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Family & Spouse Visa Solicitors

Spouse visa, also known as marriage visa, allows you to bring your spouse, civil partner or unmarried partner to the UK to live with you. This visa will allow your non-British spouse to live, work and eventually settle in the UK.

At RVS Solicitors, reuniting families and bringing couples together is a highlight of our work.  Our specialist immigration solicitors work closely with families who require entry-clearance to be together in the UK, helping them to apply for their visa and representing them if their application has been refused.

The UK government has heavily targeted family and spouse visa applicants – the refusal rate is high. It is therefore imperative to invest in expert legal advice from a law firm that cares about your family, to ensure your UK family visa application is accepted the first time.

Contact our family and spouse lawyers to find out more how we can help you. Call us on 020 3372 5125 or fill in the online enquiry form.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQS)

What are the requirements for a UK Spouse or Civil Partnership Visa?

To successfully apply for a UK Spouse Visa, you need to:

  • be over 18 years
  • be in a civil partnership or marriage which is recognised by the UK
  • prove you can meet the financial requirements
  • meet the English language requirements
  • have suitable accommodation
  • If you are in a relationship but are not married or civil partners, you can apply to come to the UK as the partner of a UK citizen or settled person if you have been living together in a durable relationship for two years.
  • Provide TB certificate if you are resident of a country from which such certificate is required.

What is the Relationship requirements for spouse visa?

To meet the relationship requirement, you will need to demonstrate that you are in a relationship with a British national or someone who is settled in the UK, that has ILR in this country.

The relationship can be either in form of a marriage, civil partnership or cohabitation with a duration of at least 2 years in most cases. An important aspect to look at is the form of the marriage or civil partnership. Not all marriages will be recognised by the UK as such. For a marriage or civil partnership to be recognised by the UK authorities, for the purposes of granting spouse visa, it will need to be a marriage or civil partnership recognised by the country where it has been concluded. One of the most common issues that couples face, for instance, is in relation to providing evidence of religious marriages, which is not legally recognised in the country where the marriage has been concluded. If you are unable to independently verify whether the marriage document you have will be accepted by the Home Office, you should contact our immigration solicitors, who can assist you in this.

Further to this, you will need to demonstrate that the relationship is genuine and subsisting. This means that you should be able to show that you have met in person, provide explanation and evidence of how you met, where you met the first time and then how your relationship developed. Providing evidence of an ongoing relationship is also a good idea, for instance text messages, evidence of travel, evidence of any children you have together etc.

If you are married or in civil partnership, you are not required to prove that you have lived together. However, if you are an unmarried partner, such proof is essential. More on unmarried partner visa particulars can be found here.

As part of relationship requirement, you will also need to show that any previous relationship that you had has terminated. Therefore, if you were previously married, you will need to supply a divorce certificate to evidence the termination of that marriage.

Will I need to pass an interview to prove my relationship?

The UK does not operate a mandatory interview for spouse visa applications. In most cases, providing documentary evidence of your relationship will suffice. It is, however, important to remember that the Home Office does have the right to interview any immigration applicant and if they chose to do so, you cannot refuse undergoing the interview. Such refusal will be held against you and gives the Home Office the right to refuse your application without having to consider other reasons.

Interviews happen in most cases when a migrant, in particular an overstayer gives notice they intend to get married. This is what makes it more likely for the Home Office to invite you and your future spouse for an interview. Again, if it is the case that you have been invited for an interview, after you made a request for registration of marriage, you should attend that interview. If you are worried about how it might affect you, speak to an immigration lawyer who specialises in spouse and human rights applications.

What is the financial requirement for a UK Spouse or Family Visa?

The financial requirements which need to be met to enter the UK on a spouse or family visa can be quite complex, in particular when it comes to providing evidence for it.

The sponsoring spouse/partner needs to show they earn a minimum of £18,600 and that they have been earning this sum for at least six months.  If the sponsoring British citizen and their foreign partner or spouse have a dependent child, the threshold rises to £22,400. A further £2,400 is added for any additional child.

How can I meet the financial requirements?

There are number of ways of meeting this requirement: through employment, self-employed income, cash savings and rental or share income. It might be possible to combine incomes from different categories, however it’s always advisable to check with a qualified spouse visa lawyer whether your types of incomes can be combined, as it’s not always possible.

Each category has very specific rules about what evidence you need to provide and getting it wrong will result in a refusal of your application.

If you are making an entry clearance application, meaning that you are applying from overseas to join your spouse in the UK, you cannot rely on your own income and will need to rely on your sponsor partner’s earnings. There are some exceptions to this, for instance your savings can still be counted towards the financial requirement.

Can I use third party support to meet financial requirements?

It is possible to use third party financial support only in limited cases.

From 10th August 2017, UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) will accept evidence of third party support to meet the financial threshold in some exceptional circumstances:

  • Where there is credible evidence of financial support for the couple from a third party such as a family member,
  • If the caseworker is satisfied that this financial assistance will remain unchanged, and
  • The relationship between the sponsor and the third party will remain unchanged.

Meeting the above requirements will not be sufficient to be allowed to rely on third party funding. You will need to prove you have exceptional circumstances, which mean you can demonstrate that refusing your visa will put you in situation that is unduly harsh. It has to be said that the Home Office will not view being separated from your partner as unduly harsh. UKVI must also consider the welfare of any children that are affected by your application.

Can I use income from benefits towards the financial requirement?

Normally, the British national or the settled person will need to prove that they can support their spouse and any dependent children on their own. This is why there is an expectation to meet the financial requirement.

There are, however some exceptions to this. Those who are disabled or are carers and get benefits in respect of this, will not need to prove the level of income associated with the financial requirement. They will still need to prove that they can support you and any dependent child. This is known as adequate maintenance.

The following can be used to satisfy the maintenance requirements:

  • Disability Living Allowance;
  • Severe Disablement Allowance;
  • Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit;
  • Attendance Allowance,
  • Carer’s Allowance;
  • Personal Independence Payment;
  • Armed Forces Independence Payment or Guaranteed Income Payment;
  • Constant Attendance Allowance, Mobility Supplement or War Disablement Pension;
  • Police Injury Pension

To successfully meet the Maintenance requirement, you will need to prove that after deducting housing costs, your income is greater than what a British family of equivalent size would receive from Income Support. This is currently around £115, for a couple with no children. If there are children, this amount will increase.

How can I prove my knowledge of English Language?

You will need to prove your knowledge of English Language to be granted spouse visa.  If you are a national of qualifying English speaking country, your passport will be enough evidence of your English language knowledge.

If you do come from any other country, you need to prove your understanding of the English language, by:

  • having a degree or academic qualification that was taught or researched in English. Your qualification must be recognised by UK NARIC as being equivalent to a UK bachelor’s degree or higher; or
  • taking an approved English language test. For entry clearance applications this will need to be at CEFR Level A1. Our team can assist you with finding a certified provider of the test in the UK or your home country.

There are certain exceptions from this requirement and if you are above the age of 65 or have a mental or physical disability that prevents you from sitting or taking an exam, you will not be required to prove your language knowledge.

How to meet accommodation requirement for UK spouse visa?

You will need to prove you and your British or settled partner have adequate accommodation when applying for the UK spouse visa. This means you will need to have at least one room only for your use as a couple. If you have children, the number of rooms will need to be more. For children under 1, there is no need for a separate room and children under 10, as well as children over 10 of the same sex can share a room. For everyone else, there needs to be a separate room. You can include the living rooms in calculations for the rooms, but you cannot include kitchens, bathrooms, hallways etc.

The property inspection report is one way of proving this. If you do not have this report, you can prove it by providing any document from an independent source showing the number of the rooms in the property. For instance an estate agent can confirm the number of the rooms or if the description of the property is publicly available, you can also use evidence from such public sources. It’s always advisable to speak to a spouse visa lawyer to ensure that your evidence will be considered acceptable by the Home Office.

How long will I be able to remain in the UK on Spouse visa?

The initial grant under spouse visa route will be for 33 months. You will then be able to extend for another 30 months. You can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain after 5 years on spouse visa. This will mean you will be able to settle in the UK and therefore not be bound by any further immigration restrictions.

What are the spouse visa costs?

There are heavy costs associated with the spouse visa.

First you will need to cover the Home Office fees that can be quite prohibitive. Currently, the Home office fee for spouse visa applications made from outside of the UK is £1523 and £1033 if made from within the UK. There is also the Immigration Health surcharge that will need to be paid when you are making your application. It is now £1200 for the 33 months period of the initial leave. If you chose a Priority service or any other optional service, there will be further cost to your application.

The legal fees, ie the fees for immigration lawyers differ from one firm to another, based on their expertise and the amount of time they will be spending on your case. It will also depend on what services you require. It’s always a good idea to speak to the lawyers first, to understand what exactly they will be doing for you and how much it will cost you, before instructing them.

Other costs associated with the application may include translations, TB test certificate, obtaining some of the documentary evidence etc. Those are more difficult to quantify, as they will depend on your particular circumstances.

Who can apply for spouse visa?

Any spouse, civil partner or unmarried partner with 2 years cohabitation, can apply for spouse visa, provided they meet the spouse visa requirements and be able to supply the necessary evidence.

You will also need to be the only spouse of your British or settled spouse that is applying to come to the UK under the spouse route. Even if your country of origin allows polygamous relationships, your visa will be refused if there is already a person with spouse visa or a pending spouse visa application from another person with your spouse.

There are some further aspects that need to be considered if you are applying from the UK. If you are already in the UK and want to apply within the UK for a Spouse visa, you must not be in the UK on a visitor visa or any visa that has a duration of 6 months or less. The only exception to this is the fiancé visa, which is specifically granted so you can get married in the UK, therefore, also gives you the right to apply for a spouse visa within the UK.

How do I apply for Spouse visa?

The spouse visa application is an online application. Once you fill in the application form, you will be guided through the submission process. You will need to pay the relevant fees and then if applying from overseas, you will be prompted to choose a UK based post office where your BRP will be sent for your collection. You will then be guided to the relevant service provider’s website, to book your appointment.

Depending on your location, you will either be able to upload your supporting documents onto a special portal or will be asked to take your documents to the appointment centre, where they will be scanned to the Home Office.

You will then need to attend the appointment with a visa centre to submit your biometric data and your documents, if that is the procedure in your country of application. Following this, you will need to await for the decision from the Home Office.

How long does it take to get my spouse visa?

Once you make the application, the processing time for your visa will depend on multitude of factors: where you made the application from, if there are any complex issues that will require more time, whether you use the priority service or the standard service etc.

In general an application for spouse visa will be decided within 2-3 months, if there are no particularly different circumstances. It can be decided in a much shorter time if it is suitable for priority service and such service was acquired. In most cases it will take 5 working days to get a decision in such cases and if a Super-Priority service was used then a decision can be expected within 24 hours.

It might take slightly longer until you have your passport and can travel to the UK. If you made an application within the UK it takes another 7-10 working days to get your BRP in most cases.

What happens after I get my visa?

If you have applied within the UK, you will get your BRP within 7 or 10 working days after the decision was made. In some cases you might receive the decision and your BRP together. There is nothing to do following this.

If you made the application overseas, you will receive a vignette in your passport that will allow you to enter the UK. You will have 1 month to enter the UK. Once in the UK, you will need to attend the post office that you selected as part of your application process and collect your BRP.

What to do if my spouse visa was refused?

If your application for a Spouse or Family Visa is refused, it can be devastating.  We are committed to helping families and couples who have been separated by immigration laws in the UK, and our in-depth knowledge of the appeals process and judicial review means we have a strong track-record of having previously rejected applications approved.

A Spouse or Family Visa application which has been rejected by UKVI will normally only be eligible for appeal if there is a human rights claim.  One advantage of instructing our dynamic team is we will ensure any rights under the European Convention of Human Rights are made clear, so your application has grounds for appeal if refused.

If your Spouse or Family Visa has been refused, it is imperative you talk to us, so we can advise you on the best action to take.  Our team are professional, smart and friendly, and will quickly establish the swiftest way to deal with your refusal.  Our ultimate goal is to ensure you and your family are able to move together to the UK, so you can begin your new lives and move forward to a prosperous future.

What happens if the relationship ends?

Your stay in the UK is conditional on your relationship with your British or settled partner. Therefore, if the relationship with your partner ends, the Home Office may curtail your visa, that is cancel your visa and the cut short the remaining period. This can happen if your spouse or yourself inform the Home Office about the breakdown of relationship or if they obtain this information through other means, for instance you make an application as a partner of another person and that application fails. In that instance, the Home Office will have evidence that your initial relationship has terminated.

Normally, your leave will be curtailed so you have 60 days left before you have to leave the UK. It will be very rare for the Home Office to curtail it with immediate effect, meaning they will require you to leave the country immediately. This will normally happen if there is evidence that you have used deception in your application.

If there are exceptional circumstances that mean you might require more than 60 days before leavening the UK, they might curtail your leave, giving you a longer period.

If you wish to remain in the UK following the breakdown of the marriage, you should speak to one of our spouse visa solicitors, who can guide you. There might be other ways of remaining in the UK, for instance if it is in the best interest of a UK based child or if there was domestic violence involved. There can also be other options like work visas etc. Therefore, getting qualified legal advice is essential. We are placed particularly well for providing support to migrants who are going through a breakdown of relationship, as we also have a dedicated Family Law department that will assist you in your divorce or separation. Our two teams working together will ensure you are fully covered. We understand that it can be overwhelming going through a divorce in a foreign country and we provide the support you might need.

Can settle in the UK on spouse visa?

Spouse visa is a settlement visa. It will allow you to settle in the UK once you reach the stipulated residency period and meet other requirements.

Your initial leave will be for a 30 months period, after which you will need to extend it for a further 30 months period. You can read our dedicated page for more details on your spouse visa extension.

Once you reach 60 months on spouse visa, you may be eligible for Indefinite Leave to Remain. You can find out more about spouse visa ILR on our dedicated page.

How RVS Solicitors can help you?

At RVS Solicitors we have put together a dedicated team of spouse visa solicitors who have years of experience in dealing with family and spouse visa matters. They will expertly guide you in all aspects of your immigration.

We offer a wide range of services from an expert advice in respect of your application, to document checking service and full service that will take care of all aspects of our spouse visa application. Speak to our Spouse visa solicitors for more information and to decide which service is the most suitable for you.

Our spouse visa solicitors also closely work with our Family law solicitors who will be able to guide you in respect of family law whether it is prior your arrival to the UK or after you are already in the UK. Coming to a foreign country has important implications and you might want to be prepared in respect of what your marriage will mean in respect of your finances, what entitlement you have to family assets, what your position is in respect of any family children etc. Therefore, it is always advisable to get full understanding of your rights under the UK family law before moving here.

If you wish to apply for a UK Spouse or Family visa, please contact our London office on 020 3372 5125 or complete our online form to make an appointment. Find out more information on our fees here.

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