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:
1.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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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 concealed UK spouse visa cost in 2020
If you apply from outside the UK the UK spouse visa cost is £1,523. However, in terms of submitting application from inside the UK spouse visa cost is £1,033.
When documents are not in English or Welsh, you must translate the documents officially, by using someone who holds a qualification to do so. You cannot translate your documents in English, regardless whether the documents are accurate or not. This is not permissible. The next question is the cost element, and they can be sometimes expensive. Generally speaking, it varies on the amount of documents that are required to be translated. However, if a document is essential to the visa application, it will require to get translated. Here is a summary list of documents usually needs to be translated and categorized as essential:
1. Marriage certificate.
2. Divorce certificate.
3. Death certificate.
4. Birth certificate.
5. Degree certificate
Just to give you an idea of the costs, a document may cost around £60 for one page translation and £85 to translate two-page documents.
English language test costs
The Immigration Rules specifies those who must complete an approved English language test. You can request exemption from the English language test for the visa application. For example, if you are applying from the country which is regarded as a majority speaking English language country, then you do not need to complete an approved test but provide evidence that you are a national of that country.
The requirements do not change for those applying from outside of the UK. If they are submitting their application for a UK spouse visa, then the approved A1 English language test will need to be met. After being granted an initial 30 months visa, when applying to extend the leave to remain, then a higher level of A2 English language test is required unless you have applied for an exemption.
Finally, in reference to the cost element, this ranges around £100 to £199 for an IELTS Life Skills test.
When applying for the UK Spouse Visa, you must lodge your bank statements in original. However as most banks have moved towards digital and online platforms, getting original bank statements can be difficult and usually Banks are now charging for those statement.
There are few banks for example HSBC bank seem to charge for printed bank statements. Recently one of our clients was asked to pay £85 for the posing of 12 months’ worth of bank statements.
The Immigration Health Surcharge fee
The cost of immigration health surcharge is now at £1200 for a spouse visa UK application from outside the UK and £1000 for Applicants who submit their application from inside the UK. The government has planned to double the immigration health surcharge from 8th January 2019. The charge will rise from £200 to £400 annually.
We understand that the visa fees including the immigration health charge comes to around £3,000, which makes hiring an Immigration Lawyer, sometimes an impossible task. However at the same time, you will need to think that if you get the application wrong, then the fees excluding the immigration health charge is not refundable.
This means, if your application is refused, because you have made a mistake or failed to provide the specified documents, then you risk losing the fees you have paid. It is then sensible to then use an Immigration Lawyer like ICS Legal to conduct the application on your behalf.
Your Immigration Lawyer will provide you with confidence and the correct advice, as well as take you through the complex visa process and ensure that the application is approved. Whilst no Immigration Lawyer can give you 100% guarantee, at ICS Legal, we complete those applications on a regular basis and have the knowledge & experience to make sure you meet all the requirements. If you do not, we will tell you how you can meet the requirements. We do what we are good at, and that is making sure all immigration application once lodged, comes with positive news.
In terms of renting house, there will no additional cost when your landlord or estate agent will presumably be glad to compose a letter for you for free. However, if the accommodation is owned, then there can be additional expense related with your spouse visa application. For example, you must show the letter provided by mortgage provider or copy of the title register. However, when the property is not mortgaged or any other similar evidence, then you can request a duplicate title deed for £3. The greatest expense for some is paying a chartered surveyor for lodging a report that costs around £90. Housing report is not essential if the accommodation that the Applicant and Sponsor will live is owned.
In conclusion, we advise that before you embark on preparing the documents, you take advice from us and we will advise on what is required and what is not, to save on costs.
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.