The UK Spouse Visa has an infamous reputation of being difficult to obtain. In fact, it has some of the highest visa refusal rates across the UK’s points-based and tiered immigration system. But what makes the Married Partner Visa so complicated?
The Spouse Visa’s high requirements and stringent criteria is where applicants commonly fail in their visa application. Minor mistakes are common, but it is rare applicants are afforded an opportunity to rectify their errors.
This visa route also demands a portfolio of evidence to demonstrate the applicants’ eligibility. Without the professional advice of an immigration lawyer, meeting the requirements and submitting a watertight application that meets the approval of UKVI can be extremely difficult.
To apply for a Spouse Visa, UK immigration law dictates the applicant and his/her married partner must meet all of the following requirements:
In addition, the couple must be of appropriate age (aged 18 or over) and be in a law binding marriage or civil partnership that is recognised as legitimate in the UK.
The individual ‘sponsoring’ the visa must be the applicant’s spouse and must either have full British citizenship or a form of Settled Status in the UK.
Overseas nationals are prohibited from accessing public funds in the UK until they can meet the criteria for Settled Status or Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR). Refugees, migrants seeking asylum and victims of domestic abuse or human trafficking are able to access some public funding irrespective of their nationality, but this is a separate provision designed for these vulnerable individuals only.
Since Spouse Visa holders are barred from public funds for at least five years, the couple must prove that they have enough money to support themselves. The ‘sponsor’ (UK resident) must earn at least £18,600 per annum, which rises if there are any children living in the household. This is known as the ‘minimum income requirement’.
The sponsor can also meet the minimum income rule through a combination of employment and savings – or rely on savings alone providing the final amount reaches £16,000. In addition, non-employment income can be taken into account, such as property rental, dividends, maternity pay and/or maintenance payments.
A sponsor in receipt of benefits can also meet the income requirement, for instance if they have Disability Living Allowance or Carer’s Allowance.
The Spouse Visa UK application guidance by UKVI only states that couples need to supply their marriage certificate (or civil partnership certificate). This is a mandatory part of the application, but what is missing from the guidance list is the many documents couples must provide to prove that they are in a ‘genuine and subsisting relationship’.
The Home Office does not explicitly outline what it considers as substantial evidence to satisfy this aspect of the Marriage Visa. Indeed, the genuine relationship test is largely subjective with the decision falling on the shoulders of an immigration officer tasked with your application.
Demonstrating your relationship is genuine and long-lasting can be one of the most challenging aspects of the Spouse Visa UK application process. However, experienced immigration lawyers know what UKVI is looking for.
It is best to approach your portfolio of evidence as though you are painting a picture of your relationship from the beginning to the current day. You might include evidence of time spent together, trips overseas or holidays, photographs together, gifts, letters from family and friends, text messages, places lived together previously, joint bills paid and any other formal documents. You may also wish to include a formal letter and declaration which outlines your relationship’s timeline, where you met and what your plans are for the future (I.e. living together in the UK).
As per Appendix FM of the Spouse Visa immigration rules, the couple must provide evidence that there is adequate accommodation for them in the UK that meets expected living standards.
Generally speaking, a child under the age of 10 is able to share a bedroom with another child while a baby can share with its parents. However, children of the opposite sex over the age of 10 must have their own individual room. Any adults living in the house must also have their own room that is separate from the couple. This is mandatory as per UK law, seeking to diminish overcrowding as part and parcel of the UK Housing Act 1985.
To satisfy this requirement, you can provide evidence of your tenancy agreement or mortgage documents.
Spouse Visa applicants must be able to understand and communicate in English at a certain level. This is usually at a minimum level of A1 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (‘CEFR’).
The level of English required rises per each visa category. For instance, those seeking permission to remain need a minimum level of A2 whilst ILR applicants require level B1 in English.
Applicants can be exempt from the English language requirement of the Married Partner Visa if they originate from an English-speaking country or they have a degree or similar higher qualification that was taught in English.
If you need assistance with the Spouse Visa requirements, our immigration lawyers here at 1 Absolute Advisor are here to help. Our specialists know precisely what UKVI is assessing in each Spouse Visa application it receives. We can help you to mitigate against any mistakes, which could cost you your entire application, and ensure you meet the Spouse Visa requirements before you begin preparing your portfolio.
Get in touch with our team of immigration lawyers in London today on 0207 993 6762.