If your partner or spouse is in the United Kingdom, you can join them by applying for a UK spouse visa. The spouse visa is one of the many UK family visas issued to allow families to live together.
However, to apply for a spouse visa, you and your spouse in the UK must meet specific requirements. Fortunately, the spouse visa is a less complicated UK family visa.
If you follow the process accordingly and provide all evidence and documentation, you can easily get your visa. In this WorldTravelPride post, you’ll find all you need to know about the UK spouse visa.
What Is the UK Spouse Visa?
The spouse visa falls under the category of UK family visas. It allows beneficiaries to come to the UK and live with their spouses for more than six months. Hence, you should only apply for this visa if you plan to stay in the UK for a long time. If you’re staying for less than six months, you should apply for a standard visitor visa instead.
A spouse visa is more or less a dependent visa. In other words, your visa will be highly influenced by your spouse’s visa type or status in the UK. It’s possible to apply for settlement via a spouse visa. It counts as the duration of stay, which is necessary to apply for Indefinite Leave To Remain. Ultimately, you can apply for British citizenship.
The UK spouse visa is relatively expensive. You’ll learn more about the application fee and financial requirements later.
Notably, you can apply for a spouse visa if you’re already on a different visa in the UK. You can switch your visa anytime if you meet the requirements, so long as your previous visa is valid.
UK Spouse Visa Eligibility
To apply for a UK spouse visa, you must have a partner in the UK who is a British or Irish citizen or has permanent residence status. You are also eligible if your partner is an EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, or Liechtenstein citizen living in the UK before January 2021.
You and your spouse must be legally married, in a marriage recognizable by the UK government. If you’re not yet married, you must have been living together and in a relationship (dating) for at least two years before you apply.
You’re also eligible if you’re not married but plan to marry within six months of arriving in the UK. Furthermore, you can only apply if you’re not in any other marriage or civil relationship. In other words, you must prove that every previous relationship has ended.
There are other eligibility criteria if your marriage has kids and other dependents. Aside from your relationship with your spouse, you also need to pass the knowledge of the English language test and have enough funds to sponsor your stay – unless your spouse declares to support your visit.
To clarify, you are not eligible for a UK spouse visa if your spouse in the UK is on a work, student, or other temporary stay visa. They must have permanent residence status, either with indefinite leave to remain or citizenship.
UK Spouse Visa Requirements
When applying for a UK spouse visa, here are the required information and documents you must provide:
- Your full names and date of birth. You can submit your birth certificate.
- A valid international passport or any other valid travel document you possess.
- Your partner’s full name, date of birth, and nationality.
- A copy of your partner’s passport or further proof of British citizenship or permanent residency.
- Evidence that you and your spouse are legally married. You can present your marriage certificate.
- Proof of funds to support your stay. You can present your bank statement or that of your spouse if they’re sponsoring your stay.
- Proof of termination of previous marriages and civil relationships, if anything. You can present a divorce certificate if you’ve been in an earlier marriage.
- Proof that you have no criminal or court convictions. You can present a police statement.
- Proof that you’re in good health to enter and live in the UK. You can present a doctor’s report.
- Proof that you meet the English language requirement. You can present your result from a recognized English language test like IELTS.
- Details about your children, if any.
- Details about other countries you’ve lived in besides the UK and your home country.
Note that the above list of required information and documents isn’t exhaustive. The UK immigration may still request additional information depending on your circumstance.
Your documents must be in English. You must include a certified English translation if it’s in any other language.
UK Spouse Visa Application Process
You apply for a UK spouse visa once you have all the required documents and evidence. The application is one, and as mentioned earlier, you can apply whether you’re in or outside the UK.
The visa requires that you submit your biometrics, so in the first stages of application, you’ll get a prompt to select a country where you’ll provide your biometrics. Choosing the right location is essential because it could be difficult to change it later.
The application involves six steps. First, you must complete and submit the online application form, including uploading your supporting documents and evidence. Second, you pay the visa fee – the UK exempts some countries from paying this fee, so please check to confirm.
Third, you pay the health surcharge; fourth, you submit your biometrics, including your fingerprints and passport.
Fifth, you take and submit your tuberculosis test result – you’ll only do this if you reside in a country under the UK list. Sixth, and finally, you physically provide all your supporting documents and passport.
If your application is successful, you’ll get the visa stamp on your passport, and you can proceed to travel to the UK.
For the online application, you’ll only need to provide an email address and password. Afterward, you can access the application form.
Spouse Visa Processing Time
A UK spouse visa takes around 24 weeks to process if you’re applying from outside the country. That’s almost six months of waiting. On the other hand, if you apply within the UK – switching from one visa to another – it takes just around eight weeks.
However, there’s a way to get a faster verdict. You can apply for super-priority service and get a verdict by the end of the next day. If you apply on the weekend, you can get a verdict within two working days.
Your application may take longer to process if there are problems with your documentation or your circumstance is complex.
For example, it’ll take longer if the visa embassy asks you to come for an interview. Also, it’ll take longer if you don’t meet the knowledge of English requirement or the minimum income requirement.
Other circumstances are if you have a criminal or other conviction. Ordinarily, the embassy will void your application, but in some situations, they may decide to review the circumstance before making a decision.
UK Spouse Visa Fee
As mentioned before, the UK spouse visa application is relatively expensive. The visa fee differs for adults and children.
As an adult over 18 years, you’ll pay £1,560 if you’re staying for two years and six months; £1,872 if you’re staying for two years and nine months; £3,120 if you’re staying for five years.
For children under 18 years, the fee is £1,175 if they’re staying for two years and six months; £1,410 if they’re staying for two years and nine months; £2,350 if they’re staying for five years.
As mentioned before, you can pay £800 for super-priority service and get a faster verdict. Other fees you must pay include the health surcharge fees.
Adults will pay £624 per year while children will pay £470. To illustrate, if your visa duration is five years, you’ll pay £624 each year, which means £3,120 in total. After you submit your online application, the UK immigration will send you an email requesting that you pay the health surcharge.
You must pay the health surcharge within seven days if you’re outside the UK and within ten days if you’re in the UK. Otherwise, your application may become invalid.
UK Spouse Visa Duration
The UK spouse visa lasts for two years and nine months. When it expires, you can apply for an extension, which you should get easily.
After the end of the second extension, you will have stayed in the UK for five years and eight months, which means you can apply for settlement. The UK Home Office requires at least five years on a spouse visa to apply for settlement.
Settlement in the UK, also known as indefinite leave to remain or permanent residency, grants you permission to live in the UK forever. You can work, study, and travel as you want.
Hence, getting a spouse visa could begin your journey towards becoming a British permanent resident. There’s a high possibility that you won’t need to leave the UK for life from the first day you enter the country on a spouse visa – unless you want to.
UK Spouse Visa Extension
You can apply for a spouse visa extension if you’re still together with your spouse at the end of the initial two years and nine months period.
You can apply at any time before your current visa expires, but it’s ideal to apply within a month of it expiring. This is because the new visa will only add 28 days of your current visa to your new duration.
For example, if you have 100 days remaining on your current visa and you get an extension, only 28 days will be added to the new extension visa.
You’ll have lost 72 days of stay in the UK, which can be critical when applying for settlement. Recall that you need at least five years to qualify for settlement so everyday counts.
Spouse Visa Dependents
Your dependents – children or other qualifying relatives – can join you and your spouse in the UK. For children, they must be under 21 years.
The cost for dependent visa application is £1,538 and £1,048 for each person if you’re applying from outside and inside the UK, respectively. It’s the same as the standard spouse visa cost.
Dependents’ visa takes about the same time as applying for the standard spouse visa. The duration is also the same, and dependents can apply for extension too.
Your dependents can work and study in the UK as they get a biometric residence permit. However, they cannot access benefits or public funds – just like you – but they can apply for settlement after five years.
Is the Spouse Visa the same as the Fiancé Visa?
Many people get this wrong, so it’s important to clarify. The UK spouse visa is different from the fiancé visa.
The spouse visa is for a couple that is already married or in a civil partnership. In other words, they’ve gone past the “fiancé” stage, and they have the proof and documentation to back this up.
On the other hand, a fiancé visa is for a couple that is not yet married, but plans to marry. You can apply for a fiancé visa if you plan to marry someone in the UK. The visa mandates that you marry or enter a civil partnership within six months of arriving in the UK.
The UK spouse visa and fiancé visa are similar but different. You can read more about the fiancé visa here.
The UK spouse visa is the best way to join your spouse in the UK and stay in the country for a long time – more than two years at least. You can apply if your spouse is a UK citizen or permanent resident.