US Citizens with British Citizen Spouses
A series of immigration articles on US immigration to the UK
If you are a US citizen married to a British citizen it is often assumed that you have a right to choose to live in the UK or the US. After all, there is meant to be a ‘special relationship’ between the US and the UK and many assume that applies to UK spouse visa immigration rules. That’s why it is best to get expert legal advice from Spouse Visa Solicitors on your immigration options if you are a US citizen looking to move to the UK with your British husband, wife or partner.
UK Online and London Based Spouse Visa Solicitors and Immigration Lawyers
For advice on relocation from the US to the UK and applying for a spouse visa or to assess your immigration law options and visa routes call the specialist London immigration lawyers at OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or contact us online.
Is a US citizen special for UK spouse visa and immigration purposes?
Sadly, whatever your views on the UK – US special relationship and its strength, when it comes to UK immigration law US citizens are not placed in a special category. Under the UK points-based immigration system all persons looking to relocate to the UK who are subject to UK immigration control are treated the same, whether they are from the US, Mexico or the Middle East or elsewhere. That was not always the case. Whilst the UK was an EU member, EU nationals enjoyed free movement between EU member states and were not subject to visa requirements. The differential immigration treatment of EU and non-EU nationals stopped on the 31 December 2020.
Although US citizens can't relocate to the UK without entry clearance and a visa, a US citizen can visit the UK for up to six months without requiring a visa. This is preferential or special treatment in comparison to some other countries where you need a visa to visit the UK even if your planned visit is for less than six months. However, even though some US citizens are planning to come to the UK for tourism they still elect to apply for a visitor visa as that prevents issues cropping up with UK border control.
There is one other aspect where a US citizen does get some special treatment. Most visa applicants need to meet an English language requirement, normally by passing an English language test. This requirement is waived for US citizens because they are exempt from the English language test as the US is ‘majority English speaking’. Therefore, the test requirement is waived for US nationals and for citizens of some other predominantly English-speaking countries. A US citizen needs to meet all the other UK spouse visa requirements.
What are the spouse visa requirements for a US citizen?
If you are a US national then Spouse Visa Solicitors say that to meet the spouse visa eligibility criteria you will need to:
- Be over the age of eighteen. Your partner must also be over eighteen.
- Your marriage must be legally recognized in the UK. If you went through a valid marriage ceremony in the US or in a third country then if the marriage is considered legal in the country that it took place in then your marriage is likely to be legally recognised in the UK.
- Plan to live with your husband or wife whilst in the UK and intend to stay together. This requirement is designed to catch out couples who have separated or who are not planning to live together on the same continent because of different career paths and work commitments.
- Have suitable accommodation in the UK – the accommodation does not need to be owned by you or even rented. In some cases, staying with a family member is sufficient.
- Meet the financial requirement – the financial requirement can be met by income or cash savings or a combination of the two.
- Not fall foul of the general eligibility criteria for UK entry clearance. For example, you do not have a poor immigration record and you have not committed terrorism or certain criminal offences.
The financial requirement
If you have cash savings of £62,500 ( this essentially means savings that are not tied up in investments or in loans ) then you can meet the financial requirement on savings only without having to take part in a financial requirement income assessment. The cash savings can be owned by you or your husband or wife.
If you do not have sufficient cash savings you will need to meet the financial requirement from income or from a combination of income and savings. The financial requirement can be met by your income and that of your husband or wife provided that you are both allowed to work under immigration rules.
If you and your husband or wife are currently living in the US then the fact that you are both on good incomes in the US won't count. As the husband or wife needing the spouse visa won't be able to work in the UK without a visa it may be necessary for your partner to come to the UK first and establish his or her income. If your spouse is a business owner and hopes to be self-employed in the UK , then it will be harder to prove that they meet the financial requirement if the business in the UK will be a start-up that may not generate profit for a while.
If your husband or wife will struggle to come to the UK first and to meet the income spouse visa threshold then you may have other visa options such as the skilled worker visa or the intra company transfer visa or the start-up visa or investor visa. A specialist Spouse Visa Solicitor will be able to talk you through all your various visa options and work out which one is best for you.
Relocating from the US to the UK on a spouse visa
If you obtain a UK spouse visa as a US citizen then you will be able to stay in the UK for between thirty to thirty-three months. If you still meet the spouse visa eligibility criteria ( including the financial requirement ) you can apply to extend your spouse visa. At the end of the spouse visa extension period, you can apply to settle in the UK through securing indefinite leave to remain provided that you meet the five-year residence requirement as well as the other general eligibility criteria.
UK Online and London Based Spouse Visa Solicitors and Immigration lawyers