Family visa UK
These visas are officially referred to as a “family of a settled person” visa and it makes it relatively easy for partners or spouses of British citizens to join them in the UK. There are a variety of relationships that qualify in this regard, so you should never feel put off from investigating your options just because your relationship is non-traditional.
Who can apply for a UK spouse visa?
You can apply for this visa if you are married to a British citizen or a person who has a right to live and work or settlement status in the UK (i.e. a person who holds a valid visa, Indefinite Leave to Remain [ILR] or right of abode).
Work in the UK without restrictions
On a partner or spouse visa, you are allowed to live and work in the UK for a two-and-a-half-year period initially, and you may also exit and re-enter the country multiple times. At the end of the two and half years, you can apply to extend your stay in the UK for a further two and a half years.
After being in the UK for a total of five years, you may be eligible to apply for ILR.
UK spouse visa requirements
- Have met (not just online)
- Be lawfully married to one another
- Intend to live together permanently
- Ensure that the British citizen meets the financial requirement
You may also apply as a dependant (spouse or partner) in any of the following circumstances:
- You are married or in a long-term relationship with someone who holds UK Ancestry
- You are married or in a long-term relationship with someone in the UK through a study visa
- You are married or in a long-term relationship with someone who holds a Skilled work permit
- You are married or in a long-term relationship with someone in the UK through business and investor immigration
These applications must be made from your home country or country of residence. If you are in the UK on a visa other than a visit visa, you can switch to a dependant or spouse visa in the UK.
Get a UK visa for an unmarried partner
You may apply for this visa if you are in a long-term relationship with a British citizen or a person who has a right to live and work, or settlement status in the UK. You and your partner must be able to provide evidence that you have been living together in a relationship akin to marriage for two years or more. The relationship may be a heterosexual or a same-sex relationship.
The visa allows you to work freely in the UK. In order to apply for it you must:
- Be able to support yourselves, and any dependants, without recourse to public funds
- Intend to live with your partner permanently
As with the marriage visa, the unmarried partner visa is initially issued for a two-and-a-half-year period with an extension application needed. At the end of this period, you may apply for ILR.
Contact one of our consultants to find out how we can help you to remain in the UK based on your relationship.
General spouse visa criteria:
- Married to, or are able to show that you have been cohabiting with, an eligible person for two years
- Meet the minimum income threshold of £18,600 per annum or cash savings of £62,500
- Intend to get married or become civil partners within six months
Different types of UK partnerships
You can apply for a UK spouse visa if you are lawfully married to a British citizen. This is the most common type of partner.
If you are in a long-term relationship with a British citizen, you can apply for a visa if you have been cohabiting for two years.
You can apply for a UK fiancé visa if you intend to get married or become civil partners within the next six months.
UK spouse visa fees: What are the financial requirements
If both the applicant and the British citizen are resident in the UK, then the requirement can be met by either partner. If the British citizen is resident overseas, then the earnings requirement must be met by them alone. If the cash savings route is taken, then it can be held jointly or separately.
Essentially, one of the following financial criteria must be met:
- Annual gross income of £18,600* (or the local currency equivalent)
- Cash savings of £62,500* (or the local currency equivalent)
- A combination of the above
* If children are included in the application, then these financial requirements increase accordingly.
Indefinite leave to remain
The UK spouse visa or partner visa counts as qualifying time in the UK towards indefinite leave to remain (ILR).
Partners of UK visa holders that can get spouse visas
Many people are surprised to discover that a non-EU national can bring their partner or spouse to the UK on a dependant visa. This is only possible if the non-EU national holds a visa from some specifically designated visa classes.
You may apply for a UK dependant visa when you are married to (or in a long-term relationship with) someone who holds a valid:
- UK Ancestry visa
- UK student visa
- UK work permit
- UK Tier 1 visa
In all of these cases, you must apply for the dependant visa outside of the UK, typically in your home country.
How you can qualify for a UK spouse visa
The visa is initially issued for the same period as the length of time remaining on the main visa holder’s visa. The Home Office can refuse an application where this is a short period of time, although this is not specifically referred to. The visa allows you to live and work freely in the UK.
In order to qualify, you must fulfil all of the following requirements:
- Be married to or in a long-term relationship of more than two years with an eligible visa holder
- Intend on moving to the UK within six months
- Intend to live together permanently
Extending your UK visa and indefinite leave to remain (ILR)
An extension of this visa occurs when the main visa holder applies for their own extension. If the main visa holder applies for ILR, then the partner can either qualify to apply for ILR (visa dependent) or would need to apply for a further extension.
UK spouse visa extension
When it comes to your spouse visa extension, you can only apply to extend their visa 28 days before it expires.
You can expect a decision on your extension application to arrive in roughly 12 weeks if you applied using the standard application. There is also a speed service which will give you a decision on your UK spouse visa extension within 24 hours.
Switch to a UK partner visa
If you are in a relationship with or married to someone who is British or has settled status in the UK, you may apply to switch to a partner visa from another visa.