The UK spouse visa, otherwise known as the marriage visa, is a type of settlement visa. It is designed for non-EEA citizens who wish to join their partners in the UK.
The spouse visa enables a non-EEA person to lawfully live and work in the UK, and it can eventually lead to Indefinite Leave to Remain status and British Citizenship.
The spouse visa lasts for 30 months if applied for in the UK, or 33 months if applied for outside of the UK. It can be extended at the end of this period for a further 30 if certain requirements are met.
Spouse Visa Extension UK Requirements
There are certain requirements for a spouse visa extension, some of which are similar to the original spouse visa application.
The key spouse visa extension requirements are based around the living status of you and your partner and the nature of the relationship between you and your partner.
You must be able to prove that the relationship is genuine, and that you and your partner intend to live together on a permanent basis in the UK.
Your partner must be in a position of one of the following:
- A British citizen
- Settled in the UK through Indefinite Leave to Remain or proof of permanent residence
- Have refugee status or humanitarian protection in the UK
You will need to show one of the following:
- Proof that you are in a marriage or civil partnership with your partner which is recognised in the UK
- Proof of a relationship akin to marriage or a civil partnership for at least two years prior to date of application for spouse visa extension
You also need to:
- Meet character suitability requirements
- Meet immigration status requirements
- Meet financial requirements
- Possess a certain level of English
Character Suitability Requirements:
You must be able to satisfy requirements relating to their character and conduct.
The Home Office will look at things like your previous immigration history, whether you owe a litigation debt or owe money to the NHS and whether you have cooperated with any enquiries.
Immigration Status Requirements:
You must be in the UK lawfully and not have remained in the UK after your permission to stay has ended.
However, there might be exceptions made if the reason for not extending was beyond your control, and an application has been made within 14 days of of the expiration of the visa.
Spouse Visa Extension Financial Requirements:
There are certain financial requirements which must be met when applying for a spouse visa extension.
- A combined income between you and your partner of £18.600
- If you have a child, the minimum income threshold increases to £22,400. This increases a further £2,400 for each additional child
The definition of a child in this instance is:
- Under the age of 18, or were under the age of 18 at the time they were first granted leave
- Dependant on you or your partner
- Not a British citizen or settled in the UK
- Not an EEA national
The financial requirements can be met through different avenues including:
- Income from employment or self-employment of you and your sponsor (partner)
- Certain forms of income from sources other than employment
- State and private pensions
- Maternity allowances
- Bereavement benefits
- Cash savings of over £16,000
Financial Requirement Exemptions:
You will be exempt from financial requirements if your sponsor is in receipt of one of the following UK benefits:
- Carer’s Allowance
- Severe Disablement Allowance
- Disability Living Allowance
- Attendance Allowance
- Personal Independence Payment
- Industrial Injuries Disablement benefit
- Constant Attendance Allowance, Mobility Supplement or War Disablement Pension under War Pensions Scheme
- Armed Forces Independence Payment or Guaranteed Income Payment under Armed Forces Compensation Scheme
- Police Injury Pension
English Language Requirements:
Recently, there have been changes made to the Home Office Immigration Rules around spouse visa English language requirements.
These changes mean that some people who did not need to pass English language requirements with their original spouse visa application, may need to do so when applying for a spouse visa extension.
From 1 May 2017, a new requirement of a level A2 certificate in English speaking and listening under the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages was introduced for those wishing to extend their stay past the initial 30/33-month spouse visa.
This qualification does not need to be obtained if the applicant:
- Is a national of a majority English-speaking country
- Holds a Bachelors or Masters degree or PhD taught or researched in English at a recognised UK educational establishment
- Holds a Bachelors or Masters degree or PhD taught in English which was awarded by an educational establishment outside the UK and is deemed by the UK NARIC to match or exceed the recognised standard in the UK
- Is aged 65 or older
- Has a disability which prevents them from meeting the requirement
- Has exceptional circumstances which prevent them from being able to meet the requirement
English Language Test:
Trinity College London and IELTS Selt Consortium are the two approved test providers under the Immigration Rules.
Some of the A2 level requirements involve giving simple opinions and interacting in conversations on familiar topics.
How to Apply for a Spouse Visa Extension
The spouse visa can be extended by submitting an online FLR (M) form application to the Home Office. Ordinarily, the application can only be completed online.
If someone has remained in the UK for the past five years lawfully, they can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain instead of a spouse visa extension.
UK Spouse Visa Extension Documents
Documentary evidence will need to be provided to prove that you meet the necessary visa extension requirements.
The main documents which are required include:
- Marriage certificate/proof of relationship
- Your spouse or partner’s immigration status
- Income documents
- English language certificate
- Degree certificate/s
Any documents provided must be in their original form. Document copies will not be accepted unless there are valid reasons for not providing the original forms.
However, electronic bank, building society and bill statements will be accepted if provided along with a letter from the issuing authority.
If you are unable to provide all the evidence which is needed, you may need to attend an interview.
Spouse Visa Extension Fee
There is a fee which needs to be paid when applying for the spouse visa extension. At the time of writing, the fee is £1,033. There may also be a further charge for the biometric residence permit.
Please note, that the application will be automatically rejected if any required fee is not paid.
An expedited service is also available, known as the super priority service. This service costs an additional £610, and the applicant will receive a decision by the next working day.
How to Make Sure a Spouse Visa Extension Application is Valid
In order for an application to be valid and taken under consideration, you must:
- Apply on the current version of the FLR (M) form
- Complete all sections of the form as required
- Pay the required fee by one of the methods specified
- Provide photographs of yourself, your partner and any children they are applying for
- Ensure correct payment has been made towards Immigration Health Surcharge (if needed)
- Provide a valid and most recent passport, national identity card and travel document for yourself and any dependants who are applying as specified (unless unavailable for reasons beyond your control)
- Ensure signatures are completed as required
Spouse Visa Extension Processing Time
There is no hard rule for how long it takes to receive a decision on a spouse visa extension application.
The process can take months to process and will take at least a few weeks, so make sure that you leave plenty of time to apply before the expiration of your original spouse visa application if you plan on extending your time in the UK.
Other Spouse Visa Extension Methods
If you do not meet the requirements for the spouse visa extension, you may still be granted a spouse visa extension in exceptional circumstances. These include the following scenarios:
- It would breach your human rights if you were made to leave the UK
- You have a child in the UK who is a British citizen and has lived in the UK for seven years
- There would be significant difficulties for you and your partner if you lived together outside the UK
What Can be Done if a Spouse Visa Extension Application is Unsuccessful?
If your spouse visa extension application is unsuccessful, you have 14 days from the date you received the decision letter to appeal to the First-Tier Tribunal.
The First-Tier Tribunal will decide whether they will hear your case or not.
If the appeal has not been made within 14 days,you will need to explain why and could be refused an appeal.