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UK Spouse Visa or UK Partner/Marriage Visa

This article provides a detailed explanation of the UK Spouse visa, who it’s for and the application process and how you can seek help to increase the chances of a successful visa application.

Written on 18 October 2022

The UK Spouse Visa is a special UK visa that enables non-UK nationals to join their partner or spouse in the UK, providing your partner is a British citizen or has a UK visa themselves.

The Spouse Visa, also commonly known as UK Partner Visa or the UK Marriage Visa, enables an individual to live in the UK with their UK settled partner for up to 30 months. For many people, it is the first step to gaining indefinite leave to remain in the UK.

The base requirement of a successful Spouse Visa application is to either be married to or in a civil partnership with a UK citizen or UK settled person.

Once approved, the Spouse Visa is valid for 2.5 years and then you will be permitted to extend for a further 2.5 years. Once you have been in the UK for 5 years you will be able to apply for permanent residency and a UK passport.

Who can apply for a Spouse Visa?

You will need to meet the following criteria to be able to apply for a Spouse Visa:

  • Be aged 18 or over at the time of application
  • Either be married to a UK citizen/UK settled person or be in a civil partnership which is recognised by UK law
  • You can prove that you have been living together with your partner for the previous 2 years
  • You have a Fiancé Visa and will get married within 6 months of entering the UK

Spouse Visa Requirements

You will also need to meet the following requirements for a successful Spouse Visa Application:

  • Pass the Genuine Relationship Test
  • Meet financial and minimum income requirements
  • Prove you have sufficient knowledge of the English language
  • Be able to prove suitable accommodation in the UK on your arrival
  • Take a medical test to prove you do not have Tuberculosis
  • Provide required biometric information

Genuine Relationship Test

The Genuine Relationship Test is a series of criteria designed to prove that you are in a genuine relationship. You will need to provide evidence that supports your claim that you are in a genuine relationship, especially if you are in a Civil Partnership.

The evidence required by the UK Government to pass the Genuine Relationship test can be varied but will often include:

  • Photos of you and your partner taken over a period of time
  • Proof of any children you have together such as birth certificates and any educational information
  • A history of conversations, such as text messages, Whatsapp/Instant Messenger chats and records or phone calls made to each other
  • Evidence of pre-marriage history, such as photos or documentation, that show you were in a relationship before you got married
  • Any shared bills, bank accounts, mortgages and other financial associations
  • Eye-witness accounts from friends, neighbours and associates that can support your relationship status

Financial and income requirements

One of the most important criteria is to prove that you and your partner have the means to support your living in the UK without the need for State assistance (i.e. benefits).

For this, your partner will need to be able to prove they have an pre-tax annual income of more than £18,600 if you have no dependent children.

For applicants that have dependent children, you will need to provide evidence of your pre-tax annual income being over £22,400 for the first child and for each additional dependent child a further £2,400 will be needed.

For example, if you have four dependent children, your spouse/sponsor will need to show they have a pre-tax annual income of at least £29,600 (i.e. £22,400 + (3 x £2,400).

The income that is permissible to meet the minimum requirement can be from the following sources:

  • Employment or self-employment
  • Pensions
  • Savings – providing they are over £16,000
  • Income from rent or share dividends as well as other investments

It may be possible to include some benefits as part of your income, typically if the benefit or allowance is related to a disability, carers allowance or armed services allowance.

Passing the English Language Test

If you are not from a majority English speaking country, as part of your application you will need to prove your English language ability by passing the English Language Test.

This test will need to be provided by an approved Secure English Language Testing provider (SELT) and will be an exam comprised of both speaking and listening test.

Once passed, your test result will be valid for the subsequent two years.

Documentation required for your application

In addition to meeting the Spouse Visa Requirements, you will also be required to provide the UK Government with a number of documents during your application. To help speed up the process, please ensure you have the documents ready before you begin your application.

You will need to provide the following documents to the UK Home Office as a minimum:

  • Your marriage certificate or civil partnership certificate
  • A valid passport
  • A valid English Language Test result from an approved SELT
  • Evidence that you have lived with your partner for 2 or more years
  • Proof of your accommodation when you arrive
  • Evidence of you and your partner’s income and financial situation
  • Proof that your partner is either a UK Citizen (eg birth certificate) or a UK settled citizen (eg their UK passport or visa)

Any proof or evidence of your relationship would need to be less than four years old.

Spouse Visa Fees

There are different fees for the Spouse Visa depending on where you make your application from (inside the UK or outside) and how many dependents will be applying for you. Excluding health care, the fees are as follows:

Costs for applying for a Spouse Visa from inside the UK

  • Cost of one person joining their partner or spouse: £1,048
  • Cost of each dependent added to the application: £1,048 (each)
  • Cost of an adult who requires looking after: £1,048

Costs for applying for a Spouse Visa from outside the UK

  • Cost of one person joining their partner or spouse: £1,538
  • Cost of each dependent added to the application: £1,538 (each)
  • Cost of an adult who requires looking after: £3,250

Healthcare surcharge

If you wish to use the NHS then you are required to pay the healthcare surcharge known as the Immigration Health Surcharge. This is not necessarily a requirement, but you will be required to pay during the application process and varies depending how long you intend to stay in the UK and how old each applicant is.

Super priority service

If you are applying from within the UK and want a faster decision on your application, you can also pay an additional £800 for the super priority service which will ensure you get a faster decision – although this does not guarantee a successful application.

Spouse Visa Application Process

1.     Complete application

The first step of the application process will need to be completed online via the UK Government website and comprises of multiple stages. Once your application has begun you will be provided with a reference number and your progress can be saved and returned to at any time. However, your application will only be saved for up to 10 weeks.

2.     Pay application fees

Once you have completed the application forms you will be required to submit them and then pay the fees.

3.     Biometric details

Once your fees have been paid you will need to book and attend a Biometric Appointment to provide the required biometric information.

4.     Submit supporting documentation

Your final step is to submit all of your supporting documents, evidence and any other relevant information that is required to support your application

5.     Decision

The final step is to receive your decision. This will be delivered via email and would normally take between 3 and 4 months after your application.

If you paid for the Super Priority Service, you would normally receive your decision by email between 30 and 60 working days following your application submission.

6.     Receiving your Visa paperwork

You will be notified by SMS or email when your Visa documentation will be able to collected from the Visa centre you made your application from. This will include your passport – which will be stamped – and your formal decision letter.

Maximising your application success chances using a specialist immigration solicitor

While you can complete the application yourself, whether you are inside or outside the UK, it is always advisable to seek formal advice from a specialist immigration solicitor who will be able to discuss your requirements with you.

Due to the importance and stress related to applying for a visa, ensuring you have everything prepared and supporting your application can both reduce your stress and increase your chances of making a successful application.

An immigration solicitors will be able to discuss the likelihood of your application being successful and explain alternative visa options available to you. Once you have decided to proceed they will be able to help you collate the required evidence and documentation, clarify any fees that need to be paid and complete the application properly.

If you application is unsuccessful for any reason, they will also be able to discuss any appeals process and next steps to try to help you gain a UK visa and join your partner in the UK.

Experts for Expats partners with trusted specialist immigration solicitors who will offer you a free introductory consultation which will provide you with an insight into the process and explain all fees and charges which would accompany any visa application.

To request a free introduction, please proceed to our introduction service where you can fill in a short form and we will connect you within 24 hours and help you begin your visa application.