Two and a half year provisional spouse visa
If your UK settlement visa application is successful, your foreign partner or spouse will initially be granted a conditional, also known as provisional, spousal visa which grants the holder temporary permanent resident status and allows them to remain in the UK initially for two and a half years. In general, conditional permanent residency is a “testing period” before a foreign national who immigrates to the UK through a British spouse or partner becomes a full-fledged, lawful permanent resident. The purpose of conditional permanent resident status is to guarantee that only people who form real marriages and partnerships will obtain immigration benefits. During the two and a half year probationary period, provisional visa holders receive most of the benefits that permanent residents do. For instance, they can work, travel in and out of the UK, and, most importantly, count the time they spend in the UK as conditional residents towards requirements for British citizenship.
After two and a half years, your loved one will need to apply for a further spousal or partner visa (further leave to remain) to complete their five year probationary period in the UK with an option to apply for an indefinite leave to remain (ILR) in the future which grants the holder permanent immigration status in the UK. You must demonstrate to the immigration authorities that you are still married and intend to continue living together. If you pass this second stage, your spouse or partner will be considered a permanent resident and will be permitted to remain in the UK indefinitely. The application for the permanent marriage visa must be submitted to the UK Border Agency (UKBA) from inside the UK. If you do not submit this application on time your spouse or partner will lose legal status and may be required to leave the country.
Important Announcement: New UK Immigration Rules after 9 July 2012