Fiance or Spouse – 5 Year Route to Settlement Visa
If you live outside the UK and are the fiance or spouse of a person settled in the UK, you may be able to join them in the UK on a Fiance/Spouse visa provided you meet all the relevant requirements. You will be initially issued with a limited visa which you must extend until you complete 5 years as spouse and then you can apply for indefinite leave to remain. The requirements to qualify for a visa as a fiance/spouse are strict and therefore it is important to ensure you are well advised. We have outlined below some of the main requirements:
Entry Clearance and Leave to Remain
To apply as a partner, you and your partner both need to be 18 or over.
Your partner must also either:
- be a British or Irish citizen
- have settled in the UK – for example, they have indefinite leave to remain
- have refugee status or humanitarian protection in the UK
You and your partner must intend to live together permanently in the UK after you apply.
What you’ll need to prove
You must be able to prove you meet the following requirements:
- English language; and
- Tuberculosis Testing (for entry clearance only if applicable)
How long you can stay
You can stay in the UK for 2 years and 9 months on the Spouse visa. If you’re applying as a fiancé, fiancée or proposed civil partner, you can stay for 6 months. After this you’ll need to apply to extend your stay.
If you extend or switch to this visa
If you extend your family visa or switch to this visa you can stay in the UK for 2 years and 6 months.
How to apply
You’ll need to prepare information and documents to provide with your application.
You will need to apply online via the UKVI portal and then book a biometric appointment to enrol your fingerprints and have your photograph taken. Prior to the biometric appointment, you must upload all your supporting documents online via the UKVI portal.
Applying with your children
You can add children to your application as dependants if both of the following apply:
- they are under 18 when you apply, or were under 18 when they were first granted leave
- they do not live an independent life
Your child is living an independent life if, for example, they’ve left home, got married and had children.
You must be able to prove that:
- you’re in a civil partnership or marriage that’s recognised in the UK
- you are a fiancé, fiancée or proposed civil partner and will marry or enter into a civil partnership in the UK within 6 months of arriving
If you’re applying as a fiancé, fiancée or proposed civil partner you must prove that:
- any previous marriages or civil partnerships have ended
- you plan to marry or become civil partners within 6 months of arriving in the UK
You will not be able to work during your engagement.
You also need to prove you can financially support yourself and your dependents. You and your partner must have a combined income of at least £18,600 a year if:
- you’re applying as a partner
- you want to settle in the UK (get ‘indefinite leave to remain’) within 5 years
You must prove you have extra money if you have children who:
- are not British or Irish citizens
- do not have pre-settled status
- are not permanently settled in the UK
- do not have permanent residence status or a permanent residence document
You’ll need to earn an extra:
- £3,800 for your first child
- £2,400 for each child you have after your first child
This is called the ‘minimum income requirement’.
How you prove you have the money depends on how you got the income. You and your partner can use:
- income from employment before tax and National Insurance (check your P60 or payslips) – you can only use your own income if you earn it in the UK
- income you earn from self-employment or as a director of a limited company in the UK – check your Self Assessment tax return
- cash savings above £16,000
- money from a pension
- non-work income, for example from property rentals or dividends
The Immigration Rules set out the evidence you must provide as proof of your income which is very strict and failure to provide a single document may result in refusal. Difference sources of income require different documentary evidence.
In some cases, you may be able to settle in 5 years without meeting the minimum income requirement for example if you get certain benefits, for example Disability Living Allowance, Personal Independence Payment or Carer’s Allowance. Instead you will need to show that you and your family have enough money to adequately support and accommodate yourselves without relying on public funds.
If you do not meet the financial requirements, you may still be able to apply for a visa or extend your permission to stay if you are able to meet the financial threshold with other sources of income for example from the support of a third party, however, you must also demonstrate that there are exceptional circumstances in your matter which would mean that a refusal would lead to unjustifiably harsh consequences for you, your partner and any relevant child. If you do not meet the requirements and your application is successful due to exceptional circumstances, you will be granted leave to enter or remain on the 10 Route to Settlement.
You must provide evidence that there will be adequate accommodation in the UK, without recourse to public funds, for the family, including other family members who are not included in the application but who live in the same household. This must be accommodation which the family owns or which they occupy exclusively.
Accommodation for a fiance may be prospective rather than available on arrival because the marriage or civil partnership has not yet taken place. An application made after the marriage or civil partnership has taken place should not rely on prospective accommodation. Accommodation is not adequate if it is not owned or legally occupied by the family unit.
Accommodation is not considered adequate if it is, or will be, overcrowded. Under paragraph 6 of the Immigration Rules, the meaning of overcrowded is the meaning in the Housing Act 1985, the Housing (Scotland) Act 1987 or the Housing (Northern Ireland) Order 1988 (as appropriate). Accommodation is not adequate if it does or will contravene public health regulations.
You should provide evidence as to the basis on which the accommodation is or will be owned or occupied (including rented) by you and your family. This may for example be in the form of a copy of the property deeds, a letter from a bank or building society as to the mortgage arrangements, a lease agreement and rent book, or a letter from a family member or friend who is making the accommodation available to the applicant and their family unit.
English Language Requirements
You will need to demonstrate that you have a certain level of proficiency in English. You can prove this with an academic qualification, or by taking a test.
You can prove your knowledge of English if you have a degree or academic qualification that was taught or researched in English. If your qualification is from a UK university or college, you only need your degree certificate.
If your qualification is from a university or college outside the UK, you’ll need to provide a certificate from UK NARIC to show that your qualification is equivalent to a UK bachelor’s degree or higher and that it was taught in English.
Take an approved English language test
You can prove your knowledge of English by passing an approved English language test. The minimum level you need to demonstrate will depend on the type of application you are making :
- If you are applying for Entry Clearance, you need to show a minimum of CEFR Level A1
- If you are applying for Leave to Remain , you need to show a minimum of CEFR Level A2
- If you are applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain, you need to show a minimum of CEFR Level B1 and Knowledge of Life in the UK
In some cases, you do not need to prove your knowledge of English or take a test if one of the following is true:
- you’re over 65
- you have a physical or mental condition that prevents you from meeting the requirement
You also will not need to prove your knowledge of English if you’re a national of one of the following countries:
Antigua, Barbuda, Australia, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Malta, New Zealand, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, USA
You will need to have a tuberculosis (TB) test for an entry clearance application if you’re coming to the UK for more than 6 months and are resident in any of these listed countries on the Gov.uk website.
Your TB Test certificate will be valid for 6 months from the date it is issued and you will need to make your application before its expiry. If by the time your visa has been granted, your TB Test expires, we advise that you obtain a new valid certificate before travelling to the UK and ensure you keep this certificate with you when you travel to the UK.
When you can settle permanently
The earliest you can apply to settle in the UK (called ‘indefinite leave to remain’) is after you’ve lived in the country for 5 years continuously with permission to stay (‘leave to remain’) as a partner. You cannot count any permission to stay in the UK as a fiancé, fiancée or proposed civil partner.
If you do not meet the requirements
If you do not meet one the requirements you may still be able to apply for a visa or extend your permission to stay if you meet all other requirements and you are able to demonstrate the following:
- there would be very significant difficulties for you and your partner if you lived together as a couple outside the UK that could not be overcome
- it would breach your human rights to stop you coming to the UK or make you leave
If you do not meet the requirements and your application is successful due to exceptional circumstances, you will be granted leave to enter or remain on the 10 Route to Settlement.
Makka Solicitors provides comprehensive immigration advice on spouse visa applications for entry, leave to remain and indefinite leave to remain. Our fee to prepare and submit a Spouse Application varies depending on the income sources used to meet the financial requirement. Please refer to our Fees page for full details of all of our fees for immigration applications.