Spouse Visa UK - get immigration advice from our lawyers

The UK Spouse Visa, commonly known as a UK Marriage Visa, allows non-UK nationals to join their partner in the UK. Your spouse must be either a British citizen or a UK settled person.

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UK Family Visa: Partner or Spouse Visa

The key to getting a visa approved is preparation. This means that all the requirements are met and the purpose justified. Here is a quick guide on Partner or Spouse Visa application — what everyone needs to know and what documents to prepare.

What is a Partner or Spouse Visa?

This type of visa allows married partners of UK citizens to come and live in the UK. It is also commonly referred to as Marriage Visa. For unmarried couples, the Unmarried Partner Visa allows them the same benefit of living and working in the UK. Both visa type holders can stay and work in the UK for 33 months initially from overseas. If within the UK, visa validity is 30 months or 2.5 years. Non-EU citizens married to EU citizen may apply for EEA or EU Settlement Scheme.

Getting the Visa Extended or Switched

It is possible to apply for a partner or spouse visa extension after 2.5 years if the visa holder wishes to stay longer. An extension may be requested 28 days before the expiration. When the spouse visa extension is granted, they may stay and work for another 2.5 years. A total of 5 years in the UK (with exit and re-entry) may qualify the visa holder to switch to Indefinite Leave to Remain or ILR. With the ILR, one can have the chance to settle permanently in the UK. The ILR is only eligible if the couple is still together. Holders of a student visa, work visa, and fiancé visa may also switch to this type if they are already in the UK.

Partner or Spouse Visa Requirements

The application can be lodged from overseas or within the UK. Processing may take anywhere between 2 to 12 weeks. Here are the eligibility requirements for a spouse or partner visa:
  • Both must be 18 years old or older;
  • Partner must be a British or Irish citizen; or
  • Partner must be from the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein, with pre-settled status and have been living in the UK before 1 January 2021; or
  • Partner must have a Turkish Businessperson visa or Turkish Worker visa; or
  • Partner must have humanitarian protection or refugee status in the UK;
  • Partners must be lawfully wedded to one another, with the marriage recognised in the UK; or
  • Unmarried partners must be in a recognised civil partnership;
  • Unmarried partners must have been cohabiting for at least 2 years;
  • Partners must intend to live together in the UK permanently;
  • Applicant must have enough personal funds to support the stay;
  • If the spouse will sponsor the applicant, the sponsor spouse must be earning no less than £18,600 per year; or
  • Have enough savings, at least £62,500;
  • There must be suitable accommodation for the oncoming partner;
  • The applicant must satisfy the English language requirements.

English Language Requirements

Spouse visa applicants must be able to prove that they can communicate using the English language. Those who are a national of a country where English is used as a major or primary language are exempted from this test. Applicants must take and pass an English language test from an accredited test provider. This can be done right in the home country of the applicant. Applicants who must meet the English language requirements are:
  • EEA (European Economic Area) or Switzerland nationals;
  • In a relationship with a British national or a person settled in the UK;
  • Planning to immigrate to the UK as a spouse to that person.

Options for Insufficient Requirements

Those who were not able to meet the above requirements may still apply for a visa or request for an extension if:
  • The applicant has a child who is a British or Irish citizen or has lived in the UK for at least 7 years;
  • It would be unreasonable for the child to leave the UK;
  • It would be significantly difficult and unworkable for the couple to live together outside the UK;
  • It would be a breach of the applicant’s human rights to deny entry or make him or her leave the UK.

Applying for a Visa with Child/Children

It is also completely possible for applicants to include their child/children as dependants. Children may have a UK Dependant Visa if:
  • They are no older than 18 years on the time of visa application; or
  • They were 18 years old when they were first granted leave;
  • They are not living an independent life;
  • The sponsoring spouse has enough savings to support the dependant/s.

Applying as a Fiancé, Fiancée or Proposed Civil Partner

Applicants may apply for a UK fiancé visa if they intend to get married or at least become civil partners within six months. This is also referred to as a Marriage Visitor visa or a Prospective Marriage visa. Take note that this visa type does not allow the applicant to work or stay for an extended period in the UK. Switching to another visa type is also not allowed. There is normally no visa extension granted for this, but a little modification has been made in times of COVID-19. The extension is allowed for now in case of delays in marriage or civil partnership ceremony due to the Coronavirus pandemic. To apply for a fiancé visa, the applicant must prove that:
  • Any previous marriages have legally ended; or
  • Any civil partnerships have ended;
  • The couple intends to marry or enter a civil partnership within 6 months of arriving in the UK.

Documents to Prepare

Application for a spouse or partner visa can be done online, whether the applicant is inside or outside the UK. Check that all the documents are complete. The applicant must provide the following:
  • Name and date of birth;
  • Current passport and other valid travel ID;
  • Copies of the previous passports’ photo page and any visa or entry stamps;
  • Copy of biometric residence permit, if there is any;
  • Details of any past immigration applications made;
  • Details of any criminal convictions;
  • National insurance number, if there is any;
  • Date of birth and nationality of the applicant’s parents if applying from outside the UK;
  • Tuberculosis test results, if from a country where the test is required;
  • Certified translation of any document not in English or Welsh;
  • A blank page in the passport on which to put the visa if applying outside the UK.
An appointment for biometric information to obtain a fingerprint and photo will be set during the application process. The application result will come out in 2 to 12 weeks. Once the visa has been issued, the successful applicant may enter the UK on the date of the visa validity.

Get in touch with our expert immigration lawyers to learn how to apply for a Spouse Visa.


How do I apply for a spouse visa?
You can apply for a spouse visa from overseas or from within the UK. If you are already in the UK on a fiance visa, work visa, or student visa valid for more than six months, you may be able to switch into a spouse visa.
How long does the application take?
The average processing time for a spouse visa application is 2 – 12 weeks from the date we submit the application to the UKBA. Processing times vary depending on the country where the application is made.
How long does a spouse visa last?
If applying from overseas, a spouse visa is initially issued for 33 months. If you are applying from within the UK a spouse visa is issued for a period of 30 months.
Can I extend my spouse visa?
You can apply for an extension for an additional 30 months which can take your total time in the UK on this visa up to five years. At this point you can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) provided you are still married and living in the UK with your spouse and continue to meet the maintenance requirements. After you have been granted ILR you may be eligible to apply for naturalisation as British citizen.



Richard started his legal career as a criminal barrister before specialising in immigration and asylum law in 2002. He is registered by the OISC at the highest level and is also a member of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives. In addition to immigration and human rights, he advises clients on matters of private and commercial contracts, employment law, company formation and corporate responsibility. He has previously provided expert evidence to the High Court (Family Division) on domestic violence law within an immigration context. As an advocate he appears regularly in the First Tier and Upper Tribunals. He is a qualified legal trainer whose academic interests lie in European literary and classical studies. He is a member of the Royal Society of Literature and a long-time season-ticket holder at Fulham Football Club.


Jessica Bishop is a graduate in law and accredited by the OISC to provide immigration law services to Level 2. She is also training to be a solicitor. She started at Cromwell Wilkes as a student volunteer in 2015 and since that time has developed her skills whilst working to obtain the professional qualifications that allow her to offer advice in her specialist field. She is particularly interested in family-based immigration law and has developed expertise in the complex and demanding area of personal and corporate financial compliance within the immigration rules. Jessica regards herself as London’s leading expert on the history of the sitcom Friends.


An arts graduate from the University of Cambridge who subsequently completed the Graduate Diploma of Law, Lucy is accredited to give immigration law advice at OISC Level 1. She is also training as a barrister. In addition to immigration and human rights, Lucy has considerable interest in housing, employment benefits and social welfare law. She is also a celebrated writer, director, and performer of theatre whose work has been translated into several languages.


Justin is from the United States of America where he graduated in literary arts from Brown University before moving to England to study at the University of Cambridge with particular interest in poetics. He now plans a career as a lawyer and is a registered OISC trainee. He has a strong commitment to social welfare law and access to justice for the poorest in society.


Alex is a law graduate who is also now training to be a solicitor. She provides the administrative and casework support essential to Cromwell Wilkes and often acts as the main link between clients and the legal team. She first came to the firm as a student intern where her talents for organisation and attention to detail became so apparent that she was invited to take on her current role.