Spouse Visa & Civil Partner Visa

UK Spouse Visas - also called Marriage Visas, Civil Partner Visas, or Unmarried Partner Visas - allow for partners of UK citizens or residents to immigrate to the UK.

The right to apply for a Spouse Visa only applies to the husbands or wives of people who have settled status and are ordinarily and permanently resident in the UK - meaning either British Citizens, or people who have obtained ILR (Indefinite Leave to Remain, also known as Permanent Residence).

In this article, we explain the other qualifying requirements that determine whether you will be granted a Spouse Visa to join your partner in the UK.

Spouse Visa Qualifying Requirements

There are several qualifying requirements that you must satisfy:

  • Relationship
  • Finance
  • English language
  • Settlement

Relationship Requirements

The UK Spouse Visa is only available to couples who have a genuine marriage, and who meet the following conditions:

  • you and your spouse must each be at least 18 years old
  • you must have met each other, and be legally married (or engaged to be married) under UK law
  • if not married, you must have been living together as though married for 2 or more years
  • the relationship must be 'genuine and subsisting'

The UK Border Agency (UKBA) may require documentary evidence to prove that you meet the above conditions - this is mainly in order to make sure your relationship is genuine and ongoing, and not an arranged marriage or a sham marriage just for the purposes of obtaining a UK Visa.

The UKBA may request evidence to prove that you share financial responsibilities with your partner - for instance that you have bank accounts, mortgages, rental agreements or utility bills in both of your names.

If you would like advice about the relationship requirements, or if you are not sure whether you and your spouse meet the requirements, then give us a call - one of our specialist immigration lawyers will be able to give you expert advice.

Finance Requirements

The UK Spouse Visa is only available to couples who have enough money to support each other (and any dependants).

The minimum annual income that the sponsoring partner must demonstrate in order to qualify for a Spouse Visa has been set at £18,600. This figure rises to £22,400 if these is one dependent child to be looked after, and by a further £2,400 for each additional child.

If you apply from within the UK, and both have permission to work in the UK, then the minimum annual income of £18,600 can be made up from the combined income of both partners - making it easier to meet the criteria. But if you are applying from outwith the UK, then only the sponsoring (UK-based) partner's income can be considered.

There are also certain situations where you may be exempt from the financial requirements for a UK Spouse Visa - for example, if you have a disability, or if you are a carer.

Depending on your personal circumstances the financial requirements can be quite complex. Our highly-experienced immigration lawyers will be able to explain the immigration rules, and help ensure that your application has the best possible chance of success.

English Language Requirements

To qualify for a UK Spouse visa, the applicant must demonstrate that they can speak and understand the English language to a minimum level.

You may be able to meet this test simply by virtue of your nationality - for instance, if you come from a predominantly English-speaking country - or if you qualified for a degree that was taught in English. In both of these cases you will have demonstrated a sufficient grasp of the English language to qualify for a Partner Visa.

If not, then you will have to pass an English Language Test carried out by an approved test centre. Please get in touch with us if you would like more information about the English Language Test.

Settlement

If you successfully meet the conditions above and are awarded a UK Spouse Visa, you will be allowed to stay in the UK for 30 months. At the end of this period you can renew your Spouse Visa for a further 30 months - if you still meet all the criteria.

There are 2-year, 5-year and 10-year routes to Settlement in the UK.

Five years after you were originally granted UK Spouse Visa status, you (and your children) will be eligible to apply for Settlement in the UK - also known as ILR (Indefinite Leave to Remain) or Permanent Residence.

In certain circumstances it is possible to apply for Settlement after 10 years even without meeting the financial and English language test - for instance if you can demonstrate 'insurmountable obstacles' to continuing your family life outside the UK.

And there is also a 2-year route, whereby applicants who applied for a Spouse Visa prior to 8 April 2012 might qualify for Settlement after two years in the UK.

Five Star International are immigration specialists, and our team of experienced immigration lawyers can give you the very best possible advice - to give you the best possible chance of getting your UK Spouse Visa. To speak with one of our advisers please call us today on +44 (0) 141 339 7373 or email us at enquiries@fivestarinternational.co.uk.