We are regularly asked if too many absences from the UK for those with spouse visas may be a problem.
Individuals who hold visas through many of the work-based immigration categories must ensure that they spend no more than 180 days outside the UK in any 12-month period in order to qualify for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR).
No specific requirement
The good news for those that hold spouse visas is that there is no specific requirement concerning the amount of days a person may be absent from the UK.
Intention to live in the UK permanently
However, individuals who hold a spouse visa must intend to live in the UK with their spouse on a permanent basis.
The Home Office’s internal guidance to caseworkers states, in relation to absences, that:
‘In applications for further leave to remain in the UK as a partner, where there have been limited periods of time spent outside the UK, this must be for good reasons and must be consistent with the intention to live permanently together in the UK.’
When an application for further leave to remain or ILR is made by a person holding a spouse visa, or even potentially when checks are made when they seek to enter at the UK border, the individual should be prepared to explain any excessive absences from the UK.
We would also recommend that evidence is retained where possible. This could, for example, be in the form of medical evidence if the excessive absences by the person holding a spouse visa are due to spending time caring for an elderly parent overseas.
British citizenship applications
If the individual is seeking to apply to become a British citizen, their absences from the UK will become relevant for that application. Information on how the Home Office considers absences can be found here.
How we can assist
We are experienced in advising upon and preparing applications for those that hold spouse visas who have concerns that their absences may be excessive and we can provide expert guidance and assistance to you throughout the process.
If you require legal advice about a spouse visa application, our immigration specialists are available for an initial discussion and can be contacted here.