Advice Column: Getting a visa for your partner
How do I go about getting a visa for my spouse to live in the UK?
If you’re already in the UK, your spouse (husband, wife or civil partner) or fiancé will need a visa to join you to live for over 6 months.
A family member who joins you in the UK based on your right to stay in the UK is called a ‘dependant’, and you are known as the ‘sponsor’.
They’ll need to make an application from outside the UK.
If your spouse or partner wants to visit the UK for less than 6 months, you need to apply for a visit visa instead.
If the application gets rejected, appealing will take between 6 and 9 months – so you should think about getting help from a specialist immigration adviser.
How long the visa lasts
|Who the visa is for||How long the visa lasts|
|Spouse, for example your husband, wife or civil partner||33 months – your spouse can then renew their visa from the UK for another 2 years and 6 months.|
They can apply to settle in the UK after 5 years.
|Your fiancé||6 months – your partner can apply for further leave as a spouse after this time.|
They can apply to settle in the UK after 5 years as a spouse.
Check what visa they need
While they’re often thought of as being a ‘spouse visa’, the actual visa your spouse or fiancé needs will depend on your circumstances.
|Your circumstances||The visa your family member or partner needs|
|You’re a British citizen, or naturalised||‘Family of a settled person’ visa|
|You’re a ‘settled person’ in the UK (ie you have ‘indefinite leave to remain’)||‘Family of a settled person’ visa|
|You’re an EEA national living in the UK and your dependant is not from the EEA||‘EEA family permit’|
|You’re getting married in the UK and both intend to live in the UK||‘Family of a settled person’ visa|
|You have refugee status or humanitarian protection||Family reunion|
|You have a Tier 2 (General) visa||Apply as a dependant of a Tier 2 (General) visa holder|
|You have a Tier 4 student visa||Apply as a dependant of a Tier 4 visa holder|
If you’re filling in the form for them
You can fill in the application form for your family member – you must do this online.
The online application system doesn’t list the visas by name – you’ll have to answer some questions to find the visa you need. There’s an option to “apply for someone else” on the online form.
As part of the application process, they must have their biometrics taken (fingerprints and photograph). Check where their nearest visa application centre is before you apply, because it might be in a different country.
Make sure you put your family member’s information as the applicant’s details.
Check how much you need to be earning
You need to be earning a certain amount, or have enough savings, in order to bring your spouse or partner to the UK to live. This is called ‘meeting the financial requirement’.
You don’t need to meet the financial requirement if you have refugee status or humanitarian protection.
If you do need to meet the financial requirement, you’ll need to prove that you earn a minimum annual income (before tax). The amount depends on who you’re applying for.
|Family member||How much you need to earn per year before tax|
|Just your spouse or partner||£18,600|
|Your spouse or partner and one child||£22,400|
|Each additional child||£2,400|
You can meet the financial requirement through a combination of:
- income from employment or self-employment – if you’re in the UK with permission to work
- a pension
- maternity, paternity, adoption or sick pay
- other income such as from rent or shares
- cash savings – you’ll need at least £16,000, and the savings must have been in your name for 6 months or more
You won’t need to meet the financial requirement if you are on certain benefits (such as Disability Living Allowance).
You’ll just need to show that you receive enough money to look after your dependent. How much this will be depends on your individual circumstances.
You should get specialist advice if you’re not sure how to prove that you meet the financial requirement.
If your spouse or partner is from outside the EEA, they’ll have to pay £200 per year for healthcare in the UK, as part of their visa application. This is known as the NHS healthcare surcharge.
This charge is not optional.
Including the correct evidence
The most common reason a visa application gets rejected is because there’s not enough evidence (documents that prove your case) sent with the application.
In general, you’ll need to provide a piece of evidence to support each thing you say in the application. Make sure you carefully follow the online guidance for the visa you’re applying for.
Proving you’re in a genuine relationship
You’ll need to provide evidence that you’re in a genuine relationship. For example, this could include documents that show that you:
- have lived together
- have children together
- have a shared bank account or savings
Spouses and partners of British citizens or settled persons – attending an interview
Your partner will have to go to an interview as part of the application. There can be long waiting times for an interview – check the visa application centre where they live to get an idea of how long they’ll have to wait to get an appointment.
If you’re about to get married or enter a civil partnership, it’s a good idea to apply for the visa before the wedding or registration because of the time it can take to get an interview. If you do this, you should include a letter with your application that says the date of your marriage or civil partnership.
At the interview, the applicant will be asked questions about your relationship, eg how and where you met, and information about your families. If you’re already married or in a civil partnership, they should take evidence of this, eg marriage certificate.
You should both go to the interview if you’re in the same country when the interview takes place.
Once they arrive – collecting their biometric residence permit
Your family member or partner will have to collect their biometric residence permit (BRP) within 10 days of arrival in the UK. They’ll get a letter that tells them where to collect the BRP from.
It’s important that they collect the BRP within 10 days – they might be fined or have their visa cancelled if they don’t.
If you don’t know where to pick up the BRP from, email BRPCollection@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk. Include the following details of your partner in the email:
- full name
- date of birth
- passport number
- telephone number
- reference number – you’ll get this on any letters from the Home Office
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