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Spouse Visa UK Guide 2024

The UK’s Partner visa, a subcategory of the Family visa, offers a pathway for eligible foreign nationals to join and live with their British or settled partner in the UK. This article provides an in-depth overview of the UK Partner Visa, including its requirements, application process, and potential outcomes.

Eligibility Criteria for Spouse Visa:

As with the Fiancé and Unmarried Partner visas, to obtain a Partner Visa, the following requirements must be met:

  • The applicant and their partner must be at least 18 years old
  • The partner is either a British or Irish citizen or has obtained Settlement in the UK
  • The relationship is genuine and subsisting
  • They intend to live together permanently in the UK
  • Any previous relationship has broken down permanently
  • They satisfy the ‘financial requirement’
  • There is adequate accommodation for both the applicant and the partner
  • The applicant speaks and understands English to the required level

Financial Requirement:

If relying on income, the UK Partner visa application mandates that the applicant’s UK-based partner evidence a minimum gross annual income of £18,600. However, in the latest update outlined by the Home Office, this income requirement is set to undergo incremental increases. Specifically, it is expected to rise to £29,000 in Spring 2024, subsequently to £34,500 and eventually reaching £38,700 per year. 

For applicants with children, an additional financial commitment is necessary. At present, an extra £3,800 per year is required for the first child, and an additional £2,400 per year for each subsequent child.

The acceptable sources of income considered for meeting these financial requirements for spouse visa include earnings from employment or self-employment, money from pension, cash savings, and non-employment income.

Exemptions from the financial requirement are available if the sponsor receives income from specific sources, including disability living allowance, Severe Disablement allowance, Armed Forces Independence Payment, or Guaranteed Income Payment under the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme, among others. In such cases, sponsors are not obligated to demonstrate an annual income of £18,600 or more. However, it is crucial to note that even if a partner qualifies for exemption, the applicant must still exhibit sufficient funds to support themselves in the UK and provide suitable accommodation without recourse to public funds.

Genuine Relationship Requirement: 

Demonstrating that you are in an eligible relationship is a pivotal aspect of the UK Partner Visa application process. The acceptable forms of eligible relationships include being in a legally recognized civil partnership or marriage. Alternatively, there is the Unmarried Partner visa, which requires satisfactory evidence of cohabiting continuously for a minimum period of two years.

UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) places significant importance on ensuring the authenticity of relationships. This vigilance is essential to prevent instances of “sham” marriages or relationships, where applicants falsely assert their eligibility. These deceptive practices can undermine the integrity of the UK’s immigration system, prompting UKVI to scrutinize applications more closely. 

To ascertain the genuineness of your relationship, UKVI assesses factors such as shared financial responsibilities, joint living arrangements, and emotional ties. They are particularly attentive to instances where applicants attempt to misrepresent their relationships for immigration purposes.

Rebecca Hone

Senior Associate

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+44 20 7539 8019

Monica Mastropasqua

Paralegal

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+44 20 7539 8021

Demonstrating that you are in an eligible relationship is a pivotal aspect of the UK Partner Visa application process.

English Language Requirement:

The foreign applicant must demonstrate sufficient proficiency in the English language, which can be established in 3 ways:

English Language Test

Successfully passing an approved Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) English test. This test, conducted at approved testing centres, should attain a minimum level of A1 in both speaking and writing. Should you seek to prolong your stay in the UK later on, a subsequent achievement of at least CEFR level A2 is essential, indicating ongoing improvement aligned with the duration of your residency.

Academic Qualification

Possessing a Bachelor degree or other suitable academic qualification taught in English. Such educational credentials serve as evidence of your English language proficiency.

Exemption

Exemptions from meeting the English language requirement include:

  • You are over the age of 65
  • A physical or mental condition impedes your ability to fulfil the language requirement
  • You are a national from any of the specified countries: Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, New Zealand, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, or the USA.

These exemptions are designed to accommodate diverse situations, recognising that various factors may hinder individuals from satisfying the English language criteria. It is important to note that these provisions offer a fair and inclusive approach to visa applications.

Spouse Visa Fees in 2024:

The application fee for the UK Partner visa varies depending on whether the application is submitted within the UK or outside the UK. For applications made within the UK as of January 2024, the fee stands at £1,048, while applications submitted from outside the UK incur a fee of £1,846. Additionally, applicants must cover supplementary expenses, including the Immigration Healthcare Surcharge, amounting to £1,035 for each year of the visa’s duration. Furthermore, a biometric appointment attendance fee is applicable to all applicants.

For individuals seeking an expedited decision, the Super Priority visa service offers a swift resolution at a cost of £1,000. Opting for this service ensures a decision on the application is reached by the end of the next working day. It is essential to consider these fees comprehensively and plan accordingly when preparing for the visa application process.

Partner visa extension:

Following the initial period of 2 years and 9 months, applicants can extend their visa for an additional 2 years and 6 months. To qualify for this extension, it is imperative to maintain the continuity of the eligible relationship with the UK-based partner, ensuring that the dynamics of the relationship remain consistent. It is essential to initiate the extension process before the expiration of the current visa.

The extension period serves as a crucial phase in the progression toward potential Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) and, subsequently, British citizenship. During this time, individuals must adhere to the eligibility criteria, emphasizing the ongoing genuineness and subsistence of the relationship.

The extension process involves a comprehensive evaluation of the relationship, financial stability, and accommodation arrangements. Meeting the English language requirement and other specified criteria remain integral components of a successful extension application. Successfully navigating this stage not only allows individuals to prolong their stay in the UK but also positions them strategically for the subsequent transition to ILR.

It is advisable for applicants to commence preparations well in advance of their current visa expiration date, allowing ample time for document gathering and compliance with all necessary requirements. Seeking guidance from immigration professionals or solicitors during the extension process can provide valuable insight and assistance in ensuring a smooth and successful continuation of your UK Partner visa.

Our immigration solicitors have a proven track record of obtaining fiancé, spouse and unmarried partner visa for applicants wishing to come to the UK as the partner of a British/ Irish citizen or person present and settled in the UK.

FAQs Spouse Visa

On 11th April 2024, the minimum income requirement for the UK partner visa is increasing to an annual salary of £29,000. Subsequently, it is anticipated to increase further to approximately £34,500 per year at an unspecified time later in 2024. Applications submitted on/before 11th April 2024 will be subject to the lesser minimum income requirement.

The minimum income requirement for the UK spouse visa is £18,600 gross, before tax deductions.

The power to grant or revoke visas rests solely with UK Visas & Immigration. However, if your relationship breaks down, you get divorced, or stop living together, this change in circumstance must be reported to the Home Office, which may result in your visa being cancelled, following which you will be given a grace period to either leave the UK or secure alternative immigration permission.

While many UK visas impose a restriction on absences, the UK partner and spouse visa does not set a specific limit for time spent abroad. However, if you plan to settle in the UK and eventually naturalise as a British citizen, it’s important to consider the residency requirements for Settlement and Citizenship as outlined in our guides Unlocking your British Passport: Naturalisation as a British Citizen  and Unlocking your British Passport: The Guide to Indefinite Leave to Remain

The following sources can be relied on to meet the financial requirement:

  • income from salaried employment or self-employment
  • non-employment income, for example, income generated from property or dividends from shares
  • cash savings of £62,500 or above, held for at least 6 months prior to the date of application

If relying on income from salaried employment, payslips covering the 6-month period preceding the date of application must be provided, along with personal bank statements corresponding to the same period(s) as the payslips, demonstrating that the salary has been regularly deposited into the account.

Various costs need to be considered when applying for a UK partner and spouse visa. For applications made within the UK, the visa application fee is £1,846, whereas it’s £1,048 for applications made from outside the UK.

Additionally, applicants must pay the Immigration Health Surcharge, granting access to healthcare in the UK. The fee varies depending on the length of the visa, but amounts to £1,035 per year of the visa duration.

At present, the standard processing time for a UK spouse visa is currently 6 months for applications made from outside the UK and 8 weeks for applications made from within the UK.

Subject to availability, there are priority services available for purchase to expedite visa application processing times:

  • For applications made inside the UK: Next working day decision service with an additional cost of £1,000.
  • For applications made from outside the UK: The cost and availability of the priority service varies depending on the country of application.

The primary reason for the refusal often stems from couples failing to provide sufficient evidence of their genuine and subsisting relationship.

While the Immigration Rules request the marriage certificate as a mandatory document to demonstrate the nature of the relationship, additional evidence is typically required to strengthen your case.

As a general guideline, it’s advisable to submit documents to the Home Office illustrating that you and your spouse have been living together or spending time together as a couple prior to marriage. However, cultural, religious, or long-distance relationship circumstances may pose challenges in this regard.

For detailed information on evidence requirements for proving a genuine and subsisting relationship, please refer to our guidance – “Spouse Visa – Is your relationship genuine and subsisting?

Following the initial period of 2 years and 9 months, applicants can extend their visa for an additional 2 years and 6 months. To qualify for this extension, it is crucial to maintain the continuity of the eligible relationship with the UK-based partner, ensuring that the dynamics of the relationship remain consistent.

The extension period plays a pivotal role in the journey towards potential Indefinite Leave to Remain and British citizenship.

When applying for a visa based on your relationship with a British citizen or a person settled in the UK, it’s crucial to demonstrate to UKVI that your relationship is genuine and ongoing.

You will be required to provide UKVI with various documents to substantiate your relationship. These documents should be less than four years old, sourced from official entities (e.g., medical professionals, or local authorities), and must illustrate the authenticity of your relationship with your partner/spouse.

The specific documents necessary will vary depending on your circumstances. Some examples of documents you may need to provide include, but are not limited to:

  • Marriage certificate or civil partnership certificate
  • Tenancy agreement, utility bills, or council tax bills indicating that you reside at the same address or share financial responsibilities
  • Bank statement from a joint bank account showing that you live at the same address

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Disclaimer
This information is for guidance purposes only and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice. Please refer to the full General Notices on our website.

Rebecca Hone

Senior Associate

View profile

+44 20 7539 8019

Monica Mastropasqua

Paralegal

View profile

+44 20 7539 8021

About this article

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