Spouse Visa UK 2021 Guidance | Migrate

16 steps you can follow to process your own visa

Lets first quickly talk about….

step 1

What is a spouse visa, how much will it cost and how long would it take?

 

What is a UK spouse visa?

 

#1 A UK spouse visa allows those applying (“applicants”) to join their UK partner (“sponsors”) in the UK for a period of 33 months. 

This article has been written applicants who want to apply from outside the UK.

If you, (the ‘applicant’), want to make an application from inside the UK, feel free to read our FLR M visa guide.

As we discuss in our FLR M visa guide, it is only those on long-term UK visas that can apply from inside the UK.


#2 A UK spouse visa can lead to Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) & British Citizenship.

It generally takes those on a spouse visa 5 years to be able to acquire Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR).

Once Indefinite Leave to Remain is acquired, that person will at that point stop being dependant on their partner to be able to stay in the UK.

It will also be at this point in which you will no longer have to pay for the obnoxiously expensive spouse visa uk fees in 2021.

“What is the spouse visa route to Indefinite Leave to Remain?”

The general path to Indefinite Leave to Remain for the vast majority of those who initially apply for an out-of-country spouse visa is:

Spouse visa (33 month visa) -> FLR(M) visa (30 month visa)-> Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR).

These two spouse visas will provide you with the required 5 years in the UK.

This is the case as long as:

i) The spouse visa extension is not submitted too early (more information on this can be found here); and

ii) The main spouse visa UK requirements in 2021 are met (most notably, the spouse visa UK financial requirements in 2021 and the English language requirement);

iii) You are granted a partner visa on the 5-year route (& not the 10 year route).



#3 A spouse visa will not allow an applicant to receive most UK benefits. 

Spouse visa applicants will not be able to receive ‘public funds‘.

‘Public funds’ are defined in paragraph 6 of the Immigration Rules and includes:

  • Attendance allowance;
  • Severe disablement allowance;
  • Carer’s allowance; and
  • Disability living allowance;
  • Income support;
  • Council tax benefit; and
  • Housing benefit;
  • Jobseeker’s allowance;
  • State pension credit;
  • Child tax credit;
  • Working tax credit;
  • Many aspects of Universal Credit;
  • Personal Independence Payment; and
  • Council tax reduction

 


Can you work on a UK spouse visa?

 

Yes. A UK spouse visa will allow applicants to work in the UK. 

This is one of the advantages it has over the 6 month Fiance Visa UK, which will not allow applicants to work in the UK.


How much will a spouse visa really cost?

 

#1 The Home Office fee for a spouse visa is £1,523. 

For more information about the spouse visa UK fees and costs in 2021, check our article here.


#2 The Immigration Health Surcharge will be £1,872.

The Immigration Health Surcharge is a compulsory fee that provides applicants with access to the National Health Service (NHS) once he/she is in the UK.

This will cover the duration of the spouse visa.


#3 The average immigration lawyer fee ranges between £750-£2,000+. 

For full legal representation, we charge a fixed fee of £1,850.

Our head of immigration, Ed Lowe, handles all full legal representation cases. Ed used to be in charge of UK visas for several continents during his 20+ years as a Home Office executive.

For those who want to do the application themselves, but still want some guidance about what documents they should include, we offer a unique spouse visa DIY Application Pack Service for £285.


#4 Applicants will (obviously) need to purchase a flight ticket to the UK. Let’s say this will cost £450. 

Realistically speaking, you will have to spend in the region of £2,700-£4,000 for a spouse visa, depending on whether you choose to hire an immigration lawyer or not.


How long will a spouse visa take?

 

#1 Collecting all of the documents required can take some time.

Tuberculosis and English language certificates can take up to 1-2 months to obtain.

Many financial documents are also time sensitive (this is discussed below), so please bear this mind.


#2 Once received, the Home Office generally take 2-3 months to process standard (non-priority) spouse visa applications.

For more information about the spouse visa UK processing times in 2021, check our article by clicking here.

In this article, we also talk about how you can hasten the processing time for your application.

Not sure which visa is best for you?

Check out our post “Which Settlement or UK Partner Visa is best for me?

step 2

The ‘Suitability’ requirements that applicants must meet

 

Since falling foul of the following requirements can result in a refusal, it is important to read these.

#1 An applicant has been told by the UK government that he/she is NOT allowed in the UK.

#2 An applicant has been given a DEPORTATION ORDER.

#3 An applicant has been convicted of an offence for which they have been sentenced to JAIL for a significant amount of time. For more information on this point, check S-EC.1.4. of Appendix FM.

#4 An applicant’s previous BEHAVIOUR makes it undesirable to grant them a spouse visa.

#5 An applicant has failed without reasonable excuse to comply with a requirement to-
(a) attend an interview;
(b) provide information;
(c) provide physical data; or
(d) undergo a medical examination or provide a medical report.

#6 An applicant has MEDICAL REASONS which makes them undesirable to be given a spouse visa.

#7 An applicant left or was removed from the UK as a condition of a CAUTION issued in accordance with section 22 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 less than 5 years prior to the date on which the application is decided.

#1 An applicant’s application has previously included FALSE INFORMATION, REPRESENTATIONS or DOCUMENTS or did NOT include IMPORTANT FACTS.

#2 A maintenance and accommodation undertaking has NOT been provided

#3 An applicant has a bad CRIMINAL HISTORY

#4 An applicant has failed to pay LITIGATION COSTS awarded to the Home Office

#5 An applicant has NOT paid NHS charges that exceed £500

step 3

The Spouse visa UK relationship requirements in 2021

 

#1 You and your partner must be aged 18 or over when the application is submitted.


#2 You and your partner must intend to live together permanently in the UK.


#3 The applicant and UK partner must have met in person.

Whilst this requirement may exclude some marriages that would be legal in the country in which the marriages take place, this does allow for arranged marriages where the couple do not meet until the day of the wedding.


#4 The UK partner must be one of the following:

  1. A British Citizen in the UK; or
  2. ‘Present’ and ‘Settled’ in the UK; or
  3. Someone who has been granted Pre-Settled Status under the EU Settlement Scheme; or
  4. In the UK with refugee leave or with humanitarian protection.

If the UK partner has indefinite leave to remain (ILR) and resides in the UK, or if he/she is an EEA national or non-EEA family member with a permanent right of residence in the UK (or has been granted Settled Status under the EU Settlement Scheme), the UK partner will be considered as being ‘Present’ and ‘settled’.


#5 You and your partner must NOT be within the prohibited degree of relationship.

Prohibited degrees for a man

Mother, Daughter, Father’s mother, Mother’s mother, Son’s daughter, Daughter’s daughter, Sister, Father’s sister, Mother’s sister, Brother’s daughter and Sister’s daughter.

Prohibited degrees for a woman

Father, Son, Father’s father, Mother’s father, Son’s son, Daughter’s son, Brother, Father’s brother, Mother’s brother, Brother’s son, Sister’s son.

The Marriage (Prohibited Degrees of Relationship) Act 1986

The Marriage (Prohibited Degrees of Relationship) Act 1986 prohibits the following relationships, up until both parties are aged 12 are over, and provided that the younger party has not at any time, before attaining the age of 18, been a child of the family in relation to the other party:

  • Daughter of former wife;
  • Son of former husband;
  • Former wife of father;
  • Former husband of mother;
  • Former wife of father’s father;
  • Former husband of father’s mother;
  • Former wife of mother’s father;
  • Former husband of mother’s mother;
  • Daughter of son of former wife;
  • Son of son of former husband;
  • Daughter of daughter of former wife; and
  • Son of daughter of former husband.

The following marriages between the following are also prohibited:

  • Mother of former wife, until the death of both the former wife and the father of the former wife;
  • Father of former husband, until after the death of both the former husband and the mother of the former husband;
  • Former wife of son, until after the death of both his son and the mother of his son;
  • Former husband of daughter, until after the death of both her daughter and the father of her daughter.

#6 Your relationship with your partner must be ‘genuine’ and ‘subsisting’.

Applicants must persuade the Home Office that there is a 51% or more chance of the relationship being genuine.

It is therefore important that you take the time to ensure that an adequate amount of evidence regarding the relationship of you and your partner is submitted.

Whilst some of these documents are mandatory (e.g. a marriage certificate for those who are applying as married partners), other relationship evidence is optional but certainly recommended.

Spouse visa DIY Application Pack

 

step 4

The Spouse Visa UK English language requirement in 2021

Unless the applicant is exempt, they must be able to submit with the application proof that they meet the English language requirement.

#1 Applicants will meet the English language requirement if they are a national of any of the following countries: 

  • Antigua and 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; or
  • The United States of America.

This is because they are a national of a Home Office-designated majority English-speaking country.


#2 Applicants will also meet the English language requirement if they:

i) are 65 years or over at the date of the application; OR

ii) have a disability that is either physical or mental which prevents them from taking the English languagetest; OR

iii) have exceptional compassionate circumstances that prevents them applying from meeting the requirement before entering the UK.


#3 If the applicant has an English-taught academic degree, Master’s or PhD from a university in the UK, they can use this to meet the English language requirement. 


#4 If the applicant has an English taught academic degree that is equivalent to a Bachelor’s, Master’s degree or PhD in the UK that was taught outside the UK, they can use this to meet the English language requirement.

However, since evidence will be needed from NARIC UK, most partners find it easier and more convenient to sit an English language test that is on the list of Home Office approved Secure English Language Tests (SELT) in 2021.


#5 If none of the above apply, applicants must pass a Home Office approved English language test.

The minimum required level for first time partner visa applicants is the A1 level of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) in speaking and listening.

Please note that if applicants rely on satisfying the English language requirement via an English language test, they must ensure that the English language test is on the list of Home Office approved Secure English Language Tests (SELT) in 2021.

Most commonly, the IELTS Life Skills A1 test is relied on to meet this requirement.

However, if the applicant’s English can be described as ‘intermediate’ or ‘advanced’, it is recommended that they take the ‘A2’ or ‘B1‘ test, despite the A1 test being required for the purposes of a spouse visa.

This is because, if the applicant relies on a A2 English language test for their first spouse visa application, this will prevent them from having to do the test again for the subsequent FLR M visa in the UK (which requires a test at A2 level).

If the applicant relies on a B1 English language test for their Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) application, they will also be able to use the same test in order to meet the English language requirement in that application.

Soon after applicants pass the test, they will be awarded an English language certificate.

This English language test certificate will contain a SELT unique reference number (URN), which will be required as part of your spouse visa application (if you rely on the English language test route).

step 5

The Spouse Visa UK Tuberculosis requirement (TB)

Nationals from certain countries must prove that they have:

i) Been screened for active pulmonary tuberculosis (TB); and

ii) Not got tuberculosis.

#1 If the applicant is applying from any of the following countries, they will need a tuberculosis certificate:

A: Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Armenia, Azerbaijan
B: Bangladesh, Belarus, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Botswana, Brunei Darussalam, Burkina Faso, Burma, Burundi
C: Cambodia, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Cameroon, China, Congo, Congo Democratic Republic, Côte d’Ivoire
D: Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Djibouti, Dominican Republic
E: Ecuador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia
G: Gabon, Gambia, Georgia, Ghana, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Guyana
H, I, K: Haiti, Hong Kong or Macau, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kiribati, Korea, Kyrgyzstan
L, M: Laos, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Malysia, Mali, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Micronesia, Moldova, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique
N, P: Namibia, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Palau, Papu New Guinea, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines
R, S: Russian Federation, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland
T: Tajikistan, Tanzania, Thailand, Timor Leste, Togo, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu
U, V, Z: Uganda, Ukraine, Uzkekistan, Vanuatu, Vietnam, Zambia, Zimbabwe

Applicants can check the latest Home Office list of those who are required to prove that they do not have TB here.


#2 Applicants must take the TB test at a Home Office approved centre.

Applicants can find a list of Home Office approved centres here.


#3 If the applicant is applying from one of the above countries, they will NEED to include this in the application. 

The TB certificate that will be issued will be valid for 6 months.

The Spouse Visa UK Accommodation requirement in 2021

The UK property that the applicant and UK partner intend to live in must be ‘owned or occupied exclusively’ by their family.

It must also not be ‘overcrowded’, as defined by the Housing Act 1985.

Importantly, you will be fully expected to provide documentation to show that the applicant and sponsor will legally occupy the UK property.

The required documents that you are expected to include will depend on the particular accommodation circumstances. 

Our DIY Application Pack service takes into account four different accommodation circumstances:

i) The applicant and sponsor intend to live in property that is owned by the applicant and/or sponsor.

ii) The applicant and sponsor intend to live in property that is rented by the applicant and/or sponsor.

iii) The applicant and sponsor intend to live in property that is owned by a family or friend the applicant and/or sponsor.

iv) The applicant and sponsor intend to live in property that is rented by a family or friend the applicant and/or sponsor.

step 7

The Spouse Visa UK Financial Requirements in 2021

The spouse visa UK financial requirement in 2021 is without a doubt the biggest reason of refusals for spouse visa applications.

Because of this, we would strongly recommend reading this article which discusses the financial requirement in depth.

We will now discuss five steps that you must consider.

#1 What is the financial threshold – How much does the UK partner need to earn?

This depends on whether the applicant is applying with or without dependant children.

The UK partner will need to have an annual income of £18,600 unless:

i) The UK partner receives any of the following benefits: 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; or Constant Attendance Allowance, Mobility Supplement or War Disablement Pension under the War Pensions Scheme.

This is because, if the UK partner receives one of the above benefits, the adequate maintenance test will apply instead of the minimum income threshold of £18,600+.

For more information on this, check out our article “Adequate maintenance guidance for UK visas [2021] requirements“.

OR

ii) The UK partner has cash savings of £16,000 or more that has been in the applicants or UK partner’s control for at least 6 months before the date of application.

If the cash savings amounts to £62,500, then this satisfies the financial requirement alone.

Anything within the region of £16,000-£62,499 reduces the annual income required.

Click here for our in-depth cash savings guide.

If the dependent children below the age of 18 are British or are EEA nationals with the right to remain:

The UK partner will need to have an annual income of £18,600 unless:

i) The UK partner receives any of the following benefits: 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; or Constant Attendance Allowance, Mobility Supplement or War Disablement Pension under the War Pensions Scheme.

This is because, if the UK partner receives one of the above benefits, the adequate maintenance test will apply instead of the minimum income threshold of £18,600+.

For more information on this, check out our article “Adequate maintenance guidance for UK visas [2021] requirements“.

OR

ii) The UK partner has cash savings of £16,000 or more that have been in the applicants or UK partner’s control for at least 6 months before the date of application.

If the cash savings amounts to £62,500, then this satisfies the financial requirement alone.

Anything in the region of £16,000 – £62,499 reduces the annual income required).


If the dependent children below the age of 18 are NOT British nor are EEA nationals with the right to remain:

The UK partner will need to have an annual income of £22,400 (plus £2,400 for any additional child to the first) unless: 

i) The UK partner receives any of the following benefits: 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; or Constant Attendance Allowance, Mobility Supplement or War Disablement Pension under the War Pensions Scheme.

OR

ii) The UK partner has cash savings.

Click here for our in-depth cash savings guide.

Please note:

If the UK partner (or child) receives any of the following UK benefits that are permitted, then the standard financial requirement does not apply:

Disability Living Allowance;  Personal Independence Payment;  Armed Forces Independence Payment or Guaranteed Income Payment under the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme; Severe Disablement Allowance; Industrial Injury Disablement Benefit; Attendance Allowance; Carer’s Allowance); Constant Attendance Allowance, Mobility Supplement or War Disablement Pension under the War Pensions Scheme.

Instead, the ‘adequate maintenance‘ test must be met, which is a lower standard.

More information about the adequate maintenance requirement can be found here.


#2 What sources of income can be included towards the financial requirement? 

The following are 6 different sources of income that you can include towards the financial requirement:

Salaried employment

Salaried employment includes that paid at a minimum fixed rate (usually annual) and is subject usually to a contractual minimum number of hours to be worked.


Non-Salaried employment

Non-salaried employment includes that paid at an hourly or other rate (and the number and/or pattern of hours required to be worked may vary), or paid an amount which varies according to the work undertaken.


Cash Savings

Generally speaking, cash savings can be taken into account when £16,000 has been held in the applicants or UK partner’s bank for longer than 6 months.

It should first be noted that cash savings cannot be combined with gross annual income from self-employment nor income from specified limited companies to meet the financial requirement.

It should also be noted that there are several rules when it comes down to using cash savings to meet the financial requirement, which we discuss here.


Self-employment income

In the UK Immigration Rules, self-employment income is income that is earned from being self-employed as a sole trader, as a partnership or as a franchise only.

It should not be confused with specified limited company income.


“What is specified limited company income?”

Specified limited company income is employment income and/or dividend income from a UK limited company where:

  • Shares are held of the employing company (either directly or indirectly); AND
  • Fewer than five other persons hold the remaining shares.

Since this is a very commonly made mistake that results in refusals, you should take the time to read out article “Specified Limited Company Guidance [Sole Directors, Owners and Employees]“.


Pension income


“Non-employment” income

Non-employment income falls under Category C and includes the following:

  • Property rental
  • Dividends or other income from investments, stocks and shares, bonds or trust funds
  • Interest from savings
  • Maintenance payments from a former partner of the applicant in relation to the applicant or any children of the applicant and their former partner (any documents issued by the family court must have permission to be disclosed).
  • Maintenance payments from a former partner of the applicant’s partner in relation to that partner
  • UK Maternity Allowance, Bereavement Allowance, Bereavement Payment and
  • Widowed Parent’s Allowance
  • Payments under the War Pensions Scheme, the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme and the Armed Forces Attributable Benefits Scheme
  • A maintenance grant or stipend (not a loan) associated with undergraduate study or postgraduate study or research
  • Ongoing insurance payments
  • Ongoing payments from a structured legal settlement
  • Ongoing royalty payments


Permitted benefit income

As this article discusses, the general rule is that benefits can only be included if the adequate maintenance test applies.



#3 What is the relevant time period when calculating the financial requirement? 

This depends on how the the financial requirement is met.

If the employment income is from a ‘specified limited company’

We provide step-by-step guidance which will help you identify if the employment income is from a specified limited company here.

This income will be included ‘Category F‘, the relevant financial period will be the ‘last full financial year‘, which is the year the limited company prepares the accounts that get submitted to the HMRC and Companies House.

It is also the same period as covered by a form CT600, which corresponds to the 12-month accounting year of the UK partner’s limited company.

The term ‘last full financial year’ here means the most recent year.

It does not mean the ‘last full financial year’ that is required to submit by UK tax law.

Therefore, the UK partner may be required to submit the accounts earlier than he or she necessarily would have otherwise done.

If the employment income is not from a ‘specified limited company’

To remind you, you can find out if the employment is from a specified limited company here – this is something that is very important to know.

i) Where the UK partner has been employed for 6 months or more

The application can be based on the UK partner’s gross annual income during the past 6 months (under what is known as ‘Category A‘) or 12 months (under ‘Category B‘).


ii) Where the UK partner has been employed for fewer than 6 months

The application must be based on the UK partner’s gross annual income during the past 12 months before the date of application under Category B.

The UK partner must have met the financial requirement either in the last full financial year (under what is known as ‘Category F’), or by using the ‘mean’ average of the last two full financial years (under ‘Category G’).

For those self-employed as a sole trader, as a partner or in a franchise, the relevant financial year(s) will be that covered by the self-assessment tax return and in the UK this runs from 6 April to 5 April the following year.

It is important to note that the relevant period is the most recent last full financial year.

Therefore, if you were to submit the application on 10th April 2021, the relevant financial year will be 6 April 2019 to 5 April 2020.

The relevant financial period will be the ‘last full financial year’, which is the year the company prepares the accounts that get submitted to the HMRC and Companies House.

It is also the same period as covered by a form CT600, which corresponds to the 12-month accounting year of the UK partner’s company.

The term ‘last full financial year’ here means the most recent year.

It does NOT mean the ‘last full financial year’ that is required to submit by UK tax law.

Therefore, the UK partner may be required to submit the accounts earlier than he or she necessarily would have otherwise done.

“Should I rely on Category A, B, F or G?”

The Immigration Rules can be confusing to partners, I know.

Our article “Category A or B, F or G? [UK Visa Financial Requirements Guide]” will help you understand which Category you will need to rely on.

Cash savings

The partner must have held the cash savings for a period of 6 months. During this 6 months, the cash savings must NOT drop below the required amount.

Reciept of a ‘permitted benefit’

This depends on what sources of income is relied on to meet the adequate maintenance test.

For more information about the adequate maintenance requirement, check our our adequate maintenance test guidance for 2021 article.


#4 How do the Home Office calculate how much someone’s gross annual income is? 

This depends on how the financial requirement is met.

Salaried employment is paid at a minimum fixed rate (usually annually) and is subject usually to a contractual minimum number of hours to be worked.

Please remember, it is exceptionally important to know whether the employer is a specified limited company or not – more information on this can be found here.

If the employment income is from a ‘specified limited company’

The gross annual income will be the gross total of the salary and/or dividends received in the company’s last full financial year (as stated in the most recent CT600 document) under Category F, or, if the sponsor prefers, the ‘mean’ average of the last two full financial years under Category G.


If the employment income is not from a ‘specified limited company’

There are two ways the annual income can be calculated.

Method 1 (under Category A)

If the UK partner receives their salary weekly, they multiply the lowest payment received in the 6 months prior to the application by 52.

If the UK partner receives their salary monthly, they multiply the lowest payment received in the 6 months prior to the application by 12.

This is the income from salaried employment that can be counted towards the financial requirement.

Method 2 (under Category B)

With this method, the financial requirement must be met and evidenced in two parts.

If only one part is met, then the financial requirement will not be met, unfortunately.

Part 1: The gross annual salary (as it is on the date of application) must be higher than the financial threshold that applies (which is normally £18,600)

  • If the UK partner receives their salary every month, they multiply the last salary received by 12.
  • If the UK partner receives their salary every week, they multiply the last salary received by 52.
  • There is no required period for this current employment. For instance, an applicant can have been with their current employer (at the time of the application) for 2 months only.

Part 2: The UK partner must have received, in the past 12 months prior to the date of application, more than the financial requirement that applies to them.

Note: If the sponsor is employed overseas and will be returning to the UK with the applicant if the application is successful, in order to rely on this employment, they will need to have a confirmed job offer in the UK which also satisfies the minimum income threshold.

If the company that employs the UK partner IS owned by either the UK partner, the applicant or by the UK partner or applicant’s family AND any remaining shares are held by fewer than five other persons

The gross annual income will be the gross total of the salary and/or dividends received in the company’s last full financial year under Category F, or, if the sponsor prefers, the ‘mean’ average of the last two full financial years, under Category G.

If the company that employs the UK partner is NOT owned by either the UK partner, the applicant or by the UK partner’s or applicant’s family

Here, Category B requires that the financial requirement must be met and evidenced in two parts.

Part 1: The gross annual salary (as it is on the date of application) must be higher than the financial threshold that applies (which is normally £18,600)

  • If the UK partner receives their salary every month, multiply the last salary received by 12
  • If the UK partner receives their salary every week, multiply the last salary received by 52
  • There is no required period for this current employment

Part 2: The UK partner must have received in the past 12 months prior to the date of application more than the financial requirement that applies to them.

Note: If the sponsor is employed overseas and will be returning to the UK with the applicant if the application is successful, in order to rely on this employment, they will need to have a confirmed job offer in the UK which also satisfies the minimum income threshold.

Non-salaried employment includes that paid at an hourly or other rate (and the number and/or pattern of hours required to be worked may vary), or paid an amount which varies according to the work undertaken.

Please remember, it is exceptionally important to know whether the employer is a specified limited company or not – more information on this can be found here.

If the employment income is from a ‘specified limited company’

Under Category F, the gross annual income will be the gross total of the salary and/or dividends received in the company’s last full financial year, or, if the sponsor prefers, the ‘mean’ average of the last two full financial years, under Category G.


If the employment income is not from a ‘specified limited company’

If you choose to base the application on 6 month’s employment earnings (under Category A):

#1 They add up all the gross income from employment in the 6 months prior to the date of application

#2 They then divide the total by 6

#3 They will then multiply this number by 12.

This is the income from non-salaried employment that can be counted towards the financial requirement.

If the company that employs the UK partner IS owned by either the UK partner, the applicant or by the UK partner or applicant’s family AND any remaining shares are held by fewer than five other persons

Under Category F, the gross annual income will be the gross total of the salary and/or dividends received in the company’s last full financial year, or, if the sponsor prefers, the ‘mean’ average of the last two full financial years, under Category G.

If the company that employs the UK partner is NOT owned by either the UK partner, the applicant or by the UK partner’s or applicant’s family

Here, the financial requirement must be met and evidenced in two parts.

Part 1: Your ‘annualised average’ for non-salaried employment must be higher than the financial requirement that applies (normally £18,600).

To work out the ‘annualised average’ from non-salaried employment, you must:

#1 Total the gross income that the UK partner has received from their current employment

#2 Divide this total by the number of months, weeks or days the UK partner has been in employment with the current employer

#3 If you divided the above number by the amount of months, multiply the result by 12.

If you divided the above number by the amount of weeks, multiply the result by 52.

If you divided the above number by the amount of days, multiply the result by 365.

Part 2: The UK partner must have received in the past 12 months prior to the date of application more than the financial requirement that applies to the application.

Under Category F, the income will be the “gross taxable profits from their share of the business in the relevant financial year(s), not including any deductible allowances, expenses or liabilities which may be applied to the gross taxable profits to establish the final tax liability”.

Under Category F, the gross annual income will be the gross total of the salary and/or dividends received in the company’s last full financial year, or, if the sponsor prefers, the ‘mean’ average of the last two full financial years, under Category G.


#5 What documents do applicants need to submit for the financial requirement?

This depends on the source(s) of income that you are relying on in order to meet the financial requirement.

There are important sources of information that will discuss:

i) the documentation that you will need to submit; and

ii) the Immigration Rules that apply specifically to certain documents.

It is crucial that you read both Appendix FM-SE and Appendix FM 1.7 if you are going to prepare the application yourself.


About Appendix FM-SE

Since Appendix FM-SE is part of the Immigration Rules, this is the most important source of reading regarding the spouse visa financial requirement.

Appendix FM-SE not only discusses the different documentation will be required based on how you meet the financial requirement, but also the Immigration Rules as they apply to certain documentation.

This source of information is more up-to-date than Appendix FM 1.7 (which we discuss below).


About Appendix FM 1.7.

Fortunately, Appendix FM 1.7. is phrased in much more clearly when compared to Appendix FM-SE. It is easier to understand.

Because of this, we would suggest reading this document before Appendix FM-SE in order to identify the documents that you need to submit, as well as to make sure that you do not fall foul of the strict rules as they apply to financial documentation.

One thing to note is that where information in Appendix FM 1.7. differs to Appendix FM-SE, it is Appendix FM-SE that will apply (rather than Appendix FM 1.7.)


About Appendix FM 1.7a

Appendix FM 1.7A should be read by those who receive permitted benefits, such as Disability Living Allowance, Carer’s allowance and Personal Independence Payment (PIP).

This is because receiving a permitted benefit will mean that you will not have to meet the minimum income threshold of £18,600+.

They will instead have to satisfy the adequate maintenance requirement.

Spouse visa DIY Application Pack

 

step 8

Spouse visa supporting letters

Including supporting letters from both the applicant and their partner will strengthen the application.

In these supporting letters, you and your partner can write about the following:

  • How the financial requirement is met
  • How the accommodation requirement is met
  • How the relationship requirement is met
  • The development of the applicant and UK partner’s relationship
  • That the UK partner promises to provide the applicant with both the finances and accommodation in order to satisfy the Immigration Rules

If you want to save time and receive a professionally tailored supporting letter, without spending hundreds of pounds, our DIY Application pack service includes spouse visa supporting letter templates for both the applicant and sponsor.

step 9

Appendix 2 of VAF4A – Should you complete this form?

We no longer recommend completing and including the VA4A 2 Appendix form.

This form has no longer been required since the new spouse visa 2021 online application form has been introduced.

We no longer recommend completing this document despite:

  • The VFS uploading portal still lists this document; and
  • Letters like the one below were wrongly being issued in late 2019.

appendix 2 vaf4a required

If, despite the above, for whatever reason, you still want to submit this form, feel free to follow the following instructions:

#1 You can download the application form from the official government website, which can be found HERE


#2 Where the UK partner is employed in the UK (except where the company that employs the sponsor is owned by either the UK partner, applicant or family member), the following sections should be completed: 

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.1-3.3, Part 3A & Part 5.

Category ‘A’ is for when the application is relying on the UK partner’s 6 month’s employment.

Category ‘B’ if for when the applicant is relying on the UK partner’s 12 month’s employment.


#3 Where the UK partner is employed outside the UK, the following sections should be completed: 

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.1-3.3, Part 3B & Part 5.

Category ‘A’ is for when the application is relying on the UK partner’s 6 month’s employment.

Category ‘B’ if for when the applicant is relying on the UK partner’s 12 month’s employment.


#4 Where the UK partner is self-employed, the application generally includes the following sections: 

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.1-3.3, Part 3C & Part 5.

Choose Category F if the applicant is relying on the UK partner’s self-employment in the past full financial year.

Chose Category G if the applicant is relying on the UK partner’s self-employment in the past two full financial years.


#5 Where the UK partner is in receipt of a permitted benefit, the application generally includes the following sections:

Part1, Part 2, Part 3.1, Part 4 & Part 5.


#6 Where the application is relying on cash savings only, the application generally includes the following sections:

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.1-3.3, Part 3F & Part 5.

step 10

Spouse Visa UK document checklist for 2021

You will be provided with a list of documents when you progress via the online application (which we discuss below).

The most common mistake that applicants make, by far, is by providing these documents without taking the time to read Appendix FM-SE and Appendix FM 1.7.

It is important to read Appendix FM-SE and Appendix FM 1.7. because:

#1 The list of documents provided by the online website does not always list the documents that you should submit in your application

Whilst the new ACCESS UK website is a welcome improvement to the old visa4uk website, the document checklist provided by the ACCESS UK website is not an exhaustive list.

This means that in some instances, it will not list documents that you must submit.

It will also not always list documents that you should submit in order to have the strongest application possible.

#2 There are strict rules that apply to certain documents.

Unfortunately, the Home Office often enforce these rules.

If you want a document checklist that is tailored exactly to the information you provide us, we can provide you with a detailed and professionally written document checklist with our spouse visa DIY application pack service.

Our document checklists have been relied on successfully in thousands of applications, but they also list many document specific rules that partners sometimes overlook.

step 11

Familiarise yourself with the spouse visa application process

“What on earth is the document submitting procedure?!”.

I’m pretty sure that most partners, at one point in time, think these exact words. The Home Office do not make it easy, do they?

It will be helpful for you if you are aware of the application submitting procedure early on.

To be honest with you, the document submitting procedure right now is a bit of a mess and the Home Office do a pretty bad job at making this clear.

Unfortunately, there is no universal spouse visa application process and the procedure for each country varies.

#1 Step One – Search the gov.uk website

In some instances, the gov.uk website will provide you with some useful content regarding the application submitting procedure for your country.

On the gov.uk website, search “[country] apply” (for example, “New Zealand apply”) and in some instances there will be an article that provides a helpful overview.


#2 Step Two – Check the VFS/TLS websites

Whether or not there is an article for the country from which you are applying from, the next step is to visit the VFS and TLS websites.

VFS applicants

The VFS website looks like this:

VFS website 2019

The VFS website covers the majority of countries.

If you cannot find your country on this website when answering the question “Where are you applying from”, check the TLS website.

After you have selected the country from which you are applying from, it will normally give you an overview of:

  • The application submitting procedure (the process of submitting your spouse visa application); and
  • The available added value services that you can choose (such as the priority service).

The process is normally found in the ‘How to apply’ tab.

TLS applicants

The TLS website looks like this:

tis website 2019

Similarly to the VFS website, this website will normally provide you with:

  • an overview of the application submitting procedure; and
  • The added value services that you may decide to purchase.

After selecting the visa centre that you want to use in your home country, you will be provided with some general information.

With this said, the TLS website is not usually as helpful as the VFS one, unfortunately.

Note: Although it is useful to get an idea about the application submission procedure as early as possible, ultimately what matters is what you are told as you progress through the online website.

step 12

Familiarise yourself with the different ways that you may be able to submit your documents

Again, whilst ultimately what matters is what you are told when you submit and pay for the online application, it is a good idea to get a better understanding of the possible options beforehand.

There are also some document-submitting procedures that we would recommend and there are others that we would suggest avoiding (if possible).

Let us break it down for you in our order of our preference.

Option #1 – The walk in service at one of the UK centres (VFS handled applications only)

This tends to be the most convenient and least stressful way to submit the supporting documents.

This is especially the case as some staff at the overseas visa centres can be unnecessarily selective of the documents that are scanned at the overseas visa centre.

In order to take advantage of this service, if offered, this will cost you an additional £75 (which can be paid using cash or a debit card), but considering how time consuming and stressful most of the alternatives are, this is something that we think is completely worth the extra cost.

You do not have to book an appointment in order to submit documents this way.

Instead, you can simply walk in at one of the locations (a list of which, if available, will be provided to you after you pay the Home Office fees on the online application website).

With this method, it is important to note that a courier cannot submit documents – the sponsor (or agent) must attend the centre in person.

If your sponsor attends this walk in service, they should bring:

  • a copy of your passports;
  • The first page of your visa application (if you applied via the old visa4uk website)
  • Your document checklist automatically generated by the new Access UK website
  • All supporting documents, which will be scanned and handed back at the time of their visit. Whilst it is normally fine to bring copies of the original documents here to be scanned, it is important to follow the instructions given as you progress through the online website as it will sometimes specifically state that original documents must be brought.

If the documents that you are submitting are crumpled, heavily creased or torn, you should photocopy these beforehand as these will not be able to be scanned.

Documents should also not be laminated.

This can be done after you attend the visa appointment at the overseas visa centre.

There is no set time limit but we would not recommend leaving it too long until this is done. As a rough rule, try to get this done within a week of the applicant attending the overseas visa centre.

Note: This service may not be available to you, especially if you are applying from a TLS location.


Option #2 – Posting documents to a specified UK address

This method will allow you to post the supporting documents to an address in the UK.

Unlike option #1, the walk-in service at one of the UK centres, this option is normally available to TLS handled applications.

If this option is available to you, you will normally be notified on one of the last pages of the online government application website.

If you choose this service, it will be important that you send it to the address that you are specifically told of – not an address that you find online. 

When available, there will be generally two different service levels that you can choose:

The standard service – This will cost around £75 (+VAT) per application and documents will generally be scanned within 5 working days from receipt of the documents.

The priority service – This will cost around £100 (+VAT) per application and will generally be scanned within 24 hours from receipt of documents at the scanning hub.


OPTION #3 – Document Scanning Assistance service at the overseas visa application centre

 This will involve the applicant bringing their supporting documents to the overseas visa application centre and have the staff at the overseas centre assist with scanning the documents for submission.


OPTION #4 – Uploading on the VFS/TLS website

The last option that some applicants choose is to upload the documents on the VFS/TLS website.

If you happened to browse this article in 2020, you may remember that we strongly advised against this.

With this being said, both of the uploading portals have significantly improved – although partners still often face several reoccurring issues such as the documents taking an incredibly long time to upload & not being able to review documents once they’ve been uploaded. 

step 13

Start completing the spouse visa online application form

#1 Go to the new ACCESS UK online application website 

To ensure that you use the correct online application, check out our spouse visa UK application form 2021 article

The above link is the new ACCESS UK website that is replacing the visa4uk website that you may have heard of.


#2 Select Appendix FM Partner

You should select “Appendix FM Partner” if you are applying for a:

  • UK Spouse visa
  • UK Civil partner visa
  • Unmarried partner visa
  • Fiancé(e) visa
  • Proposed civil partner visa

If you are also applying with child dependants, their application form is dealt with under the ‘Appendix FM Child’ visa type.

“If I am applying with child dependants, how can I connect my application with my children’s application?”

I’d first recommend completing your application (as the main applicant) first.

Once this has been paid for, you will be provided with a GWF number.

When you complete your child dependant’s application, in the additional comments section, you should insert your GWF number and make a note that you have also submitted the application as the main applicant.

Whilst this is not absolutely necessary, this will help ensure that your applications are connected.



#3 Select country to provide biometrics


#4 Complete section 2 (‘Application’) and section 3 (‘Finances’) by inputting you and your partner’s information as asked


#5 Section 4 will give you a document checklist

Unfortunately, the document checklist that this website generates does not always list all of the documents that are required (& recommended).

This often gives partners a false sense of security that by submitting these documents alone, they will be guaranteed their visa (which unfortunately is not the case).

Our DIY Application pack service addresses this as it

  • Identifies the relevant rules that applies to specific documents
  • Identifies general rules that applies to all documents that are submitted
  • Points out common mistakes that people make
  • Lists documents that should be included in the application that are not listed on the official website
  • Tells you the sections of the Immigration Rules and Home Office that you absolutely have to read

We created this service because we know that there are thousands of capable people (just like you) who want to process the application themselves, without paying thousands in immigration solicitor fees.

As far as I’m aware, we are the only regulated immigration firm that provides a service like this.

Our DIY Application Pack service will:

  • Help you save time by having the relevant information more centred in one place (rather than relying on the information scattered online).
  • Help you ensure that you do not miss out an important document or requirement that, unfortunately, can result in a refusal (& loss of the Home Office fees).
  • Provide you with general email support for any questions that you may have
  • Save you potentially thousands of £s (when compared to paying for full legal representation)

We are so confident, based on our customer’s success, that we offer a 100% money back guarantee, too.


#6 Declare contents of application form is correct in section 5


#7 Select the standard of service

“What are the processing times for these different services?”

As we discussed in our spouse visa UK processing time article, the following are the expected waiting times depending on the level of service you choose:

  • Standard service2-3 months
  • Priority service6 weeks (the cost will vary depending on the visa centre that you are applying from but will be around £573)

#8 Choose your appointment at the overseas visa centre

“My financial documents will be older than 28 days at the visa centre appointment. Is that an issue?”

What matters is that you meet the requirements when you submit and pay using the online website. This is known as the ‘date of application’.

Example

Jeff’s bank statements were issued on 1st December.

Therefore, if Jeff submits and pays for the Home Office fees using the online application website before 28 days (28thDecember), it does not matter if Jeff’s appointment is scheduled for the 22ndJanuary.

“What about my child dependant’s application? Do we have to go to separate appointments?”

You can usually attend the same appointment as any child dependants that are applying at the same time as you.

If, when you book your child dependant’s appointment, you cannot choose the same time-slot that you booked as the main applicant, this should not be an issue and you should bring your child dependants with you to your appointment.

In most cases, the staff at the desk will allow you to process both you and your child dependants application at the same time.


#9 Pay the Home Office fees and Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS)

The Home Office fee will equate to around £1,523 and the Immigration Health Surcharge £1,872.

Frustratingly expensive, I know.

Most commonly it is the UK partner that makes the payment but it’s also fine for family or friends to make the payment – the applicant does not need to use their card.


#10 You will then be redirected to either VFS or TLS website.

Whether you will be redirected to the VFS or the TLS website will depend on the country in which you are applying from.

When you have paid for the Home Office fees, you will be automatically be given a reference number that starts with ‘GWF’. Take note of this.

It will be this number that you use to register for either the VFS or TLS website.

What are the point of these websites?

The purpose of the VFS and TLS website is that it allows you to:

  • Upload your documentation; and
  • Pay for any additional services that you may like (between you and I, most of these additional services are pretty terrible).

step 14

Submitting the supporting documents

We discussed the various ways that documents can generally be submitted in this section here.

But now that you’ve paid the Home Office fee, you should have a much better idea about how you can submit your documents.

Of course, we would all prefer if the Home Office told us how the documents can be submitted beforehand, but that is the Home Office for you…

Don’t stress if you cannot submit the documents straight away.

What matters is that the documents meet the Immigration Rules at the date of application – not on the date that the Home Office actually receive the documents. 

step 15

Attend the appointment at the visa application centre

“What happens at the appointment?”

An overview as it relates to the visa centre from which you make your application can be found on the relevant VFS or TLS page.

Here is an example of the VFS page for Chinese applicants.

In summary, the following will take place at the appointment.

1) Your biometric data will be recorded

‘Biometrics’ is the technical term for the recording of your fingerprints and photograph.

Normally, all 10 of your fingers will be recorded using a digital finger scanner.

Since the finger print scanner uses no inks chemicals or liquids, you will not end up with marked fingers.

Child applicants under the age of 5 will not normally have to have their fingerprints scanned.

Regarding the photograph, you will be provided with instructions such as ‘no sunglasses or tinted spectacles’. All of that standard stuff.

2) The submission of documents, if you decide on submitting the documents at the overseas visa centre

Whether you are submitting documents at the overseas visa centre or not, in all cases, the applicant should bring a valid passport that has at least 1 page that is blank on both sides, or travel document with you to the appointment.

If you made the application via the Access UK website, you should also bring the document checklist that was automatically generated via the Access UK website. Otherwise, if you made the application through the old visa4uk website, bring the first page of your visa application form.

Remember, it’s important that you read all instructions given. In most cases, the documentation provided to you by the Home Office will make it clear what you need to bring with you.

Make sure you arrive at least 15 minutes early to your appointment.

step 16

What happens after the visa appointment?

You will normally be notified when the Home Office has decided your application via email.

In most cases, this email will just state that a decision has been made and will not let you know what the outcome of the application is.

There are normally three ways in which your passport (which will contain an entry clearance visa which will allow you to enter the UK) will be returned.

#1 You may be able to collect your documents in person


#2 You may be able to send a representative to pick them up for you

In such a case, the representative would normally need to provide a letter of authorisation that is signed by the applicant, a copy as well as the application submission receipt.


#3 Your passport may be returned to you by courier

More information about how your passport is returned to you on the relevant VFS/TLS page.

“Can I get updates regarding my application… the wait is agonising!”

If you are still within the stated service processing times, then you cannot realistically get any updates. In such a case, I wouldn’t recommend trying as the most likely outcome is that you will waste your money (since you will have to pay a one-off fee to email the Home Office).

If, however, you have been waiting for a long time and the Home Office have exceeded the stated processing times, you can try asking for an update at this link.


Frequently Asked Questions

What is the most difficult spouse visa requirement?

By far, the requirement that causes the most refusals is the financial requirement. It is therefore very important that you take the time to familiarise yourself with the Home Office guidance (& our free, detailed guides) regarding this.

Can I submit the spouse visa application without an immigration lawyer?

You can absolutely submit the spouse visa application without the help of an immigration lawyer - as long as you take the time required to really read into the spouse visa requirements (many of which we discuss in detail on this website).

Do I have to submit original supporting documentation?

Fortunately, the spouse visa process has changed so that submitting copies of the supporting documents is perfectly fine.

How do I submit the supporting documents?

The document submission procedure is something that varies from country-to-country. This is something that becomes much more clear as you progress through the spouse visa online application. You can, however, follow the instructions in this article to help you get a better idea regarding the options available to you.

immigration health surcharge

Want help?

We hope that you found this guide helpful.

Feel free to read some more free content that we have written.

If you would like to receive a custom tailored document checklist and letter templates, you can consider our £285 DIY Application Pack Service.

Alternatively, if you would like one of our immigration advisors to deal with your case from start to finish, we charge £1,850 for our Full Legal Representation Service.

Spouse visa DIY Application Pack

 

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