UK Spouse Visa
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 impact 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.
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.
Falling under the transitional arrangements?
Prior to the changes applied on the 9th of July 2012, a person may have been granted leave to remain under the old provisions of Part 8 of the Immigration Rules. 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 evidences are provided as set out by the Immigration Rules for the spouse visa application.
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.
How to apply for a UK Spouse Visa application?
First of all, it depends on your location but all applications are part of the new digital transformation changes. This will require a person to register for the UK Spouse Visa application, ensure the correct fields are chosen and then an application is then created. There are questions related to the 4 main areas as discussed above, which will be required so that the Immigration Rules namely Appendix FM is met.
Whilst the process of the visa application is slightly cleaner and better, we have seen that errors are made, due to the fault by the person applying on failing to understand the question itself and what the decision maker is trying to achieve from that answer. For example, in the UK Spouse Visa application form, it asks the Applicant, related to the relationship, namely whether you have met your partner? Now, we know that the usual answer would be yes, but in proxy marriages for example, a person sees each other video calling. They conduct the marriage through proxy, thereby the marriage is possibly valid under Immigration Law but you have not met your partner in person.
The visa processing times for a UK Spouse Visa application
The timeframes for an application cannot be absolute; however the general guidelines are for the visa is set around 12 weeks. The process of that application be sped up through the use of the priority service however this is not guaranteed.
Is switching to the Spouse Visa can be done in the UK?
This is not a straight forward answer, however in most cases; a person in the UK can apply for the UK Spouse Visa whilst being resident in the UK.
Can a visitor in the UK switch into the UK Spouse Visa route?
A very common question that are asked on a regular basis and should not be confused with the fiancé visa route. In most cases no, but everyone’s circumstances are different. In some cases, you would be able to apply for leave to remain in the UK based on your personal circumstances and that of your sponsor. You must always seek legal advice on this prior engaging on an application because this could impact your future applications should you be removed or asked to leave the UK.
How long does the UK Spouse Visa are granted for?
Usually the visa is granted for a period of 30 months, and once being in the UK, a further period of 30 months is granted. Once you have completed 60 months in the UK, you would be able to apply for indefinitely.
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 from a qualified UK Immigration Lawyer on this.
When a UK Spouse Visa application is refused?
Recent changes means that an appeal can only be brought under the Human Rights Act and the impact it has to family life. The Immigration Rules sets out the policy to be met for a UK Spouse Visa application and if the application is wrongfully refused, then an appeal rights are generated. The conditions of when the appeal must be lodged are set out on where you have applied. In the UK, if a UK Spouse Visa application is refused, an appeal to the First Tier Tribunal with detailed legal grounds and evidences must be lodged within 14 days.
At ICS Legal we have seen many decisions served unfairly, this may seem harsh but is unfortunately part of the process, after all the Home Office decisions are decided by humans (mistakes can happen). It is during this process we need to pool together our resources and challenge where possible or if fairly decided look at an alternative step.
Trusting ICS Legal with your UK Spouse Visa application?
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.
We have been part of the changes and will continue to be part of this, as we continue to support our Clients through their UK Spouse Visa application. You can contact us on 0207 237 3388 to get more information on how we can help you.