The UK immigration landscape is both dynamic and complex, with various visa tiers. With several categories, such as Tier 1, Tier 2, and Tier 4, etc., UK visas accommodate diverse needs. If you are wondering to which tier your spouse’s visa falls, keep reading the article. We will explore the tier/category of the spouse visas as well as other information you might need about the visa.
Overview of UK Visa Tiers
The United Kingdom adopted a points-based immigration method to attract skilled workers and regulate entry based on qualifications, earnings, and language ability. This system is divided into different visa tiers to suit various purposes. Here are brief descriptions of the UK visa tiers:
Tier 1: High-Value Migrants
The Tier 1 Visa targets individuals who are considered highly skilled and can contribute significantly to the UK’s economy. This includes innovators, entrepreneurs, investors, and individuals recognised for exceptional talent in various fields such as arts, sciences, and technology.
Tier 2: Skilled Workers
The Tier 2 Visa is aimed at skilled workers with job offers in the UK in sectors experiencing shortages or requiring specialised expertise. To come to the UK through this route, you must have a job offer from a licensed employer, meet English language requirements, and fulfil other specific conditions.
Tier 3: Unskilled Workers
Though introduced, the Tier 3 Visa categories are currently suspended. It is a category for unskilled workers to fill temporary labour shortages.
Tier 4: Adult Students
The Tier 4 Visa is designed for international students seeking a higher level of schooling in the UK. It allows students to study at the sponsoring institution and may permit part-time work, depending on the course’s level and type.
Tier 5: Temporary Workers
The Tier 5 Visa caters to temporary workers in specific sectors such as creative, charitable, religious, and youth mobility schemes. As the name suggests, it allows temporary work in the specified sector and may include allowances for dependants.
Overview of the UK Spouse Visa
The Spouse Visa is a specific provision within the UK visa system that enables individuals to join their partner in the UK if the partner is a British citizen, holds indefinite leave to remain in the UK, or is already in the UK on a different type of visa such as the skilled worker visa. This visa is designed to facilitate family life and allow partners to stay together.
Applicants can apply from outside the UK or change to a spouse visa from within the UK. The application is submitted through a local UK visa application centre, and it may include biometric information and supporting documents.
Also Read: When to Apply for Spouse Visa Extension
What Tier is the Spouse Visa?
Unlike the Tiered system specifically designed to categorise different business and work-related visas, the Spouse Visa does not fall under any of these categories. This unique visa type is exclusively for individuals who are wedded to or in a recognised relationship with a British national or settled status holder in the UK. It acknowledges the significance of family unity and allows couples to reside together in the United Kingdom.
The Spouse visa holder is allowed to live, study, or work in the UK. It is granted for a period of 2 years and 5 months with a possibility of extension for the same period of time. The visa holder may become eligible for indefinite leave to remain (ILR) to remain in the UK after five years of continuous stay.
The Tier system primarily focuses on the business, work, study, and temporary labour aspects of UK immigration, while the Spouse Visa specifically addresses the family element.
Spouse Visa UK Requirements
The requirements for a UK Spouse Visa are multifaceted, involving various aspects that must be fulfilled for a successful application. Here is a summary of the fundamental requirements:
1. Relationship Requirements
The applicant must have been legally married to a British citizen or someone with settled status in the UK for at least 2 years. There must be proof that the connection is real and ongoing. This might include communication evidence, photographs, joint financial documents, etc.
2. Financial Requirements
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.
3. Accommodation Requirements
The applicant and their spouse must have appropriate housing available in the UK. This accommodation must be a stable and consistent place of residence, and there should be enough space for the family without overcrowding.
Sometimes, an independent property inspection report may be required to confirm that the accommodation meets the statutory overcrowded standard.
4. English Language Requirements
The applicant must complete an approved English proficiency evaluation in speaking and listening at level A1 or higher (such as IELTS). Exceptions apply to nationals of certain English-speaking countries and those with a degree taught in English. Age or disability may exempt some applicants from the English language requirement.
UK Spouse Visa Application Process
The application procedure for the UK Spouse Visa can be complex and meticulous. Here’s a basic guide to help applicants navigate the process:
1. Determine Eligibility
Verify that you satisfy the required prerequisites we discussed above before applying for the spouse visa. Prior to proceeding, it is recommended to take advice from an immigration lawyer if you think you may not fulfil all the requirements.
2. Prepare the Necessary Documents
The visa process requires a series of documents to be submitted with the application. These include:
- Identification Documents: Include passports, birth certificates, etc.
- Proof of Relationship: Marriage certificate, photos, communication history, etc.
- Financial Documents: Bank statements, employment confirmation, etc.
- Accommodation Evidence: Housing agreement, property inspection report, etc.
- English Language Certificate: If applicable, proof of meeting the English language requirement.
3. Apply Online from Inside or Outside the UK
Use the official UK Visas and Immigration website to start the online application. Pay the required visa application fee and the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS). Then, schedule an appointment to submit biometric data (fingerprints and pictures) at a local UK visa application centre.
4. Attend Biometrics Appointment and Submit Documents
Attend the scheduled appointment and provide the necessary biometrics. Submit all required documents, either in person at the appointment or by mail, depending on the location and current guidelines. Some applicants may be invited to an interview to speak about their applications and provide additional information.
5. Receive a Decision on the Application
The decision usually takes up to 12 weeks, but it can vary depending on various factors, including application location and time of year. If approved, a vignette (sticker) will be placed in the applicant’s passport, authorising them to enter the United Kingdom.
The Spouse Visa is a unique visa category that does not fall under the Tier system used for business-related visas in the UK. It serves the vital purpose of enabling couples to live together in the UK and offers them the right to work, study, and engage in various activities within the country.
Knowing the particular qualifications and application process is vital when applying for a visa. Couples may also find it beneficial to consult with an immigration expert to navigate this unique and often complex visa route.
Also Read: How Much is a Spouse Visa UK in 2024?
Need Help with UK Spouse Visa Application? Contact Us!
Applying for a UK Spouse Visa can be difficult if you’re unfamiliar with the details and conditions. Spouse Visa Lawyers UK can assist you with their expertise and make the process much smoother. We are passionate about arranging your reunion with your loved one in the United Kingdom as quickly and easily as possible.
Here’s how our expert team can make the process smoother for you:
- Personalised Consultation: Our immigration specialists will sit down with you to understand your unique situation, offering tailored advice based on your specific needs.
- Document Review and Preparation: We’ll meticulously review all your documents to ensure they meet the strict prerequisites. If there is anything missing or unclear, we will assist you in assembling the required materials.
- Expert Guidance on Eligibility Requirements: Whether it’s about financial thresholds, accommodation evidence, English language proficiency, or age requirements, our team is well-versed in all the criteria that must be met.
- Assistance with Online Application: The online application process can be daunting. Our experts will help you fill out the forms accurately, avoiding common pitfalls that can lead to delays or rejections.
- Preparation for Interviews and Biometrics: If an interview is required, we will prepare you thoroughly, ensuring you know what to expect. We’ll also guide you through the biometrics appointment.
- Continuous Support and Communication: From the initial consultation to the moment you receive your Spouse Visa, we’ll be with you every step of the way. You will be constantly updated and are welcome to contact us if you have any queries or concerns.
- Appeal Assistance if Needed: Should your application be denied, our legal team is experienced in appealing decisions, providing you with the best possible chance of success.
The UK Spouse Visa application process is complex, but with us by your side, you’ll have a partner who knows the ins and outs of UK immigration law.
Ready to take the next step? Contact us today to schedule a consultation and let us assist you in bringing your partner or children to the UK under the Spouse Visa category. Your journey to a successful Spouse Visa application starts with us!
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.