17 Common UK Marriage Visa mistakes in 2020

Want the latest COVID-19 updates as they relate to UK partner visas?

We discuss this in detail in our Partner & Spouse visa Coronavirus (COVID-19) update article.

Are you applying for a partner or UK marriage visa?

We are going to tell you 17 common mistakes that can result in your application being refused.

We will also tell you how you can FIX these mistakes so that you can put together the BEST marriage visa application and SAVE YOU MONEY AND STRESS.

These common mistakes also apply to these other visas:

So if you are applying for any of the above, read on!

Spouse visa DIY Application Pack


Lets first quickly answer….

 “What is a Marriage Visa UK?

A Marriage visa UK is a visa that will allow the person applying to join their UK partner (otherwise known as a “sponsor”) in the UK to live. It is valid for 30 months (if you apply inside the UK) or 33 months (if you apply outside the UK) and can lead to Indefinite Leave to Remain and British Citizenship.

It is otherwise known as a spouse visa UK if you are applying outside the UK or a FLR M visa if you are applying inside the UK.

Now that is out of the way. 

Let’s start. 



Old Payslips & Bank Statements


This one can be a real pain.

The most recent payslip & bank statement should be no older than 28 days by the time you submit the application.


Because Appendix FM-SE paragraph 1 (l) says:

28 day rule payslips bank statements

Therefore, you should bear this in mind if it takes several days to obtain bank statements.

For example, some banks, like Yorkshire Bank, will not allow you to certify copies in-branch but instead may have to post statements in the mail.

qualified translator


Not getting your documents translated by a Home Office approved translator


All important documents that are not in English or Welsh MUST be translated.

If they are not, then your application may be refused because of this.

But another thing to note is that the translator must be qualified – not anyone can translate the documents.

So the question is, how do I find Home Office approved translators?

For translations done inside the UK, the translators should be registered with an official organisation such as the Institute of Translation & Interpreting or the Institute of Linguists.

For translators done outside the UK, the translator should be a member of an official body in their own country.

Alternatively, it is OK if a relevant Foreign Embassy has certified the translation as a true copy.

bank account


Incorrect bank statements


In our many years working in immigration, this is probably something that we have to clarify the most.

Bank statements must either be issued on official bank stationary OR certified by the bank on every page.


Because paragraph 1(a)(v) of Appendix FM-SE states:

bank statements appendix fm se

Therefore, if you do not have a complete set of bank statements that have been sent to you in the mail by the bank, it is OK to print out the bank statements yourself ONLY IF:

  • You get a letter from the bank (on its headed stationary) that says that the bank statements you have are authentic.


  • you get an employee at your bank’s local branch to stamp every single page (both sides of the page).

Number 2 here is usually going to be the easier option.

With this being said, some employees of the bank may be reluctant to do this.

If this is the case, strongly insist and tell them that this is required for UK visa purposes.

time running out


Out-of-date forms


Before you submit your application, check whether there has been an updated form.


If you submit an out of date form, it is likely that the Home Office will reject your application and treat it as being invalid.

The Home Office should then contact you before rejecting it as invalid and give you 10 business days to correct the incomplete form.

Failing to do that, your application will be returned along with a ‘notice of invalidity’ and you will be treated as if you have never submitted the application in the first place.

How should you check that the form is not out of date?

The best way to do this is simply to Google the form name (e.g. Appendix 2 VAF4A form) and then click on the gov.uk link where it links to the general page guide and NOT straight to the PDF file.

gov.uk website link

The up-to-date form should then be downloaded from inside that page.

english test


Wrong English language test


Different visas require different standards of the English language test to be passed.

To remind you:

  • Spouse visa (if you are applying outside the UK) = A1 level
  • FLR M (a.k.a. a spouse visa application that is being submitted from inside the UK) = A2 level
  • Indefinite Leave to Remain & British citizenship = B1 level

If your English is great, there is nothing stopping you from applying for the A2 or B1 level test, even if the requirements say A1.

higher level english language test

In fact, doing this will save you money and time because this same test can be used again when you extend your visa.

This is because of Paragraph 32D of Appendix FM-SE, which pretty much says that the English language certificate will be valid (even after it has expired) if you used it to meet the English language requirement in the previous previous partner visa application.

English language test certificate requirements

Just two quick things to note here, however.

The first thing is that you can only re-use the English language certificate if you had ‘continuous leave’ since your last partner visa application.

What does this ‘continuous leave’ mean?

Well, if you extended your current partner visa in the expected time (before it expired), then this is fine and you will be able to re-use the English language certificate.

On the other hand, if the visa expired and your partner visa was made a few years later, you will not be considered to have had continuous leave.

The English language certificate will therefore not be valid.

The second thing is that you will not be able to re-use the English language certificate if the Home Office have doubts about you or the test, then they may require you to get a new test certificate.

Spouse visa DIY Application Pack


piggy bank


Cash income


There is nothing wrong with your salary being paid in cash. Cash is great.

However, cash must be paid into the relevant person’s bank account in order for that income to count towards the financial requirement.

As stated in paragraph 1(n) of Appendix FM-SE:

cash income

Example 1

Bob gets paid in cash every Friday.

Bob does not deposit the income in his bank but instead always spends all of his salary on golf equipment.

Despite being paid £500 every week in cash, Bob’s annual gross income is £0 and does not meet the financial requirement because none of his salary went into his personal bank account.

Example 2

Sarah also gets paid £500 in cash every week.

The first thing that she does is deposit all of it her bank.

She then instantly withdraws all of the cash she deposited and then goes to spend all of it all on golf equipment.

Sarah loves golf, too.

However, despite constantly having a low bank balance, Sarah meets the financial requirement.

This is because Sarah deposited all of her cash salary in her bank before spending it.

Immigration Rules


Paragraph 9 of Appendix FM-SE


This is a HUGE mistake that people make.

We are sure that this is the reason for many refusals each and every week.


Because if you are employed, most people are quickly told about paragraph 2 of Appendix FM-SE which basically says:

If you are employed, you will need:
-Employer’s letter
-Bank statements

But hold on a second…

What many people overlook, however, is paragraph 9 of Appendix FM-SE.

This says that the required documents and calculation of gross annual income can be COMPLETELY DIFFERENT if you have a certain connection with the employing limited company.

Here is what paragraph 9 says:

paragraph 9 appendix fm se

In plain English, this means:

If you are relying on employment income (or shares), then the common list of employment documents (6 month’s pay slips, bank statements etc) are IRRELEVANT if:

  • You are an employee of a limited company; and
  • You, your partner, or a family member of you or your partner own shares in the employing limited company; and
  • The remaining shares (shares that you/your partner or family have) are held by fewer than five other persons.

Instead, the calculation of your income and required documents will be as if you were a sole director of a limited company (check the sole director tab here).

Spouse visa DIY Application Pack


marriage visa tuberculosis test


Tuberculosis test


Do not take a Tuberculosis test at just any medical centre near you.

Instead, the clinic must be approved by the Home Office.

A list of Home Office approved tuberculosis test centres can be found at this link.

If you submit a TB certificate from a clinic that is not approved by the Home Office, it is likely that your application will be refused.

visit visa tourist


Applying in the UK whilst being a visitor

Whilst the long standing rule is that those in the UK whilst being a visitor are not able to apply for an in-country spouse visa, you should check the current COVID provisions here.


supporting letters for visa


Letter of supports


Writing a detailed and clear letter of support is certainly something that will be worth your time.

However, this is something that often is overlooked.

When letter of supports are written, we have seen that people think it is perfectly acceptable to write something like the following:

Asad Iqbal
Jayachamaraja Road,
Sampangi Rama Nagar,
Karnataka 560002,

Entry Clearance Officer,
Settlement (Family Migration) Applications
International Operations and Visas
6 Millsands
Vulcan House
United Kingdom
S3 8NU

1stSeptember 2018

Dear Sir or Madam,

In support of my spouse visa application, I have attached the following documents:

  1. My passport

2.  2x passport sized photos

3.  …..

4.  …..

If there is anything you would like to know, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Asad Iqbal


Sure, it is good to note down what documents you include in your application.

But there is so much more that can be written here that can really help your application.

You should write about the following:

  • You and your partner’s current relationship
  • How you and your partner’s relationship developed
  • Whether you have met your partner’s family
  • How you meet the financial requirement
  • The accommodation available to you in the UK
  • That the UK partner promises to provide you with finances and accommodation

If you have ever been refused a previous UK visa, this is your chance talk about why that previous refusal does not affect this application.

By the way, professionally written letter of support templates are included in our DIY Application Pack Service.

What is this service?

Well, in short, we will provide you with custom tailored document checklist and letter templates that have been tailored to the information you provide us.

employer letter


Employer’s letter


Those who are relying on 6 month or 12 month’s employment income under Category A or B will need to include an employer’s letter.

But asking your employer to write a letter will likely not be enough.

In fact, the employer’s letter has to confirm five important things:

  • Your employment;
  • Your gross annual salary;
  • Your length of employment;
  • The period which you have been or were paid the level of salary relied on in the application; and
  • Whether the employment were permanent, fixed-term, contract or agency.

If this is not done, your application can be refused.

If you do not decide to go with our DIY Application Pack Service, where we will provide you with a professionally written employer letter template, the focus here when you or your employer writes the letter is “the period which you have been or were paid the level of salary relied on in the application”.

This is because from experience, this is usually what is often overlooked.

employer letter


Missing Employer’s letter


What many people may not know about, however, is another kind of employer letter.

Paragraph 1 (bb) of Appendix FM-SE says:

Payslips must be:
-formal payslips issued by the employer and showing the employer’s name; or

-accompanied by a letter from the employer, on the employer’s headed paper and signed by a senior official, confirming the payslips are authentic.

Therefore, if you print off your own pay slips (e.g. from an email) or if your payslips are not actual formal pay slips that were issued by your employer (showing your employer’s name) then you must get another letter.

Therefore, you must get another employer letter IF:

  • you print off your own pay slips (e.g. from an email); or
  • your payslips are not actual formal pay slips that were issued by your employer (showing your employer’s name)

The letter that you get from your employer should:

  • Be signed & dated;
  • Confirm that the pay slips that you have are authentic;
  • Be written on the employer’s headed paper; and
  • Be signed by a senior official.

Yep. A letter template for this will be provided in our DIY Application pack service.

combining multiple income


Combining income


Different incomes can be combined in order to meet the financial requirement.

You can combine:

  • different sources of income of one person; and
  • your income with your UK partner’s income (if you are applying inside the UK).

The following is a table that summarises what incomes can and cannot be combined:

combining income

For example, this tells us…

You cannot combine 6 month’s employment earnings (under Category A) with 12 month’s employment earnings (under Category B)


Steve has been employed for longer than 6 months (he has been employed for two years). His gross annual salary is £18,000.

Steve’s partner, Patty, has been employed for fewer than 6 months (she has been employed for 4 months only) and gross annual salary is £7,000.

Steve can rely on Category A (he has been employed for longer than 6 months) but Patty must rely on Category B (since she has been employed for fewer than 6 months).

Therefore, in order to combine their income, Steve must also rely on Category B if he wants to combine his income with Patty’s.

home office translation


Wrong English test


The English language test you take MUST be a Home Office approved English language test.

They also have to be:

  • conducted by an approved Secure English language test provider; and
  • Tests have to be taken at an approved SELT test centre.

A list of secure English language tests can be found here.

A list of English language approved test centres can web found here.

We often get emails asking:

 It is not in the list but I have an English language certificate from _____? Can I use this to meet the English language requirement?

The answer is no.

The English language test HAS to be in the above list.

Spouse visa DIY Application Pack


calculating financial requirement


Calculating annual income incorrectly


It is not enough to simply submit pay slips & bank statements and hope for the best.

You should know exactly HOW the Home Office calculate your annual income.

The calculation of annual income for those in employment, for example, is different depending on:

  • whether you are in salaried or non-salaried employment
  • whether you choose to base your application on ‘category A’ or ‘category B

For self-employed people, a common mistake is not using the correct time period to calculate their gross annual income.

If you are applying for one of the following visas from outside the UK, check out financial requirements guide here as it will apply to you:

If you are applying for one of the following visas from inside the UK, check out financial requirements guide here as it will apply to you:

  • Extending your spouse visa inside the UK (FLR M)
  • Extending your visa inside the UK as an unmarried partner


divorce certificate


Wrong Divorce Certificate


When you apply for a marriage or partner visa, you must show that there has been a breakdown of previous relationships.

If you or your partner has previously been married, you will need to show a divorce certificate to show that that relationship has permanently broken down.

But importantly, if the divorce took place in the UK, it is a ‘decree absolute’ that must be issued.

If you send in the other type of divorce certificate, known as a ‘decree nisi’, this will not be accepted.

This is because a person is not legally divorced until the decree absolute is issued.

application forms


Incomplete Application Forms


An incomplete form can have devastating consequences. 

This can happen if you do not understand or have the relevant information in front of you when you fill in the visa forms.

A common example is forgetting to include the Immigration Health Surcharge number in forms – as this is something that people tend to pay for last.

What can you do to ensure that you do not send in an incomplete form?

There are two answers here.

First, you should check your application forms AT LEAST 3 times before you submit it.

Attention to detail here is critical.


Your application be refused because of a form on an error.

Also, if you submit the wrong information, the Home Office may think that you intentionally misled them – this could have disastrous consequences for your UK visa history.

Second, when you reach a part of the form that you do not know the answer to, leave a post-it note so that you can easily see that it is incomplete the next time you review the form.

Hopefully this article has helped you so you do not make these common mistakes.

Processing your own visa can be daunting so we have helped by creating very detailed step-by-step guides on different partner settlement visas.

You can check them out here:

Not quite sure which visa is best for you? Check out our article, “Which Settlement or Partner Visa UK is best for me?“.

Want help?

As a OISC regulated immigration law firm, we provide a range of legal services.

For those who want an experienced and competent immigration lawyer to deal with their case from start to finish, we offer full legal representation for a fixed fee of £1,850.

If you want to save money and submit the application yourself, but want a detailed & tailored document checklist (which also identifies commonly made visa mistakes so you don’t make them) & letter templates, our DIY Application Pack Service does this for £285.

Spouse visa DIY Application Pack



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