What is a UK spouse visa?

The spouse visa UK is a visa category which allows partners of British residents to apply to gain entry to the UK. Essentially, it allows people to join their British resident partner in the UK on the basis of their relationship.

There are a range of criteria that both partners must meet together and individually. All spouse visa UK applications are submitted to the Home Office, who then make a decision based on factual evidence supplied by the couple within the application.

Who can apply for a spouse visa UK?

There are only certain people who are eligible to make an application to enter the UK visa a spouse visa. The first requirement is that you are originally from outside of the European Economic Area. Your partner must either be a British citizen, or a British resident from outside the EEA too. If your partner is from an EEA country but is living in the UK, you should instead apply for an EEA family permit and not a spouse visa.

Although the category is called spouse visa, you and your partner do not have to be married to apply for it. You can be, of course, but you can also be part of an unmarried couple who have been living together for at least two years, or you can be in a civil partnership. Whatever your relationship situation, you must be prepared to provide plenty of evidence to the Home Office to prove that your relationship has been, and still is genuine. This is to attempt to prevent human trafficking incidents from occurring.

Home Office requirements

In order to be granted entry into the UK on the basis of your relationship, the Home Office must be satisfied that you meet all of the requirements that they set out. This means that you must be prepared to send a whole lot of evidence their way, which could take some time for them to get through.

The following criteria must be met in order for your application to be considered:

  • The partner you are joining is either present and settled in the UK, or has limited leave to remain in the UK on all visas except for student and short-term visas
  • Both of you are over 18
  • You must both demonstrate that you intend to live together permanently when you get to the UK
  • You can provide evidence that you have accommodation arranged for when you arrive in the UK
  • You meet the English language requirements
  • You, or your partner if they are acting as your ‘sponsor’ are earning at least £18,600 per year (any children you plan to bring with you make this threshold higher – to £22,400 and then an extra £2,400 per child)

In addition to the above, you also will have to provide substantial evidence that your relationship is genuine. This can include photos from throughout the relationship, marriage certificates, joint tenancy agreements, text messages, emails, call logs and social media interactions. The Home Office are quite strict when it comes to the evidence they require, so it is a good idea to seek legal advice from immigration solicitors if you are unsure of whether you are submitting the correct evidence and the correct amount of it.

How long can you stay in the UK on a spouse visa?

If you apply for the UK spouse visa category, you should intend to live in the UK for a long period of time. If you are planning to visit for six months or less, this isn’t the right visa category for you – you should instead seek a visit visa, even if the sole purpose of your visit is to spend time with your spouse or partner.

If you are successful in your spouse visa application, you will be able to stay in the UK for an initial period of up to 33 months. However, if your relationship breaks down your spouse visa can get revoked.

You will then be able to apply for a 30 month extension, after which you can apply for indefinite leave to remain, otherwise known as settlement or permanent residence. From the moment you are granted your spouse visa, you will be eligible to live and work in the UK.

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