If you have permission to enter the UK as the spouse or partner of a British citizen or settled person, you will have received an initial period of stay. If you and your spouse or partner wish to continue living together in the UK, you will need to apply to extend your spouse visa under Appendix FM of the Immigration Rules. We take a look at the process and requirements.
Similar rules apply to those who have entered into a civil partnership and also to those who are unmarried partners who have lived together in a relationship akin to marriage for at least two years. Marriages and civil partnerships must be legally recognised in the UK.
These provisions also apply to fiancé(e)s or proposed civil partners who have married or entered into a civil partnership within six months of arriving in the UK. However, where an applicant has current permission to stay as a fiancé(e) or proposed civil partner, and the marriage or civil partnership did not take place within six months for “good reason”, then a further extension application can be made so long as evidence that it will take place within the next six months is provided.
How to make an application to extend a UK spouse visa: main requirements
There are a number of requirements that all applicants applying for to extend a spouse visa must meet. These are set out in Appendix FM of the Immigration Rules. Most of these requirements will be similar to those that were applicable to the initial spouse visa application.
The main requirements are:
- The applicant must be living in the UK lawfully with permission to say as the spouse of:
- a British citizen;
- a settled person (i.e. someone with Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) or permanent residence); or
- a person who is in the UK with refugee status or humanitarian protection.
- The applicant must be in a genuine and subsisting relationship with their spouse and both must intend to live together permanently in the UK. The Home Office will generally be looking to see evidence of the couple living together for at least two years before the date of application.
- The applicant must be able to demonstrate that they have the required level of English language.
- The applicant must be able to meet the financial requirement. This generally involves the couple showing an income of at least £18,600 per annum, savings of at least £62,500 or a permitted combination of the two. There are certain exemptions for an applicant’s spouse who receives specific benefits e.g. those in receipt of disability living allowance or carers allowance need to meet a maintenance requirement rather than the specific financial requirement.
- The applicant and their spouse must have access to adequate accommodation without recourse to public funds. There is no specified definition of the meaning of adequate accommodation, but accommodation will not be considered as adequate if it is, or will be overcrowded, or it contravenes public health regulations.
How to make an application to extend a spouse visa: process
It is important to note that the application must be made before the current permission to stay expires. The applicant needs to allow sufficient time to prepare the application.
With regards to the required level of English language requirement, the applicant should ensure that unless they can meet the requirements in some other way, enough time is given to undertake and receive results of an approved English language test.
The applicant will then need to make an application using the prescribed form which depends on the route they are applying under (see below), pay the Home Office Fees which are currently £1,033 (standard service) and IHS Fees currently set at £624 per year. The applicant will, as part of the process, need to book an appointment to provide their biometric information.
The Home Office will then process the application and the applicant will usually be notified of the decision within six months if the standard service is used*.
If the application is approved, the applicant will be granted permission to remain in the UK for 30 months. This will be evidenced in a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP).
*You can pay additional fees for the application to be decided quicker. The Super Priority service costs an additional £800 and a decision will be made the same day or the next day.
Five-year route to settlement
Where the applicant was able to meet all the requirements at the initial entry clearance stage, they will have been placed on the five-year route to settlement. If the applicant continues to meet the requirements, they will need to complete an online application form FLR(M). If successful they will be granted permission to stay for a further 30 months. After a continuous period of five years (60 months) in the UK on a spouse visa, the applicant will be able to apply for ILR.
Ten-year route to settlement
If the applicant was not able to meet all the requirements, such as the financial requirement or the language requirement, at the time of the initial entry clearance application, but a visa was nevertheless granted, they are on the ten-year route to settlement*. An application for an extension in this case will need to be made on form FLR(FP) and if successful leave to remain for a further 30 months will be granted. Once the applicant has resided in the UK lawfully for a continuous period of ten years (120 months) as a spouse, they can apply for ILR.
*There are situations where someone on the ten-year route can make an application to switch to the five-year route to settlement, usually where the applicant can now satisfy all the requirements including the financial requirement outlined above. We recommend that further advice is sought before making such an application.
How to make an application to extend a spouse visa: How our immigration solicitors can help
The Home Office will carefully scrutinise a spouse application. If it does not consider that the relationship is genuine or if it considers that any of the other requirements have not been met then the application may fall for refusal or you may be put on the ten year route to settlement. It is therefore essential that the application is prepared robustly to ensure that all the requirements are met and evidenced adequately.
We are highly experienced in dealing with visa applications for spouses, civil partners, unmarried partners and fiancé(e)’s to ensure a successful outcome and will provide expert guidance to you throughout the process.
For further advice, please contact us or complete our enquiry form below.