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UK spouse and partner visas

If you have a partner who is living in the UK, or if you are living in the UK and have a non-UK partner you'd like to bring to the country, you're in luck. The UK offers partner or spouse visas that you and your loved one can apply for. Visas are available to those married to (or in a relationship with) a British citizen, or an EU national or even a non-EU national.

UK partner visas

These visas are officially referred to as a “family of a settled person” and it makes it relatively easy for partner or spouses of British citizens to join them in the UK. There are a variety of relationships that qualify in this regard, so you should never feel put off from investigating your options just because your relationship is non-traditional.

UK spouse visa requirements

This visa class covers three different partner statuses: Married partners, unmarried partners and fiancés.

The UK partner visa, which is initially issued for a two-and-a-half-years, allows your partner to work without restriction in the UK. You may also exit and re-enter the country multiple times. At the end of the visa period, you will need to extend the visa in the UK for a further two-and-a-half years.

In order to apply for the visa you must:

  • Have met (not just online)
  • Intend to live together permanently
  • Meet the financial requirement (see below)
  • Meet the English language requirement
  • Have satisfactory accommodation in the UK

As part of the UK spouse visa application process, you must apply in your home country. However, if you are already in the UK on another visa and are applying to switch to a partner visa, you can apply from within the UK.

 

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Eligibility and requirements

Married partner
You can apply for a UK spouse visa if you are lawfully married to a British citizen. This is the most common type of partner.

Unmarried partner
If you are in a long-term relationship with a British citizen, you can apply for a visa if you have been cohabiting for two years.

Fiancé
You can apply for a UK fiancé visa if you intend to get married or become civil partners within six months.

Couple leaning together

The financial requirements

If both the applicant and the British citizen are resident in the UK, then the requirement can be met by either partner. If the British citizen is resident overseas, then the earnings requirement must be met by them alone. If the cash savings route is taken, then it can be held jointly or separately. Essentially, one of the following criteria must be met:

  • Annual gross income of £18,600* (or the Pound equivalent)
  • Cash savings of £62,500* (or the Pound equivalent)
  • A combination of the above

* If children are included in the application, then these financial requirements increase accordingly.

Indefinite leave to remain
The UK spouse visa or partner visa counts as qualifying time in the UK towards indefinite leave to remain (ILR). Read more about indefinite leave to remain.

 

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Partners of EU nationals

A European Union (EU) national can bring their spouse or partner to the UK on a six-month EEA Family Permit.

Understanding your EEA family permit

The EEA family permit covers two different partner statuses:

  • Married partner
  • Unmarried partner

The visa, which is initially issued for six months, allows the partner to work without restriction in the UK. You may also exit and re-enter the country multiple times.

In order to apply for the visa, you must:

  • Have met (not just online)
  • Intend to live together permanently
  • Intend moving to the UK within six months
  • Have satisfactory accommodation and financial resources in the UK

You must apply for the visa outside of the UK in your home country.

During the six months, the partner or spouse can apply for an EEA Family Residence Card, which is valid for five years.

 

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Partners of non-EU nationals

Many people are surprised to discover that a non-EU national can bring their partner or spouse to the UK on a dependant visa. This is only possible if the non-EU national holds a visa from some specifically designated visa classes.

You may apply for a UK dependant visa when you are married to (or in a long-term relationship with) someone who holds a valid:

  • UK Ancestry visa
  • UK student visa
  • UK work permit
  • UK Tier 1 visa

In all of these cases, you must apply for the visa outside of the UK, typically in your home country.

 

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How you can qualify

The visa is initially issued for the same period as the length of time remaining on the main visa holder’s visa. The Home Office can refuse an application where this is a short period of time, although this is not specifically referred to. The visa allows you to live and work freely in the UK.

In order to qualify, you must fulfil all of the following requirements:

  • Be married to or in a long-term relationship of more than two years with an eligible visa holder
  • Intend on moving to the UK within six months
  • Intend to live together permanently

Extending your UK visa and indefinite leave to remain (ILR)

An extension of this visa occurs when the main visa holder applies for their own extension. If the main visa holder applies for ILR, then the partner can either qualify to apply for ILR (visa dependent) or would need to apply for a further extension.

UK spouse visa extension

When it comes to your spouse visa extension, you can only apply to extend their visa 28 days before it expires.

You can expect a decision on your extension application to arrive in roughly 12 weeks if you applied using the standard application. There is also a speed service which will give you a decision on your UK spouse visa extension within 24 hours.

Switch to a UK partner visa

If you are in a relationship with or married to someone who is British or has settled status in the UK, you may apply to switch to a partner visa from another visa.

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