When can my spouse apply for settlement in the UK?
If you are in the UK on a spouse visa the route to settlement in the UK can be long and a very confusing journey for some. It isn’t surprising that people don’t understand their settlement options and whether they should apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain or British Citizenship or whether ILR is a pre-requisite to a spouse being eligible to settle in the UK. In this blog we look at spouse visa settlement options.
spouse visa solicitors
spouse visa settlement applications can be complicated so it is best to use a spouse visa solicitor who specialises in spouse visa applications and settlement in the UK. London based OTS Solicitors are experts in Spouse Visas. The spouse visa team will advise you on your spouse visa settlement options and guide you on the best route for you.
For fast professional advice from friendly spouse visa solicitors call OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or complete our online enquiry form.
Why apply to settle if you are in the UK on a spouse visa?
If you are blissfully married the last thing on your mind may be your Immigration status but if you are here in the UK on a spouse visa then your Immigration status should be a priority for you because:
- A spouse visa is time limited and you therefore have to continue to apply for visas and meet the leave to remain eligibility criteria
- If you continue on a spouse visa you will be subject to Immigration control and potentially the Immigration hostile environment policy
- If you don’t apply to settle in the UK as soon as you meet the spouse visa to ILR settlement eligibility criteria then if you decide to apply at a later date you may no longer meet the eligibility criteria (for example, if you don’t meet the financial requirement because of a change in circumstances or the government changes the eligibility rules or you separate from your husband or wife).
Although some husbands and wives are positive that they want to settle in the UK as soon as they are eligible to do so, many don’t realise what their settlement options are and the differences between them.
UK settlement options if you are on a spouse visa
If you are on a spouse visa and want to settle in the UK your options are:
- Apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain
- Apply for British citizenship.
If you are in the UK on a spouse visa it is easy to be confused about whether:
- You always have to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain before you can make a British naturalisation application to secure British Citizenship and
- How long you have to live in the UK before you can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain or British Citizenship.
Does a spouse have to apply for ILR before applying for British Citizenship?
Under the British nationality Act 1981 there are two routes for a spouse to secure British citizenship after entering the UK on a spouse visa. One route says you need to have been in the UK for three years and the other five years.
On the three year route you don’t need to have Indefinite Leave to Remain before being able to apply for British Citizenship but you do need to meet the settled criteria and effectively already have a form of legal settled status. Therefore, the vast majority of people in the UK do not meet the eligibility criteria for the three year spouse to British Citizenship route and do need to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain before being able to make a British naturalisation application.
How long you have to live in the UK for before you can apply for ILR?
If you are in the UK on a spouse visa then most applicants need to be continuously and lawfully resident in the UK for at least five years before being eligible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain.
Once you have secured your Indefinite Leave to Remain status you can then go on to decide if you want to make a British Citizenship application. For some it is a long held goal whereas for others who entered the UK on a spouse visa it is an unnecessary step that doesn’t ‘add value’ to their life in the UK.
Immigration solicitors say that there are many hidden benefits of applying for British Citizenship rather than just the obvious advantage of securing a British passport and no longer being at risk of losing your Indefinite Leave to Remain status.
Although it may not sound a very romantic thing to do, it is sensible to plan ahead when you come to the UK on a spouse visa. That way, if you have information about applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain and British citizenship (and when you will qualify to be able to make your Indefinite Leave to Remain application or apply for British nationality) you can make sure that you meet the relevant eligibility criteria. For example, by ensuring that you meet the general eligibility criteria for ILR and that your absences from the UK whilst on a spouse visa are within the permitted maximum number allowed under the Immigration Rules.
spouse visa solicitors
London based OTS Solicitors are experts in immigration law and specialise in Spouse Visas. Our spouse visa solicitors advise on spouse visa applications, spouse visa extensions, spouse visa appeals and spouse visa settlement applications for ILR and British Citizenship.
Our spouse visa solicitors will prepare your spouse ILR applications and advise you on what documents you need to provide to meet the requirements of the Immigration Rules and to best ensure that your spouse ILR application is granted by the Home Office.