The spouse or civil partner visa category is for partners of British citizens or those settled in the UK to either apply to join them or extend the stay to remain together. This category can be applied from within the UK or abroad. This route is normally taken by married couples or civil partners to live together in the UK and leads to settlement after 5 years under normal circumstances.
In order to qualify for a spouse partner visa, both the applicant and their partner must be aged above 18 years old & must meet specific requirements:
The qualifying criteria can vary depending on personal circumstances, and it is best to seek specialist immigration advice before making an application for entry clearance or leave to remain under the spouse visa route.
All applications which are made under Appendix FM of the Immigration Rules (Family Visas) require applicants to evidence their relationship to their sponsor. When making spouse visa applications, the foreign national must pass the 'Genuine Relationship Test', which may become harder to pass for those individuals who are not married but instead have been in a long-term relationship. A consultation with a professional immigration lawyer may certainly help applicants understand how to tackle this assessment.
An annual income of £18,600 is required for those applicants who are looking to enter/remain in the UK under the spouse visa category. An additional £3800 will be required for a first dependant child, and for any other subsequent child, the family must show an income of £2400. Parents of children who are British or settled in the UK are exempt from this additional requirement. In order to meet the financial requirement, visa applicants may use different sources of income such as salary, self-employment, property rental income, cash savings and any other non-employment related income. The income calculation becomes particularly difficult when combining different sources or working for a family business or being self-employed.
The applicants may rely on Human Rights grounds if they otherwise do not meet all requirements and can demonstrate that there would be very significant difficulties in continuing the relationship outside the UK. The Home Office may also consider in specific circumstances, any third-party funding or support when examining whether the minimum income threshold has been met. One of the most common reasons for refusal is not meeting or correctly evidencing the financial requirements and it is highly recommended to seek professional advice from an expert immigration lawyer.
Spouse visa holders will benefit from study and work rights without any restrictions, including being able to run their own business and may be able to extend their leave to remain leading to settlement. The applicants are normally granted an initial leave of 30 months if applied from within the UK and 33 months if applied from abroad. They will be able to extend this leave if they continue to meet the requirements and can apply for settlement further to the completion of 5 years under this category. It is also worth noting that if the leave is granted further to relying on human rights or otherwise not meeting the requirements, the applicants will only be able to settle in the UK after 10 years. The spouse of a British Citizen can immediately apply for British citizenship further to obtaining settlement if they meet all other requirements. Spouse and Civil Partner visa holders have a full right to work, study and carry out business activities in the UK.
An application for a spouse visa may be refused if the evidence provided is not sufficient to meet all requirements. If an application is refused, the decision can be normally challenged via an appeal if appeal rights are granted. The applicant would be able to challenge the decision in the Immigration Tribunals and should seek legal advice on any refusals.
Our Immigration lawyers at City Legal have immense experience in handling family & spouse visas. We can also advise clients whose circumstances are not straightforward and do not meet the income criteria from one single source, by mixing various income categories permissible and/or evidencing with any third-party support. We are a multi award-winning law firm and pride ourselves in being approachable, innovative and always going that extra mile to make sure our clients receive the individual attention they deserve.