The most popular family categories include:
– Spouse or unmarried partner of a British national, those who have Indefinite Leave to Remain or hold the Settled/Pre-settled status under the EU settlement scheme. This also includes fiancé/fiancee visa;
– parent of a British child;
– children, one of whose parents is British or has Indefinite Leave to Remain and permanently lives in the UK;
– dependent relatives over 18 years old.
Spouses and partners of British citizens or persons with Indefinite Leave to Remain
To avoid misinterpretation, let’s define the terminology:
– Sponsor – a spouse or partner residing in the UK, a British citizen, someone who has Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK or a person who was granted the Settled/Pre-settled status under the EU settlement scheme;
– Applicant – a spouse or sponsor partner who applies for a Spouse/Partner visa.
– Both spouses must be over 18
– Marriage should not be a marriage of convenience, and spouses should be personally acquainted with each other
– Marriage must be officially solemnised in any country and recognised in the UK.
Advice from Westland Mark: the marriage does not have to be solemnised in the UK. This is not the easiest and fastest way and can take up to 3 months. Marriage can be concluded in any country. The marriage certificate will be accepted by the British immigration authorities without further authorisation (Apostille). A certified translation is sufficient if the marriage certificate is not in English.
– a minimum level of English (Elementary – A1 Listening and Speaking) is required. This can be demonstrated by passing one of the tests approved by the Home Office. The applicant does not need to take the test if they have a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree obtained in the UK or in one of the countries and the degree was taught in English. Also, the nationals of countries where English is the official language are exempt from testing. Applicants over 65 years old or suffering from certain diseases/disabilities are exempt from language level requirements.
– Financial requirements:
• The sponsoring spouse must have an income of at least £18,600 per year. If the applicant has children who are not citizens or permanent residents of the UK or EU citizens, then in addition to the amount indicated, the sponsor must show £3,800 for the first child and £2,400 for each subsequent child.
• If the applicant applies for a visa from abroad, then only the sponsor’s income is taken into account. Otherwise, when, for example, the applicant switches to a spouse/partner visa from a working, student or any other visa issued for more than 6 months (except for Visit Visa), the income of both spouses/partners can be combined.
• If income from work or individual entrepreneurship does not meet the requirements, then savings can be taken into account – both of the spouse/partner and the applicant. If the application is based only on savings, it is necessary to show at least £62,500 within the last 6 months on the account of either the sponsor, or the applicant, or in a combination of both accounts.
It is permitted to combine income and savings. The required amount of savings is calculated as follows: income plus savings in the amount of £16,000 plus the amount missing to the required minimum multiplied by 2.5.
Example: The Sponsor’s salary is £15,000 per year. According to the financial requirement he needs to show £18,600. The formula for calculating the necessary savings is:
£16,000 plus £3,600 x 2.5 = £16,000 + £9,000 = £25,000. The sponsor needs to show a salary of £15,000 plus a savings of £25,000 (the savings amount may be combined both from sponsor’s savings and the applicant’s savings).
Financial requirements do not apply if the sponsor receives certain types of disability benefits. In this case, it is sufficient to show that the sponsor is able to provide himself and family members with adequate maintenance and accommodation without applying for additional benefits.
The first Spouse visa is issued for 2.5 years, then extended for another 2.5 years. The requirements for the extension are similar to the requirements for the initial application, with the exception of the following:
– if the applicant works in the UK, his/her income can be taken into account to meet financial requirements;
– it is necessary to take an English test again (unless the exceptions mentioned above apply) and demonstrate a higher A2 level (Listening and Speaking).
After five years of being on a spouse/partner visa, the applicant may apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain. The rules remain the same as for the extension, except, again, the level of English: the applicant must demonstrate B1 (Listening and Speaking) and pass the Life in the UK test.
Immediately after ILR is granted, the applicant can apply for naturalization, it is not necessary to wait for 12 months.
Please note, that despite the fact that there are no restrictions on spouse/partner category for days of absence in the UK, when applying for naturalization the applicant must show that he has not been out of the country for more than 270 days in the last three years before the application, including no more than 90 days in the last 12 months.
Spouses and partners can also apply for this type of visa if their sponsor has a refugee status in the UK or is under humanitarian protection. In this case the rules are different. Please contact us for the detailed information for your individual matter.
As for other types of long-term visas, the applicant must pay an IHS both for the initial application and the extension, in addition to the visa fee.
Fiance / Fiancee visa
This visa is convenient for those who are going to come to the UK, to marry and apply in the UK for a spouse visa. The requirements are the same as for the Spouse/Partner visa (knowledge of English, financial requirements), plus evidence that the couple is truly planning to marry in the UK.
The visa is issued for 6 months. During this period, the applicant must come to the UK, enter into a marriage and apply for a spouse visa.
Advice from Westland Mark: for a spouse visa a marriage certificate is enough, but the Fiance/Fiancee visa requires proof of relations, genuineness of intentions to enter into marriage. This is a fairly large number of documents: joint photos, confirmation of joint trips, correspondence, statements from friends and relatives, etc. In most cases, it is much easier to get married outside the UK and immediately apply for a Spouse visa, bypassing the Fiance/Fiancee stage.