What is the UK Spouse Visa?
The Spouse Visa is part of the UK Family Visa route and it enables eligible individuals to join their spouse in the United Kingdom. To be eligible for this visa, individuals must be the spouse of either a British or Irish citizen, someone with indefinite leave to remain in the UK, refugee leave or humanitarian protection or limited leave to remain under Appendix EU or Appendix ECAA.
This visa allows individuals to live and work in the UK for up to 33 months (2 years and 9 months). If the eligibility requirements are still met then there is the potential to extend the visa by an additional 30 months. By extending the Spouse Visa, individuals may be eligible to apply for permanent settlement in the UK.
The Spousal Visa UK is just one of the UK Family Visas, for information on other Family Visas head over to our dedicated page.
UK Spouse Visa Eligibility Requirements 2024
To be eligible for a UK Spouse Visa, you will need to meet the following requirements:
- You and your partner are both at least 18 years old;
- You and your partner are either married or in a civil partnership. This marriage of civil partnership must be legally recognised in the UK;
- Your partner must either:
- Be a British citizen;
- Have settled in the UK (i.e. they have indefinite leave to remain, settled status, or proof of permanent residence in the UK);
- Be from the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein and have pre-settled status (they must have been living in the UK before the 1st January 2021);
- Have a Turkish Businessperson visa or Turkish Worker visa;
- Have refugee status or humanitarian protection in the UK.
- You and your partner have met in person;
- You and your partner intend to live together permanently in the UK;
- There is adequate accommodation for you and any dependents. This means that the accommodation you will stay in is not overcrowded and does not breach public health regulations;
- You and your partner are in a genuine and subsisting relationship;
- Any previous relationships have broken down permanently;
- You satisfy the English language requirement;
- Your partner has a gross annual income of at least £18,600.
The Genuine and Subsisting Relationship Requirement
To be eligible for a UK Spouse Visa, you will need to satisfy immigration officials that you and your partner are in a ‘genuine and subsisting relationship’. The uniqueness of relationships means that decisions on the genuine and subsisting nature of relationships are made on a case-by-case basis using the evidence presented.
To prove that you and your partner are in a genuine and subsisting relationship, the Home Office guidance states that the following can be used as evidence of this:
A valid Marriage or Civil Partnership certificate (if applicable).
Documents to show that you are living together. This can include: a tenancy or mortgage agreement, utility bills, letters of support from friends or relatives.
Documents which show you share financial responsibility. This can include bank statements, household bills, and any insurances.
Evidence to show that the relationship continues even when you are apart. This can include money transfers, travel tickets, and communication records.
UK Spouse Visa Financial Requirement
When applying for a UK Spouse Visa, you will be required to prove that you and your partner will not need to rely on public funds to support your stay.
To satisfy immigration officials that your do not need to claim public funds, you will be required to have a joint annual income of at least £18,600. This income requirement rises by £3,800 if one child dependent will be joining you and then it will rise by a further £2,400 for each additional child. However, if your children are British, Irish, an EEA national or from another exempt category then you will not be required to meet this financial requirement.
The UK Spouse Visa financial requirement is as followed:
|Applying with no children or no children who are subject to the income requirement.
|Applying with one child.
|Applying with two children.
|Applying with three children.
The table above is correct at the time of writing (14th February 2024). However, from 11 April 2024 – there will be changes to the income threshold for those applying for family visas from £18,600 to £29,000 and the child element will be removed.
Meeting the UK Spouse Visa Financial Requirement
A variety of sources of income can be used to satisfy the financial requirement, such as:
Income from salaried or non-salaried employment.
Income from self-employment, or income as a director or employee of a specified limited company in the UK.
Non-employment income, for example, from property rentals, child maintenance, or dividends/income from investments, stocks and shares.
Money from a state (UK or foreign), occupational or private pension in your name or that of your partner.
Maternity allowances or bereavement benefits received in the UK. Income-related benefits will not be counted towards the financial requirement.
If your spouse is the recipient of one of the following benefits or allowances in the UK, then you will only need to show evidence of ‘adequate maintenance’:
Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
Severe Disablement Allowance
Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit
Attendance Independence Payment
Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
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
Policy Injury Pension
Self-employment and the UK Spouse Visa Financial Requirement
You can still apply for a UK Spouse Visa if your spouse is self-employed. As per the Immigration Rules, a gross annual income of at least £18,600 will apply - with this figure rising by £3,800 for the first child and an additional £2,400 for each additional child.
There are two ways in which the financial requirements can be satisfied through self-employment:
- Category F: Income from the last full financial year.
- Category G: Average income from the last 2 full financial years.
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UK Spouse Visa English Language Requirement
Unless exempt, when applying for a Spouse Visa you will be required to show that you meet the English language requirement:
- If you are applying for entry clearance or wishing to switch to the Spouse Visa you must be able to show that your English language abilities are at least to level A1 on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) scale.
- If you are applying for further leave to remain, you will need to show that your English language abilities are at least to level A2 on the CEFR scale.
There are a variety of ways in which you can meet the English language requirement including:
- Being a national of a majority English speaking country;
- Passing an approved English language test to the required CEFR level;
- Having an academic qualification which was taught in English. This academic qualification must be recognised (by Ecctis) as being the equivalent to a UK Bachelor’s degree, a UK Master’s degree, or a PhD if it was awarded outside of the UK.
As part of the application process, you will be required to provide supporting documents to show that you meet the eligibility criteria for the partner visa.
The specific documents will be dependent on your circumstance, but generally you can expect to provide the following documents:
- A valid passport or another travel document.
- A valid marriage or civil partnership certificate.
- Evidence that shows you satisfy the English language requirement (i.e. a SELT certificate).
- Evidence that shows you satisfy the financial requirement (i.e. payslips).
- Evidence that shows you have suitable accommodation in the UK (i.e. a rental agreement).
- Evidence to show that your relationship is genuine and subsisting (please refer to our previous section).
- Evidence to show that you have met face-to-face.
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UK Spouse Visa Application Process
UK Spouse Visa Application Fee
The current application fee for entry clearance as a spouse stands at £1,846 if the application is being made from outside the UK. The application fee for applications made inside the UK is £1,048.
As part of the application process, applicants are required to pay the immigration health surcharge (IHS) which gives them access to UK healthcare. Therefore, applicants for entry clearance as a partner outside of the UK can currently expect to pay £1,872 for the immigration health surcharge.
- Correct at the time of writing - 4th October 2023.
UK Spouse Visa Processing Time
At present, the processing time for Spouse Visas submitted outside the UK is around 24 weeks. Please be aware that this decision waiting time frequently changes and could be significantly different when you submit your application.
Duration of the Spouse Visa
If your application for a Spouse Visa is successful, your visa will initially be valid for 33 months. Before this initial grant of leave expires, you will need to apply to UK Visas and Immigration to extend your stay. If your application for further leave to remain as a spouse is successful, you will be granted 30 months further leave to remain.
After spending 5 years in the UK as a spouse, you will be eligible to apply for indefinite leave to remain.
UK Spouse Visa Extension
The UK Spouse Visa can be extended providing that the eligibility requirements continue to be met. If you successfully apply to extend your visa, you will be granted further leave to remain for a period of two and a half years.
UK Spouse Visa Refusals
If your entry clearance application as a spouse is refused then the Home Office decision letter will explain whether there is a right of appeal against this refusal.
Appeals are typically only available where there are human rights grounds under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). As an application for entry clearance as a partner involves family life this gives it the right to appeal.
The process for appealing is explained in the decision letter received from the Home Office. The first step will be to complete an appeal form and lodge this within 28 days (if outside of the UK) of receiving your decision.
Spouse Visa Extension
Unmarried Partner Visa