Family and Spouse Visas
What is a Spouse Visa?
A spouse visa, (also known as a UK marriage visa), allows individuals who are married to a person settled in the UK – ie are not subject to any visa restrictions, to come to the UK to live, work and/or study.
How Long is a Spouse Visa Issued For?
It depends on whether or not it was issued inside or outside the UK. If it was issued whilst you were in the UK, (either residing or visiting), it will last for 30 months. If the visa was issued whilst you were overseas, the term of the visa is 33 months. After 33 months, you can apply for an extension, to take your total time in the UK to five years. Once you have completed five years on a spouse visa, you can apply for indefinite leave to remain.
UPDATE: Minimum Income Threshold Changes
The UK Government has amended the immigration rules surrounding the minimum income threshold to make it easier for some families to meet the requirements.
The changes made to Appendix FM-SE are as follows:
In certain circumstances, the person deciding on the application (the decision-maker) may consider other sources of income, funds or financial support. The specified circumstances are that, firstly, the Minimum Income Requirement is not otherwise met and, secondly, it is evident from the information provided by the applicant that there are exceptional circumstances which could render refusal of the application a breach of Article 8 because it could result in unjustifiably harsh consequences for the applicant, their partner or a child under the age of 18 years who would be affected by the decision.
The funds the decision-maker may consider can include a credible guarantee of sustainable financial support from a third party; credible prospective earnings from the sustainable employment or self-employment of the applicant or their partner; or any other credible and reliable source of income or funds available to the couple. There is prescribed guidance for the factors the decision-maker may consider when determining the genuineness, credibility and reliability of the other source of income, financial support or funds.
If the applicant cannot meet the financial requirements, the decision-maker must go on to consider whether there are exceptional circumstances which would render refusal of the application a breach of Article 8 of the European Convention on human rights (ECHR) because it would result in unjustifiably harsh consequences for the applicant or their family. The test of proportionality will be used when deciding on whether entry-clearance should be granted on Article 8 grounds.
The decision-maker must consider the best interests of any child who may be affected by the verdict made on whether entry-clearance will be granted.
An applicant granted entry clearance or Leave to Remain as a partner or parent will be on a 10-year route to settlement (indefinite leave to remain), with scope to apply later to enter the five-year route where they subsequently meet the relevant requirements.
Other minor changes were also included to clarify certain sections of Appendix FM, including:
- “ensuring that children are granted leave of the same duration and subject to the same conditions as their parent, who is or has been granted leave under these Rules;
- ensuring that the partner of a person here with refugee leave or humanitarian protection cannot qualify for indefinite leave to remain before that person has done so; and
- clarifying the drafting of the English language requirement for further Leave to Remain as a partner or parent.”
What are the Requirements of a UK Spouse Visa?
To obtain a UK spouse visa, the following requirements must be met:
- You and your spouse must be 18 years old or over.
- You must have met each other and be legally married - this is to prevent arranged marriages.
- You must intend to live together permanently.
- You must have enough money to support yourselves (and any dependents) without claiming public funds.
- Your sponsoring partner must earn more than £18,600 per year or have enough savings to be able to sponsor you. The minimum financial requirement is higher if they are also sponsoring dependent children (see our section on Children’s Visas below)..
- You must have suitable accommodation for you, your spouse and any dependants.
- You must satisfy the English language requirements.
How Do I Apply for a Spouse Visa?
If you wish to apply for a spouse visa, talk to our expert solicitors, who will advise you on your position, and complete the forms and collate the documentation you will require to submit a successful application. If you are already residing in the UK under a different visa – for example, a student visa, then you may be able to switch to a spouse visa, as long as you and your spouse meet the eligibility requirements.
The application process can take between two to twelve weeks, and we will ensure we keep track of the process for you and answer any questions the UK Border Agency may ask on your behalf.
Family Visas can be separated into four categories of family migration; these include:
- Unmarried Partner Visas
- Dependent Child Visa
- Adult Dependant Relatives Visas
- Parents Visas
Unmarried Partner Visas
What are the Eligibility Requirements for an Unmarried Partner Visa?
To qualify for an unmarried partner visa, you must meet the following criteria:
- You and your sponsoring partner must both be 18 years of age or over.
- You and your partner must intend to live together on a permanent basis.
- You must show that any previous relationship that you or your partner were involved in (whether it be as a married or an unmarried couple) has ended.
- You need to show that you have been living with your partner for at least two years in a relationship similar to marriage. You will need to provide documentary evidence confirming this.
- You and your partner must have sufficient funds to support yourselves (and any dependants) without claiming public funds.
- Your unmarried partner must be earning, at least, £18,600 per annum or have sufficient savings to be able to sponsor you. If they are also sponsoring children as dependents, then the financial requirement will increase.
- You must have suitable accommodation available for you, your partner and any dependants.
- You must also satisfy the English language requirements
How Long Can I Remain in the UK Under an Unmarried Partner Visa?
If you apply for your unmarried partner visa in the UK, you can stay in the country for up to 30 months. If you make the application outside of the country, your stay under the unmarried partner visa will be a total of 33 months. After 33 months, you will be able to extend for a further 30 months, and once you have been in the UK for five years, you can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain.
Dependent Child Visa
The Eligibility Requirements for a Dependent Child Visa
To be eligible for a dependent child visa, to following criteria must be met:
- the child must be under 18 years; and
- must not be leading an independent life, be married or in a civil partnership and have no children of their own.
Are there any Financial Requirements Attached to a Dependent Child Visa?
Yes, there are. To bring dependent children into the UK, you must be able to show you have funds of:
- £3,800 per year for the first child
- £2,400 per year for each additional child
This is on top of the £18,600 requirement for a spouse or unmarried partner visa.
Adult Dependent Relative Visa
Can I Move an Adult Relative that Needs Care to the UK?
If you are settled in the UK and have an adult relative who depends on you for day to day support and care, then they can apply for an Adult Dependent Relative Visa, so they can join you in the UK for up to five years. After five years, your relative may apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain.
What Are the Eligibility Requirements of an Adult Dependent Relative Visa?
To be eligible for an Adult Dependent Relative Visa you must meet the following criteria:
- your family member must be over the age of 18
- he or she must be a close family member; ie a parent, grandparent, brother, sister, son, or daughter.
- as a sponsor, you must be a British citizen or at least settled in the UK with an Indefinite Leave to Remain
- the applicant must be outside the UK at the time of application
- your relative will need to provide evidence that he or she requires long-term personal care on a day to day
basis, including help with daily tasks such as washing and cooking.
- the care needed must not be available or reasonably requested in the country where they reside either due to simple unavailability, unaffordability, or because there is nobody there who can provide it (such as close family)
- you will need to show that you can provide proper support, accommodation and care for your relative without claiming additional welfare or public funds to do so, and you must show evidence that you can continue this for a period of five years
If you have a child in the UK, as a parent, you can apply for a visa to join them via the ‘Parent Route’.
What is the Definition of ‘Parent’ for the Purposes of a Parent Visa?
The term ‘parent’ is defined as:
- a natural (biological) parent
- an adoptive parent
- a step-parent where the biological parent has died
What are the Eligibility Requirements for Entering the UK via the Parent Route?
Eligibility requirements for entering the UK via the Parent Route depend on whether the child in question is British or ‘settled’ (meaning they have naturalisation or Indefinite Leave to Remain) in the UK.
If the child is British or ‘settled’ in the UK, then the applicant will need to show that they have sole responsibility for caring for the child, or have access rights to the child. They will then need to provide evidence that you can financially support themselves and any dependents and can speak English.
In cases where the child is not British or ‘settled’ in the UK, you must not only meet all of the above criteria, but the child in question must have been living continuously in the UK for seven or more years, and that it would not be in the child’s best interests leave the UK with you.