UK Spouse Visa & learning about the visa requirements
UK Spouse Visa category is published under Appendix FM of the Immigration Rules HC395. Its transformation begun on 9th of July 2012 & since then has undergone a number of changes, which can be seen following the Statement of Changes. The new framework for the UK Spouse Visa requires specified evidences to be provided at the date of application, as the burden of proof sits on the Applicant as well as their Sponsor to provide correct evidences that meet the published Immigration Rules.
The date of application for a UK Spouse Visa does matter. This is because if an application is refused by the UK Visa and Immigration (UKVI) Team, then the date of application will be an issue when appealing against the decision.
Importantly, the case of MM (Lebanon) & Others v SSHD  UKSC 10 and Agyarko & Ikuga v SSHD  UKSC 11, which is a judgement served by the Supreme Court, provides the framework to the UK Visas and Immigration Team (UKVI) on how to consider a UK Spouse Visa application.
The UK Spouse Visa route application must always consider the impact it has to family life of both the Applicant/Sponsor as well as their wider family members, sometimes including children under the ages of 18 years and this was the correction applied following the ruling of the Supreme Court judgement. Case laws have changed the interpretations of the Immigration Rules related to the UK Spouse Visa applications and it is helpful when those are then reflected into Immigration Law.
We know that there are 2 parts when considering family life. The key element is that family life must exist and there must be respect provided by the public body. The next question is whether there can be justified interference in the interest of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the UK by the public body. This part of the consideration is helped by the developed case laws.
At ICS Legal we want to ensure the process is as smooth as possible. Yes, there are steps that you will need to take ensuring you meet the requirements, but it isn’t as difficult as others may have expressed to you. We advise you stay away from forums and concentrate on your circumstances and prepare an the UK Spouse Visa application correctly.
We strive to be an integral part of our clients’ success by providing representation, services and strategic advice to achieve a favourable outcome on their legal matter. As part of our ways of working, we help to do the following:
Now coming to the application for the UK Spouse Visa, the following provides you a confirmation of key elements to the application:
The relationship being genuine & subsisting with the intention to live together permanently in the UK. For example, a couple, who currently lives outside of the UK intend to relocate to the UK, must ensure that the sponsoring partner must also consider to make the UK his/her principle home. Evidences related to the relationship are not being specified by the Immigration Act however reasonable evidences are required for the UK Spouse Visa application.
English language requirements. Now the immigration policy related to this continues to change. We know that basic A1 level is required; however the extensions and following applications will require English language at a higher level. We know that a number of applications are simply refused due to the wrong tests being taken, test is out of date, and wrong test or location is chosen.
Financial adequacy or financial test is required to be met for the UK Spouse Visa application. Now, exemptions can apply for the financial test, however this depends on what the sponsoring partner is currently relying on, and whether the financial adequacy can be met. There are a number of ways that the financial tests can be met but there are restrictions on this UK Spouse Visa application.
The final requirement is the adequate accommodation which is outlined on the UK Spouse Visa category. It requires that a couple must have access to one room exclusive use, so you can remain at a family home or rent privately or it could mean that you own the property that the couple would reside together.
The application for a UK Spouse Visa could also be refused on suitability of leave to enter or remain, which is similar to what is outlined under Part 9 of the Immigration Rules. It must consider the public interest arguments when an application for a UK Spouse Visa is lodged by you.
The Home Office strategy on the UK Spouse Visa is to ensure that the public interest arguments are being met and that is to make sure, that you & your partner can support yourself in the UK without recourse to public funds.
Meeting the financial requirements of the UK Spouse Visa is a critical part of your visa application, and here are some of the ways you can meet the financial test:
The UK Spouse Visa financial requirements requires both the applicant's & sponsor to demonstrate the following:
At the time of your application, all income must be derived from reliable source of income. All employment or self-employment income must come from working legally either in the UK or outside of the UK, without breaching any conditions set out.
If you are in the UK, the applicant must have permission to work in the UK. Where your in the UK, your visa conditions will set out the terms of your working rights.
Paragraph 39E of the Immigration Rules sets out conditions in respect to a person in the UK, applying for the UK Spouse Visa.
When deciding on the visa application, the financial requirements are key part to the application, and in most cases, this is an area where most applications fail. The Home Office guidance does not allow any discretion or flexibility related to the financial threshold that is required to be met. In all cases, this is being applied to ensure that the Home Office public interest strategy is being followed and that the sponsor are able to demonstrate that those either coming to the UK or extending their visa in the UK, meet the financial threshold.
If you & your partner are considering to apply for a UK Spouse Visa, then this must be applied online selecting the correct visa form and you must have in hand, important documents to support your application.
Did you know? A high number of spouse visa UK applications are refused due to completing the form incorrectly. Always get professional legal help.
Here is a brief list but all applications are based on personal circumstances:
At the time of the application, both you and your partner must be aged 18 years & over.
Able to meet the definition of a partner.
Demonstrate the intention to live together as partners in the UK.
Meet the financial requirements and will have adequate accommodation in the UK.
There are some other instructions, you have to follow in order to complete the visa application correctly. If this is approved, you will get permission to live in the United Kingdom for 30 months. After 30 months, you have to renew your spouse visa UK for the next 30 months.
ICS Legal are one of the most experienced and established firm dealing with immigration visa applications. We provide helpful guidance when you navigate through the complex immigration system for the UK.
The processing time for a UK Spouse Visa depends on the region you submit your application however in most cases, an application for the visa would be decided within 12 weeks, or in other words, 3 months following the lodging of your application to the UK Visa & Immigration Team.
In some regions, the Home office offers a priority visa service which can reduce your wait time on the UK Spouse Visa.
ICS Legal are able to give you some indication of the processing time of your visa, however those decision sits with the Home Office and we do not have any influence to the decision processing time for the visa. However we know that by experience, an application is processed quicker if you provide the correct inforamtion & specified evidences on your UK Spouse Visa.
The visa costs are broken down into 3 parts, however for some regions, please expect to see some extra costs related to your UK Spouse Visa.
There is a UK Spouse Visa costs which are calculated and charged by the UK Visas & Immigration Team. Those visa costs do change often, and it also depends on the region you are making the application from.
Immigration Health Surcharge which is a tax by the UK Government and a contribution costs to the National Health Service (NHS).
Visa Centre costs. This depends on the region your applying the UK Spouse Visa.
When an application is approved by the UK Visas & Immigration, the visa is granted for a period of 30 months. If you have applied from outside of the UK, the UK Spouse Visa is usually granted for an additional 3 months period, so the visa is issued for 33 months.
How your visa is granted and what is issued, more information can be found on the UKVI website by clicking here.
Once you have extended your visa under the UK Spouse Visa, also referred as a spousal visa, for a period of 5 years, then you may be eligible to apply for indefinite leave to remain as a spouse. In some instances, you may have to spend 10 years before you are eligible to apply for indefinite leave to remain.
Renewal of your UK Spouse Visa
The initial grant of a UK Spouse Visa is for a period of no more than 33 months, and prior to your visa is to expire, you must extend your leave to remain in the UK.
The renewal of a UK Spouse Visa is for the UKVI to assess and ensure that you & your partner continue to meet the requirements of the immigration rules. This is also to ensure the relationship remains genuine and that the intention to live together remains between the couple.
The timing of your renewal application as a spouse visa should be made within 28 days prior to the visa is to expire. However you may be able to apply earlier depending on when you entered the UK and the time you have spent inb the UK. This is to make sure you meet the definition of continuous residency.
When coming to extending your leave, otherwise referred as the renewal of the visa, you will need to meet additional requirements to renew the UK Spouse Visa. Here are some of the requirements you would be expected to meet at the date of the application, however the threshold to meet the requirements, are always likely to change:
At the date of renewing the spousal visa, both the applicant and sponsor, must ensure they are living together and are in a genuine relationship. To meet the requirements, you would be required to provide evidences to confirm this. In some cases, where the couple do not live together, exemption of evidences may apply.
Demonstrate that you meet both the adequate accommodation requirements and that the financial test is being met.
Able to demonstrate that the applicant & sponsor intend to live together. Where the couple do not live together, exemption evidences are required to meet the threshold.
Meet the higher threshold of the English language requirements. This would demonstrate that the applicant is integrating their life in the UK.
At the time of applying, you may be able to choose a visa priority service to have your renewal spouse visa application expedited. The service levels on the priority visa depends on the service level you choose at the time of your application.
If you decide not to proceed but apply under the standard renewal visa processing time, then the UK Spouse visa renewals are usually considered within 8-12 weeks. Once the visa is granted, this would be for a period of 30 months.
Transitional arrangements on the UK Spouse Visa
Given the ever-changing rules on the spousal visa, you may benefit from the transitional arrangements to ensure new changes does not impact your stay in the UK.
When switching or extending the leave under the UK Spouse Visa, the old provisions of the rules are still required to be met. You must ensure that all correct evidence is provided as set out by the Immigration Rules for the spouse visa application.
Changes to the UK Spouse Visa
The UK Spouse Visa over the course of the year does go through a number of changes.
This is to prevent any abuse to the immigration policies. When a change is announced, the Home Office will set out the Statement of Changes, and the date this would then apply. The powers of change are set out in the Immigration Act 1971.
Here are some useful answers to the most frequently asked questions?
We hope the following will answer most of the frequently asked questions in respect to the UK Spouse Visa, which includes initial visa or renewal of your spouse visa.
Does an EEA national need to apply for a UK Spouse Visa?
The EEA Settlement Scheme is available only for EEA nationals who have been in the UK before the closing date of 31st Dec 2020. If you intend to come in the UK as a spouse of a settled person, or a person holding leave to remain under the EEA Settlement Scheme, you will be asked to apply under the visa route. There are still some transitional arrangements available depending on either your circumstrances or that of your sponsor.
What are the visa processing time on the UK Spouse Visa?
The processing time of your visa depends on the region you have applied from, or if you have applied from the UK, will depend on a number of factors. In most cases, applications from outside of the UK are decided within 3 months. Where you have applied from the UK, the time taken to decide on your UK Spouse Visa would be around 8-12 weeks.
Can I use the visa priority service to have my application decided quicker?
Yes, however the Home Office does not provide a guaranteed level of service. This means, even if you choose a visa priority service on your UK Spouse Visa, the decision making time depends on a number of controllable factors.
These would include types of documents/information provided, or if you have been refused previously, as the decision-maker will consider the application based on your own personal circumstances.
How to make sure that the marriage outside of the UK is valid under the UK Spouse Visa application?
Over the years, case laws as well as the UKVI policy guidance have been updated due to the continuous development, of what is deemed as valid marriage under the spouse visa application. We begin with the case of Awuku v Secretary of State for the Home Department  EWCA Civ 1303 (06 December 2016). Sitting on the 6th of December 2016, Lord Justice Lloyd Jones, Lady Justice Gloster and Mr Justice Cranston provided a determination with a framework of what is considered as valid marriage.
The above case law considered the existing framework set out in the case of Kareem  UKUT 24. Proxy marriages as an example have been a continuous debate whether it is permitted when applying for the UK Spouse Visa. There are no established policy on this and has at times, confused Immigration Judges on this.
Where to send the supporting documents for the UK Spouse Visa?
The supporting documents for the UK spouse visa are the most crucial part to your UK visa application. When providing information on the visa form, you will need to make sure those are then evident with the evidences. Exemptions of evidences may apply.
Whilst the Home Office have set out a specified list of evidences, you will need to make sure documents related to your own personal circumstances are provided. The Home Office recognises that not all matters are the same, so there are flexbility applied.
We have put together some evidence list but those are not an exhaustive list required. You must take professional legal advice when considering the types of evidences to supply to the Home Office to avoid a visa refusal:
Valid passport. These would include from the applicant's and the sponsor.
Evidence of your relationship, and this may include the marriage certificate. This is a critical part to your application and evidences depends on your own personal circumstances.
Evidence of meeting the financial requirement. These are set out in many forms, so if you are employed, then payslips and bank statements. If you are self-employed, then your tax return and tax bill.
Proof of meeting the English language requirement. The test certificate may be required.
Evidence related to the acommodation.
Can you switch from a UK visit visa to a spouse visa?
In most cases, the simple answer is no. However not all matters remain the same, and the Home Office will consider a person's personal circumstances before deciding on whether to grant a visa or not.
Usually, if those applications are refused, the Home Office decision notice will contain the full reasons and in most likely, a right to appeal is generated. The notice of decision will contain your right to challenge the decision and how soon you must lodge this.
The 5 years route and 10 years route to settlement
When applying for a UK Spouse Visa application, leave is granted for a period of 30 months, however you must check your decision letter to check the reasons why you have been granted under the 10 years route to settlement.
It may be possible for that to be legally challenged or a switch to the 5 years route could also be made. We advise prior embarking on this legal process, take specific legal advice by speaking to one of our Lawyers on 020 7237 3388 or email us at email@example.com.
Refusal of a UK Spouse Visa & how to appeal the decision
Your right to appeal against a UK Spouse Visa depends on a number of factors and the time to appeal against the decision depends on whether you have applied from the UK or outside of the UK.
Following the Immigration Act 2014, the Home Office through public policy have restricted a person's right to appeal against the decision. The legislation then changed the following regulations:
Parts 5 and 6 of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 (The 2002 Act) as amended.
Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2016.
In most cases, it is important that you draft your grounds of appeal to the First Tier Tribunal with both factual and also error in law to the decision making.
ICS Legal are able to advise, help and lodge an appeal on your behalf. You can find more information on legal cases we have successfully challenged before the First Tier Tribunal and the Upper Tribunal.
If your marriage or relationship have broken down
It is important to understand that the UK Visas & Immigration team of the Home Office are the decision makers related to your UK Spouse Visa and are responsible of the issuing of the visa. They also have the powers to cancel or curtail a visa based on a change of circumstances.
At ICS Legal, when we deal with those applications, or circumstances related to a relationship breakdown, we understand that the matter can be stressful to both parties and can become overwhelming.
In both cases, whether you are the sponsored person or are the sponsor to the visa, the process of cancelling a visa goes through a due process. Legally, an application must be made to the Home Office to inform of the breakdown of the relationship. This requires a formal statement as well declaration that the relationship have broken down. Evidences are then required to confirm the breakdown of the relationship.
Speak to one of our UK Lawyers
ICS Legal are here to help you on your UK Spouse Visa, whether your applying for the first time or going through a renewal of your visa, our team have both the experience and dedication to help you move through the complex legal processes.
We appreciate the diverse challenges we face from 'No Win No Fee firms and 100% success rates'.
ICS Legal are not in the business to provide such promises, after all we are not the Home Office. Our trust with you is based on conversation, in spite of everything and above all you are buying our expertise. Speaking to us will give you the comfort and satisfaction that we are the right migration partner for you.
Call us today on 0207 237 3388 or e-mail us your circumstances to firstname.lastname@example.org when you. You are strongly advised to take legal advice prior to applying for a visa to the UK. This page is for information purposes only.