This extensive guide will explain the UK Spouse visa under a 5-year route including how to apply, requirements, document checklist, processing time, and fees.
You can apply for a Spouse visa to join your partner in the UK if you are a spouse of a British citizen or settled person in the UK and meet eligibility requirements.
Whether you want to apply, extend or switch to a UK Spouse visa, our experienced immigration lawyer can provide legal advice and help with your visa application.
Table of Contents
- What is a UK spouse visa?
- What are the UK spouse visa requirements?
- UK Spouse visa financial requirement
- Genuine & subsisting relationship
- Adequate accommodation requirement
- English language requirement
- UK spouse visa document checklist
- How to apply for a Spouse visa?
- Spouse visa extension after 2.5 years
- Switching from a fiance visa to a spouse visa
- What is a UK Spouse visa (10-year route)?
- Spouse visa to settlement (ILR)
- UK spouse visa processing time
- UK spouse visa application fees
- How can an immigration lawyer help you?
- Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
- Need legal advice or help from an immigration lawyer?
What is a UK Spouse visa?
A UK Spouse visa is a type of visa that allows non-European Economic Area (EEA) nationals to join their partner who is a British citizen or settled person in the UK. This visa category is also known as the "Marriage Visa" or "Family Visa."
If you are granted a UK Spouse visa, you will be allowed to live and work in the UK for a period of 30 months. After this initial period, you can apply for an extension of the visa for another 30 months. Once you have lived in the UK for a total of five years, you may be eligible to apply for settlement or Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR).
What are the UK spouse visa requirements?
To be eligible for a UK Spouse visa, you must meet the following requirements:
- Age: You and your partner are both over the age of 18.
- Genuine & subsisting relationship: You must be in a genuine and subsisting marriage or civil partnership with a British citizen or settled person in the UK.
- Financial requirement: You and your partner must meet the financial requirement, which is currently set at a minimum income of £18,600 per year. If you have children, the financial requirement may be higher.
- English language requirement: You must be able to speak and understand English at the required level. You can demonstrate this by passing an approved English language test or by having an academic qualification that was taught in English.
- Adequate accommodation requirement: You must have suitable accommodation for you and your partner, and any dependents, without relying on public funds.
- Immigration history: You must not have breached any UK immigration laws, and must not have any criminal convictions that would make you ineligible for a visa.
Read this comprehensive guide for more information about UK spouse visa requirements.
You must also meet all the other eligibility requirements depending on type of application and your personal circumstances. Please contact us for an initial assessment to determine your eligibility, and to discuss the options.
UK Spouse visa financial requirement
The financial requirements for a UK spouse visa are as follows:
- Income requirement: If your partner is employed in the UK, they must have a gross annual income of at least £18,600. If you have children who will also be applying for the visa, the income requirement will be higher.
- Savings requirement: If your partner is not able to meet the income requirement, you may be able to use your own savings to meet the financial requirement. You must have at least £62,500 in savings, which must have been held for at least six months prior to the visa application.
- Combination of income and savings: If you and your partner cannot meet either the income or savings requirement individually, you may be able to combine your income and savings to meet the financial requirement. For example, if your partner earns £16,000 per year, you would need to have at least £46,000 in savings to meet the financial requirement.
Genuine & subsisting relationship
The UK Spouse visa applicant needs to be able to prove they are in a genuine relationship, such as a civil partnership, with their British citizen or settled partner. There are lots of different types of evidence you can send to the Home Office depending upon your personal circumstances, most common documents which you can provide to meet the genuine relationship test are:
- A joint mortgage or tenancy agreement, either in the UK or outside the UK.
- Evidence of any children you have together, such as a birth certificate.
- Photographs that show you have spent time together frequently.
- A shared bank account or savings.
- Text messages or social media chat logs.
- Travel documents that prove you have visited each other at least once before you got married or have met in person.
- Any documents which prove that you intend to live together in the UK.
Adequate accommodation requirement
As part of your UK Spouse Visa application, you will need to provide proof of accommodation that meets UK living standards.
Your UK national partner, who acts as your sponsor, will need to show that he or she can provide adequate accommodation for themselves, the applicant, and any dependents who intend to live in the UK.
For proof of accommodation, the Home Office will ask you to provide:
- A description of the property where you intend to live with your spouse
- Proof that there are enough rooms in the property to accommodate everyone and that there is no overcrowding issues
- Evidence that you can afford to pay for your family’s accommodation
English language requirement
To apply for a UK Spouse visa, you must prove you can read, write, speak and understand English to a certain level on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) scale.
You must prove you can read, write, speak and understand English to at least level A1 on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) scale.
If the applicant has completed a degree-level course that was taught in English, they may be exempt from the English language test requirement.
If an applicant is a citizen of a country where English is the majority language, they will automatically meet the English language requirement.
UK spouse visa document checklist
To apply for a UK Spouse visa, the following documents are typically required:
- Valid passport or other travel documents to prove your identity
- Proof that your relationship is genuine & subsisting
- Evidence that you meet the financial requirements
- Evidence of meeting the adequate accommodation requirement
- Evidence of your knowledge of the English language
- Proof of any dependent family members (if applicable)
- Tuberculosis (TB) test results (if applicable)
Read the guidance for the full list of documents you'll need to provide in support of your UK Spouse visa application.
This is a general list of documents. Depending on type of application and your personal circumstances, you might also need to provide additional documents.
Please contact us for an initial assessment to determine your eligibility, and find out the required list of documents in support of your application.
How to apply for a Spouse visa?
To apply for a UK Spouse visa, an applicant must follow these steps:
- Check if you are eligible
- Collect the necessary documents
- Fill out the application form and apply online
- Book & attend a biometric appointment
- Wait for a decision
Read this comprehensive guide to learn more about the UK Spouse visa application process in detail.
It's important to note that the application process and requirements for the Spouse visa may change over time, so applicants should always consult the immigration lawyer to get the latest information.
Spouse visa extension after 2.5 years
You can apply for a Spouse visa extension after 2.5 years (30 months) under 5 years route from inside the UK to extend your Spouse visa by using form FLR (M).
As a result of a successful application for an extension of your Spouse visa under 5 years route, you will be granted further leave to remain for 30 months (2.5 years) to be able to complete 5 years in the UK and thus apply for settlement (ILR) as a spouse under 5 years route if meet the eligibility requirements.
Read the guidance for how to extend your UK Spouse visa and the requirements.
Switching from a fiance visa to a spouse visa
To switch from a Fiancé(e) visa to a Spouse visa, you will need to meet the requirements for a Spouse visa and apply for a new visa from inside the UK before your Fiancé(e) visa expires. You will need to provide evidence of your marriage, financial support, accommodation, and English language proficiency, among other requirements.
It's important to note that you must apply to switch from a Fiancé(e) visa to a Spouse visa before your Fiancé(e) visa expires. If you fail to do so, you may be required to leave the UK and apply for a Spouse visa from outside the UK.
Read this guidance for how to switch from a UK Finace visa to a UK Spouse visa and the requirements.
What is a UK Spouse visa (10-year route)?
The UK Spouse visa (10-year route) is another type of visa available to non-UK spouses or civil partners of British citizens or individuals with settled status in the UK.
The 10-year route is designed for those who do not meet the eligibility requirements for the 5-year route, or for those who prefer to apply for a longer-term visa option. To be eligible for a UK Spouse visa (10-year route), the applicant must meet certain requirements, such as being over 18 years old, being in a genuine and subsisting relationship with their partner, and meeting the minimum income threshold. The applicant will also need to provide evidence of their relationship, their English language proficiency, and their ability to support themselves financially in the UK without relying on public funds.
Spouse visa to settlement (ILR)
As a spouse visa holder, you may be able to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) after you have spent 5 continuous years in the UK on a spouse visa.
Once you are granted ILR as a skilled worker, you can stay in the UK indefinitely and work in any job or industry without the need for a work permit. You may also be eligible to apply for British citizenship after a certain period of time.
Read this guide about how to apply for ILR as a Spouse and the eligibility requirements.
UK spouse visa processing time
Once you have applied online and attended your biometrics appointment, you'll usually get a decision on your Spouse visa within the:
- 24 weeks, if applying from outside the UK using standard service
- 8 weeks, if applying from inside the UK using standard service
- 5 working days, if applying using priority service
- 24 hours, if applying using super priority service
Super Priority Service
You may be eligible to use the 'super priority service' to get a faster decision by the end of the next working day (within 24 hours). You'll need to pay £1,000 in addition to the UK visa application fee.
You may be able to choose the 'priority service' when you apply for a UK visa to get a faster decision within 5 working days. You'll need to pay £500 in addition to the UK visa application fee.
When you apply, you might be eligible to choose the 'super priority service' or 'priority service' to get your visa faster depending on the type of application and what country you're in.
UK spouse visa application fees
The spouse visa application fee is £1,538 if you are applying from outside the UK using a standard service. You have to pay £1,048 if you're applying to extend or switch to a spouse visa from inside the UK.
Please note that these fees are subject to change, and you should always check the most up-to-date information on the UK government's official website before applying for a visa.
How much does it cost?
The cost of a UK visa application varies depending on the type of visa you are applying for, your location and the type of service such as 'standard service', or 'priority service'.
Here are some common costs associated with applying for a UK visa:
- Spouse visa application fee
- Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS)
- Biometrics fee (if applying from inside the UK)
- £1,000 in addition to the visa fee if using the super priority service
- £500 in addition to the visa fee if using the priority service
- English language test fee (if required)
- Immigration lawyer fees (if using legal services to boost your chances of success & avoid mistakes)
Please note that the above is a general list of costs associated with UK visa applications. There may be additional costs such translation fee and tuberculosis (TB) test fee depending on your circumstances.
Immigration lawyer fees
Our expert UK immigration lawyer will guide you through every step of the UK visa application process including advice about legal requirements and eligibility criteria.
At Rex Law Chambers, our immigration lawyer charges a fixed fee between £800-£1000 for our complete legal services in relation to your Spouse visa application. The agreed fixed fee will depend on the complexity of the matter and the casework involved in the matter.
How can an immigration lawyer help you?
As part of our immigration services for your immigration application, our expert immigration lawyer will:
- assess your eligibility for the relevant visa type by fully considering your circumstances;
- advise you on the required supporting documents to be submitted in support of your immigration application;
- assess all the documents to ensure that the documents you provide are as per the requirements of the Immigration Rules;
- advise you on strengths and potential weaknesses in your visa application and how you can overcome such weaknesses if any;
- complete the online immigration draft application form to share it with you for cross-checking;
- submit your application online and schedule your biometrics appointments with the relevant commercial partner of the UKVI;
- prepare a detailed cover letter in support of the immigration application explaining in detail how you are meeting all the requirements of the Immigration Rules so that you have the maximum chances of succeeding in your visa application;
- upload all the supporting documents online in support of the immigration application in their correct format and order;
- dealing and responding to any caseworker enquiries or correspondence from the Home Office caseworker for any further documents or information concerning your pending immigration application;
- do all the follow-up work on your immigration application until a decision is received from the Home Office UKVI.
Contact our experienced and friendly immigration lawyer on 0161 989 9370 or fill in our enquiry form to get reliable & confidential immigration advice and legal assistance with a UK visa application or any other immigration matter.
Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
Here are some commonly asked questions about UK Spouse visa:
Yes, it is possible to switch from a Fiancé(e) visa to a Spouse visa if you get married to your fiancé(e) within the validity period of the Fiancé(e) visa.
Yes, you are allowed to work in the UK on a UK Spouse visa. You do not need to apply for a separate work visa or permission to work.
Once you have been granted a UK Spouse visa, you will be granted permission to work in the UK without any restrictions. You can work full-time or part-time, and you do not need to have a job offer before you arrive in the UK.
You'll usually get a decision on your Spouse visa within 24 weeks if applying from outside the UK using standard service. However, you may be eligible to use Priority Service to get a decision faster.
If the spouse visa application is granted, the initial leave will normally be granted for 2.5 years under the 5-year route to settlement.
After you have been in the UK for an initial period of 30 months, you can apply for a spouse extension to extend your stay for another 2.5 years.