UK settlement spouse visa: frequently asked questions (FAQ)

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We have recently married and would like to relocate to the UK, how do we do this?

You will need to apply for a UK settlement spousal visa unless you and your UK sponsor have established residency in another EEA/EU member state. Family members of British citizens who have exercised a treaty right in another member state as a worker or self-employed may qualify for an EEA family permit under ‘Surinder Singh’ provision (this option is not available to family members of UK permanent residents, i.e. indefinite leave to remain or right of abode holders temporary residing in other EEA/EU member states). You must apply for the visa prior to coming to the UK.

We had a traditional wedding ceremony and therefore were not issued with a marriage certificate. Will the UK Border Agency (UKBA) accept this?

In order apply for a UK spousal visa, your marriage must be valid in the country where it took place and recognised under UK law. There must be no legal impediment to the marriage under UK law, if one of the parties is domiciled in the UK at the time of registration (an example of where a marriage is voidable is where one of the parties is already legally married which would constitute bigamy). You must get your marriage registered with the relevant authorities (in some countries such as Australia and Canada for example, wedding officiants/celebrants submit all the necessary documents to the registrar on behalf of the couple). You will then be issued an official marriage certificate that must be submitted to the appropriate British Consulate, Embassy or High Commission as part of a UK settlement spouse visa application.

I have recently married a British Citizen or legal permanent resident and I am already in the UK having been admitted on a different visa category, what do I do now?

You may be eligible to switch into the spousal visa category (further leave to remain or FLRm) from inside the UK if you initially entered on a long term visa, such as a student visa or work visa, which is still valid. Settlement fiancee visa holders are also eligible to apply onshore. Visitors and other short term visa holders are not permitted to apply for a UK spouse visa/extension from inside the UK. They are required to return to their home country to make an application through the appropriate British Embassy or High Commission with jurisdiction over their place of normal and legal residence.

Will I be permitted to leave the UK and come back on a spouse visa?

Once you have leave to enter the UK, or leave to remain as a spouse or partner of a British Citizen or UK permanent resident, you will be permitted to re-enter the UK as often as you like while the visa is valid. Please note that you may require a Schengen visa for other EU countries, or any country requiring visas for non-EEA/EU citizens.

I have received my spouse visa, can I establish my own business or work in the UK?

Once you have your spouse visa you will be free to take up employment or establish your own business in the UK. You will also be entitled to medical care in the UK under the NHS.

We married and applied for a UK settlement marriage visa before 9 July 2012, do we have to meet the new financial requirement?

No, any settlement applications made before 9 July 2012 will be assessed under the old rules, including all subsequent applications such as further leave to remain (FLRm) or indefinite leave to remain (ILR).

I am in a polygamous marriage, would I be allowed to bring my spouses to the UK?

If you are in a polygamous relationship, only one (first) spouse can be sponsored for a UK settlement spousal visa and come to the UK exercising her rights as a spouse of a British Citizen or UK permanent resident (settled person). Please contact us for further assistance.

I have indefinite leave to remain in the UK, may I sponsor my spouse to come and live with me, or must I apply for naturalisation to become a British Citizen?

Once you are a settled person in the UK with indefinite leave to remain (no conditions attached to your visa or time restrictions) you may sponsor a foreign national for a settlement visa to join you in the UK.

I had to flee my marital home due to domestic violence and my visa is due to expire, will I have to return to my country of origin?

If you had to flee your marriage or divorce due to domestic violence, you may be able to stay in the UK. Please contact us for more information.

I have recently become bereaved after the death of my British spouse. Will I have to leave the UK?

There are certain conditions in which discretionary leave and settlement can be granted for spouses in this situation. Please contact is for further assistance.

How long does it usually take to obtain a UK spouse visa?

Visa processing times vary significantly from country to country. In most cases it is best to allow at least two to three months for a settlement application to be processed unless you are able to request a premium service that is currently available in Brazil, Taiwan, Japan, Canada and the US. Premium settlement applications are usually processed within 10 to 15 days.

In addition to meeting the threshold and accommodation requirements, do I need to satisfy any other additional criteria in order to qualify for a UK spouse visa?

Aside from proving that your marriage is genuine and subsisting, you may need to pass a mandatory English language test to prove your proficiency in the English language before you can apply for a settlement visa to join your husband or wife in the UK. Generally, only nationals of majority English speaking countries and applicants who have a degree which was taught or researched in English and recognised by UK NARIC as meeting or exceeding the recognised standard of a Bachelor’s degree in the UK, are exempt from the English language requirement. In some countries, such as India, Pakistan, Philippines, Thailand, Uganda, Ghana, Kenya and many others, visa applicants are required to undergo a mandatory TB screening as part of the application process. 
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