 days will not be taken into account).

What happens if my relationship ends?

If you decide to end your relationship or divorce your partner, it’s important to let the Home Office know as soon as possible as this can have an impact on future visa applications. You will need to inform the Home Office of your separation or divorce so they can issue a spouse visa curtailment.  There are options available for the dependent spouse after a divorce, but it’s important to act quickly. Click here to find out more about spouse visa curtailment after divorce.

What happens if my spouse visa is refused?

If you receive a letter saying your spouse visa was refused, you will need to act quickly in order to appeal the decision or apply for another visa. Overstaying on an expired spouse visa can be very problematic and should be avoided.

How do I take the first steps towards a spouse visa or unmarried partner visa?

Spouse visa and partner visa applications can be complex and using the services of an immigration expert is highly recommended. IAS has an excellent track record with spouse visa cases and our solicitors are highly experienced in this field. Get in touch with IAS today for friendly, no obligation advice from the professionals. If you’re unsure whether you need a spouse visa, you can check using our Visa Wizard which gives answers based on your situation.


Frequently asked Spouse Visa UK questions

What is the minimum income I need to sponsor my spouse/partner to join me in the UK?

The minimum income required in order to sponsor your spouse or partner to come to the UK was set in July 2012 by the Home Office at £18,600. However, this caused a stir throughout the country, resulting in the UK High Court ruling that the minimum income requirement was ‘unjustified and disproportionate’ if the sponsor was either a refugee or a British citizen. This judgement came in July 2013 and since then, all decisions in relation to sponsors that don’t meet the criteria have been placed on hold until further notice. The UK Home Office filed an appeal against the judgement that was heard in the Court of Appeal in March 2014, the outcome of which has not yet been decided but is imminent. It should be noted that the monetary amount is higher if the sponsor is also sponsoring dependent children, with the amount increasing for each dependent child.  However, this does not apply to any children who are British.

Am I exempt from the Financial Requirement for the spouse/partner visa?

There are some occasions where you may be exempt from the Financial Requirements for a UK spouse or partner visa, for example, if you have a disability or you are a carer. As there are only certain instances where exemptions apply, we would advise you to consult a professional immigration lawyer for more information as whilst you may be exempt from meeting the current income threshold you will need to prove that you can adequately maintain your spouse/partner and/or any dependants.

Does my language certificate satisfy the English language requirement for my partner/spouse visa?

To be accepted for a spouse or partner visa, you must prove that you are able to speak and understand English as part of the application process. If you are from a country outside of the European Economic Area (or Switzerland) that is not predominantly English speaking then you will need to pass an English Language test that has been conducted by an approved test provider. If your certificate has been provided by one of these approved providers then it should satisfy the requirement. The need to take the English language test doesn’t apply if you have earned a degree in English, as your degree should be sufficient proof of your English language abilities. If you are unsure of where to find an approved test provider, consult an immigration specialist who will be best positioned to point you in the right direction.

Do I need to have a TB test certificate to apply for my spouse/partner visa?

Most countries now require an applicant to have a TB test before making an application to come to the UK for more than six months. You will need to have a test for tuberculosis (TB) in order to complete your application for a spouse/partner visa, as well as many other UK visa categories. The TB test for your UK visa will need to be completed by a Home Office approved clinic. A list of approved clinics around the world can be found here on the UK government website for applicants to find an approved location close to them. Please also be aware that for some countries the TB test will need to be carried out in a neighbouring country due to lack of approved testing centres.

Can my partner/spouse’s income be included in the Financial Requirement?

No, your spouse or partner’s income cannot be included as part of the Financial Requirement unless they are already residing in the UK (and with permission to work), in which case the Financial Requirement can be based on household income. However, if you are struggling to meet the minimum financial income requirement, get in touch with our team to discuss how recent changes to the law could help your application.

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