Many individuals mistakenly believe that US citizens don’t require a visa to stay in the UK. While it’s true that US citizens can enter the UK without a visa for short visits, the situation changes significantly when it comes to joining a spouse or partner. This blog provides complete insights of UK Spouse visa for US Citizen.
If a US citizen wishes to come to the UK to live with their married partner, they must secure a UK Spouse Visa like individuals from any other country. This comprehensive write-up will discuss the Spouse Visa process for US citizens. We will explore the eligibility requirements, covering everything from the necessary relationship proof to financial prerequisites.
Let’s get started!
UK Spouse Visa Overview
The UK Spouse Visa is a family visa intended for those who are married to a British citizen or a person who is permanently residing in the UK. It is also known as the UK Marriage Visa or Partner Visa. This visa grants the spouse the ability to settle in the UK with their partner. The visa grants applicants the right to work and pursue education in the UK.
Typically, the spouse visa is granted for 2.5 years. After this period, the settlement visa can be extended for 30 more months. After that, they may become qualified to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) and, in the long run, British citizenship.
It’s important to note that the application process for a UK Spouse Visa involves strict prerequisites, including proof of a genuine association with your partner, economic stability, and adequate housing arrangements.
This visa is proof of the UK’s commitment to family unification. It ensures that spouses can reside in the UK together, contributing to society and enjoying residency rights and privileges.
UK Spouse Visa Requirements
You must fulfil some requirements to unite with your partner in the UK. Let’s explore these requirements in detail to ensure your spouse visa application is well-prepared to be successful.
Sponsor or Age Requirement
The UK Spouse Visa requires the sponsor and applicant to be at least 18 years old. This aligns with the UK’s legal marital age and is a fundamental requirement. The sponsor needs to be a UK national or someone with settled status in the UK, such as Indefinite Leave to Remain.
A fundamental requirement of the spouse visa application is proving a genuine, ongoing marital relationship. The UK government requires evidence that the relationship is authentic and subsisting to prevent fraudulent applications.
This could include joint financial documents, a marriage certificate, and other proof of a shared life. It’s crucial to demonstrate that your relationship is built on genuine grounds and not merely for the sake of obtaining a visa.
Financial stability is also vital in a spouse visa application.
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.For families, an extra £3,800 is required for the first kid and £2,400 for each other.
Various sources, such as employment income, savings, pensions, self-employment profits, rental income, and dividends from investments, can be used to meet this threshold. With upcoming changes in financial requirements, it’s advised to always check before processing your application for the latest rules.
The couple must provide evidence of suitable living arrangements that comply with the Housing Act’s standards, ensuring no overcrowding and adherence to public health norms. It’s important to note that temporary accommodations like hotels are typically not acceptable as proof.
English Language Requirements
Applicants must also meet English language requirements, demonstrating basic proficiency at the A1 CEFR level through approved tests like IELTS for UKVI or Trinity’s ISE. Exceptions exist for certain age groups, mental or physical conditions, and nationals from majority English-speaking countries. As the USA is an English-speaking country, fulfilling this requirement through a test might not be necessary.
Required Documents for Spouse Visa Application for US Citizen
When applying for a UK Spouse Visa, a comprehensive package of documents must be presented. These records are critical in confirming your eligibility and the genuineness of your association. They include:
- Valid Passport: A present passport or other valid travel identification of the US citizen applicant is required.
- Proof of Relationship: Marriage certificate, joint bank statements, photographs together, and communication records to establish the genuine nature of the relationship.
- Financial Proof: Documents displaying income or savings fulfilling the economic requirement, such as bank statements, payslips, or proof of savings.
- English Language Proficiency Proof: A certificate from an approved test provider, such as IELTS for UKVI, demonstrating the required level of English language skills.
- Accommodation Details: Proof of adequate living arrangements in the UK, like a rental agreement or property deed, ensuring compliance with the Housing Act’s standards.
- Sponsor’s Proof of Status: Documentation confirming the sponsor’s status in the UK, such as a British passport or Indefinite Leave to Remain certificate.
- Employment Evidence (if applicable): For employed applicants or sponsors, employment contracts, and recent payslips. Business registration documents and financial statements for those self-employed.
- Dependents’ Information (if applicable): Birth certificates or adoption papers for any dependent children included in the application.
- Previous Immigration History: Details of previous stays or applications in the UK, if applicable.
- Medical Examination Report (if required): For some countries, Tuberculosis (TB) Test Results may be required as part of the application process.
- Application Form and Fee Receipt: A completed application form for the spouse visa and proof of payment of the applicable fees. Passport-sized photographs that meet UK specifications.
- Additional Supporting Documents: Depending on individual circumstances, other documents like divorce decrees from previous marriages or evidence of meeting during the relationship may be necessary.
It’s necessary to confirm that all records are up-to-date and translated into English where essential. The UK Home Office scrutinises these documents closely, so providing a complete and accurate application package is critical to avoid delays or a potential refusal of your spouse visa application.
Also Read: When to Apply for Spouse Visa Extension
How to Apply for a Spouse Visa
While the application process spouse or partner visa may appear complex, a clear understanding of the steps involved and meeting all requirements can streamline the process and heighten the chances of a successful application. The steps include:
Firstly, it’s important to thoroughly understand the particular visa category for which you are applying. This means familiarising yourself with all the eligibility requirements and necessary documentation for a UK Spouse Visa.
Choosing The Correct Application Form
The application form for the UK Spouse Visa needs to be completed online. Selecting the correct application form is crucial, as it varies based on your current location and specific circumstances.
Complete The Application Form
The application form is divided into multiple sections. Each section must be fully answered before moving to the next. The form lets you preserve your progress, enabling you to return to it later if necessary. Upon registration, you’ll be provided with a unique link, and your form will be stored for up to 10 weeks, giving you ample time to complete it at your convenience.
Provide clear and correct details about yourself and your spouse or civil partner. Also, answer questions cautiously and correctly regarding financial and English language requirements, your relationship status, and accommodation arrangements.
Submitting Your Application and Disbursing the Fees
After completing the application form, the next measure is to submit it and pay the associated fees, which include the IHS fee and the UKVI fee. Upon payment, you will receive email receipts for both, with the IHS payment receipt including a reference number necessary for the UKVI fee payment.
Once the application and payments are made, you need to schedule a biometric appointment at your closest UK visa centre. This step involves registering or logging in on the third-party website that operates the visa centres in your country, using the GWF number from your application form.
Attending the Appointment
You can upload your documents on the online platform before your biometric appointment. Or, you can deliver the documents during your appointment at the visa application centre.
It’s important to note that the ways for submitting your supporting documents may vary based on your country and the third-party company.
Receiving the Decision on the Visa
After your application is submitted, the Home Office will acknowledge receipt. You will be notified by email or SMS when a decision has been made, and the visa centre will inform you when your documents are ready for collection.
Upon collection, you will receive your passport with the decision letter. If granted, your passport will include a visa stamp (vignette), valid for 30 days or six months for fiancé or proposed civil partner visas.
Application Processing Time and Fees
When applying for a UK Spouse Visa, it’s important to be aware of both the processing times and the associated fees. The application fees are set at £1,048 for applications made within the UK and £1,846 for those applying from overseas. Additionally, applicants are required to pay the IHS (Immigration Health Surcharge) fee, which is currently £1,035 per year.
The expected processing time for a UK Spouse Visa generally stands at around eight weeks. However, this can fluctuate depending on various factors, including the specifics of your case and your circumstances. It’s wise for applicants to anticipate possible variations in processing times and make plans with these potential delays in mind.
What Can Lead to a Spouse Visa Refusal?
Understanding the potential reasons for a UK Spouse Visa refusal is key to ensuring a smooth application process. Here are the common factors that can lead to a refusal:
- Inadequate Proof of Relationship: One of the primary grounds for refusal is the lack of believable evidence to prove that the marriage is genuine. The UK government requires solid proof of a real, ongoing relationship. Inadequate or unconvincing proof of your relationship can raise doubts.
- Failure to Meet Financial Requirements: Not meeting the necessary financial thresholds is another common cause of refusal. This includes not being able to demonstrate the required income or savings, which is essential to ensure you can support yourself without access to public funds.
- Application Errors and Incomplete Forms: Mistakes in the application or submission of an incomplete form can lead to a refusal. Ensuring accuracy and completeness is crucial.
- Adverse Immigration History: Previous immigration issues, such as overstaying a visa or being deported from the UK or another country, can negatively impact your spouse visa application.
- Criminal Record: Applicants with a criminal record or certain legal issues may find their application refused, depending on the nature and severity of the offences.
To prevent refusal, it’s advisable to meticulously prepare your application, ensuring that all aspects, from proving your marriage to meeting the financial requirements, are adequately addressed. For further guidance or if you encounter any difficulties, it’s recommended that you contact an expert immigration lawyer.
How Spouse Visa Lawyers Can Assist With Your UK Spouse Visa Application
Need help with your UK spouse visa application?
Whether you are inside the UK looking to switch to a spouse visa or outside the UK planning your arrival, our team can guide you through every step of the process. We understand the complexities of UK immigration rules and can help ensure that your application satisfies all the crucial requirements.
Contact us today to see how we can assist you in fulfilling your dream of building a life in the UK with your partner.
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.