Extending a spouse visa
Coming to the UK on a spouse visa is the start of your journey to settlement in the UK though lots of people are so relieved to secure their initial spouse visa that they don’t look forward to when they will have to make an application to the Home Office to extend their spouse visa. UK immigration solicitors say it is best to plan ahead and to understand what you will need to extend your spouse visa. In this blog we look at the steps you need to take to extend a spouse visa.
If you need help and advice about extending your spouse visa, OTS Solicitors specialise in Spouse Visas and immigration law. For expert advice on your best options call us on 0203 959 9123 or contact us online. Appointments are available by phone or video call.
Why do I need to extend a spouse visa?
A first or initial UK spouse visa lasts for:
- Thirty-three months if you made your spouse visa application from overseas.
- Thirty months if you made your spouse visa application from within the UK.
Whether your initial spouse visa lasts for thirty months or thirty-three months you won't meet the residence requirement eligibility criteria to apply for indefinite leave to remain in the UK. You therefore have the following options on the expiry of your initial spouse visa:
- Leave the UK.
- Apply for a visa under an alternate visa category.
- Apply to extend your spouse visa.
Doing nothing isn’t an option as if you don’t do anything your initial spouse visa will expire and the Home Office will class you as an overstayer. That will then affect the success of any future visa applications. It is therefore vital that you take steps to extend your spouse visa before it expires, or you leave the UK before it does so, to maintain your clean Immigration record.
Don’t worry if your spouse visa renewal application is submitted to the Home Office but isn’t decided by a Home Office caseworker before the expiry of your initial visa as the key point is that you must submit the renewal application before the initial spouse visa expiry date. That means you need to give yourself enough time to take specialist legal advice on your spouse visa renewal application and to gather the evidence that you will need to support your renewal application.
How long will the spouse visa extension last for?
If your spouse visa extension application is successful, you will obtain a spouse visa extension of thirty months. At the end of the spouse visa extension, you may meet the eligibility criteria and residence requirement for an application for indefinite leave to remain. It is best to forward plan and understand the ILR eligibility criteria and, for example, the rules on extended absences from the UK during the five-year ILR residence requirement period.
What visa extension form needs to be completed for a spouse visa renewal?
To secure a spouse visa extension you need to apply online by completing form FLR (M). Your extension application will need to be supported by appropriate evidence (depending on your circumstances) on:
- The status of your relationship.
- Meeting the financial requirement.
- Meeting the English language requirement.
When submitting the online spouse visa extension application, you will also need to pay:
- The Home Office visa renewal application fee.
- Any priority fee (If you decide to pay an extra Home Office fee to get a quicker decision on your application).
- The Immigration health surcharge.
spouse visa renewal application and evidence of relationship
When applying for your spouse visa renewal you and your partner must be:
- Living together permanently.
- In a genuine and subsisting relationship.
Your spouse must be one of the following:
- A British citizen.
- A person who is present and settled in the UK and who has Indefinite Leave to Remain or settled status.
- A person with refugee status.
- A person who has been granted humanitarian protection in the UK.
The relationship must be one of the following:
- A legally recognised marriage.
- A legally recognised civil partnership.
- A relationship that is akin to marriage or civil partnership and has lasted for at least two years.
As part of your spouse visa renewal application process, you will need to prove your relationship and its subsisting nature. That can be harder to do when you are not married so it is best to take legal advice on what evidence and paperwork you will need to provide in support of your visa application.
Meeting the financial requirement for a spouse visa renewal
When you applied for your initial spouse visa you will have had to meet the financial requirement and the process is no different when you come to apply to extend your spouse visa. However, your partner may have changed job or become self-employed, or you may have less in savings or have had children. The key to a successful spouse visa renewal application is to treat the process as seriously as you did when you made your initial spouse visa application, and that includes making sure that you put together the best evidence that you continue to meet the financial requirement.
In essence, the easiest way to satisfy the financial requirement when applying to renew your spouse visa is to show that you and your partner have a combined annual income of at least £18,600. The figure is higher if you have children as the minimum income figure rises to £22,400 per year if you have one child and an extra £2,400 of annual income is needed for each additional child.
If you can't meet the maintenance requirement on income alone, you may be able to meet it if you have cash savings or if you fall within the exceptional criteria. If you are concerned about whether you will now meet the maintenance requirement it is best to take specialist legal advice before submitting your spouse visa extension application. Equally, if your financial affairs are complicated because, for example, you own your own company or you have recently become self-employed, it is sensible to take legal advice on what evidence will best support your spouse visa renewal application.
Applying for a spouse visa renewal based on exceptional circumstances.
When you don’t meet the eligibility criteria for a spouse visa extension it is important to check and see if you will meet the ‘exceptional circumstances’ criteria. For example, you may still be able to extend your spouse visa if:
- You have a child in the UK who is a British citizen, or the child has lived in the UK for seven years, and it would be unreasonable for the child to leave the UK.
- There would be significant difficulties for you and your spouse or partner if you lived together as a couple outside the UK and those difficulties can't be overcome.
- It would breach your Human Rights to make you leave the UK.
Whatever your personal or financial circumstances it is normally advisable and best to take expert legal advice on your spouse visa extension application to ensure that the visa renewal process is as stress free as possible.
If you need help with your spouse visa renewal call the experts at OTS Solicitors . For specialist spouse visa and immigration law advice call 0203 959 9123 or contact us online. Appointments are available by phone or video call.