Spouse visa extension
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Spouse visa extension
Under the current immigration rules, spouse visa has to be extended at least once (if you are on the 5-year route to settlement) before you can apply for indefinite leave to remain.
If you have a visa in another immigration category (other than a visitor) you may be able to switch into the partner route without leaving the country. Such application for a variation of your immigration status will be considered your first application under the partner route.
The first application under the partner route starts the clock running for the qualifying period for indefinite leave to remain. You will need to spend five years in the UK in this category. The five years are made up of 2.5 years granted with the initial application and further 2.5 years granted on the extension application. After five years of residence in this category you should be eligible for indefinite leave to remain provided the requirements of the rules were met in both the initial application and application for extension of stay and your leave to remain was granted under the five-year route.
The application for extension of stay is just as complex as the initial application and the refusal can set the clock back or even require that the applicant leaves the country and reapplies from abroad. The safest way to ensure a successful outcome of the application is to have a reputable immigration lawyer to represent you.
The requirements for an extension application are very similar to the initial spouse visa application but have some important differences which, if overlooked, may lead to refusal of the application or grant of leave under the 10-year route and thus delay your eligibility for ILR.
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General requirements for the spouse visa extension
- The applicant and the sponsor must be in the UK
- The applicant has to have a valid leave to remain in the UK
- The applicant should not fall for refusal on the grounds of suitability
- The relationship between the applicant and the British spouse has to be genuine and subsisting
- The applicant and the sponsor have to show that they have lived together in the UK since the last grant of leave
- The financial requirements have to be met
- The applicant has to meet the English language requirement to at least A2 standard
Requirement to be present in the UK
The application for the second stretch of the partner visa is normally made in the UK, although in exceptional circumstances if you were outside the UK when the visa expired, you should be able to make the application for entry clearance from abroad.
The requirement that the British partner is in the UK present in the UK is not to be taken literally – if you partner is on a business trip or travelling abroad on the day you applied for extension, it will not defeat or prejudice your application. However, you have to show that your partner is resident in the UK and their main home is in the UK.
Absences from the UK and extension applications
When making an application for extension of leave as a partner, you will be asked to list your absences from the UK for longer than six months. In this context, there is no limit on the maximum permitted absences. However, the Home Office may question your intention to live permanently in the UK if you are absent for prolonged periods of time.
If you are absent for prolonged periods of time or your absences are frequent and exceed the time you spend in the UK, you may need to explain to the Home Office the reasons for your trips abroad and show that they are consistent with the intention to live in the UK permanently.
When to apply for a spouse visa extension
An application for extension of leave to remain as a partner has to be made before the expiry of your first grant of leave in this category.
If your first application was made from outside the UK, you would have been granted leave to enter for 33 months. You can apply for extension at any time from three months before the expiry date of your visa. You will receive extension for a further 30 months which will bring you to 60 months in total – the qualifying period for indefinite leave to remain.
If your previous application was made within the UK, you would have been granted leave to remain for 30 months. In this case you can apply for extension up to 28 days before the expiry date of your visa. Your extension will be granted for extra 30 months, either from the date of expiry of your visa or from the date the decision was made, whatever the later, and will bring you to at least 60 months in total in this immigration category.
If you allow your visa to expire, you automatically lose the right to work in the UK.
An application made out of time will be rejected, unless you are applying within 14 days of the expiry of your visa and the delay with the application was caused by circumstances beyond your control.
Priority applications for a spouse visa extension
There is a super priority service for the extension applications at a cost of £800. This service may not be available every day and sometimes you may have to wait for a few days to reserve this option.
Decisions under super priority service are normally made on the next business day after you submit your biometric information. If you are submitting your biometrics at a UKVCAS application centre, you can book the earliest or the most convenient appointment, after which your application will be processed within 24 hours.
If the application is complex or requires exercise of discretion, the Home Office may find that it is not suitable for super priority service. In this case, priority service fee would normally be refunded.
Relationship requirement for the extension application
With the spouse extension application you will be required to provide evidence that both the applicant and the British sponsor have lived together in the UK during the entire period since the last grant of leave to remain as a partner.
This evidence is normally provided in the form of official correspondence addressed to both partners. Examples are bank statements, council tax bills, utility bills, letters from government departments.
Financial requirement for the spouse visa extension
Financial requirement in the extension application is the same as in the initial partner visa application.
You have to demonstrate income from approved sources of at least £18,600 per year.
This can now include earnings of the applicant or combined earnings of the applicant and the British partner.
Although the rules permit combining income from different sources, the rules are complex and restrictive. Wherever possible, it is always better to rely on one source of income rather than a combination of several sources. This also reduced the scope for mistakes on the part of the Home Office.
Relying on savings
You may meet the financial requirement relying on your or your partner’s savings. The amount you need to meet the financial requirement in full is £62,500.
If you are topping up your employment or rental income with savings, you will have to calculate the deficit in your income, multiply it by 2.5 and add £16,000 on top. Thus, to top up an income of £16,000 per year you will multiply £2,600 (the deficit of £18,600) by 2.5 and add £16,000. The amount of savings you will need will be £22,500.
As with the initial spouse visa application, the savings have to be in your or your partner’s possession and control for at least six months and have to be in a cash account at the time of the application.
It is worth noting that cash savings cannot be combined with income from self-employment.
English language requirement
For the extension of your spouse visa you will need to take the language test at the next level up – A2 in speaking and listening.
If you met the language requirement in the previous application by showing that you are a national of a majority English speaking country or have a degree from a UK university or a programme approved by Ecctis, you still need to provide evidence of the same.
You do not have to meet the language test if you are over 65.
If you have a medical condition or disability or there are exceptional circumstances that make it impossible for you to meet the language requirement, you may also be able to claim exemption.
Exceptional circumstances in spouse visa extension applications
If due to exceptional circumstances you are unable to meet any of the legal requirements for the application for extension of your partner visa, you may still qualify for extension of leave under the 10-year rule. This will set the clock back for you and will mean that you may have to make at least one additional application under the partner route before you qualify for ILR. But you may still be successful with the application.
It is of paramount importance that you make your application in time, before expiry of your current leave. Missing the deadline would have dramatic consequences – such termination of your right to work in the UK and loss of continuity of residence for the purpose of ILR.
If you are unable to pay the Home Office fees due to an emergency or an unforeseen change in your financial circumstances, you can make an application for a fee waiver. This application has to be made before the expiry of your visa to protect continuity of your residence and your right to work.
If you have any concerns about your eligibility for extension, it is best to seek legal advice as early as possible. Legal advice will give you certainty about the requirements you have to meet and how best to go about preparing the application.
If you need more time with a lawyer or would like a quote for representation in your application, please complete the contact form below or visit Immigration Advice page and book an appointment that best suits your needs.
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Last updated on 18 April 2023
Last updated on November 1, 2022