UK Spouse Visa: How to Legally Bring Your Spouse to the UK

A UK spouse visa allows you to bring your wife, husband, or partner over to the UK. It will also enable you to bring any children or dependents who live with your spouse outside the UK. 

Like any visa application, though, navigating the fine print is often challenging. Here’s what you need to know to apply for a UK spouse visa and bring your partner to the UK. 

UK Spouse Visa Requirements 

There are various requirements you must meet to obtain a UK spouse visa. You are required to meet:

  • Relationship requirements
  • Financial requirements
  • Suitability requirements
  • Accommodation requirements
  • English language requirements

Additionally, you must submit a valid UK spouse visa application. Spouses applying from within the UK must also pass the requirements for immigration standards. 

Spouses who apply for spousal visas and entry from outside the UK need to include a Tuberculosis (TB) certificate as part of the application process. 

Relationship Requirements 

The nature of your relationship with your sponsor determines the kind of UK spouse visa application you submit. 

This is because the Appendix FM of the Immigration Rules includes subcategories that encompass several types of relationship, including:

  • Marriage
  • Civil partnership
  • Fiancé(e) or intended civil partner
  • Unmarried partners 

The requirements for a spouse through marriage or civil partnership overlap significantly. The only discernible difference is that civil partners must include a civil partnership certificate instead of a marriage licence. 

Additionally, an unmarried partner must be demonstrably living with their partner in a relationship comparable to marriage or civil partnership for a minimum of two years before they can apply for a UK spouse visa. 

It’s not only on the applicant who must meet certain requirements. The sponsoring or UK partner must demonstrate s/he is:

  • A British citizen
  • Present and settled in the UK
  • Obtained pre-settlement status through the EU Settlement Scheme
  • Immigrated and acquired either refugee or humanitarian protection status

While the UK partner does not need to meet all of these criteria, they must meet at least one. 

Note that a settled partner does not have immigration restrictions. They either possess Indefinite Leave to Remain or acquired UK residency through EU law. 

It is also possible for a present UK partner to live outside the UK with their partner at the time of application. However, for the UK spouse visa to be successful both the present and applying partners must demonstrate an intention to live together in the UK. 

Financial Requirements

The UK spouse visa involves highly detailed financial requirements that often confuse applicants and frequently cause them to underestimate the visa’s specifications. 

Immigration stresses that applicants understand:

  • How they meet the specific financial requirements
  • Application rules about including and combining income
  • Application rules about financial documentation 

These rules are highly nuanced. For instance, only UK spouses or potential spouses who can legally work in the UK or currently have a visa that allows them to work in the UK can include a record of employment with their application. 

At its simplest, the spouse seeking a UK spouse visa must earn at least £18,600, Or, if relying on cash savings, have £62,000 in the bank. 

However, this may change if you and your spouse need to provide for dependents or children. In that case, you need to show an additional £3,800 for your first child and £2,400 for every child after that. But, if your dependent children are British, this will not apply. 

Importantly, only certain documents are eligible for inclusion in your application. These are: 

  • Evidence of employment in a specified/unspecified company
  • Self-employment in a specified/unspecified company
  • Cash funds
  • Pensions
  • Dividends or rental income

Suitability Requirements

The suitability part of the UK spouse visa application process decides if there is anything in your character, like a criminal record, that is relevant to your application. 

But suitability requirements also investigate your character, biometrics and medical history. Your application may be denied if you fail to provide this information. This may also happen if or if there is a good medical reason to refuse your UK spousal visa. 

Accommodation Requirements

If you are applying within the UK, it may not be necessary for the spouse applying for a visa to meet the housing requirements.

Out-of-country applicants must always meet the housing criteria. To do this, you must prove you have accommodation that is not:

  • Overcrowded
  • Meets public health guidelines 

English Language Requirements

All UK visas, not only the UK spouse visa, require you to meet a minimum standard of English to be granted entry. 

Applicants can prove they meet this requirement by:

  • Belonging to/living in a majority English speaking country
  • Taking an English language test
  • Possessing either a taught BA, MA or PhD from a UK university or other establishment
  • Having a degree from outside the UK recognised by the UK NARIC 

How to Get a UK Visa

Getting your visa varies slightly depending on where you are applying from. In all cases, the first step is to determine the visa you need. 

Once you’ve done that, read through the visa application guidelines and complete the relevant documents. Note that all the documents you provide must be original. 

You must then take the completed forms to your local consulate and submit them. You will have to do this by appointment. At that time, they will also run your biometric details and check the validity of your documents. 

If, at the time of your appointment your documents are incomplete or incorrect, your advisor can send you away with instructions to redo them. This doesn’t affect the success of your application. 

Applicants should also be aware that there is a fee for applying. How much varies depending on:

  • Country
  • Speed of application process 

If you are applying for a UK spouse visa from outside the UK, the cost is £1,523. If you intend to bring children with you, you pay an additional £1,523 for each extra person. 

Additionally, there may be an extra fee to cover any healthcare you or your dependents need while in the UK. 

How to Bring Spouse to the UK

In addition to meeting all the requirements for a UK spouse visa, both you and your partner must be over 18. 

It may also be necessary to provide proof of commitment. This is to distinguish between sincere relationships, arranged marriages and marriages made in the interest of acquiring a visa. 

Finally, once issued, a UK spouse visa lasts 33 months if applied for externally. UK spouse visas applied for while in the UK last 30 months. 

You’ll be able to extend it by a further 30 months once the UK spouse visa’s expiration falls due. As with the initial visa, you can apply from within the UK or outside of it. 

Finally, remember to check and double-check your forms and ensure all your documents are originals. Once you’ve done that, send off your application, and best of luck.