Spouse Visas: The Spouse Visa Solicitors Guide to Spouse Visa Terminology
Sometimes immigration solicitors think you need a university degree to understand Home Office terminology on spouse visas. In this article, our immigration solicitors offer guidance on the spouse visa glossary so that you know the basics and what questions to ask your Spouse Visa Solicitors.
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Spouse visas – a glossary of terms
It is important to clear up misunderstandings about immigration and spouse visa terminology.
Spouse visa or family visa is shorthand used by immigration solicitors to refer to visas for family members. You can apply for a family visa if you are married, or an unmarried partner but you meet the relationship and other criteria, or if you are in a civil partnership.
Unmarried partner visas are very similar to the spouse visa but the visa applicant and their sponsoring partner are unmarried. To qualify for an unmarried partner visa, you need to have been in a relationship with your partner for at least 2 years.
Spouse visa extension applications are required as if you enter the UK on a spouse visa and want to make the UK your long-term home you won't be able to do so when your first spouse visa ends. That’s because you need to have lived in the UK for at least 5 years before you can apply for indefinite leave to remain. Accordingly, you need to apply to extend your spouse visa, and when your extended spouse visa expires you will hopefully then be in a position to apply to settle. When you apply to extend your spouse visa you need to meet the same eligibility criteria as when you applied for your first spouse visa.
Dependant visas are required if a family visa applicant will be accompanied by dependent children who are not British citizens. They can't accompany you on your spouse visa as they need their own visas. If you are bringing children with you then the financial requirement you need to meet for your spouse visa is a higher figure than if you are making a sole application.
Sponsoring partners are necessary to obtain a spouse visa or family visa. If you come to the UK on a spouse visa, your husband or wife, or civil partner needs to sponsor you on your spouse visa. That means they (or a combination of you and them and cash savings) need to have sufficient income or cash to meet the spouse visa financial requirement.
Appendix FM is the section of the immigration rules that relate to spouse visa applications. The appendix contains fairly complicated rules on eligibility criteria such as the residence requirement or the financial requirement or the accommodation requirement. Spouse Visa Solicitors know these immigration rules inside out as the Appendix and guidance determine whether you will obtain a spouse visa after your application has been determined by a Home Office official.
The residence requirement is the period of time you must have resided in the UK before you can apply for indefinite leave to remain. Time spent on some types of visas won't count towards the residence requirement. Time spent on the spouse visa counts toward the 5-year requirement but as your first spouse visa does not last for 5 years you will need to apply for a spouse visa extension and wait until you have been in the UK for 5 years before you apply for ILR. There are strict rules on time spent outside the UK during the 5-year period so if you have had long absences out of the UK it is best to speak to a Spouse Visa Solicitors about the eligibility criteria.
The accommodation requirement means you must have somewhere to live in the UK when you apply for your first spouse visa or apply for a visa extension. The accommodation you have available to you does not need to be owned by you or your sponsoring partner. It can be rented or you can say that you will be living with family provided their home is big enough to accommodate them and you, your sponsoring partner, and any children who will be accompanying you to the UK.
The financial requirement is the amount your sponsoring partner needs to earn to enable them to sponsor your spouse visa. The financial requirement is set by the Home Office at £18,600 a year but it increases if you are bringing dependent children with you. There are exemptions to having to meet the financial requirement. For example, the financial requirement does not need to be met if your sponsoring partner is in receipt of a state benefit on a list produced by the Home Office. There are detailed rules on meeting the financial requirement if you are working in the UK or if you and your partner have cash savings.
The English language requirement means you must either sit an English language test or be able to show that you are exempt from sitting the test because of your age, disability, or because you come from a majority English-speaking country on a list published by the Home Office or you have an academic qualification that exempts you. Once you have passed the English language test you do not need to resit it when you apply for a spouse visa extension. If you are being accompanied by your children then they don’t need to meet the English language requirement as child applicants are exempt.
Biometrics are required for all visa applications. Biometrics are a means of identifying you for security purposes. At a biometrics centre, you will have your photo taken and your fingerprints.
Leave to remain- if your spouse visa application is successful you will be given entry clearance to enter the UK and limited leave to remain. Your leave to remain is time limited to the duration of your spouse visa. You must apply to extend your spouse visa before your leave to remain expires. Otherwise, you will be classed as an overstayer because you will have stayed in the UK beyond your visa expiry date. If you overstay then the Home Office is less likely to grant your spouse visa extension application or your indefinite leave to remain application.
Right to work and right to rent are terms you will come across if you are in the UK on a time-limited visa. That’s because if you find employment in the UK you will need to prove to your employer that you have a legal right to work in the UK. The employer can normally do this by an online check. Likewise, if you rent accommodation and the tenancy agreement is in your name, you will need to prove that you have a right to rent. These checks are mandatory and all employers and landlords must undertake them.
UK settlement is a 2-stage process. When you enter the UK on a visa you have to wait until you meet the residence requirement and other eligibility criteria before you can apply for indefinite leave to remain. ILR status does not give you British citizenship. You need to make a separate application for British citizenship but it isn’t obligatory to apply for British citizenship if you don’t want to do so.
Spouse visa questions
Spouse Visa Solicitors say that even when you know a bit more about Home Office terminology for spouse visas you will have questions about your own application or visa extension or indefinite leave to remain application.
At OTS Solicitors our dedicated team of Spouse Visa Solicitors can answer all your questions on the spouse visa and help you with your application. If you have been unsuccessful in securing a spouse visa when applying on your own, or with non-specialist solicitors, then our team can advise you on your spouse visa options, including an application for administrative review or a fresh spouse visa application.
UK Online and London-Based Immigration Lawyers and Spouse Visa Solicitors