UK Family Visas
When applying to join your British partner/spouse in the UK, it is crucial to establish which visa route is most suitable for you. There are a range of visas designed for those who wish to join their partner/spouse in the UK, including the UK Spouse Visa, Fiancé Visa and Unmarried Partner Visa. We take a look at the Fiancé Visa vs Spouse Visa to help you to make the right decision.
At first glance, it may be difficult to determine which route you ought to take, particularly when looking at the Fiancé Visa and Unmarried Partner Visa. However, there are key differences between each – understanding these will help you to move forward with the application process, safe in the knowledge that you are applying for the correct UK visa based on your personal circumstances.
What is the difference between the Fiancé Visa vs Spouse Visa?
The Fiancé(e) Visa is intended for those who are engaged to be married to their partner who is either a British citizen or living with settled status in the UK. This is for people who are not yet married to their partner, but who intend to get married within six months of them entering the UK. A key condition of the Fiancé(e) Visa is that you must get married to your British partner within this six month period.
The Spouse Visa is for those who are already married to their British partner/person with UK settled status and who simply wish to join them in the UK. A key difference between the UK Fiancé Visa and UK Spouse Visa is that the Fiancé Visa expires after just 6 months, whereas a Spouse Visa last for up to 30 months. Similarly, while a Spouse Visa can be extended, a Fiancé Visa cannot. Both visas fall under the UK’s Family Visas category.
Each visa has its own eligibility criteria including key requirements which must be met by both the applicant and their sponsor (your sponsor is your partner/spouse).
What are the key requirements of a UK Fiancé Visa?
If you feel that the Fiancé Visa is more suited to you and your circumstances than the Spouse Visa, you must first ensure that you meet the necessary requirements. The main Fiancé Visa requirements include:
- Your partner must either be a British national, hold Indefinite Leave to Remain, limited leave to remain under Appendix EU or limited leave to remain under Appendix ECAA
- You and your partner must both be over the age of 18
- You and your partner must intend to live together permanently in the UK and demonstrate to the Home Office that you have suitable accommodation arranged
- When you enter the UK, you must marry your partner within 6 months of entering
- You must meet the English language requirement
- You must provide proof that any previous relationships/marriages have ended
Further crucial requirements include:
- You must meet the financial requirement – in order to sponsor you, your partner must have an annual income of at least £18,600 and if you intend to bring any dependents (such as children) to the UK, there is an additional financial requirement of £3,800 for the first child and £2,400 per child for any other children
- You must prove that your relationship is genuine, including proof that you have met in person
What are the Spouse Visa requirements?
If you feel that the Spouse Visa is the correct family visa for you, you must again meet the relevant criteria. Spouse Visas can be notoriously difficult to acquire in the UK, as the Home Office must be convinced that the applicant and their sponsor (spouse) is not acting fraudulently and is in fact in a genuine relationship.
The main requirements for a UK Spouse Visa are:
- You and your partner must pass the ‘Genuine Relationship Test’, proving to the Home Office that you are in a legitimate relationship
- Your marriage must be lawful
- You and your partner must be aged 18 years or over
- You must be married to/in a civil partnership with a British national or person who is a permanent resident of the UK
- You and your partner must have lived together for at least 2 years prior to making your application
- You meet the necessary financial requirement and will not rely on public funds
- You have proof of suitable accommodation in the UK that you, your partner and any dependents will live in together
- You meet the English language requirement; you are required to prove that you have a strong understanding of English
Can I switch visas?
If you currently hold a Fiancé Visa and it is due to expire, you may be eligible to switch to a Spouse Visa. This allows you to remain in the UK and can lead to permanent residency if you wish to eventually gain settled status.
Many people who initially acquire a Fiancé Visa go on to switch to the Spouse Visa once they have married their British spouse, since this visa allows for a longer stay in the UK. A Spouse Visa also offers a number of benefits that the Fiancé Visa does not, such as having the right to work and study in the UK. Transitioning from a Fiancé Visa to a Spouse Visa is typically a relatively straightforward process.
You are able to apply for the Spouse Visa from inside the UK – it can take up to 12 weeks to process but usually doesn’t take any longer than this.