How Long Does a Spouse Visa Take in the UK?

How Long Does a Spouse Visa Take in the UK?

This article was last updated on June 9th, 2024.

Getting a spouse visa can take a few months or more. On average, it’s about 3 months. But, it can vary based on different factors we’ll discuss later.

Love can be tough when your partner is in another country, like the UK. Applying for a spouse visa to bring them here can be challenging. The wait can be stressful because of the complex and unpredictable immigration process.

As days go by, you might get more anxious and have more questions. Why is it taking so long? Can we speed it up? What if my visa runs out before they make a decision? What’s next?

This guide will answer these questions and more. Let’s start and turn the “how long” question into a clear timeline.

How Long Does a Spouse Visa Take in the UK?

Understanding the Spouse Visa

In simple terms, the UK Spouse Visa is a gateway for individuals from other countries to live in the UK with their spouses. The spouse should be a British citizen or have settled status in the UK. This visa primarily promotes family togetherness and societal integration and upholds the stability of the family unit.

Eligibility Criteria

The eligibility criteria for a Spouse Visa are pretty specific, and applicants need to meet these requirements for their application to be considered. Requirements include:

  • Relationship requirements:  The applicant should be in a legally recognised and committed relationship with an individual with either British citizenship or legal UK residency status.
  • Financial requirements: As of April 11, 2024, the applicant’s UK partner must earn at least £29,000 a year. This threshold rises if the couple has children who are not UK citizens or settled in the UK. Alternatively, savings or other specified income sources can fulfil this requirement.
  • English language requirement: The applicant needs to demonstrate knowledge of English at level A1, A2 or B1 either by passing an authorised exam or having a degree taught in English.
  • Accommodation requirement: Necessary documents such as a rental contract, mortgage papers, or a written confirmation from a friend or family member confirming your stay at their place. A property inspection report must accompany it.

Also Read: New Spouse Visa Financial Requirements Explained – 2024 Guide

To demonstrate that you meet these eligibility criteria, a comprehensive list of documents is required:

  • Relationship evidence: Marriage certificate, photographs, correspondence, proof of cohabitation, etc., to prove the genuine and subsisting relationship.
  • Financial evidence: Payslips, bank statements, employment contracts, etc., to meet the financial requirement.
  • English language evidence: Test results from an approved provider or a degree certificate taught or researched in English to show the required level of English proficiency.
  • Accommodation evidence: A rental agreement, mortgage statement, or letter from a friend or family member if you are staying with them, supplemented by a property inspection report.

Remember, each document should be duly filled, up-to-date, and translated into English where necessary. Precision during the application process is crucial, as even a minor oversight can cause delays or, in the worst scenario, rejection. Hence, ensure all details and documents submitted are correct and complete.

How Long Does a UK Spouse Visa Take?

The timeline for obtaining a UK Spouse Visa can differ based on various factors such as where you’re applying from, the completeness of your application, and the time of year. Therefore, understanding these elements can give you a more exact estimation of how long the process might require.

Applications for a UK Spouse Visa from outside the UK are typically processed in 3 months on average. The processing time is normally between 6 and 8 weeks if the application is made from within the UK, on the other hand. These estimates are based on typical applications that don’t utilise any fast-track or priority services.

It’s critical to realise that these averages shouldn’t be seen as guarantees and that they are just that—averages. The actual processing time can vary greatly depending on a multitude of factors:

  • Application Completion: A complete and well-prepared application can significantly speed up the process. Incomplete applications or those with errors often take longer as additional checks or requests for more information are needed.
  • Time of Year: Application volumes can fluctuate during different periods of the year. Peak times, such as holiday seasons or during major international events, can lead to a surge in applications and, consequently, longer processing times.
  • Individual Circumstances: The specifics of an individual’s situation can influence processing times. For instance, an applicant with previous immigration or legal issues may find their application takes longer to process due to the need for additional checks and verifications.

Also Read: How Long Does UK Fiance Visa Last?

UKVI Priority and Super Priority Services

For those seeking to expedite the process, the UK Visa and Immigration (UKVI) offers two distinct services known as the Priority and Super Priority Services. These services are designed to provide faster processing times for those under tight time constraints, albeit at an additional fee.

1. Priority Service

The Priority Service is designed to speed up the processing of your Spouse Visa application, targeting completion within five working days, compared to the standard timeline. This service can prove beneficial if the application form is accurately filled out, complete with necessary details, and accompanied by all required documents.

However, keep in mind the five-working-day timeline isn’t rigid. The processing time might extend beyond the estimated period for complex applications that demand additional checks and verification from the Home Office.

2. Super Priority Service

For those seeking an even quicker processing time, the Super Priority Service could be an ideal choice. This service promises to process your spouse visa application within 24 hours, making it the fastest route to getting your visa approved.

With a straightforward application, your visa may be ready for collection by the following working day. However, just like the Priority Service, complexities within the application can extend the processing time. If additional administrative checks and verifications are needed, the longest you may have to wait to determine your application through the Super Priority Service is five working days.

It’s important to note that the timelines refer to working days, typically Monday through Friday, excluding legal holidays. For example, if you apply for the visa through the Super Priority Service on a Saturday, the first working day counted would be the next Monday. Thus, you are likely to receive feedback on your application late Monday or Tuesday.

One crucial point to remember about these expedited services is that while they aim for faster processing times, they do not guarantee a favourable outcome. The approval of your Spouse’s Visa application still depends on meeting all the eligibility requirements and providing accurate and complete supporting documentation. 

Spouse Visa processing time

Understanding the Role of UKVCAS and Home Office in Visa Processing

When applying for a UK Spouse Visa, you will likely come across two main entities involved in the application process: the UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) and the Home Office. It’s necessary to understand the distinctions between these two bodies and their roles in the application process.

UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS)

The UKVCAS, a part of Sopra Steria Group, is a commercial partner of the UK government. They provide a crucial part of the visa application process – offering a platform for applicants to submit their applications and the necessary supporting documentation online.

In addition, the UKVCAS operates Service Points across the country, where applicants are required to attend an appointment to provide their biometric information (fingerprints and a photo). Some locations also offer document scanning services if you still need to upload your documents online.

One notable feature of UKVCAS is the option to use their app to verify your identity and upload documents, meaning for certain types of applications, you may not need to attend an appointment in person.

Home Office

The Home Office, specifically UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI), is the government department that ultimately decides on your Spouse Visa application. They review the application and supporting documents submitted via the UKVCAS and perform the necessary checks to ensure you meet all the visa requirements.

The Home Office may also conduct interviews or request additional information to verify the authenticity of your relationship and other eligibility criteria. It’s the Home Office that will also handle any priority or super-priority applications, aiming to provide a decision within the expedited time frames.

So, while both UKVCAS and the Home Office are integral to the Spouse Visa application process, their roles are distinct. UKVCAS provides the platform and services to submit your application and collect biometric information, whereas the Home Office is the decision-making body that reviews your application and grants or denies your visa. 

Things You Can Do to Minimise the Visa Processing Time

When applying for a UK Spouse Visa, it’s normal to want the process to go as quickly as possible. Even though there are aspects of the process that you can’t change, like how long it takes the Home Office to process your application, there are steps you can take to help minimise the visa processing time.

Thorough Document Preparation

Ensure you provide all the required documents in a valid format and at the correct time. Double-check the documents against the Home Office’s required documents for a UK Spouse Visa to ensure you’ve covered everything. Missing documents can result in delays, while well-prepared and organised applications can speed up the decision-making process.

Accurate and Complete Application Form

Fill in your application form correctly and completely, ensuring you answer all the questions accurately. Providing incorrect information can lead to unnecessary delays or even a refusal.

Use Professional Service

Consider seeking advice from immigration professionals to ensure your application is error-free. Their expertise can identify any potential issues before your application is submitted, potentially saving you a significant amount of time.

Apply at the Right Time

Avoid peak application periods, as these can lead to increased processing times. Typically, avoid applying during the holiday season or around major international events.

Consider Priority or Super Priority Services

If time is of the essence, consider utilising the UKVI’s Priority or Super Priority Services. These services, available for an additional fee, aim to expedite your visa application’s processing time.

Respond Promptly to Any Requests

If the Home Office or UKVCAS needs more information or documentation, respond as quickly and fully as possible. Delays in delivering this data can extend the processing time.

Regularly Check Your Online Account

After submitting your application, regularly check your UKVCAS or Home Office online account for any updates or requests for further information.

Use Proper English Language

When filling in the application or corresponding with the Home Office, make sure to use clear, plain English. This can help prevent misunderstandings and speed up the decision-making process.

You Ask, We Answer

FAQs About UK Spouse Visa Processing Time

The Home Office usually uses email or its online system as the main form of communication. They will use your email address from the application process. In some cases, they might also contact you via post or telephone, depending on the nature of the update.

If you apply to extend your visa or switch to a different visa before your current one expires, you are generally allowed to stay in the UK until the Home Office reaches a decision, even if your visa expires during this time. This is called ‘Section 3C Leave’. However, it’s essential to apply for an extension or switch as soon as possible and not wait until your visa is close to expiring.

Yes, the processing time for your visa application can exceed the average time. This can happen due to various factors, including the complexity of your case, the time of year, and whether all necessary documents have been provided. If your application is delayed, you can check its status online or contact the Home Office for update.

The UK Partner visa processing time is calculated in workdays, typically from the date you submit your application and biometrics up until the Home Office makes the decision. It’s important to note that weekends, public holidays, and bank holidays are not considered workdays. 

If your circumstances change after your Spouse Visa is granted, such as divorce or death of the sponsor, you need to inform the Home Office as soon as possible. The impact on your visa status would depend on the nature of the change, and it’s recommended to seek legal advice.

If your Spouse Visa application is refused, you can appeal the decision if you believe there has been a mistake or provide additional documentation to support your case. It’s advised to seek legal help from firms like UK Spouse Visa Lawyers for assistance in such scenarios.

How Spouse Visa Lawyers UK Can Assist You

Applying for a UK Spouse Visa can be challenging. There are many rules to follow, forms to fill out, and papers to get ready. But don’t worry, our team at UK Spouse Visa Lawyers is here to help.

We’re experts in helping people with their Spouse Visa applications. We know UK immigration law and the application process well. We want to make your experience as easy and stress-free as we can.

We can help with all parts of the application process. This includes giving you advice, checking your documents, and helping with your application. We can also tell you about the Home Office’s fast-track services, keep you updated, and talk to the Home Office for you if needed.

With our help, you can feel confident and calm during this complex process. You’ll know your application is in good hands. We’re dedicated to giving you results and a stress-free experience during your Spouse Visa application journey. Get in touch with us for expert advice.

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The information provided in our articles is intended solely for guidance and should not be considered legal advice. We do not assume responsibility for any liabilities arising from the information in written articles and recommend that all readers seek professional advice before taking any action. For those wishing to discuss their case with a professional, please feel free to contact us directly.

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