Visas for Partners of British Citizens

Bringing a partner into the UK can be a complex business. The press is awash with stories about couples, often with children or other dependants, who have fallen foul of the labyrinthine immigration rules that operate in this area. However, appropriate specialist advice can do much to ease the process.

The entry routes for partners

The commonly used term, “spouse visa” is something of a misnomer. Partners, including spouses, can enter the UK under many different categories, and it is essential to know which applies to a particular situation to strengthen the prospects of the application succeeding. This is likely to require specialist immigration advice, particularly as there is now limited ability to switch between visa categories following entry to the UK. The categories include entry:

  1. As the partner of a British citizen or person settled in the UK (this applies to spouses, civil-partners, same-sex partners and fiancé(e)s).
  2. Via the EEA family permit,
  3. Through family reunion, for family members of refugees, and holders of humanitarian protection; or
  4. For dependants of Points Based Migrants, including those in the UK under Tier 1 (high net worth and exceptional talent), Tier 2 (sponsored workers) and Tier 4 (students). Financial requirements for partners of British and settled people
  5. Sponsors of British citizens or persons settled in the UK must meet a specified, minimum income requirement before a visa can be granted. This means the sponsoring partner must either:
  6. Applications will generally need to be made from outside the UK.
  7. have a minimum annual income (before tax) from UK-based employment or self-employment (and be capable of proving that this income has been received for a minimum of six months prior to the visa application); or
  8. be capable of meeting the threshold in other prescribed ways. These include having cash savings that exceed £16,000; money from a pension or; non-work income from, for example, dividends or property

The minimum income requirement may be waived where the application shows that there are exceptional circumstances which, if the application is refused could lead to a breach of the right to a family life, or result in unjustifiably harsh consequences for the applicant, their partner or a relevant child. Further information about exceptional circumstances can be found on our website.

Where the financial requirement applies, the minimum annual income varies according to whether the application is being made only for a spouse or for a spouse and a dependent child or children. Although the minimum annual income is open to short notice change, this has not happened since it was first introduced in 2012 and there is no suggestion that this will happen in the near future.

The minimum income requirement does not apply to those individuals with refugee status or humanitarian protection, or EEA or Points Based applications.

Why might an application be rejected?

The Immigration rules specify exactly which documents should be included with partner applications. Applications for partner visas and permission to remain in the UK will be rejected due to a lack of the correct supporting documentation as specified in the Immigration Rules.

What happens if a visa application is rejected?

For some categories of applicant, it is possible to appeal the refusal decision. This is a further complex and lengthy procedure. Even where an appeal is possible, it is sensible to assume that the process will take at least six to nine months – longer periods are not unheard of. For anyone who has not already done so, it is prudent to seek independent specialist advice before appealing, and to do so as early as possible.

How can we help?

At Clifford Johnston, our experienced Immigration Solicitors understands the constantly shifting landscape of immigration law. We will help you understand which visa applies to your situation and ensure that the application process proceeds smoothly, to maximise your chances of success. Equally, if you need help with an appeal, we will assist you with challenging the decision within the prescribed time-frame. Please contact  Naila Kosar to talk through your particular situation.


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