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Spouse & Family Visa Extensions
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Spouse & Family Visa Extensions

Updated: 17 May, 2024

If you have been granted a UK Spouse Visa, congratulations.  You can reside in Britain with your spouse and begin your life together.

However, you need to keep in mind that after your initial leave of 33 months (2.5 years) expires, you will be required to apply for a Spouse Visa Extension to renew your spouse’s visa.

These applications do not always run smoothly. Instructing experienced immigration lawyers is essential to ensuring your Spouse Visa extension is approved, allowing you to continue your journey towards enjoying a fulfilling family life and, ultimately, achieving Settlement.

How RVS Solicitors Can Help With Your Spouse & Family Visas Extensions:

RVS Solicitors has a wealth of experience in immigration law matters.

Led by Dr Lusine Navasardyan, our specialist lawyers understand the motivations of the Home Office when making Spouse Visa extension decisions and the types of application issues that can lead to a refusal.

By instructing us, you can be confident that what you submit to UK Visas and Immigration is correct and any weaknesses in your application are explained in a covering letter wherever possible.

Read our client testimonials. Meet our team of skilled lawyers. Contact us today for help.

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Spouse & Family Visa Extension: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQS)

What is a Spouse Visa Extension?

Your initial spouse visa is issued for a period of 30 (or 33 if the application was made overseas) months. This means that your leave to remain in the UK will expire once these 30 months run out. To continue living in the UK you will need to apply for a spouse visa extension, also known as spouse visa renewal. You will then receive a further 30 months’ leave, which would allow you to continue your residence in the UK.

The spouse visa extension, by no means, is an automatic process. Don’t assume that just because you were granted your initial spouse visa, you will continue to be granted extensions of it. There are just as rigid rules that you are expected to meet and should you fail, you are facing the risk of becoming an overstayer and having to leave the country, irrespective of your relationship with your British or settled spouse.

When can I renew my Spouse Visa?

Firstly, you must remember that your extension application must be made prior to your existing Spouse Visa expiring.

What are the Spouse Visa extension requirements?

To be granted an extension, you need to show:

  • Your spouse/civil partner continues to be a British Citizen or settled in the UK
  • You continue to live in a genuine and subsisting relationship
  • You and your spouse have adequate accommodation
  • You meet the financial requirements of £18,600 per year (this increases if you have children who are not British or settled in the UK)
  • You fulfil the English language requirements

What is the Spouse Visa extension relationship requirement?

With your initial application, you provided the Home Office with all kinds of evidence that your relationship with your spouse was genuine and subsisting. You might assume that when you are applying for your Spouse Visa extension, there would be no need to repeat it all, as your relationship had already been recognised by the Home Office. This is not the case, unfortunately.

As relationships can break down, in periods much shorter than 30 months, you will be expected to provide evidence that your relationship continues to be a genuine and subsisting one.

The Home Office will expect to see that you are living in the same household and sharing some financial responsibilities. This can be proven by providing bank statements, utility bills and other official correspondence coming to the same address, with either one or both of you named on it.

It is still possible to get an extension if you temporarily do not share accommodation together, but you will need to provide a very good reason for that which doesn’t include a breakdown of relationship. For instance if you live in separate households for a period of time due to work commitments, health issues etc.

What is the Spouse Visa financial requirement?

It can come as a shock to many that the financial requirements of a Spouse Visa apply to the extension application as well.  It is crucial you keep this in mind as UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) may refuse your extension application if your sponsoring spouse has decided to take another job during your period of leave which does not pay the required amount. However, the good news is that at this stage your own income too will be taken into account when looking at financial requirement.

To meet the financial requirement at this stage, you will need to demonstrate an income of :

  • £18,600 per annum if there are no dependent children who are not British or settled;
  • £22,400 per annum if there is one child;
  • Further £2400 for every other child after the first one.

It is important to remember that children who are British or settled in the UK do not need to be counted for the financial requirement purpose. Therefore, if you had a child who was born after your move to the UK, you don’t need to worry about an increase in the financial requirements. This is because children born in the UK to at least one parent who is British or settled, will have British nationality.

What is the Spouse Visa accommodation requirement?

Just like with financial requirement, you will need to continue demonstrating that you and your family live in an accommodation that is adequate. This means a separate room for you as a couple, no more than 2 children under 10 sharing one room and no children of opposite sex sharing a room if aged 10 or more. If the child is under 1, they can share a room with the parents or other sibling.

If you have had an addition to your family since moving to the UK, you need to consider carefully if you need to change your accommodation, to ensure there is no overcrowding.

What is the Spouse Visa English language requirement?

One of the most important requirements that many still get wrong is the English language requirement. Unlike many other visa categories, you cannot rely on the fact that in your previous application you have already met this requirement. The reason for that is because the level of English knowledge for Spouse visa extension is higher than the initial application.

You will need to demonstrate English language knowledge at CEFR Level A2 and above in speaking and listening when you apply to renew your spouse visa.

The requirement can be met by either taking the specified test with a qualifying provider or by providing NARIC approved Degree at a level equivalent or higher to a UK Bachelor Degree, which was taught in English. You can also rely on your nationality if you are from a qualifying English speaking country.

Who can apply for a Spouse Visa extension?

You can apply to extend your spouse visa if you were previously granted leave to enter or remain in the UK as a spouse of a British national.

You can also apply to switch your leave to that of a spouse from any immigration category, apart from a visit visa and any visa that is shorter or equal to 6 months. The only exception is the fiancé visa.

When contemplating switching to this visa, make sure you speak to a spouse visa solicitor, as you might not be able to qualify for ILR as quickly as you think. This is because to qualify for a spouse visa ILR you will need to have had 5 years of leave on this particular visa and leave from other immigration categories cannot be combined.

How to renew my Spouse Visa UK:

As with the initial spouse visa application, there are strict rules that you need to follow when it comes to evidencing that you meet the Spouse visa requirements. These are often quite complex and require a very precise approach. As such, it is always a good idea to consult with a lawyer in respect of what documents you should provide to support your application.

As a general guidance, you will need the following:

  • Your current passport
  • Your sponsor’s British passport or Indefinite Leave to remain documents
  • Your marriage certificate
  • Evidence that you and your spouse have been living together continuously in the UK since your last grant of leave
  • Your National Insurance number (if you have one)
  • Evidence that you and your sponsor meet the financial requirements (these will depend on how you are meeting the financial requirements)
  • Details of any children who came to join you in the UK or were born in the UK
  • Any criminal convictions (if relevant)

Not having the correct supporting documents or submitting them in incorrect format is a major reason Spouse Visa extension applications are refused.  Lusine and her team will help you collate the necessary documents and fill in the forms correctly. If there are any weaknesses in your application, our immigration Solicitors will provide an explanation in a covering letter.

How long can you stay outside the UK on Spouse Visa?

UKVI will want the satisfaction that you and your spouse intend to live permanently in Britain. Although there are no hard and fast rules relating to how much time you can spend outside the UK, you could risk having your extension application refused if you have lived in another country for a significant time during your leave.

We recommend you limit your time outside the UK to more than 180 days in any 12-month period. If you have spent more time then this outside of the UK, it is advisable that you explain to the Home Office the reasons for the absences, providing evidence of any circumstances that were compelling or compassionate. You should also provide evidence supporting your claim that your and your spouse’s intention is that to live in the UK permanently.

It is also worth keeping in mind that there are residence requirements and rules in relation to absences when it comes to naturalising as a British National. You will need to prove that you have not been away from the UK for more than 450 days in the last 5 years or 270 days in the last 3 years, if you are applying as a spouse of a British National.  There is a further requirement that you should have not spent more than 90 days outside of the UK in your last year. Therefore, if it is your intention to apply for Naturalisation, you should aim to keep your absences to these limits.

What is the Spouse Visa timeline for 5 years ILR?

Your initial leave will be granted for up to 33 months,if applying from overseas and 30 months if applying from within the UK. You will then need to renew your spouse visa before the date of expiry, by submitting the extension application. The new leave to remain will be for further 30 months. Once you reach 60 months in total, that is 5 years continuous leave in the UK, you can apply to get Indefinite Leave to Remain and settle in the UK.

Following the ILR, if your spouse is a British national, you will be able to apply to naturalise without having to wait for a further 12 months period.

What happens to my Spouse Visa after divorce?

You should keep in mind that your leave to remain in the UK is based on your relationship. Therefore, if your marriage has broken down irretrievably you no longer will be considered to meet the requirements on the basis of which the leave was granted. The Home Office has the power to curtail your remaining leave.

Curtailing your Spouse Visa means that the Home Office is cancelling the remaining leave you had. In most cases, they will do it so that you have at least 60 days left. You will receive a letter informing you that your leave has been curtailed and how many days you have until you are required to leave the country.

Your leave will not be curtailed if there are exceptional circumstances. If the Home Office believes your spouse visa was obtained fraudulently, thy will curtail it with immediate effect and you will not have the 60 days mentioned above.

If your marriage has broken down or you are considering a separation or a divorce, it’s imperative you speak to an experiences spouse visa lawyer, who will be able to guide you to your options in remaining in the UK.

How to apply for Spouse Visa extension:

The spouse visa extension application is an online application that needs to be followed up by an appointment at an immigration centre to provide your biometrics. The online application must be submitted before your existing leave expires, or you will become an overstayer with all the consequences that follow: losing your right to work, right to rent, facing removal prospects etc.

The date of your Spouse Visa extension application will be the date when you submit the online application, by completing the submission process and paying relevant fees, including the health surcharge. Once this is done, you have officially submitted your application and your leave will be protected. You do not need to attend an appointment centre before the expiry date of your current leave, the important date is the one of the online submission. You do, however, need to book an appointment and attend it before the expiry of your leave, an online application submission is sufficient for securing the continuity of your leave under section 3C of the Immigration Act 1971. But you will have to attend an appointment in good time to give your biometrics, otherwise, your application will be invalidated.

What happens if my Spouse Visa extension is refused?

The British government has long worked towards the goal of reducing immigration.  Family visas are often refused due to this objective. If your extension application is refused, contact us immediately. We will quickly evaluate your situation and provide practical, robust advice regarding the best steps to take. In some cases it might be advisable to make a fresh application, in others the appeal might be your only option.

Our immigration lawyers are experienced and well prepared to deal with immigration appeals at all levels and we are boasting a high success rate with appeals allowed on Human Rights grounds.

How can RVS Solicitors help you?

RVS Solicitors has a team of bright and hard-working professionals who can take care of all the aspects of your spouse visa extension application. Whether it’s a one off consultation you need to be sure you are on the right track, or someone to look over your documents to ensure you have it right, or perhaps you would like to hand it all to our lawyers and relax in the knowledge that your case is in good hands. Whatever level of service you are looking for, RVS Solicitor can accommodate you.

We’ve handled many applications like yours and know exactly how to approach your matter, to ensure its ultimate success.

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. 

To read more about similar issues please visit our blog or read on how we have helped others in similar circumstances by visiting our success stories

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