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Your guide to the UK spousal visa

by John Dunn | May 21, 2014
  • UK spousal visas are intended to make life easier for genuine couples who want to live together in the UK, despite their different nationalities. Here’s everything you need to know about this visa – and how to meet the government’s application criteria.

    Who is eligible?

    In a nutshell, spousal visas are only issued to couples who are lawfully married, who intend to live together as a married couple in the UK, and who are fully able to financially support themselves and their dependents.

    Visa length

    The visa will normally be issued for two years, after which time you can apply for an extension or for permanent residence in the UK. If you can prove that you have been married for more than four years, you’ll qualify for permanent residency in the UK. Once you have been in the UK on a spousal visa for five years, you can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR).

    Other visa types

    You can also apply for a visa if your spouse holds any of the following visa types:

    • Ancestry Visa
    • Work Permit
    • Tier 1 Visa (General)
    • Student Visa


    It’s absolutely vital that your relationship is bona fide and ongoing. The Entry Clearance Officer must be satisfied that your marriage was entered into in good faith. In other words, it mustn’t be a sham marriage in an attempt to evade UK immigration laws. If you’re found to be lying about the nature of your relationship, you could face some serious jail time.

    In addition to the relationship being genuine, the following criteria apply:

    • You must both be at least 18 years old
    • The marriage must be valid under UK law
    • You must have physically met (becoming acquainted with someone purely on Facebook doesn’t count)
    • If you are not married, then you must prove that you have been living together as a couple for at least two years.

    English language

    As the visa applicant, you must demonstrate that you have a minimum level of English language ability by passing a mandatory English language test. If you come from a majority English-speaking country, or hold a degree which was taught or researched in English that meets or exceeds the recognised standard of a Bachelor’s degree in the UK, you may be exempt.


    It is a non-negotiable that you are able to support yourself and any dependants. The minimum level of income is currently £18,600 per annum – and more if you have children to support. You will need to prove that you meet this minimum income threshold or that you have sufficient savings to meet the income requirement.

    If you’re applying from outside the UK, then only the British citizens’ income will be considered. If you are both in the UK at the time of applying, both incomes will be considered. Please note that the £18,600 minimum income threshold is currently being challenged in the Court of Appeal, with many claimants understandably wanting it lowered. Stay tuned to our blog and Facebook page for updates on the outcome of the appeal.

    For expert assistance applying for a UK visa, visit 1st Contact Visas or call 0808 141 1664 (in the UK), 021 657-2180 (in South Africa) or 1800 039 300 (in Australia).

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

    Our teams in the UK, South Africa and Australia can ensure that when you decide to move overseas, invest offshore or expand your business internationally, you’ll do so with the backing of experienced local experts.

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