What is a Spousal Visa?
The Spousal Visa (or Limited Leave to Enter, LLE) is issued to applicants who have married a British citizen (or a permanent resident) abroad. It is issued by a foreign post where the applicant has a claim to normal residence or citizenship.
The ‘applicant’ is the non-British spouse and it is the ‘applicant’ who must make the application, submit the required evidence, and bear the consequences of the application’s outcome.
The ‘sponsor’ is the British citizen. The sponsor’s role is to provide supporting evidences to help make the application a success.
The visa itself runs for 27 months and is probationary. During the probationary period, the applicant cannot seek access to public funds, and must not engage in activities that will affect the applicant’s good character.
Once the visa is approved, the holder of a ‘spousal visa’ can undertake employment, and may use the NHS.
The rules governing ‘spousal visas’ are at Family Members.
A successful application for a spousal visa will generally include evidences, and some of these are listed below. Care should be taken, however, because these lists are generic and may not apply to a given case. Some consulates are more rigorous than others, and some applicant profiles invite more scrutiny than others. Accordingly, this list should not be taken as authoritative. It is always best to consult the proper office for clarification.
UK Spouse Visa Eligibility
To qualify for the UK spouse visa you must satisfy the following requirements:
- You and your spouse with settled status in the UK must be 21 years of age or over.
- You and your spouse must have met each other and you must be legally married. This requirement is in place to prevent situations that can occur as a result of arranged marriages whereby the husband and wife have never met.
- You and your spouse must intend to live together on a permanent basis.
- You and your spouse must have sufficient funds to support yourselves (and any dependants) without claiming public funds.
- You must have suitable accommodation available for you, your spouse and any dependants.
- The applicant satisfies the English language requirement
The applicant must present a valid passport with at least 6 months remaining until its expiry, and at least one full empty page where the visa can be affixed. The passport must show that the applicant is at least the age of 21. If the applicant is 20 years old or younger, the application will fail.
If the passport was not issued in the country where the application is made, it should include evidence that the applicant is normally a resident in that country (i.e., has a visa for that country that is longer than 6 months in duration).
If the applicant cannot establish citizenship or normal residence in the country where the application is submitted, the application will fail. An exception to this rule occurs where the Foreign Office has instructed a consulate to process applications from another country.
Some consulates will require that the national identity card (or birth certificate) be presented in addition to the passport.
And finally, the applicant’s passport must be issued by an entity recognized by the UK as a legitimate sovereign government.
The sponsor must usually present his/her passport. If the passport itself cannot be presented, then a notarized copy of the portrait page should be made by a UK authorised notary or solicitor (i.e., member of the Law Society).
If the sponsor does not have a passport, then the sponsor’s original birth certificate can be substituted, although this would be considered rare.
The sponsor’s identification must confirm that the sponsor is at least 21 years old. If the sponsor is 20 years old or younger, the application will fail.
If the sponsor is not British (or without right of abode), the sponsor’s identification document should show that the sponsor has acquired permanent residence in the UK. A within-the-rules application cannot succeed if the sponsor’s status is junior to permanent residence.
If the sponsor is not accompanying the applicant to a personal appearance at the issuing consulate, a confirmation must be provided. This normally takes the form of a letter in which the sponsor explains his awareness and support of the application.
Although it is not strictly necessary, a brief summary (one or two paragraphs) of the relationship can be included which addresses:
- How and where you met;
- How you have maintained contact;
- The date and location of your marriage; and
- Plans you have made for living in the UK (or more specifically, why you are opting to live in the UK).
Finally, if there are exceptional circumstances about the application, or if the sponsor is seeking a concession, it should be thoroughly explained here.
The application must be supported by evidence which demonstrates that the applicant will not become reliant upon public funds. In the normal case, this takes the form of the sponsor/applicant (or co-sponsor) providing:
- Salary slips for at least the previous 3 months, preferably the previous 6 months
- Bank statements for at least the previous 3 months
- The sponsor’s (co-sponsor’s) employment contract (if the sponsor is not independently wealthy)
- The sponsor’s (co-sponsor’s) most recent P60 (in the absence of salary slips).
- If the sponsor (co-sponsor) is self-employed, owns his own company, or if the sponsor (co-sponsor) does not work, then the employment contract and P60 can be substituted with certified copies of the previous two years’ tax returns accompanied by a notarized version of his business accounts.
- If the sponsor (co-sponsor) is retired, then the employment contract and P60 can be substituted with a statement from his pension scheme.
- If there are disproportionate deposits and withdrawals in the bank statements, they should be explained in the sponsor’s letter.
- Consulates are reluctant to accept bank statements printed out from e-banking accounts because these can be so easily forged. Properly headed original statements can usually be obtained by visiting a branch office.
- If the financial standing is marginal, and if the applicant has plans to work in the UK, a job offer letter can be included to bolster the application’s strength; and failing all other evidence, the applicant may attach a CV (or academic credentials) which demonstrate favorable prospects. Note however, that this is generally the weakest form of evidence.
UK Spouse Visa Duration
A spouse visa for the UK is usually issued for a period of 27 months.
Since it is a probationary visa, and once you have already spent a period of two years, you will be eligible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) in the UK provided that you are still married and living with your spouse in the UK.
In some circumstances you may be eligible for Indefinite Leave to Enter immediately when you make your initial application for a spouse visa. This only applies however, if you have been married and living abroad with your spouse for at least four (4) years at the time when you make your application for entry to the UK.
Once you have been granted ILR on the basis of your marriage to a UK national, you are eligible to apply for British Naturalisation (also known as British Citizenship).
English language requirements for partners
From the 29 November 2010 all partners, spouses, civil partners, fiancés, prospective civil partners must provide evidence to show that they can speak and understand English.
As a Spouse Visa applicant you will need to meet the English language requirement if:
- You are a national of a country outside the European Economic Area and Switzerland; and
- You are in a relationship with a British citizen or a person settled here; and
- You want to apply to enter or remain in the UK as that person’s husband, wife, civil partner, fiance(e), proposed civil partner, unmarried partner or same-sex partner.
If you are not a national of a majority English-speaking country or do not have a degree taught in English then you will be required to pass an acceptable English language test with an approved test provider.
If you are making your application from abroad, Bigstart can also make arrangements for you to take an approved English language test in your home country. You may contact us for further details and information as to what syou need to do to meet the English language requirements for a UK Spouse Visa.
Prospective Marriage Visa (Subclass 300)
As an Australian citizen or a New Zealand citizen permanently residing in Australia, you may have the right to bring your foreign fiancé(e) from his or her home country to Australia for the purpose of getting married.
However, you must go through the visa application process before your loved one can obtain permission to come to Australia. The Subclass 300 Prospective Marriage visa category is designed to facilitate the admission of foreign nationals wishing to get married in Australia.
General qualification of you and your foreign fiancé(e) for the Subclass 300 Prospective Marriage Visa
You, as a qualifying sponsor, must be an Australian citizen, permanent resident of Australia, or eligible New Zealand citizen permanently residing in Australia. To be considered an eligible New Zealand citizen, you must have resided in Australia on the 26th February 2001 and held a Subclass 444 special category visa, or resided in Australia for at least 12 months of the two years before the 26th February 2001, or were issued a special certificate under the Australian Social Security Act of 1991 stating that you were permanently residing in Australia on a particular date. It should be noted that unlike Australian citizens and permanent residents, New Zealand citizens must meet certain health and character requirements.
- You and your fiancé(e) must be legally free to marry. This means that both of you are single (never married or registered a civil partnership) at the time of application, or that any previous marriages and/or registered civil partnerships have ended through divorce, annulment or death.
- You and your fiancé(e) must be at least 18 years old, unless an Australian Court has issued an order allowing the marriage before you and/or your fiancé(e) have reached the age of 18.
- You must have met each other in person prior to filing your application for a prospective marriage visa. You will need to provide sufficient proof that you have met face to face and spent a reasonable amount of time together in person.
- You must be able to prove that you and your fiancé(e) have a continuing, bona fide relationship.
- You and your fiancé(e) must have a serious intention to marry within nine months after your fiancé(e) receives her subclass 300 visa.
- Your foreign fiancé(e) must be able to meet certain health requirements. Each applicant for the subclass 300 prospective marriage visa is required to undergo a mandatory medical examination as part of the application process. Applicants are examined by designated panel physicians for potentially dangerous communicable diseases such as HIV, hepatitis, tuberculosis etc.
- Your fiancé(e) must meet the “good moral character” requirements. A criminal record may prevent your future spouse from obtaining a fiancé(e) visa to enter Australia.
- If your fiancé(e) has dependent children, you will be required to obtain an AFP clearance. Should the record check reveal a conviction of a sexual or abuse nature involving a child, you may be prevented from sponsoring your fiancé(e) and his or her children for a prospective marriage visa.
- You, as a sponsor, must meet certain financial requirements. You must be able to support your future spouse financially after she or he enters Australia on a prospective marriage visa. You must demonstrate to the adjudicating migration officer’s satisfaction that you and your future spouse can support yourselves and any dependents without requiring any disbursements of public funds before or after your marriage.