What is a Spouse Visa under the UK Immigration Rules?

The UK Spouse Visa allows nationals from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland who are married or in a Civil Partnership to British nationals or those who hold settled status in the UK to enter or remain in the UK with their partner. LEXVISA’s Immigration Team has a 100% success rate with UK Spouse Visa applications and whilst every case is decided by the Home Office on its own merit, we prepare all of our applications as strongly as possible in order to give our client’s the greatest chance of success.

What is a UK Spouse Visa?

The UK spouse visa allows the non-EEA spouse or civil partner of a British national, or person with settled status in the UK, to enter or remain in the UK with their partner. Applicants can make an Entry Clearance application if they are outside the UK and wish to join their spouse or civil partner in the UK. If the Applicant is already in the UK, they can apply to ‘switch’ into the family life route as the spouse or civil partner of a British national, or person settled in the UK, by making a further leave to remain application from within the UK.

Family life under Appendix FM of the Immigration Rules provides two routes to UK settlement as the spouse of a British national or person who is present and settled in the UK. The 5-year route as a spouse is for those who meet all of the relevant suitability and eligibility requirements of the Immigration Rules at every application stage. The 10-year route as a spouse is for those who meet all of the suitability requirements, but only certain eligibility requirements. The initial grant of leave under the UK spouse visa route is 2.5 years.

What is the Financial requirement for a UK Spouse Visa?

In order to satisfy the financial requirement for a UK spouse visa application, Applicants must be able to demonstrate that they can be adequately maintained in the UK without recourse to public funds. Entry Clearance applications must only rely on the Sponsor’s finances, whereas leave to remain applications may rely on either the Applicant’s finances, the Sponsor’s finances or both combined.

The minimum income threshold can generally be met in the following 5 ways:

  • Income from salaried or non-salaried employment of the Sponsor (and/or the Applicant if they are applying for leave to remain) earning a minimum of £18,600 per annum; or
  • Non-employment income, e.g. income from property rental or dividends from shares; or
  • Cash savings of the Sponsor (and/or the Applicant if they are applying for leave to remain) which amounts to at least £62,500 and is held by the Sponsor (and/or the Applicant if they are applying for leave to remain) for at least 6 months and is under their control; or
  • State (UK or foreign), occupational or private pension of the Sponsor (and/or the Applicant if they are applying for leave to remain); or
  • Income from self-employment and income as a director or employee of a specified limited company in the UK, of the Sponsor (and/or the Applicantif they are applying for leave to remain).

If the Applicant is making an application and is applying with one dependent child, then the minimum financial threshold is £22,400 per annum. For every additional child thereafter an additional £2,400 per child will be added to the £22,400 per annum threshold.

How can I meet the Accommodation requirement for a UK Spouse Visa?

Applicants must provide evidence that they have adequate accommodation in the UK without recourse to public funds. The Immigration Rules do not specify the level of income or amount of funds sufficient for ‘adequate’ maintenance. This requirement is case specific and depends on the number of dependants in the family unit. If the Applicant has any dependants who are going to accompany them to, or remain with them in the UK, then sufficient resources must be available for the whole family unit to be adequately maintained, regardless of their nationality or immigration status. Applicants will also need to provide evidence as to the basis of which the accommodation is or will be owned or occupied by the family unit. Accommodation will not be deemed as adequate if it is or will be overcrowded or if it breaches public health regulations.

Which ways can I satisfy the English Language requirement for a UK Spouse Visa?

Spouse visa Applicants must satisfy the English Language requirement by one of the following:

  • be the national of a majority English speaking country; or
  • sitting an approved English Language test in speaking and listening at a minimum of level A1 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) with a Home Office approved test provider; or
  • have an academic qualification which is either a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree or PhD if awarded in the UK. If the degree or PhD is awarded outside the UK, it must be deemed by UK NARIC to meet or exceed the recognised standard of a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree or PhD in the UK, and UK NARIC must confirm that the degree was taught or researched in English to level A1 of the CEFR or above.

There are also some exemptions to meeting the English Language requirement. Furthermore, nationals from certain countries will also be required to take a tuberculosis (TB) test. If the TB test shows that the Applicant does not have TB, they will be given a certificate which is valid for 6 months which will then need to be included in their UK  spouse visa application.

How can I extend my UK Spouse Visa?

UK spouse visa extension applications can be made in or outside of the UK. The requirements for a spouse visa extension application are similar to the requirements of the initial spouse visa application. Applicants must be able to demonstrate that they are continuing to be in a genuine and subsisting marriage with the Sponsor, show they can still meet the financial requirement through whichever applicable avenue and that the Applicant and any dependants are still accommodated for without recourse to public funds. Spouse visa extension Applicants will also need to satisfy the English Language requirement at Level A2 CEFR, as is required for UK spouse visa extension applications since May 2017.

Can I switch to a UK Spouse Visa from a different visa category?

Applicants are able to switch into the spouse visa route from another visa category in the UK. For example, it is possible to switch from a Tier 2 (General) visa into the UK spouse visa or switch from a Tier 4 (Student) visa into UK spouse visa. In order to switch to the spouse visa, Applicants need to ensure they meet the Home Office’s stringent requirements. Applicants should be aware that if they eventually wish to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (also known as settlement) in the UK, then they need to be aware that visa routes cannot be combined for the length of stay in the UK. For example, Applicants who have completed 3 years on a Tier 4 (Student) visa and then 2.5 years on the spouse visa route, they will not have fulfilled the 5-year settlement route.

Using Legal Representation to Prepare a UK Spouse Visa Application

Legal representatives, such as our specialist immigration and visa law firm, are qualified to advise you on immigration law and your immigration status. It is possible to instruct an immigration and visa legal representative to submit a UK Spouse Visa application.

Caseworkers at the Home Office are trained to reject applications which are improperly prepared, for example by failing to provide the correct supporting evidence. In order to ensure your UK Spouse Visa application succeeds, all necessary documents must be provided.

This can be a significant administrative task and you will need to submit the correct documentary evidence. The UK Immigration Rules are complex and a legal representative can help ensure that your UK Spouse Visa application meets the Immigration Rules.

Successful UK Spouse Visa Applications

Our team of solicitors and barristers are specialist immigration lawyers who act in your best interest. We offer a client-tailored approach from the outset. From the very first meeting, we will be able to advise you in respect of your immigration status and the merit of your UK Spouse Visa application before your matter even reaches the Home Office UKVI department. We can assist you with the preparation and submission of your UK Spouse Visa application and ensure that you meet all the requirements of the relevant rules.

We are based in the legal epicentre of London, just across the road from the Royal Courts of Justice in order to ensure we get the best results for our clients. LEXVISA is just minutes away from the Immigration and Asylum Tribunal, the Royal Courts of Justice and other central London courts.

Preparation is the key to a successful application. Our UK immigration and visa solicitors are here to guide you through the complex immigration rules and requirements. If you wish to meet one of our lawyers, please call our Immigration Team so we can assess your case and arrange your legal consultation to discuss your UK Spouse Visa application.

Contact our London immigration solicitors on 02071830570 or complete our contact form.

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