Applying for ILR After 5 Years on a UK Spouse Visa
Some people see time on a spouse visa as a bit like a ticking clock, waiting for your five year anniversary. To clarify, that’s not your five year wedding anniversary but five years of living in the UK with a spouse visa. After five years on a UK spouse visa, you can apply for indefinite leave to remain (ILR). In this article our immigration solicitors explain how Spouse Visa Solicitors can help you secure ILR.
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Earliest date you can apply for ILR on a UK spouse visa
Although most people think the earliest date you can apply for ILR if you are in the UK on a spouse visa or partner visa is five years it is actually four years and eleven months. You can submit your application before your spouse visa or family visa expires – twenty eight days beforehand.
ILR lawyers advise that you don’t leave your ILR application until the last minute, such as the day before your spouse visa expires. That’s because you will be scrabbling around to get the paperwork you need to support your application and your ILR lawyers won't be able to ensure that your ILR application is as polished and perfect as it should be to stand the best chance of Home Office success.
Once your ILR application has been sent to the Home Office you can stay in the UK until the outcome of the application is known, even though your spouse visa will probably have expired by then. That’s because you aren’t classed as an overstayer if you have a pending Home Office application.
What happens if I don’t apply for ILR after five years on a UK spouse visa?
If your family visa is due to expire and you’ve been in the UK for nearly five years but don’t want to apply for ILR, you have the option of looking at visa switch options or leaving the UK. What you shouldn’t do is allow your spouse visa to expire. If you let your visa lapse you will be classed as an overstayer. That will affect the success of your ILR application ( if you change your mind and later decide to apply for ILR ) and will also affect the success of any alternate visa application or subsequent immigration application made from outside the UK to get UK entry clearance.
Can I apply for ILR after five years on a spouse visa?
You can apply for ILR after five years on a spouse visa if you are the husband, wife, civil partner or partner of:
- A UK citizen or
- A person who falls within the definition of a ‘settled person’
If you aren’t sure about your partner’s status or whether they meet the definition of a settled person our Spouse Visa Solicitors can help you.
In addition to your partner’s status, to get ILR after entering the UK on a spouse visa you will also need to prove that:
- You are in a genuine and subsisting relationship with your husband, wife, civil partner or partner
- You meet the financial requirement
- You have suitable accommodation available to you
- You meet the English language requirement
- You have passed the Life in the UK test – unless you are exempt from sitting the test
- There are no general grounds to refuse your ILR application
Applying for ILR and the relationship requirement
The key point about the relationship requirement is that you still need to be in a genuine relationship with your spouse or partner. That means you must be living with them (unless there are unusual circumstances like a work secondment etc) and you must intend to continue to live together. If you are planning to end your relationship you won't qualify for ILR based on your five years on the spouse visa.
If you are experiencing domestic violence or your partner is terminally ill, speak to an ILR solicitor on 0203 959 9123 as the Home Office has two discretionary routes to cover these special circumstances.
If your circumstances are a bit unusual, for example, you have spent a lot of time outside the UK whilst on the spouse visa, then it’s best to get immigration advice. Whilst there isn’t a set residence requirement (unlike other routes to ILR ) Home Office officials may question your commitment to the relationship or to living in the UK if you have spent significant time outside the UK or away from your partner. A well prepared application can help make sure you get your ILR by providing an explanation, such as COVID-19 related travel restrictions or a family illness.
Applying for ILR and the accommodation requirement
The ILR accommodation requirement is similar the accommodation requirement that you will have met to secure your spouse visa. This can make you think you don’t need to give any information about your living arrangements, but you do need to even if you or your sponsoring partner is a high earner and it should be obvious that you can afford decent accommodation. Just with the spouse visa accommodation requirement, you don’t have to be a home owner but you do need to give enough information about your home circumstances so Home Office officials can say that this element of the ILR eligibility criteria is met.
Applying for ILR and the financial requirement
The ILR financial requirement for an application based on five years on a spouse visa is broadly the same as meeting the financial requirement for a family visa or a spouse visa extension application.
Your financial circumstances, or those of your partner, may have changed since the date of your original spouse visa application or extension application. It is therefore important to give yourself sufficient time to get the right financial documents for your ILR lawyer. The paperwork they need depends on whether you or your partner are self-employed or whether you have more than one job or you are relying on investment or property income or cash savings of over £16,000.
Where you are planning to rely on savings, or self-employed income, the best advice is to give yourself plenty of time as you may need evidence going back months that isn’t readily available or you may need to get business accounts prepared.
Help with your ILR application by OTS Solicitors
At London based OTS Solicitors we have dedicated individual immigration solicitors who specialise in spouse visa applications, visa extensions and spouse visa to ILR applications. Our team has substantial experience in ‘difficult’ applications. Difficult applications include situations where an applicant has spent a lot of time outside the UK whilst on a spouse visa or because the family are struggling to evidence the financial requirement because the sponsor has set up a new self-employed business.
Our ILR lawyers can help you with:
- An early review of your proposed ILR application so you know how best to meet the eligibility criteria and the documents you will need to support your application
- Preparation of your ILR application and ensuring that it is tailor made to your personal circumstances
- Liaising with the Home Office to progress your application
- Reviewing an application submitted by your previous solicitors that has been refused and advising you on your appeal options
- Advising you on how to prepare for your British citizenship application - if that is your long term goal once you have obtained ILR.
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