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The UK’s Most Trusted UK Spouse Visa Consultancy
With over 12 years’ experience and more than 15,000 UK Visa approvals secured worldwide, we have steadily built First Migration’s reputation as one of the most trusted immigration consultancies in the world. As you can see from our Trustpilot reviews, we have an industry-leading reputation for always securing UK Visa approvals, while providing our clients with a five-star service.
Our UK Visa services are tailored to your needs, so you can choose the price you want to pay, for the service you require.
For access to our knowledge & experience, we offer consultation services. If you want to be cost-effective and secure your approval by yourself, consider our Expert Checking Services. For an extra fee, we’ll even provide our Expert Document
List & bespoke templates to save you time. If you want a guaranteed approval though, you are looking for our Full Representation Services. With this service you are allocated your own dedicated UK Visa Expert to manage the entire process, with a no-win, no-fee guarantee. Whichever service you choose with First Migration, expect a professional
and stress free service.
Welcome to the First Migration’s UK Spouse Visa Information Centre
We have dedicated the past decade to helping our clients secure UK Partner Visa approvals. Using the knowledge and experience we have obtained during this time, we have created a UK Spouse Visa Information Centre to provide you with comprehensive information you need to get started.
We recommend that you bookmark this page, after reading through the information below, to easily find the information page again. Should you want our expert assistance or guidance at any time, call us to speak to one of our UK Spouse Visa Experts and have you case assessed for free. Alternatively, request a call-back at the top of this page, and have one of our experts call you instead.
Get a sense of the five-star service and results we have provided for many of our clients by checking out our reviews on Trustpilot.co.uk. Should you choose First Migration to act as your legal representative, rest assured we will provide a professional service that lives up to our online reputation, and is as simple and stress-free as possible for you.
Before your first consultation, take the time to read through the information below as we address the most frequently asked questions. We hope to be able to demonstrate our expertise in the area even before having a conversation with you. We look forward to helping you with the process of securing a UK Settlement Visa approval.
What is a UK Spouse Visa?
A UK Spouse Visa, also referred to as a UK Settlement Visa, allows a husband or wife (that are non-European Union (EU) citizens) of a British national or someone who holds an Indefinite Leave to Remain Visa (i.e. they are a Permanent Resident or settled) to live with their partner in the UK. The applicant must typically apply for a UK Spouse Visa from their home country before coming to live with the British or settled partner in the UK. Should you be a non-European partner already living in the UK on a UK residence visa (for example, Tier 1 – 5 Visas), you may be able to switch to a Spouse Visa in the UK. You can find further information about switching to a Spouse Visa in the UK in a section below.
What are the eligibility requirements to qualify for a UK Spouse Visa – Appendix FM rules
To qualify for a UK Spouse Visa to live with your British or settled partner (who holds an Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) Visa) in the UK, you will need to satisfy the following requirements:
- You must be lawfully married to a British national or a person holding an Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) Visa.
- The British or settled person sponsoring your Spouse Visa application must either be already present and settled in the UK or returning at the same time as you to live in the UK permanently.
- Your sponsor (or you if permitted to work in the UK) will need to satisfy the Appendix FM financial requirement and show that you can satisfy the £18,600 per year income requirement or hold savings higher than £62,500 in your bank account(s) for longer than the last 6 months. Be warned that there are very strict and complicated rules in place when it comes to satisfying the Appendix FM financial requirement, and we have provided a basic overview of the different ways of satisfying the Appendix FM financial requirement rules below.
- You are required to show that you and your British or settled partner have a genuine and subsisting relationship.
- There must be suitable accommodation in the UK should your application be successful.
- You will need to satisfy the Level A1 Speaking and Listening requirement.
- Depending on the country you are applying from in the world, you may be required to satisfy a Tuberculosis (TB) requirement to prove you are free from Pulmonary Tuberculosis.
How much does a UK Spouse Visa application cost?
The cost for a UK Spouse Visa varies depending on whether you are applying within the UK or applying from outside the UK to join your sponsor here.
Should you be in the UK applying to switch or extend a Spouse Visa, the current government fees are as follows:
- The Home Office Spouse Visa Government fee* = £1,033 per applicant for a Standard Service processing time application (which takes about 8 weeks to secure the approval from the date of the biometric appointment). Due to the slow processing time for the Standard Service, we would always recommend that our clients consider paying for the Priority Settlement Service, which costs an extra £800. The Priority Settlement Service costs £1,833 per applicant in total, and you should receive your decision within 24 working hours after your biometric appointment.
- The NHS Surcharge = £1,000 per applicant. In January 2018, the Home Office doubled the NHS surcharge from £200 to £400 per year for the length of the visa.
- The Biometric Fee = £19.20 per applicant. Even though you may need to pay for a biometric appointment if you want one within the next 3-4 weeks, the Home Office still charge £19.20 per applicant to process their biometric data.
- The Biometric appointment fee = this fee ranges from a free appointment (if you wait 3 weeks+) up to £260 per applicant for an appointment at the Premium Service Centre in Central London. For your information, the most typical fee paid for an average appointment across the UK is about £100 per applicant. Should you choose the Standard Service, you could consider obtaining a free biometric appointment in 3 weeks’ time as it will take up to 8 weeks to receive your decision. Should you choose the Priority Service, we would recommend that you consider paying for the earliest appointment possible so that you can secure your 24 working hour decision ASAP.
- The government fees stated above total £2,052.20 per applicant for the Standard Service or £2,852.20 per applicant for the Priority Service (plus the biometric appointment fees which have not been included as the prices vary).
Should you be applying for a UK Spouse Visa outside the UK, the current government fees are as follows:
- The Home Office Spouse Visa Government fee* = £1,523 per applicant for a Standard Service processing time application (which takes about 12 – 14 weeks to secure the approval from the date of the biometric appointment in the home country). Due to the slow processing time for the Standard Service, we would always recommend that our clients consider paying for the Priority Settlement Service, which costs an extra £573. The Priority Settlement Service costs £2,096 per applicant in total, and you should receive your decision within 6 – 8 weeks after your biometric appointment.
- The NHS Surcharge = £1,200 per applicant. As you will be issued an initial 30-day entry visa to arrive in the UK and then collect a 2.5-year Spouse Visa ID card when you arrive in the UK, the Home Office deems you to have been issued more than 2.5-years validity. They use this as an opportunity to round the length of your visa up to 3-years for working out the NHS Surcharge amount you should pay. This is the reason why overseas applicants must pay £1,200 per applicant (e.g. £400 multiplied by 3 (years) = £1,200), whereas applicants in the UK only pay £1,000 per applicant (e.g. £400 multiplied by 2.5 (years) = £1,000).
- Additional fees = Approximately £200 – Additional fees may need to be paid for an English test (approximately £100) and a Tuberculosis (TB) certificate (Approximately £100) if required.
- The overseas government fees stated above total £2,723 per applicant for the Standard Service or £3,296 per applicant for the Priority Service (plus any fees for an English test and TB Certificate (if needed) which have not been included, as the prices vary).
Should you want to know the costs for the different levels of service we offer here at First Migration to ensure our clients secure their UK Visa approval, please click here.
Please note that the prices stated above are subject to change and are simply a guide to assist you in planning ahead for the potential cost of applying for a Spouse Visa.
The application process using our Full Representation Service when applying inside the UK
The application process for securing a UK Spouse Visa differs depending on whether you are applying for a UK Settlement Visa in the UK, or outside the UK from your country of residence.
Should you be applying within the UK to “switch” from your current UK Visa to a Spouse Visa, the application process using our full representation service would be as follows:
- You would pay our professional fee (full fee or deposit if agreed) and agree in writing to our Terms and Conditions, which we will email to you.
- Once both tasks have been completed, we will provide you with our Expert Document List and the document templates you need to keep things as simple for you as possible.
- You would need to gather all the required supporting documents first to ensure the application will be approved.
- Once the documents have been gathered and checked, we will set up the online application form and fully complete it for you (as the application process is now fully digital and documents are no longer submitted to the Home Office by post).
- Once we have drafted your online application form, we will email you a copy to review so that you can let us know if any changes are needed. Rest assured that will be making sure you are fully involved in every aspect of your case, for your peace of mind.
- When the form is ready for submission, we will submit the online application for you, and we will use your credit/debit card to pay the appropriate government fee and NHS Surcharge payments. Once the payments have been made, we can book your biometric appointment at the nearest biometric centre.
- After online submission, your dedicated consultant will be able to upload all your supporting documents to the Home Office server, and then provide your fully prepared application back to you so that you can take it to the biometric centre with you.
- After attending your biometric appointment and having your biometrics taken, we will have to wait for either one working day (with the Super Priority Service) or 8-weeks (with the Standard Service) for the Home Office caseworker to make a decision on your application.
- Once a decision has been made, First Migration will receive your decision by email first, and then by hardcopy in the post within 3-4 working days. We will then receive your new Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) ID card at our office within 7 – 10 working days of approval and will organise to get the BRP card to you. At this point, our service will come to an end, and all you will have to do is prepare for the Spouse Visa extension application in 2.5 years.
The application process using our Full Representation Service when applying outside the UK
- You would sign up for our service by paying our professional fee and agreeing to our Terms and Conditions.
- Once done, we would send you our detailed document list, document templates and everything you need to start gathering the required supporting documents.
- Once you have gathered all the documents needed, you would need to provide them to your Spouse Visa Expert for checking.
- Once we are happy we have received all the supporting documents we need, we will set up the online application form.
- Once the form has been filled out, we will submit the online application form, and use your credit/debit card to pay the government fee, the NHS Surcharge, and the Priority Settlement Service fee (if you want a decision in 6-8 weeks rather than 12-14 weeks).
- Once we have completed the online submission process, we will be able to print off the forms you need to submit and book your appointment at the VFS or TLS Contact Visa centre in your country of residence.
- Should the visa centre in your country of residence be operated by TLS Contact, we will fully upload all your supporting documents onto the system, so we can guarantee the approval and ensure no mistakes are made that could lead to refusal.
- Should the visa centre you are attending be operated by VFS Global, your supporting documents will be taken to a location in the UK for scanning.
- At this step, all you are required to do is attend the biometric visa centre appointment, have your digital fingerprints and photo taken, and hand them your passport for the visa to be stamped in once your application has been approved. The visa centre will forward your current passport the local British Embassy or British High Commission, as they will need the passport to stamp the 30-day Entry Clearance Visa once instructed by the Home Office in Sheffield (UK).
- After 6 – 8 weeks with the Priority Settlement Service (or 12 – 14 weeks with the standard service), you should receive an email to say that a decision has been made on your application. Please note that this is always the most stressful part of the process for our clients, as the Entry Clearance Officers (ECO’s) email will not confirm the decision, they will simply state that a decision has been made. This means that you will only find out whether the application has been successful when you go back to the visa centre and collect your passport back. Rest assured that our clients always receive an approval letter back with their passport, and your passport will contain a 30-day Entry Clearance Visa (which is NOT the UK Spouse Visa). All UK Visas that are issued for longer than 6 months must nowadays be issued as a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) Visa ID card. The 30-day Entry Clearance Visa is issued in your passport to allow you to fly to the UK to collect your BRP Visa card from a specific Post Office when you arrive in the UK.
- All you must do is ensure you arrive in the UK before the 30-day Entry Clearance Visa expires and begin your new life with your partner!
As we have outlined, the application process for applying within and applying from outside the UK is slightly different. As we manage each step of the process from preparing, submitting and securing on a daily basis, letting us help you with this process can give you the peace of mind on what can be a stressful experience.
General UK Spouse Visa FAQs
Since March 2019, the entire application process is now fully digital, and there are no specific application forms needed. When the application is initially set up online, the correct category of UK Visa must be selected to ensure that you are applying for the correct visa.
Before the application process evolved to a fully digital process, the application form needed in the UK was called an FLR(M) form, and the required overseas Appendix FMform was known as the Appendix 2 VAF4a form. We are pleased to confirm that these forms are technically not appropriate anymore, and we can ensure that you apply correctly online so that the application is secured first-time as promised.
Our Spouse Visa Experts are frequently asked this question, and if you are living in the UK on a valid residence visa (such as a Tier 2 Visa, or Tier 4 Visa, etc.), you are allowed to apply within the UK to switch visa category to a UK Spouse Visa. Please note that should you switch in the UK from any other category of visa to a Spouse Visa, the 5-year path to your Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) Visa will start all over again. For example, if you have spent 4-years on a Tier 2 (General) company-sponsored work permit visa, and you switch in the UK to a Spouse Visa, you would have to wait for another 5-years on a Spouse Visa to secure your ILR Visa (or apply under the 10-Year Long Residence ILR rules if in the UK for 10-Years when you qualify).
Should you be a visitor in the UK (either holding a valid Visitor Visa or under the Visa-Waiver Scheme), you are NOT allowed to apply for a UK Spouse Visa while in the UK. Individuals holding these type of visas are required to return to their home country or country of residence to apply from there. The reason the Home Office wants applicants visiting the UK to apply from their home country is in case they refuse the application. Should the applicant be outside the UK when a Spouse Visa application is rejected, and they appeal the decision, it makes it easier for the Home Office to defend their decision when considering the sponsor’s human rights (ECHR Article 8 – the right to a family and private life).
Our advice is always to consider paying the £800 extra to apply via the Priority Service, to secure the approval in one-working day after the biometric appointment. It is very important that you secure the approval in the UK before your visa expires as you cannot submit a fresh application after your current visa expiry date if your application is unsuccessful, which is a fact many applicants are not aware of. Considering you can typically only apply for your visa extension up to 28 days before your current visa expires (unless switching category), you may only have one chance to secure the approval.
The only times we would typically recommend a client consider saving the money and apply using the Standard Service (which takes at least 2 months to receive your decision) would be:
- If many applicants are applying at the same time and it is difficult to pay the very expensive government fees;
- If you currently have more than 3 months left on your current UK Visa, and you are switching in the UK. As you should receive a decision via the Standard Service before your current visa expires, there is little risk to saving the £800 Priority Service fee.
Applying outside the UK – Should you choose the Priority Settlement Service or apply via the Standard Service?
Due to the difference in the length of processing time between the Priority Settlement Service (about 6 – 8 weeks from the date of biometrics) and the Standard Service (about 12 – 14 weeks), we would always recommend that our clients pay the £573 extra per applicant and do everything possible to secure a decision faster.
The only times we may advise a client not to pay the Priority Settlement Service fee is if they have adverse immigration history in the UK (i.e. they have overstayed their visa or have criminality issues, etc.), and there is a very high chance that the application will not be processed in 6 – 8 weeks.
If you have tried applying yourself without expert assistance, and find yourself in the unfortunate situation of receiving a Spouse Visa refusal, the advice we would offer regarding your options differs depending on whether you applied in the UK or from outside the UK.
If you applied in the UK and your Spouse Visa application is refused:
- We would recommend that you call one of our UK Visa Experts immediately, once in contact they can thoroughly assess your situation and confirm the best options available to you to turn this situation around rapidly.
- Should the applicant’s current visa have expired before you receive the refusal, you will only be able to appeal the decision by following the appeal process, as no further fresh applications can be submitted to turn the situation around. You should note that the appeal process can take 9 – 12 months during which time the applicant cannot travel and can only work if they submitted their application before the visa expired. There is also never a guarantee of success when it comes to the appeal process through the courts, and you will be relying on the judge that hears the appeal to overturn the decision.
- Should you receive a Spouse Visa refusal in the UK and the applicant’s visa is still valid, we can assist you by submitting a perfectly presented second application to successfully secure the Spouse Visa approval in a couple of weeks. We would always recommend this option if available, as it is the safest and quickest way to turn the situation and get approved.
If you applied outside the UK and your Spouse Visa application is refused:
- If you find yourself in this unfortunate position, we recommend submitting a call back request or call one of our UK Spouse Visa Experts to discuss the situation and the options available to you.
- Our dedicated Spouse Visa Expert will discuss the two options available to you, which are:
- Appeal the decision by following the appeal process – as explained above; the appeal process can take up to 9 – 12 months with the applicant stuck outside the UK, and there is no guarantee of success.
- Reapply ASAP with the help of one of our UK Spouse Visa Experts to ensure the application is approved – While this involves you having to pay all the government fees again, it enables us to secure the Spouse Visa approval by sorting the situation out in a couple of months. You also have to consider the grounds stated for refusal, and the likelihood of the decision being overturned by appeal. Typically, we would always recommend this option to ensure the quickest way to turn the situation around so that you can both begin your new lives together in the UK.
There are four ways to satisfy the Spouse Visa English language requirement:
- you are a national of a majority English speaking country – Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, New Zealand, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, and the USA.
- You have a degree that was taught in English (to a high enough level) awarded outside the UK, and the degree is comparable to a UK degree;
- You have a degree awarded by a UK University; or
- You have passed an approved English test.
To secure the initial Spouse Visa, the required level of English is set at Level A1 in speaking and listening (e.g. 2 out of 10 in difficulty) under the Common European Framework for Languages (CEFR). To secure the Spouse Visa extension though, the requirement increases to Level A2 in speaking and listening (about 3-4 out of 10 in difficulty) as the Home Office wishes to see the applicant’s English is improving since the last application. To secure the Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) Visa after five-years, the requirement increases to Level B1 in speaking and listening (about 5 out of 10 in difficulty).
Applicants from certain countries in the world are required to undertake a test at an approved clinic in their home country before applying for their UK Spouse Visa to prove that they are not suffering from Tuberculosis (TB). Should you be required to do this, and the proper certificate is not submitted, it is highly likely that the application would not be approved.
UK Spouse Visa Financial Requirements FAQs
To secure a UK Spouse Visa approval, you must be able to satisfy the Appendix FM financial requirement by showing that the sponsor (or applicant if in the UK with the right to work) has an income of more than £18,600 per year or held savings higher than £62,500 for the last 6 months.
Should you be a British citizen or ILR Visa holder that lives outside the UK, and you are looking to bring your spouse with you to the UK as a returning resident, please note that only the sponsor can claim for income outside the UK to satisfy this requirement.
The sponsor will also need a job offer starting in the UK within 3 months of their intended return date (unless using £62,500+ in savings to satisfy the Appendix FM financial requirement). While your spouse cannot claim for their overseas income when moving to the UK, they can claim for their savings, so bear this fact in mind, as it is a common mistake made by returning residents.
Should you be living in the UK on a visa that allows you to work, and wish to switch in-country to a Spouse Visa after marrying a British citizen or someone holding an ILR Visa, you are allowed to claim for your earnings (or a combination of your earnings and your sponsor’s earnings).
The Appendix FM rules provide you with 7 different ways of satisfying the financial requirement (named Categories A – F), and you can combine some of the following categories to demonstrate sufficient earnings/savings to satisfy the financial requirement:
Category A – Employed earnings higher than £18,600 per year – you can claim for earnings under this category if the sponsor or applicant (or both combined if permitted) has been working for their current employer for longer than the last 6 months.
You will also need to demonstrate that the annual earnings are higher than £18,600 per annum, and note that the Home Office will take the lowest gross salary amount on the last 6 months payslips (or 26 weeks’ payslips if paid weekly), and multiply the amount by 12 to work out the lowest average earnings (or by 52 (weeks) if paid weekly). If the result of this calculation comes to more than £18,600, you will be able to satisfy the Appendix FM rules via Category A.
Category B – Employed earnings higher than £18,600 in the last 12 months for those people that have been working for their current employer less than the last 6 months.
There are two different ways you can claim for Category B earnings – 1) If you have been working for your current employer for less than 6 months, and the total gross earnings on your payslips adds up to more than £18,600 (e.g. you earn £100,000pa and three months gross earnings = £25,000) – 2) You can claim up to a maximum of the last 12 months payslips from your last 2 or more employers, and the gross salary on the payslips must add up to more than £18,600. Please note that via Category B of the Appendix FM rules you must show that your current employer is paying you more than £18,600.
Category C – non-employment income higher than £18,600 per year – You can claim for this category of income if you receive income from non-employment sources such as property rental, dividends from investments, maintenance payments from a former partner, etc.
Under this category, you can claim for any non-employment income received in your bank account in the 12 months before the date of application and need to have received £18,600 in the last 12 months to satisfy the Appendix FM rules. Alternatively, you can combine this category of income
with another category if needed.
Category D – Cash Savings – to use this category, you will need to show a daily closing balance in your bank account, your partner’s bank account, or a joint account you hold together (or combination of accounts) higher than £62,500 every day for the last 6 months before applying.
Please note that the Home Office will take the lowest balance held in your bank account(s) in the last 6 months when assessing the funds you have held. Therefore, your total bank account balance must never go below £62,500 on any given day in the last 6 months. You should also note that the amount of funds needed increases depending on the number of applicants applying (for example, you need funds of £74,000 for two applicants instead of £62,500 for one applicant).
Category E – Pension Income – you can claim for this category if you or your sponsor is currently receiving pension income higher than £18,600 per year. You can also combine this income with the other categories to demonstrate income higher than £18,600 per annum.
Category F – Self-employed income as a sole trader or director of your own Limited company – claiming solely for the last full financial year. If the sponsor is self-employed in the UK, then they can claim for the taxable income stated on their last FULL financial year (which runs from 6th April to 5th April each year in the UK), and the amount declared must be higher than £18,600. Should the sponsor be a Director of their own Limited company, they can claim for the gross salary and/or gross dividends paid to them during their company’s last CT600 financial year. The amount received before tax must be higher than £18,600, and you can only claim for the salary and dividends paid into the sponsor’s personal bank account. Due to the complexity of the self-employed earnings rules under Appendix FM, if you have any queries about claiming for this category, we recommend you speak to one of our Spouse Visa Experts.
Category G – Self-employed income as a sole trader or director of your own Limited company – claiming solely for the last full financial year. This category is virtually the same as Category F, but was designed for self-employed people that did not earn enough net profit (if a sole trader) or pay themselves enough salary/dividends in the company’s last financial year (if a Director), BUT whose earnings are high enough if you take an average of the last two full financial years.
For example, the sponsor is a sole trader that declared £15,000 in net profit (i.e. taxable income) on their last year’s tax return but declared £45,000 in taxable income (net profit) in the previous year’s tax return. The average of the taxable income for the last two years, in this case, would be £30,000 (£45,000 + £15,000 divided by 2 (Years)), which satisfies the financial requirement as the average earnings (taxable income) is higher than £18,600 per year. The same logic would apply to a company Director that paid himself the same amounts as stated above in salary and dividends over the company’s last two financial years in line with the company’s CT600 financial year.
As we have mentioned above, you can combine most of the categories above, but be warned that you cannot combine self-employed income (Categories F & G) with savings (Category D) to satisfy the Appendix FM financial requirement.
If you have any doubts about how you and your partner can satisfy the complicated Appendix FM rules, request a call-back and discuss your case with one of our Spouse Visa experts? We can work out in minutes the simplest way you can satisfy the rules and give you the best option for your application.
If the sponsor (the British citizen or person holding an ILR Visa in the UK) is receiving one of the following benefits, they will be classified as exempt from the Appendix FM (1.7) financial requirement:
- Disability Living Allowance
- Severe Disablement Allowance
- Industrial Injury Disablement Benefit
- Attendance Allowance
- Carer’s Allowance
- Personal Independence Payment.
- Armed Forces Independence Payment or Guaranteed Income Payment under the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme
- Constant Attendance Allowance, Mobility Supplement or War Disablement Pension under the War Pensions Scheme
In this situation, instead of satisfying the Appendix FM rules, the sponsor will need to satisfy the Appendix FM 1.7a rules by demonstrating that there will be adequate accommodation and sufficient income to provide for their spouse. The Home Office assesses your ability to do this through a complicated equation – Your weekly income from all sources (A) minus your weekly housing costs (B = rent/mortgage & Council Tax) must be equal to or greater than what an equivalent British family would receive in income support (C). This makes the equation “A – B ≥ C”, and due to the complexity of this equation, and how it is calculated, we recommend that you request a call back from one of our UK Spouse Visa Experts, so they can easily assess your ability to satisfy this requirement, if you are in receipt of PIP or DLA payments (or one of the other payments listed above). You will also be required to prove that you have suitable accommodation for your partner to live in should the Spouse Visa be approved.
While the main applicant (the spouse applying for the Spouse Visa) and/or their sponsor will need to satisfy the financial requirement of yearly income higher than £18,600, you should note that this amount increases for every non-British child applying.
If the Spouse Visa application includes children that are applying, you should consider the fact the financial requirement increases by £3,800 for the first child (i.e. from £18,600 to £22,400 for a spouse & one child), and by a further £2,400 for each subsequent child applying. To summarise, this means that depending on the number of children applying with the spouse, the amount of income (or savings) needed to satisfy the Appendix FM financial requirement will increase as follows:
Claiming for income (Categories A – G except for Category D Savings):
- Spouse applying with no children = £18,600
- Spouse with one child applying = £22,400
- Spouse with two children applying = £24,800
- Spouse with three children applying = £27,200
- Spouse with four children applying = £29,600
As explained above, the amount of savings needed to satisfy the financial requirement is drastically higher than the amount needed when claiming for income. A spouse applying with no children requires the applicant/sponsor (or both) to show they have maintained daily a balance above £62,500 for the last 6 months or more. Should children be applying with the spouse, the amount of savings increases per child as follows:
Claiming for cash savings (Category D):
- Spouse applying with no children = £62,500
- Spouse with one child applying = £72,000
- Spouse with two children applying = £78,000
- Spouse with three children applying = £84,000
- Spouse with four children applying = £90,000
The reason for the higher savings amount needed is that the UK Home Office has assessed that it would require at least £62,500 in savings for a British citizen (or ILR Visa holder in the UK) to pay the living expenses for them and their spouse for 2.5 years if they have no other sources of income. The equation they use to calculate the amount of savings needed is as follows (and note that they simply made up the £16,000 figure which confuses most people):
- (x minus £16,000) divided by 2.5 = y
In this equation, “x” is the lowest amount of savings in the last 6 months, and “y” is the amount of income the Home Office considers as equivalent to the savings you hold (and this is the figure you can claim for). For example:
- £62,500 (x = savings held) minus £16,000 divided by 2.5 (years) = £18,600
Therefore in this example, if the lowest amount of savings held at any time in the last 6 months is £62,500, the Home Office will use the equation above and convert the savings into the equivalent income of £18,600, and you would be able to apply for your spouse as you can satisfy the Appendix FM financial requirement (but no children as you would need higher savings, of course).
You should note that the applicant’s employed/self-employed income can only be claimed to satisfy the Appendix FM financial requirement if the applicant is in the UK with permission to work. Therefore; should the applicant and the British sponsor (or sponsor that holds an ILR Visa) be living outside the UK, and intend to secure the Spouse Visa to move to the UK, the applicant’s overseas employed/self-employed income will not be considered towards satisfying the £18,600 Appendix FM financial requirement. While this rule does not make any sense from a logical point of view as they will consider your joint employed/self-employed income when you’re both in the UK (so why not overseas), bear in mind that this is currently the rule.
While the applicant’s employed/self-employed income outside the UK will not be considered for returning residents, the applicant is permitted to use their savings (i.e. £62,500 in savings) or non-employment income (of more than £18,600 – i.e. property rental income, etc.) to satisfy the Appendix FM financial requirement. If you have any doubts about the easiest way for you to satisfy the Appendix FM rules, request a call with one of our UK Spouse Visa experts so we can quickly work this out for you.
As UK Spouse Visas applied for in the UK are always granted for 2.5 years each time you apply, the NHS Surcharge when applying in the UK will be charged at £1,000 per applicant. The breakdown consists of paying £400 per year the visa is valid for, i.e. £400 multiplied by 2.5 (years) = £1,000.
Should you apply for a UK Spouse Visa outside the UK, you will be issued an initial 30-day entry clearance visa, and then collect the 2.5-year Spouse Visa BRP ID card in the UK on your arrival. The Home Office state that as you have been issued with 2.5-years plus one-month validity, they will round the validity of your initial visa up to 3-years. This is the reason why overseas applicants must pay £1,200 per applicant (e.g. £400 multiplied by 3 (years) = £1,200) for the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS), whereas applicants in the UK only pay £1,000 per applicant.
For your information, you may find that the NHS Surcharge is sometimes stated as the Immigration Health Surcharge (or IHS), so do not be confused, as they are just different ways of saying the same thing.
Other Frequently Asked Questions
Should you already hold a valid UK Spouse Visa in the UK, you will be required to apply for a Spouse Visa extension after 2.5 years of living with your British or settled partner in the UK.
The eligibility requirements to secure a Spouse Visa extension are very similar to those needed to satisfy your initial Spouse Visa, but take note of some subtle differences.
As an overview, you will be required to satisfy the following rules to secure your 2.5 years Spouse Visa extension and to take you up to your Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) Visa after 5 years in the UK:
- You must still be lawfully married to your British or settled sponsor.
- You will need to satisfy the Appendix FM financial requirement again (i.e. demonstrate income higher than £18,600 per year or hold savings of more than £62,500 for the last 6 months).
- You will need to prove that you have been cohabitating with your sponsor in the UK continuously for the past 2.5 years you have held your UK Spouse Visa.
- You will need to satisfy the Level A2 English Speaking and Listening requirement.Take note that the requirement for a spouse Visa extension is one level higher than that required to secure your initial Spouse Visa approval. The Home Office expects you to satisfy one level higher every time you apply for a Spouse Visa extension to show progression in your ability to speak and understand English. For a Spouse Visa extension, the minimum level is A2, and when you apply for your ILR Visa, it will be Level B1.
- You must be able to show you will still have suitable accommodation in the UK.
One warning we offer to all potential clients is to ensure you do not take any risks when applying for your Spouse Visa extension and never underestimate the Home Office’s ability to refuse an application. Many Spouse Visa holders are not aware that they can only submit their visa extension no more than 28 days before their current visa expires. Should they apply too early, they may have to secure a second extension to secure their ILR Visa, which will be a waste of thousands of pounds.
Another point many people are not aware of is that you can only re-apply after initially getting rejected for a visa extension if your current Spouse Visa is still valid. As you can only apply for the Spouse Visa extension up to 28 days before the visa expires, should the Home Office take longer than your expiry date to make a negative decision, they may grant you “Leave to Remain” outside of the rules and refuse your Spouse Visa application. This effectively puts you on a 10-year path to Indefinite Leave to Remain (rather than the 5-year path if your Spouse Visa extension was granted) making the process much longer for you.. It is for these reasons, and many more, that we always recommend that you take advantage of our Expert Checking or Full Representation services to ensure you are approved first-time before your visa expires.
You will be required to show that you were legally married in the country where you and your partner had your marriage or civil partnership ceremony. This is typically demonstrated via your official marriage or civil partnership certificate.
The Home Office caseworker (if applying in the UK) or Entry Clearance Officer (if applying from outside the UK), will assess your marriage based on the following three questions:
- Is the type of marriage one recognised in the country in which it took place?
- Was the actual marriage properly executed to satisfy the requirements of the law of the country in which it took place?
- Was there anything in the law of either party’s country of domicile that restricted his or her freedom to enter the marriage?
If the answers to these three questions are “yes”, then your marriage will be recognised as lawful. You will also be required to prove with documentary evidence that your relationship is genuine, and this is typically done by proving that you have shared financial responsibilities, children, evidence of visiting each other, proof of regularly communicating, etc. Every client’s case and relationship situation differ, and the type and volume of evidence needed to ensure you demonstrate a genuine and subsisting relationship changes accordingly. After failing to satisfy the strict Appendix FM financial requirement properly, this requirement is probably the second most common reason for a UK Spouse Visa refusal.
One of the many requirements that must be satisfied to secure a Spouse Visa approval is to be able to show that the applicant has secured suitable accommodation in the UK. Suitable accommodation is defined as a property to live in that is not overcrowded and does not contravene public health regulations.
You can share the property with other people, but you may be required to demonstrate that there will not be overcrowding at the property and that there is sufficient living space at the property if the Spouse Visa is granted.
Your first Spouse Visa will be valid for 2.5 years from the date of approval. Within 28 days of the first Spouse Visa’s expiry date, you will need to apply for a 2.5-year Spouse Visa extension. After 4 years and 11 months (i.e. 28 days before the Spouse Visa extension expires), you will be able to apply for an Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) Visa, so you will no longer have to apply for any more UK Visa extensions.
Should you be applying for your first Spouse Visa from outside the UK in your country of residence, please note that you will initially be granted a 30-day entry clearance (paper-vignette) visa in your passport. This initial visa is not the actual Spouse Visa and is stamped in your passport to allow you to arrive in the UK within 30-days (of issue) to collect the actual 2.5-year Spouse Visa Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) ID card from a Post Office. Alternatively, applicants applying within the UK will receive their 2.5-year BRP card at their home address via post within 7 – 10 working days of their Spouse Visa application being approved.
If you hold a valid UK Spouse Visa in the UK, there is no restriction on your ability to work in the UK. You are fully entitled to undertake the following work in the UK:
- You can be an employee of someone else’s company.
- You can be self-employed (as a sole trader or in a partnership).
- You can be a Director of your own Limited company or an employee of a family member’s Limited company.
- A combination of all the above.
Applicants applying for a UK Spouse Visa or visa extension that are in the UK with the right to work on their visa are entitled to use their earnings, or their sponsor’s earnings or a combination of their earnings and their sponsor’s earnings to satisfy the Appendix FM financial requirement. Please note that applicants applying for a Spouse Visa outside the UK can only use the sponsors overseas employed/self-employed income to satisfy the financial requirement. If the sponsor’s employed/self-employed income is not high enough, the applicant can claim for their non-employment income (i.e. property rental income, etc.) or cash savings to satisfy this requirement instead.
Spouse Visa holders can study in the UK while holding this category of visa, and they do NOT need to switch into a different category of visa to study (i.e. a Tier 4 Student Visa). If you hold a Spouse Visa and wish to study in the UK, all you need to consider is the impact not working may have on your ability to satisfy the strict Appendix FM financial requirement for future visa extensions? In this situation, you will need to ensure that your sponsor’s income will satisfy the financial requirement, or you can both demonstrate enough cash savings (or non-employment income) instead.
After 5 years on a UK Spouse Visa, visa holders should make securing their Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) Visa their main objective. Only once you have secured your ILR Visa, will you then never be required to pay any more UK Visa fees, to extend your visa to stay with your partner in the UK. As the term “indefinite” suggests, ILR Visas have no expiry date, and no further visa extensions will be needed, as you are considered as a settled person in the UK.
The initial Spouse Visa is granted for 2.5-years, you will then need to secure the 2.5-Year Spouse Visa extension to further extend your stay. After 5-years on the Spouse Visa, you will once again be required to satisfy the financial requirement and prove that you have lived with your British partner (or settled partner on ILR) for the past 5-years. You will also be required to prove that your English language ability in speaking and listening has improved to Level B1, and pass the Life in the UK Test.
Once you secure your ILR Visa and are married to a British national, you do not need to wait for 12-months and can apply immediately for British citizenship if you satisfy the naturalisation rules. For more information about the eligibility requirements to secure British Citizenship if you are married to a British national, please read our British Citizenship page. Alternatively, you can find the link in the toolbar above or request a call back from one of our British Citizenship Experts.