If you have a partner who is a British citizen or holds residence in the UK, you could join them on the basis of your relationship by submitting a spouse visa UK application. This visa category is intended for people who want to start a life with their partner in the UK, not for those who want to visit them for less than six months. If you want to visit a partner who resides in the UK and you plan on staying for six months or less, you should apply for a visit visa on your own merit.
Who can apply for this visa category?
If you are from outside the European Economic Area and are in a genuine relationship with someone who is a British citizen or holds residency in the UK, you may be eligible to apply for a UK spouse visa. There are a range of other criteria you and your partner will have to meet. If you fail to meet any of the other criteria, you risk having your application rejected, because the Home Office are rather strict when it comes to the spouse visa UK requirements.
Unmarried but cohabiting partners, those in civil partnerships and those who are married are all eligible to apply to enter the UK on a spouse visa. You will have to provide a lot of evidence to the Home Office whether you are married or not, so make sure you prepare for this before even thinking about starting your application process. Lack of evidence of relationship is one of the main reasons why people get rejected for spouse visa applications – even if you fulfil all of the criteria, you could still get denied if you fail to give the Home Office the proof they need that your relationship is genuine.
How long can you stay in the UK on a spouse visa?
If your spouse visa UK application is successful, you can stay in the UK for up to 33 months, or 2 years and 9 months, from the date that your visa is granted. While here, you can work as much as you like, and will be able to enjoy family life with your partner.
If you would like to extend your stay after this period, that is possible. You will have to apply for an extension, pay the fee, and if granted you will be given another 30 months, or 2 years and 6 months, leave to remain in the UK. Once this period is up, you’ll be able to apply for permanent residency in the UK on the basis that you have lived here for over five years, which is currently the minimum amount of time you need to have resided in the UK for to be granted settlement.
Requirements of a spouse visa
As mentioned above, you must be from a country outside of the European Economic Area. If you are from a country inside the EEA you must instead apply for an EEA family permit. The same goes for if your partner is an EEA national living in the UK without permanent residency.
The main requirements the Home Office insist upon are as follows:
- You and your partner are both 18 or over
- You personally meet the English language requirements (you will have to take a test to prove this)
- You have appropriate accommodation prepared for your arrival in the UK
- You both intend to live together whilst in the UK
- Your partner is present and settled in the UK
- You are earning above the minimum threshold of £18,600 per year, or your partner is if they are your ‘sponsor’
- You can provide adequate evidence that your relationship is genuine – you can provide texts, call logs, emails, photographs, tenancy agreements, and marriage certificates to do so
The requirements for a UK spouse visa are strict so as not to make it easy for traffickers to bring people into the UK this way. If you have all of your evidence gathered and meet all the requirements, you should be fine. However, many people do choose to enlist an immigration solicitor to check their application before they send it off to make certain that everything is correct.
How to apply for a spouse visa UK
It is possible to apply for any visa by yourself. However, even though this is the cheapest way, it might not end up being the easiest. Unless you are a UK immigration expert, you run the risk of making mistakes in your application.
This can have disastrous consequences, and can lead to your visa application denied. If this happens, you will have to pay again when you submit another application. Immigration solicitors are available to help you with your application from start to finish, which eliminates the worry of submitting a faulty application, wasting time and money.