A UK Spouse Visa enables non-UK residents who are married to a British citizen, or someone settled in the UK to join their partner. It’s crucial equipment to starting a life together in Britain, allowing the holder to live, work, and build a future in the UK. But how long is the visa valid?
In this article, we’ll explore the duration of the Spouse Visa, the process of extending it, and the steps towards obtaining indefinite leave to remain to secure your permanent residency in the UK. Let’s get started!
How Long Is a Spouse Visa Granted in the UK?
The validity of a UK Spouse Visa is a crucial factor for couples planning their life together in Britain. Generally, this visa is offered for 2.5 years if applied for from within the UK. You will get three additional months and 2.5 years if applied from outside the UK.
During the valid period, the visa holder can live and work inside the UK, contributing to their family and the wider community. It’s important to note that the duration of the Spouse Visa is a stepping stone towards longer-term goals.
Can I Extend My Spouse Visa?
Upon completing the initial period granted by your Spouse Visa in the UK, you have the option to apply for an extension. It’s important to initiate this process before the expiry of your current visa, ensuring you adhere to the same criteria as your original application.
This process involves demonstrating the ongoing authenticity of your relationship, complying with the English language requirements, and satisfying the financial conditions. You will be awarded an extra 2.5 years to stay in the UK if your request for an extension application is approved.
Spouse Visa Extension Requirements
Let’s explore the requirements for a Spouse Visa extension in more detail.
- Proof of Relationship: Demonstrating that your connection with your spouse is still valid and recognised in the UK is a crucial requirement.
- Financial Requirement: You and your partner need a combined income of at least £18,600, expected to rise to £29,000 in April 2024.
The financial threshold requirement for ALL family visas will be raised from £18,600 to £29,000 on April 11th 2024, followed by increases to £38,700 by early 2025. This requirement is often changed by the UK government. For the most up-to-date info, visit our page on family visa financial requirements or contact us directly.
- Evidence of Cohabitation: You have to establish that you have been residing with your spouse during your time in the UK. This may be accomplished using documents such as council tax bills, bills for utilities, and bank records that reflect both names at the exact same location.
- Legal Compliance: Applicants must have no breaches of law or immigration conditions during their stay in the UK.
- English Language Ability: You need to meet the mandated level of English language ability, which is a key integration measure.
- Character Suitability: This involves passing character and suitability checks to ensure you’re a good fit to continue residing in the UK.
Documents Required for Spouse Visa Extension
When filing for a Spouse Visa extension, you need to submit an exhaustive set of documentation to support your application. The records required vary based on individual circumstances, but here’s a general checklist to guide you:
- Proof of Identity: This could be your valid passport or any other government-issued identification that confirms your identity.
- Proof of Relationship: Essential documents include your marriage certificate or evidence of living with your partner, such as joint bills and rental agreements for the last 2.5 years.
- Proof of Partner’s UK Status: Documents that confirm your spouse’s status in the UK, like their indefinite leave to remain or British citizenship certificate.
- Financial Evidence: You must provide financial documents such as payslips, bank statements, or proof of savings to meet the financial requirements.
- English Language Proficiency: If applicable, you must submit either your degree certificate or a certificate from an English language test at CEFR level A2 as evidence of your English proficiency.
It’s important to remember that these documents can be uploaded with your online application or presented during your biometric appointment at a UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) centre.
If you choose to submit your documents at UKVCAS, they will scan and upload them for you, returning the originals immediately.
This checklist is a basic guide and needs to be more comprehensive. Be sure to tailor your document submission to reflect your specific circumstances for a successful Spouse Visa extension application.
What’s Next After 5 Years on a Spouse Visa?
After completing five years on a Spouse Visa in the UK, you can start your journey towards permanent residency. At this stage, you become qualified to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) if you satisfy specified conditions. You can live in the UK without time restrictions after you have ILR.
To be eligible for ILR, you must exhibit continuous and lawful residence in the UK while on the Spouse Visa. This involves adhering to your visa requirements and proving the ongoing genuine nature of your relationship.
Besides demonstrating proof of your relationship and residency, passing the ‘Life in the UK’ test is mandatory. This test evaluates your knowledge and comprehension of British life and culture.
Furthermore, unless you are exempt, you must meet the English language requirements to ensure your integration into UK society.
Successfully obtaining ILR after five years marks a significant step towards securing a permanent future in the UK, paving the way for potential naturalisation as a British citizen in the future.
Can an Application for a Spouse Visa Extension Be Refused?
If your Spouse Visa renewal is refused, you must understand the reasons and the next steps you can take. Common grounds for refusal include:
- Failure to meet the English language requirement
- Not meeting the minimum income threshold
- Inability to establish an authentic and subsisting relationship
- Concerns about character or past criminal convictions
- Incorrect information in the application
- Lack of sufficient supporting documents
Following a refusal, you’ll receive a letter detailing the decision and a deadline by which you must leave the UK. In such situations, you have several options.
If you believe there has been an error in the decision-making process, you can request an Administrative Review. This is appropriate if an error was made with your application. Alternatively, if your application was based on Human Rights grounds, you might be eligible to submit a Spouse Visa appeal.
Another option is to submit a fresh application, addressing the reasons for refusal in your previous one. You might also consider applying for a different variety of visas that better fit your circumstances.
Lastly, if you believe the decision was legally flawed, you can request a Judicial Review to challenge the decision’s legal basis. Each option has its requirements and implications, so seeking legal advice is advisable to determine the best course of action.
Need Help With Spouse Visa Application or Extension?
If you are looking for expert advice and guidance on applying for or extending a spouse visa in the UK, you have come to the right place. Spouse Visa Lawyers is a team of experienced and qualified immigration solicitors who can help you and your partner achieve your goals. We have helped hundreds of couples reunite and settle in the UK with our professional and personalised service.
We can take care of everything for you, from assessing your eligibility and preparing your application to liaising with the Home Office and appealing any refusal. We will make sure that your application is complete, accurate, and submitted on time and answer any questions you may have along the way.
Don’t delay, contact us today and let us help you secure your future with your partner in the UK.
You Ask, We Answer
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.
Dr Bernard Andonian has over four decades of experience as a London-based UK Immigration Solicitor and was also a former immigration Judge. He has been awarded a PhD in Law from the University of West London for his in-depth knowledge of UK immigration and nationality law. He has served on the Law Society Immigration Law Panel, achieved numerous groundbreaking decisions in higher courts whilst representing clients in the UK, and is featured in the Legal 500’s Hall of Fame.