If you're looking to join your partner in the UK and you don't already have citizenship or permanent residency, applying for a UK spouse visa could be the ideal path for you. This guide offers a comprehensive overview of the UK's spouse visa, including eligibility criteria and the application process.

What is the UK spouse visa?

The UK spouse visa is part of the family visa category, which also includes visas for fiancés and parents of British children. Each of these visas comes with its own set of specific eligibility criteria.

If you’re married to, or in a committed relationship with a British citizen or someone with settled status, you may be eligible for the UK spouse visa, which allows you to join your spouse or partner in the UK. This visa has no limitation on the type of work you can do in the UK.

The UK spouse visa’s benefits

There are a number of benefits to a UK spouse visa, they include the following:

  • You can live in the UK with your spouse
  • You can work and study in the UK without restriction
  • You can stay in the UK for an initial two years and nine months before you need to renew your visa for a further two years and six months.
  • Once you have completed five years on the spouse visa, you can apply for indefinite leave to remain (ILR) and settle in the UK permanently
  • The UK spouse visa is a route to British citizenship

What are the requirements for the UK spouse visa?

Genuine relationship requirement

You will need to show that you are either married to or in a long-term relationship with a British citizen or someone with settled status. If you are unmarried, you need to prove that you have been in a genuine and subsisting relationship for at least two years.

You previously had to be cohabiting for at least two years prior to your application, but this stipulation has been done away with from January 2024.

Financial requirement

You will need to prove that you and your partner are able to sustain yourselves and that your British partner meets a minimum income threshold of £29,000 per year. You would need to do this without relying on public funds.

The financial requirement changed on 11 April 2024; it was previously £18,600 per annum. Additional increments are not confirmed yet, however the Home Office wants to increase this amount up to £38,000 by early in 2025. The good news is that if you have any dependants on this visa, an extra fee is no longer applicable.

English language

You must be able to speak and understand English at the required level. You would need to provide evidence of having an academic qualification in English that is equal to a UK bachelors, master’s or PhD degree and a formal assessment would need to be completed to confirm this. Alternatively, you would need to pass an English test by a UKVI approved provider. You will be exempt from meeting the English language requirement if you are over 65 years old or mentally or physically incapacitated.


You and your spouse must both be older than 18 years.

How much does a UK spouse visa cost?

Before applying for a UK spouse visa, it is important to know the costs involved. You will need enough money to pay the application fee, immigration health surcharge (IHS) and to support yourself when you arrive in the UK.

  • The application fee depends on whether you are applying from within (£1,048) or outside the UK (£1,846).
  • The IHS fee from outside the UK is £1,035, which you must pay for every year that your visa is valid. That means that your upfront IHS fee will be £3,105. The IHS fee from within the UK (for an extension) is £2,587.50.

How the UK spouse visa can lead to permanent residence

The spouse visa is a route to settlement. After extending your visa for another 30 months, you will have spent the required five years in the UK that is needed for ILR (permanent residency). After holding ILR for 12 months, you may be eligible to apply for British citizenship as long as you fulfil the other criteria.

These are requirements to become eligible for ILR:

  • You should meet the financial requirements in terms of your salary as set out on your visa
  • You should produce evidence of knowing English
  • You must not have been out of the UK for more than 180 days in a 12-month period for the duration of the five years
  • You must be of good character

If you have any questions about obtaining a UK visa, switching to a different visa or extending your current visa, get in touch with us on +27 (0) 21 657 2180 or at immigration@sableinternational.com.

We are a professional services company that specialises in cross-border financial and immigration advice and solutions.

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