Spouse visa UK

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Spouse visa UK

UK spouse visa is an immigration option for spouses of British citizens, as well as spouses of non-British citizens with indefinite leave to remain in the UK, EU nationals with settled or pre-settled status, and Irish citizens resident in the UK.

Spouse or partner of a person with limited leave to remain, such as Skilled Worker, student or any other type of residence with an expiry date attached to it, has to apply for a Dependant visa in the same category as the main visa holder.


Spouse visa UK – what you need to know

An application for the spouse visa is made either from overseas (your country of nationality or the country where you normally live), or from the UK if you already have leave to remain in another immigration category, but not as a visitor.

The British spouse has to be resident in the UK or be returning to the UK together with the applicant.

The couple have to meet the financial requirement which is assessed primarily, but not exclusively, through the income of the British partner.

The non-British partner has to meet a basic English language requirement at A1 level.

There are also suitability requirements aimed at excluding people with a history of criminal offences.

Spouse visa application process

The application is made by completing an online application form and paying the government fees. After that you can book a biometric appointment to have your picture and fingerprints taken. You will not be interviewed at the appointment – it is only to capture your biometric details.

You can also book a priority service (available overseas) or a super priority service available in the UK if you wish to expedite the application.

After you have submitted your application online you have to upload your supporting documents to the government portal. All documents are now accepted in a digital format, but you may be asked for the original document if the Home Office has any concerns.

If you are applying for entry clearance (from outside the UK) you will receive a vignette or a sticker in your passport which will be valid for 28 days during which you can travel to the UK and collect your Biometric Residence Card from the post office. You will have selected the nearest post office to your address in the UK as part of the visa application process.

If you are applying from inside the UK, you will receive your biometric residence card in the post. The card will have expiry date in December 2024 but your visa, or permission to remain in the UK, will be valid for 30 months. The discrepancy is due to the changes introduced by the Home Office in the documentation confirming the right of residence. It will not affect your right to remain.

UK Spouse visa processing time in 2022

The standard processing time for an entry clearance application (an application made from outside the UK) has been extended to 16 weeks due to a backlog and general delays with the Home Office. There is an option of expediting the application by booking a priority service. Priority service is only available if the application is straightforward and meets all the standard requirements. Where priority service is selected, you can expect the decision to be made in around four weeks, but this is not guaranteed.

The standard processing time for applications made in the UK is a little faster – about 8 weeks. You can also expedite this by booking a super priority service and receive the decision within 24 hours after submitting your biometrics.

How long is the spouse visa for?

Your first period of leave to enter (the first stretch of your spouse visa) will be valid for 33 months. You will be expected to extend this visa for another 2.5 years before it expires. The earliest you can apply for extension is after 2.5 years of residence, the latest is the expiry date of your visa.

The second stretch of leave is granted for 2.5 years.

On completion of five years of residence in this immigration category you can apply for indefinite leave to remain.

Once you are granted ILR, you will be entitled to apply for British citizenship and your first British passport.

Spouse visa requirements

Spouse visa requirements can be summarised as follows:

  • Relationship – recognised and subsisting marriage or civil partnership;
  • English language test at A1 level (speaking and listening);
  • Financial requirements – an annual income (£18,600) from specified sources or savings (£62,500) unless you are exempt (see below);
  • Adequate accommodation in the UK;
  • Intention to make the UK your home.

Financial requirements for the spouse visa

You are required to show income of at least £18,600 per year or savings of not less than £62,500.

Income and savings can be combined if neither savings nor income is sufficient in its own right. The formula for calculating the required savings is as follows: income deficiency x 2.5 + £16,000. For example, if the sponsor earns £18,000 a year and the shortfall is £600, the required amount of savings is £16000 + £600 x 2.5 = £17500.

If you have a dependent child who is not a British citizen, the minimum income is £22,400 and a further £2400 is added for the second dependent child and then for each child thereafter. Savings requirements also go up proportionately to the number of dependent children. For one dependent child the minimum savings requirement is £72,000. There is an additional £6000 for each child thereafter.

Sources of income

Only approved sources of income are taken into account, such as employment, self-employment, rental of property, income from dividends or investments, or pension.

If the applicant is outside the UK, their income from employment or self-employment cannot be taken into account. However, their income from property rental, pension or investments is accepted.

If the applicant is in the UK in a work permitting immigration category their income from employment in the UK can be taken into consideration when assessing the financial requirement. In this case, you can rely on employment of both the sponsor and the applicant, or either one of them.

Where both partners are resident outside the UK at the time of the application and plan to relocate to the UK together, the British partner may rely on income from employment in the country of residence and a job offer in the UK with an appropriate salary. Alternatively, the British partner may rely on income from self-employment in the country of residence and intention to continue in the same trade in the UK. You will have to demonstrate that this arrangement is plausible. Income from employment or self-employment of non-British partner is not taken into account.

Income is assessed before tax and NI deductions.


Savings can belong to the British or non-British partner or both. Savings have to be held in a cash account with immediate access. You will have to demonstrate that you have owned the funds for at least six months, even if they were not in the cash account for the entire six-month period. If you sold a property or assets and rely on the proceeds of sale, you will have to show that you owned the property or the assets for at least six months prior to the date of the application.

Evidence of income from employment

If the British sponsor has worked with the same employer for more than six months, they can provide evidence of their salary for the last six months. This should be not less than £9,300 gross (before tax) over the six-month period.

If the British citizen changed employment less than six months ago, they have two options – either demonstrate their total income over the last 12 months, or, if they are high earners and have earned more than £18,600 in the current employment in less than six months, they can rely on earnings during a shorter period.

You will need payslips and bank statements showing receipt of salary, and a letter from the employer confirming the details.

Income from self-employment

Self-employed persons have to rely on their net income before tax in the last completed financial year. Sometimes, there is a clash as the financial year may be completed very recently and the accounts not yet available and not yet required by HMRC. Immigration requirements, nevertheless cannot be met without the accounts for the last completed financial year.

If the income over the last financial year is insufficient, it is possible to rely on the average of the last two financial years.

Company directors

Company directors can rely on their income from the company drawn as either salary or dividends or both. You will have to show company accounts for the last completed financial year, as well as personal accounts, dividend vouchers and payslips. You will be required to have at least one completed financial year to qualify. And the relevant period will be the last completed financial year.

Employees of companies owned by other family members

If the sponsor is working for a company owned or partly owned by a family member, evidential requirements are similar to those related company directors. You will be required to produce company accounts and company bank statements in addition to your own bank statements and payslips. The requirements are set out fully in Appendix FM SE of the immigration rules.


Who is exempt from the financial requirements?

Financial requirement is considered as met if the British sponsor is in receipt of disability related benefits, such as

  • Carer’s allowance
  • Disability living allowance
  • Severe Disablement Allowance
  • Attendance Allowance
  • Personal Independence Payment

The difference between the 5-year and the 10-year partner route

Where all substantive requirements (financial, language, immigration status) and evidential requirements are met, UK spouse visa is granted under the 5-year route. This means that after five years you will qualify to apply for indefinite leave to remain.

If some of the requirements are not met but the refusal of the application would nevertheless be unfair and cause significant hardship, the visa is granted under the 10-year route.

If you hold the 10-year route visa you will qualify for indefinite leave to remain after 10 years of residence. This means there will be three applications for extension of visa before you can apply for indefinite leave to remain.

You can switch from the 10-year route into the five-year route as soon as you meet the requirements. You do not have to wait until the end of your visa. You will qualify for ILR once you have completed five years on the five year route, or 10-years in a combination of both.

Spouse visa application costs

If you are applying from outside the UK,

  • the visa fee is £1538,
  • the Immigration Health Surcharge is £1872,
  • optional priority service is £573.

If you are applying in the UK,

  • the visa fee is £1048,
  • the Immigration Health Surcharge is £1560,
  • the optional super-priority service is £800

UK spouse visa FAQs

If you want confidence in the outcome and don’t want to take chances, legal representation will make a world of difference. Your legal representative will advise you on supporting documents that will show your case at its strongest and will address any issues that could potentially cause a problem. Representations made in support of the application explain to the decision-maker how the application meets the requirements of the rules, provide the background information and minimises the risk of any follow-up questions and delays. Concise and to the point representations will also minimise the risk of a mistake on the part of the Home Office and will give you the best prospect of success.

Yes, a partner visa to the UK gives you the right to work without restrictions. You can prove your right to work to your employer with a share code which you can get online. You can be employed or self-employed and you can start your own business.

If you hold the spouse visa, you are not entitled to any benefits or tax credits. But this does not affect your partner’s right to benefits, including Child benefit, housing benefit and tax credits.

If you don’t meet the financial requirements, but refusal of the spouse visa would be unjustifiably harsh due to compassionate circumstances of your case, you may ask the Home Office to consider alternative sources of income – such as help from a third party or future income in the UK or anything else not specified in the rules. If your application is successful you will be granted entry clearance or leave to remain under the 10-year route.

You children under the age of 18 can apply for a child dependent visa later, but you will have to demonstrate that you have sole responsibility for their upbringing and that the responsibility transferred to other people while you were setting up your home in the UK was only a temporary arrangement. The longer this arrangement lasts the more challenging it will be to prove its temporary nature.

You will be asked when you are planning to travel to the UK when you apply for entry clearance and the start date of your visa will normally match your plans. The vignette in your passport will be valid for 30 days during which you can travel to the UK and collect your Biometric Residence Permit. There is no restriction on your right to travel once you have entered the UK and activated your visa.

No, there is no limit on your right to travel abroad but you will have to maintain your main home and family life in the UK.

There is no restriction on your partner having to travel abroad for work or receiving income from employment overseas. However, when you extend your visa or apply for ILR you will need to show that you are living together in the UK and that you intend to live in the UK permanently.

If you are relying on cash savings, you will need £62,500 for the first application and the application for extension. When you are applying for indefinite leave to remain, you will need £34,600.

You will need more savings if you have dependent children who are not British citizens.

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How immigration solicitors can help with your application for a partner visa

An experienced immigration lawyer gives you confidence in the result you want to achieve. A professionally prepared application is usually processed quicker and without any follow-up questions. We recommend full legal representation as the most reliable way of getting the right outcome in the shortest possible time.

The way we prepare the application makes it easy for the caseworker to process and approve it without asking for more information or referring the matter to a senior member of staff.

We know which applications fall to the attention of senior caseworkers, and we mark our cover letter accordingly to make this clear.

Our services include full preparation of the application with legal representations in support of the case and any follow-up communications with the Home Office until a decision is made and you receive your visa and the biometric residence permit.

Our fees for representation in the partner visa application depend on the complexity of the application and the sources of income in meeting the financial requirement.

Before accepting your instructions, we will assess your case in a brief telephone discussion and will give you an accurate all-inclusive quote.

If you are relying on exceptional circumstances or not sure if you meet the requirements of the rules, we will recommend an initial consultation to address.

Are you considering applying for UK spouse visa?

We have helped hundreds of clients in their journey from the initial entry clearance to British citizenship

Last updated on 22 December 2022

Last updated on 22 December 2022