Navigating the Changes to The Spouse Visa UK

Navigating the Changes to The Spouse Visa UK

Immigration is a hot topic in UK politics and media, and in an election year, it has become a sticking point for politicians. That’s why new changes to the UK visa system have been announced, predominantly affecting salaries and dependants to try to reduce net migration to the UK. But how does this affect the Spouse visa? Keep reading to find out.

The Spouse Visa: An Overview

The Spouse Visa: An Overview

The Spouse visa belongs to a UK visa group known as Family visas which allows different family members to join their loved ones in the UK. The Spouse visa is for partners, spouses and civil partners to join each other in the UK, provided that the spouse in the UK, known as the sponsor, also either:

  • Is a British or Irish citizen
  • Has indefinite leave to remain, settled status or pre-settled status
  • Has a Turkish Businessperson visa or Turkish Worker visa
  • Has protection status (permission to stay as a refugee or a person with humanitarian protection)
  • Has permission to stay as a stateless person

You can also join our fiancé, fiancée or proposed civil partner in the UK provided you get married within 6 months of arriving.

When you apply, you must submit an application form online with supporting documents that prove your relationship status, financial status and knowledge of the English language. You’ll also have to pay an application fee and the immigration health surcharge, which will give you permission to use the NHS during your stay.

How Long Can You Stay in the UK with a Spouse Visa?

When you first apply for a Spouse visa from abroad, you will be given permission to live, work and study in the UK for 2 years and 9 months. If you switch to a Spouse visa from a different visa in the UK (not a Standard Visitor visa) or extend your visa, you will be given residency for 2 years and 6 months. If you apply as a proposed partner, you will only be given residency for 6 months before you must extend your visa.

What Are the New Rules for the UK Spouse Visa?

What Are the New Rules for the UK Spouse Visa?

The UK government announced plans to reduce net migration to the UK with five changes to their visa system affecting Skilled Workers, dependants, Spouses and others. For the Spouse visa, the main change coming into effect in Spring 2024 is the raising of the minimum income limit for Spouse visa sponsors from £18,600 to £29,000.

Collectively the couple need to earn at least this figure each year to apply for a Spouse visa for the UK, to demonstrate they can comfortably support themselves financially and won’t require help from UK public funds. This figure is expected to rise to £34,500 in Autumn 2024, before reaching £38,700 in Spring 2025.

After the announcement, there was a large backlash against the government’s plans which caused them to propose the incremental rise over the next year. However, this means that changes may still happen throughout the year, especially around the general election which must take place before 25 January, although there is no set date yet.

Are There Any Exceptions?

There is an exception to the minimum income requirement if the sponsor or couple have sufficient savings, which is currently set at £16,000. When applying, this money must be available in an account for at least 28 days before the application to show it will be accessible once you have arrived in the UK. However, the savings total is likely to change with the income requirement, although what the figure may rise to has not yet been made clear.

Similarly, any Spouse visa applicant who has children who are non-British or Irish citizens or permanent residents must earn an extra £3,800 a year for one child, and £2,400 extra per year for each other child to show you can financially support them. But no details have been given as to whether these figures will also change in the coming months.

To navigate the changes to the Spouse visas, you can get the help of a visa agency to monitor the visa changes for you and keep you abreast of the implications for your current or future applications.

What Documents Are Needed to Apply for the UK Spouse Visa?

What Documents Are Needed to Apply for the UK Spouse Visa?

Each visa application requires supporting documents alongside the application to prove the identity of the applicant and the sponsor, and show the relationship. So when you apply for a Spouse visa, you will be asked to submit:

  • Your current passport (with a blank page for your visa)
  • Copies of the photo page and other visas or entry stamps in previous passports
  • A copy of your biometric residence permit if you have one
  • Information on any previous criminal history if you have one, or evidence that you don’t
  • Your parents’ date of birth and nationality if you’re applying from outside the UK
  • A negative tuberculosis test result if you’re applying from one of the listed countries
  • Proof of your knowledge of the English language
  • Valid translations of any documents not in English or Welsh with details of the translator

If you’re applying for a Spouse visa from an English-speaking country, you don’t have to meet the English language requirement. However, if you’re between the ages of 18 and 65 and not disabled in a way that would make it hard for you to learn or communicate in another language, you must provide evidence that you have at least B1 level English according to the CEFR. This can be done with an official certificate or a university certificate if you have completed studies in English.

How Do You Prove Your Relationship?

If you’re married or in a civil partnership, you can simply submit your wedding or partnership certificate as evidence of your relationship with your partner in the UK. However, if you are unmarried, you will need to submit several supporting documents to prove that you have been with your partner for at least two years. Evidence needs to be from a reputable source, such as from an elections office, demonstrating that you’re both registered to vote from the same address or a tenancy agreement showing both your names at the same address.

If you don’t live together due to cultural reasons or employment or study in different locations, you must show why you don’t live together, prove that you communicate with each other often, spend time together and support each other financially.

You can also apply to extend a Spouse visa if your partner has died or you are divorced, although the necessary documentation is slightly different.

Can You Apply for British Citizenship?

Can You Apply for British Citizenship?

Spouse visa holders, like most other UK visas, can apply for British citizenship after living in the UK continuously for at least 5 years and have had indefinite leave to remain for at least 12 months. You cannot have spent more than 450 days outside of the UK during those 5 years, or more than 180 days within the 12 months before your citizenship application.

Indefinite leave to remain (ILR), also known as permanent residency, allows you to live, work and study unrestricted in the UK, but you still may not leave the UK for more than 2 years at a time, vote in general elections or hold a British passport, and you may be deported if you commit a serious crime. British citizenship removes these restrictions and allows you to gain a British passport if you wish, so is more appealing for some people who wish to continue living in the UK permanently.

You must pass the Life in the UK test before applying for ILR to show you have sufficient knowledge of the UK way of life, meet financial requirements and pay an application fee. The process of applying for citizenship is largely the same. Check before applying, however, if you can have dual citizenship with your country of origin, as you may be required to renounce your rights in your home country to gain British citizenship.

Need Visa Help? Contact Synergy Immigration Solutions

If you need help understanding the changes relating to the Spouse visa, the team at Synergy Immigration Solutions is here to help. Contact us today to learn more about how we help individual applications and read our privacy notice to see how we process your data.

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