The content of this article was updated on February 5th, 2024.
In today’s globalised world, family unity across borders is more significant than ever. One critical facilitator of this unity within the UK is the Spouse Visa. However, with the most recent updates from the UK Home Office, which has drastically changed the financial thresholds of the Spouse Visa and all other UK Family Visas, applications are about to become much harder in 2024.
In this article, our UK immigration experts will shed light on everything from basic requirements to the application process for the UK Spouse Visa in 2024. Whether inside the UK or applying from outside, our expertise and services have got you covered.
Understanding the Spouse Visa UK
The UK Spouse Visa enables a married partner of a British citizen or someone who already has indefinite leave to remain in the UK to live, work, and study within the UK. This visa plays a vital role in reuniting families by assisting spouses and partners in obtaining entry and living in the UK as a spouse.
Benefits and Privileges of Holding a UK Spouse Visa
Holding a UK Spouse Visa brings forth a wide range of benefits that facilitate the transition into UK life:
- Right to Work: The visa holder can enter the UK and seek employment or start a business without any restriction, thus making it easier to work on a spouse visa.
- Access to Education: The visa permits access to public and private educational institutions, enabling academic growth and skill development.
- Healthcare Benefits: With the UK Spouse Visa, you are entitled to use the NHS, the UK’s public healthcare system, ensuring medical security.
- Potential Pathway to Citizenship: After living in the UK for a certain period on the spouse visa, you may become qualified to apply for indefinite leave to remain. It is a process that can help the applicant to settle in the UK.
UK Spouse Visa Requirements
To qualify for a spouse visa, you need to fulfil various requirements, including economic stability, meeting the English language requirement, accommodation requirements, and more.
Here’s a detailed breakdown of each aspect with the most up-to-date information for making a Spouse Visa Application in 2024.
1. Sponsor Status and Age Requirement
When it comes to the UK Spouse Visa application, the sponsor’s status is a critical element. The sponsor must be a British or Irish national or have settled status, such as ILR within the UK. Alongside this, the applicant’s requirements must also be met, which include:
The sponsor and the applicant must be at least 18 years old to qualify for a UK Spouse Visa. This ensures alignment with the legal marital age in the UK. Sponsor status is a foundational aspect of the UK Spouse Visa application process and must be understood in conjunction with other requirements.
2. Relationship Requirement
An authentic and ongoing relationship is the cornerstone of a successful UK Spouse Visa application. This requirement confirms the authenticity of the connection between the sponsor and the applicant. The relationship requirement ensures that the UK Spouse Visa supports genuine couples intending to build their lives together in the UK.
3. Spouse Visa Financial Requirement
Fulfilling the financial conditions for a UK Spouse Visa is a crucial part of the application process. The sponsor and the applicant must prove their financial stability to ensure that they can sustain themselves and any dependents without assistance from the government. Here’s a comprehensive look at the financial criteria:
There will be an increase in the financial threshold for family visas in the UK, rising from £18,600 to £29,000 on April 11th 2024 and further to £38,700 by early 2025. This threshold is subject to regular modifications by the UK government. For the most recent information on how to fulfil these financial requirements, we encourage you to read our page on family visa financial requirements or get in touch with us.
If the couple has children or other dependants, the threshold increases:
- For the first child, an additional £3,800
- For each additional child, an extra £2,400
Acceptable Sources of Income
The income can come from various sources, including:
- Employment Income: Both from the sponsor’s employment within the UK and the applicant’s lawful employment outside the UK.
- Savings: A certain amount of savings can offset the current income requirement. Currently, the amount is £62,500. However, this will change on April 11th, 2024, to £88,500 once the financial threshold rises to £29,000.
- Pension: Includes both state and private pensions.
- Self-Employment: Profits from a business can be considered if properly documented.
- Rental Income: From properties owned, excluding the couple’s main residence.
- Dividends from Investments: If they are consistent and can be verified.
Following the most recent changes in financial thresholds, which are set to transform the UK Spouse Visa Route in the coming months, spouse visa lawyers advise that you act fast if you are planning on making a spouse visa application and process it as soon as possible to avoid being subjected to the rising financial thresholds that are set to come into effect on April 11th, 2024.
To get your application started immediately or to speak with a spouse visa expert, pls do not hesitate to contact us.
4. English Language Requirement for a UK Spouse Visa
English language requirements must be met to apply for the UK spouse visa. The applicant must exhibit a fundamental command of the English language at the A1 CEFR level if applying for entry clearance as a spouse.
Applicants must take a test with an approved provider. Common tests include:
- IELTS for UKVI: A special version of the IELTS exam tailored for UK Visas and Immigration.
- Trinity’s ISE: A test offered by Trinity College London at various UK locations.
The scores required will depend on the test, and the provider’s guidance should be followed. Some applicants may be excused from the requirement, such as:
- Those aged 65 or over
- Applicants whose mental or physical state prevents them from fulfilling the requirement.
- Nationals from the majority of English-speaking countries
5. Accommodation Requirement for the UK Spouse Visa
An essential UK Spouse Visa requirement is the provision of suitable accommodation. The applicant and sponsor must show that they have adequate accommodation available for themselves and any dependents that are not overcrowded as per the Housing Act’s standards. It must be free from public health hazards.
Living with others is possible, provided there’s exclusive use of sleeping rooms and no overcrowding. However, temporary places like hotels can’t typically be used as evidence of accommodation.
Document Checklist: Spouse Visa Supporting Documents
To apply for a spouse visa in the UK, you will have to present a number of papers, including the following:
- Passport: Valid passport or other travel documents.
- Proof of Relationship: Marriage certificate or evidence of a genuine relationship.
- Financial Evidence: Pay slips, bank statements, proof of savings, etc., to meet the financial requirement.
- English Language Test Results: If applicable, from an approved provider.
- Accommodation Evidence: As discussed earlier.
- Tuberculosis (TB) Test Results: If applying from certain countries.
- Previous Immigration History: Any previous visas, refusals, or immigration correspondence.
- Sponsor’s Information: Including their passport, employment details, etc.
- Children’s Documents: If children are included, their birth certificates and other necessary information.
- Photos: Passport-sized photographs meeting the UK specifications.
- Online Application Form: Properly filled and submitted.
Understanding the document requirements, ensuring that all the essential documents are properly organised, and providing clear and accurate information are essential for the success of the UK Spouse Visa application.
Also Read: When to Apply for Spouse Visa Extension
The UK Spouse Visa Application Process
The UK Spouse Visa application process is a crucial pathway for those wishing to live permanently in the UK with their spouse or partner. While the application process might seem complex, understanding the steps and meeting the UK Spouse Visa requirements can ensure your application is successful.
1. Initial Preparation
Before embarking on the UK Spouse Visa application process, thoroughly understand the visa category you’re applying for. Familiarise yourself with all the requirements we discussed above.
2. Choosing the Correct Application Form
Whether you are applying from outside the UK or already living in the UK, the UK Spouse Visa application form is typically completed online. You can apply for a spouse visa from both inside and outside of the UK.
3. Complete the Application Form
When filling in the UK Spouse Visa application form, accuracy is paramount:
- Personal Information: Provide accurate details about yourself and your spouse.
- Addressing the Requirements: Carefully answer questions about the financial and English language requirements, relationship status, and accommodation arrangements.
4. Compile Supporting Documents
The supporting documents for the spouse visa are vital for the application’s success, as discussed above. Depending on the applicant, the necessary paperwork may vary. So, be sure about the required documents and assemble all documents required for submission.
5. Biometrics Appointment
You’ll be required to attend a biometrics appointment as part of the spouse visa application process. Here, your biometrics and photo will be collected.
Pay the application fees and submit your application. If you are applying from outside the UK, your spouse visa application, along with supporting documents, will typically be forwarded to a UK visa application centre in your country. If you’re in the UK, follow the instructions provided online.
Processing Times and Fees
The standard processing period for a UK Spouse Visa application presented outside of the United Kingdom is approximately 12 weeks. Applying from within the UK might take up to 8 weeks. There are options for expedited processing at an additional cost.
- Application Fee: As of 2024, the standard fee is £1,846 to apply for a spouse visa from outside the UK and £1,048 if applying from within the UK.
- Health Surcharge: An annual fee to access the National Health Service (NHS), which if £1,035
- Optional Premium Services: Such as expedited processing or assistance at a Visa Application Centre.
Budgeting for these costs and planning the application submission in line with the processing times can help ensure a smooth transition to life in the UK.
What if My Spouse Visa is Refused?
A refusal of a UK Spouse Visa application can be catastrophic, but that doesn’t imply you have to leave the UK or can’t come to the UK. Understanding the reasons and the next steps after a denial can make the situation more manageable.
UK Spouse Visa refusals often fall into common categories:
- Insufficient Evidence: Failing to provide enough evidence to meet the requirements for a UK Spouse Visa, such as the financial requirement or relationship evidence.
- Mistakes in the Application: Errors in the application form or providing incorrect documents.
- Failure to Meet English Language Requirement: Not being able to fulfil the required level of English language mastery.
- Concerns About the Authenticity of the Relationship: If the authorities believe that the relationship is not genuine.
If the UK Spouse Visa application is refused, you may have the right to appeal or request an administrative review. Here are the general steps:
- Understand the Refusal Letter: Carefully read the refusal letter to understand the exact reasons.
- Consider Professional Legal Advice: A solicitor specialising in UK visas and immigration may be helpful.
- Prepare the Appeal: Gather the necessary evidence to counter the reasons for refusal.
- Submit the Appeal: Follow the guidelines in the refusal letter to raise the appeal or administrative review.
- Wait for a Decision: Appeal decisions can take several months.
In some cases, it may be wise to explore alternatives such as:
- Fiance Visa: If planning to marry in the UK.
- Unmarried Partner Visa: If you have been living together in the UK for at least two years.
- Reapplying: After addressing the reasons for refusal, you may choose to submit a new UK Spouse Visa application.
Understanding the reasons for refusal and taking swift action can have a significant impact on the outcome. As the process of dealing with a refusal can be complex, it’s wise to seek legal advice.
The UK Spouse Visa process might seem overwhelming, but with careful planning and adherence to the document checklist, couples can successfully navigate the UK Spouse Visa application process.
Whether you are already in the United Kingdom or applying from outside the United Kingdom, it is essential to understand the precise requirements you must meet. Every detail matters, from meeting the financial and English language requirements to securing suitable housing in the United Kingdom.
Need Assistance With Your Spouse Visa Application? Let UK Spouse Visa Lawyers You!
If you find the spouse visa process daunting, or if you’ve faced a refusal, professional help can be highly beneficial. At UK Spouse Visa Lawyers, we specialise in Spouse Visa applications and have assisted countless couples to settle in the UK. Our expert team understands the application process, financial requirements, English language requirements, and everything else to make an application successful.
Why choose us?
- Expert Guidance: From document checklist to appeals, we’ve got you covered.
- Personalised Service: Every relationship is unique, and so is every application.
- Proven Success: Years of experience in spouse visas and a high success rate.
Contact us today to discuss your UK Spouse Visa application or any concerns you may have about the requirements. Don’t leave your future to chance; allow us to help you every step of the process. Your dream of living together permanently in the UK could be just a consultation away!
You Ask, We Answer
FAQs About The UK Spouse Visa updates
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.