UK Spouse Visa: How to apply from outside the UK? Written by Atty Magsino

You can apply for a UK spouse or partner visa if you are a British citizen or settled person’s spouse or partner and wish to stay in the UK. Spouse/partner visa for UK is called a settlement visa. Appendix FM of the Immigration Rules governs spouse/partner visa applications. Appendix FM and Appendix FM SE of the Immigration Rules list spouse visa criteria.

Entry Clearance For Spouse / Partner Visa. If you’re the spouse or partner of a British citizen or settled person living outside the UK, you can apply for a visa online. This application is called Entry Clearance Visa application.

You can apply for a UK spouse visa online if you meet all Appendix FM conditions. Spouse visa is also called Appendix FM Partner visa. If the applicant satisfies the requirements for entry clearance as a spouse, a visa will be granted for 33 months with no recourse to public funds, which means that you cannot claim any form of government assistance or ‘benefits’. Before initial 33 months spouse visa expires, you can apply for extension or renewal of spouse visa under 5 years route to complete 5 years on spouse visa and apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain as a spouse under 5 years route.

How To Apply? From outside the UK, spouse visa applications are made online. The spouse visa entrance clearance fee and Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) are paid online after submitting the online form. All spouse visa documents are uploaded electronically. An appointment is arranged with the Application Centre for biometrics and passport submission in the applicant’s home country.

Requirements For Spouse Visa Entry Clearance UK. The spouse of a British citizen or settled person must meet the Suitability and Eligibility (Relationship, Financial and Accommodation, English language) requirements:

  • Suitability requirements according to Appendix FM of the Immigration Rules
  • You and your UK spouse must be 18 years old or over;
  • Your UK spouse must be a
    • British or Irish citizen,
    • have indefinite leave to remain (ILR),
    • settled status, or proof of permanent residence in the UK, or
    • be from the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, or Liechtenstein and have pre-settled status (they must have started living in the UK before 1 January 2021); or
    • have a Turkish Businessperson visa or
    • Turkish Worker visa; or
    • have refugee status or humanitarian protection.
  • Must have a durable and on-going relationship with UK spouse (also known as the “UK sponsor”);
  • The applicant’s UK spouse must earn at least £18,600 gross per year or have £62,500 in savings if unemployed or self-employed.
  • English language certificate;
  • Adequate housing for the applicant and UK spouse without public funds;
  • You must give a tuberculosis test certificate, if required.

Financial Requirement. The applicant must show that the UK sponsor’s gross (before tax) yearly income meets or exceeds the minimum income requirements (MIR) in the table below:

Applicant only (without children)£18,600
Applicant applying with 1 non-settled / non-British child£22,400
Applicant applying with 2 non-settled / non-British children£24,800
Applicant applying with 3 non-settled / non-British children£27,200 
Applicant applying with 4 non-settled / non-British children£29,600
Applicant applying with 5 non-settled / non-British children£32,00

Higher financial requirements for applicants with children will apply until the partner qualifies for settlement, even if the child turns 18 before then. 18-year-olds’ income and savings will count toward the financial criteria.

When Does Financial Requirement Does Not Apply To A Child? Financial requirements don’t apply to a child who is a:

  • British citizen (including an adopted child who gets British citizenship);
  • settled in the UK (holds ILR in the UK); or
  • qualifies for Indefinite Leave to Enter (ILE) under Part 8 or Appendix Armed Forces of the Immigration Rules.

How to meet the financial requirements?
Appendix FM of the Immigration Rules says that the applicant must meet the following:

  • the level of the financial requirement that applies to their application;
  • as well as the requirements for:
    • (a) the allowed sources of income and savings;
    • (b) the time periods and allowed combinations of sources for each allowed source relied on; and
    • (c) the proof that is needed for each allowed source relied on. The applicant, their partner, or both must have their own income and cash savings. But once the applicant’s dependent child turns 18, the child’s income and cash savings can also be included.

All employment or self-employment income or even cash savings must not come from illegal employment or anomalous source for it to be considered as part of satisfying the financial requirements.

What are the different ways to get the money that’s needed?
If the applicant needs to make a certain amount of money, they can usually do so in one of the five ways below:

  1. Income from the partner’s (or the applicant’s, if they have permission to work in the UK) salary or non-salary job. Depending on the job history, this is called either Category A or Category B.
  2. Income from sources other than work, such as rent from a property or dividends from stocks. This is what is called “Category C.”
  3. Cash savings of the applicant’s partner and/or the applicant that are worth more than £16,000 and have been under the control of the partner and/or the applicant for at least 6 months. This is called Category D.
  4. State (UK or foreign), occupational, or private pension of the applicant, the applicant’s partner, or both. This is called Category E.
  5. Income from self-employment and income as a director or employee of a certain limited company in the UK for the partner (and/or the applicant if they have permission to work in the UK). This is called either Category F or Category G, depending on which financial year (or years) are being used as a reference.

Flexibility of the Evidence. In paragraph D of Appendix FM-SE, you can find out about the flexibility of the evidence. Under Appendix FM-SE, decision-makers have the option to put an application on hold until missing evidence or the right version of the evidence is submitted within a reasonable time frame. Decision-makers won’t have to put off making a decision if they don’t think that fixing the mistake or missing information will lead to a grant.

Decision-makers can also approve an application even if there are small problems with the evidence (but not where specified evidence is missing entirely). Decision-makers can also use their own judgement when evidence can’t be given because it wasn’t made in a certain country or has been lost for good. Before making a decision, people in charge have the freedom to ask for more information or proof.

Exemption From Financial Requirement
If the applicant’s partner is getting any of the following benefits or allowances in the UK, the applicant can meet the financial requirement at the time of application by showing proof of “adequate maintenance” instead of having an income of at least £18,600.

  • Pay for caregivers.
  • Allowance for living with a disability.
  • Bad Disability Allowance.
  • Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit.
  • Allowance for Attendance.
  • Personal Independence Payment (PIP).
  • Armed Forces Compensation Scheme’s Armed Forces Independence Payment or Guaranteed Income Payment.
  • Under the War Pensions Scheme, people could get a Constant Attendance Allowance, a Mobility Supplement, or a War
  • Disablement Pension.
  • Injury pay for police.
  • If the applicant’s partner gets one of the above benefits or allowances for their child, the applicant can meet the financial requirement by providing “adequate maintenance.” In Appendix FM-SE, it says what proof is needed to show that the applicant’s partner is getting a certain benefit or allowance.

English Language Requirement
The applicant must show certain proof that he or she:

  • is a citizen of a country where English is the main language; or
  • has passed an English language test in speaking and listening at a minimum of level A1 of the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) for Languages with a provider approved by the Home Office, UKVI; or
  • has an academic qualification recognised by UK NARIC to be equivalent to the standard of a Bachelor’s, Master’s, or PhD in the UK, which was taught in English; or
  • is exempt from the English language requirement.

How long does it take to get a decision?
Under normal circumstances, it is usually processed within 12 weeks or less if the application is made using standard service and within 6 to 8 weeks if the application is made using priority service. There is also a fast-track where an application can be decided within few days only. But at the time of this writing the Home Office website stated that it would take them at least 24 weeks or 6 months to make a decision for an application made outside the UK.

What happens if the application is refused? If your application was refused by the Entry Clearance Officer (ECO) and you feel the decision to deny your application was valid and lawful, you can reapply for a spouse visa. We can help you appeal or re-apply for a spouse visa after a refusal. We will advise you the merits of the case and will assess what can be done to address the reasons for refusal.

Do you want to instruct me? If it is a request for free legal advice I may not respond, I’m sorry. This is because our time and intellect are our trade and therefore we deserve to get paid for our time and impartation of knowledge. I hope you understand. If you are looking for personal legal advice or help with your case, we have three different services available for different budgets:

  1. Ask us anything on video link or telephone legal advice in 60 min sessions for £120.
  2. Application checking service for £450 if you have prepared your application yourself but want it checking for your peace of mind
  3. Full legal representation from £1,250 where we run your case for you.

Categories: Home, UK Immigration

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