It is estimated that 20-25% of all UK spouse visa applications are rejected, resulting in disappointment, worry, uncertainty, and a significant loss of money for those affected. The harsh truth is that many of these rejections could have been avoided by taking more time to check the application and the accompanying documents before submission to the Home Office. Indeed, we are regularly asked to intervene in spouse visa applications whereby refusal resulted from a small oversight. When assessing your application, the Home Office will look at your case from three perspectives; validity, eligibility, and suitability. Even if you meet all of the eligibility criteria for a spouse visa, you will still be refused if your application is invalid or you are deemed unsuitable (e.g. on the grounds of prior criminality).
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In this article, we will outline how you can boost your chances of receiving approval of your spouse visa application based on the different grounds for refusal.
Spouse Visa Validity Requirements
Paragraph 34 of the Immigration Rules outlines a number of requirements that must be met in order for a visa application to be considered valid. Crucially, paragraph 34A states, “where an application for permission to stay does not meet the requirements of paragraph 34, it is invalid and will not be considered”. For your spouse visa application to be considered valid, you must have:
- Used the correct application form
- Completed all of the mandatory sections of the application form
- Paid the correct fee in full
- Provided proof of your identity – e.g. a valid passport
- Provided all of the documents and information required to assess your application. Any documents you provide must be in the correct format, dated appropriately, and properly translated where necessary
- Signed your application
- Enrolled your biometrics (i.e. had your fingerprints scanned and a photo taken at a visa application centre or UKVCAS service point).
If you plan to prepare and submit your spouse visa application yourself, it is always advisable to have an immigration Solicitor review your application form and documents prior to submission.
Spouse Visa Eligibility Requirements
To make a successful spouse visa application, you will need to prove that you meet the:
- Relationship requirements – i.e. that you are married, in a civil partnership, or have been living in a genuine and subsisting relationship with a British or Irish national or a person who has settled in the UK. It is essential that you provide robust evidence of your relationship and the ending of any prior marriages or civil partnerships. If the Home Office believe you are in a ‘sham’ relationship purely for the purpose of gaining a visa, they will refuse your application. Importantly, ensure that everything you have said about your relationship in your application is consistent and non-contradictory (e.g. when and how you met). To ensure you have the necessary evidence to prove you are in an eligible relationship, speak to an immigration Solicitor who will check this for you and, where necessary, draft a covering letter to support your application.
- Financial requirements for UK Spouse Visas – you and your partner must have a joint annual income of at least £18,600, plus an additional £3,800 a year for your first child and £2,400 a year for each child you have after your first child. You can use other forms of income to meet this requirement, including savings, investments, pensions, and non-work income. It is essential that you provide a clear breakdown of your income and how you meet this requirement. Again, if you are in any doubt or if you have a complex income arrangement, speak to an immigration Solicitor who will check your eligibility and accompanying evidence.
- Accommodation – you must have accommodation in the UK that is for your exclusive use as a family, has sufficient space, and meets public health regulations.
- English language requirements – unless you are from a qualifying English-speaking country, you have a degree or higher taught in English, you are over 65, or you have a physical or mental impairment which means you cannot meet the requirement, you must pass an English language test. This must be to at least level A1 on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) when making your initial application. When applying for a renewal of your spouse visa, this must be at level A2.
Spouse Visa Suitability Requirements
Suitability means that the Home Office believe that you do not represent a threat or risk to the UK. This is based on factors such as prior criminality, past behaviours such as rough sleeping, exclusion from the UK, past breaches of the immigration rules, and providing false information and/or documents.
It is essential that you disclose all prior criminal convictions and sentences on your application. Even if a prior conviction may not prevent you from making a successful application, failure to disclose it certainly will.
Whether your application is approved will depend on the length of any sentence received, the time since the completion of the sentence, and the severity of the criminality. For example, a prison sentence of between 1 and 4 years may be disregarded as long as 15 years have passed since the end of the sentence.
If you are concerned that any factors from your past may mean that you are considered not suitable for a spouse visa, speak to one of our London-based spouse visa lawyers or solicitors who will review your circumstances and recommend the best course of action to maximise your chance of receiving approval from the Home Office.
Call us on +44 (0) 207 269 9590 or fill out the form below to discuss your matter with one of our friendly and empathetic team.
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At Gulbenkian Andonian, we pride ourselves on “Excellence, Experience and Efficiency”. With over 35 years of experience on your side, our team of London based lawyers and solicitors have a wealth of experience advising individuals, families and businesses of all sizes to find clarity on UK law.
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Dr Bernard Andonian – the Co-Founder of Gulbenkian Andonian Solicitors, is an experienced Immigration Solicitor, former Judge, and recipient of a PhD in Law from the University of West London. He has over four decades of experience practising UK Immigration, Human Rights and Civil Litigation Law. He has served on the Law Society Immigration Law Panel, achieved numerous groundbreaking decisions in higher courts and is featured in the Legal 500’s Hall of Fame.