Dealing with any kind of government bureaucracy can be tedious, complex, nerve-wracking and burdensome, but when it comes to completing a UK spouse visa application, it also treads into emotional stress to achieve all of the requirements necessary to bring a foreign spouse into the United Kingdom.
The UK has tightened up regulations with more stringent requirements in an effort to tamp down false marriages and illegal residents in the country. The trickle effect now means that visas for a foreign-born spouse are more challenging than ever, especially if they’ve never been through the UK’s immigration system.
What is a Spouse Visa?
Firstly, in order to apply for the spouse visa help UK, one partner must either be a British citizen or currently have settled or permanent residence status. As long as this is established, the UK spouse visa applicant may join their partner and reside in the UK for two and a half years as they work on a more permanent solution to their immigration status like the Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR).
It is important to note that while the application is pending, non-British residents may not claim most benefits that citizens are entitled to like housing assistance or tax credits.
Proof of Relationship
To begin the process of immigration through the UK spouse visa, there are some prerequisites:
- Both parties must be 18-years old or older at the time of submitting the application.
- Both parties must have met in person and have the intention of living together permanently in the UK once the visa is approved.
- The applicant and the UK citizen must provide proof that they are in a legally binding marriage or civil partnership that is recognized within the UK. The certificate of marriage or civil partnership must be included with the application.
- The certificate must be translated into English if it is written in a foreign language.
- For unmarried partners, the applicant and UK citizen must provide evidence that they have domiciled together for at least two years. Documents may include joint bank accounts, or housing agreements like rent or mortgage documents.
More for proof of genuine relationship
In addition to providing proof of living together, the UK may require more proof that this is, in fact, a sincere and genuine relationship. This may be in the form of communications between the partners. Examples would be social media communications, text messages, dated photographs with the partners together through the course of their tenure as a couple, travel documents that are indicative of visiting one another, and, as mentioned previously, a legal certificate of marriage or civil partnership.
Other forms of documentation may include affidavits from family and friends, statements from third party entities which could include church or social clubs, school/university, or co-worker statements. These help strengthen the merit of the application.
Additionally, if either the applicant or UK partner was previously married or in a civil partnership, it would be vital to include evidence of a divorce, permanent break-up, or death certificate to show that the relationship is finished. Again, all documents would need to be translated into English if such documents are originally written in a foreign language.
For consideration of a UK spouse visa, each applicant needs to show proof that they are able to support themselves while living in the United Kingdom without the assistance of welfare, other government assistance or claim to public funds. There are exemptions but for the majority of cases, a visa will have a greater chance of acceptance if the applicant meets minimum income requirements.
According to UK Law under Appendix FM, there are no dependent children and the combined income of both applicant and UK citizen has a joint income of at least £18,600 annually. This number increases by £3,800 for the first child and £2,400 per subsequent child dependent. So, if a couple applies for a UK spouse visa and they have three dependent children, they must show proof of income to be, at minimum, £27,200 a year.
Proof of income can be provided through employment records, tax documents, pensions, child support, or cash savings in excess of £16,000.
Six months worth of bank statements may be required. Other corroborating information may include pay slips and letters from the Human Resources department at work which provides information such as job title, role, length of employment, and net wages.
Remember, the more information that can be provided, the better.
Applicants for the spouse visa in the UK must have an A1 level English-speaking and comprehension proficiency under the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). Under this requirement, applicants must appear at an approved centre to take a test and achieve their English Language Certificate.
Exceptions to this English language requirement include if the applicant is over age 65, has mental or physical disabilities which may prevent them from taking the language certification test, or other extenuating circumstances which may be taken into consideration.
There are some countries from which an applicant is from, that requires immunizations to be included in the visa paperwork. The emphasis is screening for tuberculosis. In some cases, immunization must be tested and completed prior to entering the UK.
Living arrangements in the UK cannot be overcrowded as defined by The Housing Act 1985. Applicants will need to provide information about their living arrangements in the United Kingdom. Their home needs to be owned or exclusively occupied by their family; if the home is rented or owned, or if they are living with other family members or friends.
When submitting an application for a UK spouse visa, have all official documents, statements, and corroborating evidence available.
- Valid passport
- Government issued identification
- Evidence of sufficient income
- Proof of genuine relationship
- Marriage certificate if already married
- Proof of dissolution of marriage if formerly married
- English language certificate
- Proof of immunization (where required)
As stated, the application process is tedious, difficult and thorough. It is wise to enlist the help of a legitimate immigration consultant, advisor or lawyer to plan ahead. Complete all necessary forms and have all documentation available for perusal. Being meticulous and patient increases the chance for a visa approval.