UK spouse visa, or partner’s visa, gives the right of entry and residence to the spouse, unmarried partner (in a durable relationship which has lasted for not less than two years) or the civil partner of a British citizen or a person with indefinite leave to remain. This visa is issued for 30 months and has to be renewed before expiry.
Visitors in the UK cannot make an application for spouse visa in country. However, those who hold a fiancé/e visa, student visa issued for more than six months or any type of work-permitting visa can switch into spouse category within the UK.
Spouse visa requirements
In order to qualify for a spouse visa, both partners have to be at least 18 years of age.
The non British spouse has to pass an English language test at level A1 or above of the Common European Framework of Reference. The list of acceptable tests and test providers is on the UKBA website.
The sponsor has to be either a British citizen, or have indefinite leave to remain in the UK, or have been granted refugee status or humanitarian protection in the UK. The marriage has to be accepted as valid and subsisting, and the parties have to demonstrate intention of living together permanently.
The minimum income threshold requirement for the sponsor is £18,600 per year. Where the sponsored spouse has a dependent child, minimum income threshold is £22,400. Additional £2,400 per year applies for each additional sponsored child.
Where the sponsor falls below the income threshold, maintenance requirements can be met through savings. The couple have to demonstrate savings of £16,000 plus the amount of shortfall multiplied by 2.5.
Unmarried partner applications
In addition to the above, unmarried partners are required to demonstrate that they have lived together in a relationship akin to marriage for at least two years prior to the application.
Equally, unmarried partner visa holders qualify for indefinite leave to remain after five years. Those who are subject to transitional arrangements are entitled to apply for indefinite leave to remain after two years.
Spouse visa extension
Those who do not meet the requirements of the immigration rules for indefinite leave to remain can apply for extension of their spouse or unmarried partner visa. The requirements are the same as for an initial application, with the exception that temporary inability to meet the means test should not normally be the basis for refusal. Applicants are strongly advised to seek legal assistance where this may be the case.