Spouse Visa extensions
Those who have lived in the UK for a certain number of years while holding a Spousal Visa can apply to extend it. This grants them longer stay in the UK and allows them to meet the qualifying period for permanent settlement if they require.
An extended Spouse Visa lasts for a further 30 months. To meet the renewal requirements, you must prove that you are still in a ‘genuine and subsisting’ relationship with your British/settled partner and that you have been living with them during your time in the UK. You must also demonstrate that you intend to continue to do this for the foreseeable future. As well as this, you must show that you and your partner can meet the financial requirements which are appropriate for you and the size of your dependent family if you have one.
If you want to find out more about the Spouse Visa renewal process, call us on 020 3883 6530. One of our London-based immigration solicitors can help you understand the requirements in more detail.
Requirements for extending your Spouse Visa
The requirements for a Spouse/Partner Visa extension are very similar to the original Spouse Visa application requirements.
To be eligible to extend your visa, you need to still be married/in a long-standing, committed relationship with a British citizen or person with settled status. You must prove that your relationship with your partner is genuine. You will be required to show this by providing documents which prove you have spent quality time together during your stay in the UK. For example, this could be photographs of the two of you together or proof that you have attended events together in the UK. You could also use examples such as financial transactions from shared bank accounts.
As well as proving your relationship is still genuine, you also need to meet the following requirements:
- Show that you can continue to meet the financial requirements for a Spousal Visa
- Show that you can speak and understand English to the required standard
- Show you meet the ‘good character’ requirements
- Show you have not breached your current visa and that you are still of sound mind and character
The Partner Visa extension process
To start the process of extending your Partner Visa, you need to complete an application form for a Spouse Visa extension under the category FLR (M). You can do this at any time before your current Spouse Visa expires.
As a part of the application process, you will need to provide details about your partner or spouse which demonstrates the nature of your relationship.
You will also need to provide a range of documents to prove that you meet the financial, English language, and good character requirements.
In some cases, you may be invited to attend an interview with the Home Office. This is often the case when there are exceptional circumstances in your case, or you have not supplied enough evidence to support your extension application.
Once your application has been submitted online or via post, it takes approximately three weeks to process. You will receive a decision on your renewal application in the post. After this, you will either have your extension application accepted or rejected. If it is rejected, you can either make a fresh application or appeal the decision, though this depends on what grounds it has been rejected.
Continuing to meet the financial requirements
As part of your application to extend your visa, you must be able to show that you and your partner can continue to support yourselves in the UK without relying on public funds. To do this, you must prove that, between you, you have a gross annual income of £18,600. If you have children who are not permanently settled, British, or European, this figure rises by:
- £3,800 for your first child
- £2,400 for each extra child after your first.
You can use a range of sources to meet the Spouse Visa extension financial requirement. This includes wages, an income from owning a business, income from property, income from being self-employed, income from stocks and shares, and savings (up to the amount of £16,000).
Changes to the Spouse Visa English language requirements
In 2017, the Home Office made a significant change to the English language requirements for visa categories.
As a result of this, individuals who were not previously required to take an English language test for their Spouse Visa (which is those who applied before this date) are required to if they want to extend their visa now.
The English language requirements for a Partner/Spouse Visa stipulate that holders must have at least at ‘A2’ level in speaking and listening. This measurement is set out by the Common European Framework for Reference for Languages. You are exempt from having to take this test if you speak English as your fist language or hold a degree from a recognised, English-taught course.
Accommodation requirements for a Partner Visa extension
To be eligible for an extension on your stay in the UK as a spouse or partner, you must show that you and your partner have been living together during your time in the UK so far, and that you fully intend to keep doing so.
To do this, you can show: proof of a shared tenancy agreement, a joint mortgage or proof of utility bill payments.
Spouse Visa extension costs
The UKVI fee for extending a Spouse/Partner Visa (as of the beginning of 2019) is £1,033. For each dependant child extending their visa alongside yours, a further £1,033 is needed.
As well as this cost, there are also some additional charges, including the Biometric fee (£19.20) and Immigration Health Surcharge (£400 per year, per person).
Advice on Spouse Visa extensions
Our Spouse & Partner Visa extension advice package pairs you with one of our specialist immigration lawyers in London. They will work closely with you to advise you on how to proceed with renewing your Spouse Visa. Our advice packages include an untimed session, advice on the documents you need to provide, advice on your next steps, and a written summary of everything your lawyer tells you. All our lawyers are experts in their specialised area, and we have several lawyers in the capital who have advised hundreds of Family Visa applications, extensions, and appeals. Call us on 020 3883 6530 to book the advice session now.
Ongoing application support with Spouse Visa extensions
Our complete application packages are designed around individuals and their needs. As part of our Spouse Visa extension package, you will receive the full advice package (including the untimed session) as well as ongoing support. This support involves your lawyer sourcing and organising your documents for you, filing them into an Evidence Portfolio, and writing a detailed cover letter to support your application. As well as this, they will also complete and submit your visa extension on your behalf. Call us on 020 3883 6530 to find out more about how we can help you extend your stay with your spouse in the UK.
Avoiding and dealing with a refusal
To avoid refusal on your Partner Visa renewal, you must minimise the room for error. This means that you must ensure your form is completed accurately and to the highest standard. It also means that you should ensure you submit documents that support every element of your application. This includes:
- Documents to show you meet the financial criteria (like job contracts, wage slips, and bank statements)
- Documents to show you meet the English language requirements (like your test certificate, your degree, or your passport)
- Documents to prove your relationship is genuine (like photographs, videos, messages, tickets, receipts, bank statements etc)
- Documents to prove you meet the accommodation requirements (like a house lease, tenancy agreement or utility bill)
If your application is refused, you may be eligible to refuse this decision. This applies when you feel the UKVI has made a genuine mistake in its decision-making, or if your lawyer made a mistake on your application (not if you made one).
If you can’t appeal, you must make a fresh application. To avoid refusal, and the prospect of paying another fee for a fresh extension application, you should ensure you are eligible for an extension before applying.
Switching from a Spouse Visa to ILR
Once you have extended your Spouse Visa and lived in the UK for a full five years, you can qualify for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR).
This is a form of settlement which allows an individual to live in the UK without being restricted by visa conditions. This means they can live, work, switch jobs, study, and leave and enter without concern.
To be eligible for ILR from a Spouse Visa, you must:
- Have lived in the UK with valid entry clearance as a non-EEA partner for at last five years
- Meet the same minimum income requirement for your visa (£18,600 per couple)
- Not have breached any immigration regulations or laws
- Pass the ‘Life in the UK’ test
- Meet the ‘good character’ and ‘good behavior’ requirements
- Supply Biometric Resident information
- Not have spent more than 180 days outside of the UK during the 12 months prior to your application
Once you hold ILR status, you become eligible to apply for British citizenship after 12 months, if this is a route you are interested in pursuing. Going through this process is called naturalising as a British citizen. This is a fairly common route for non-EEA spouses of British nationals who want to settle permanently in Britain with their significant other and their family.
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You need documents that prove you have met the requirements of your current spouse visa and that you will continue to do so in the foreseeable future.
You must provide documents that prove you meet the financial, English language, accommodation, and genuine relationship requirements.
Examples of Spouse Visa extension documents include:
- Financial requirements: Bank statements, job contracts, offers of employment, wage slips
- English language requirements: IELTS certificate, degree, passport
- Genuine relationship requirements: Photographs, receipts, messages, shared bank account details
- Accommodation requirements: A lease, mortgage plan, tenancy agreement, utility bill
You can apply for an extension of your Partner Visa any time before your current visa expires. Once your current visa expires, you will usually have 30 days grace period to apply for an extension. If you don’t apply for this during this time, and you don’t leave the UK, you will be in breach of UK immigration laws. This means you will be classed as an overstayer. This can result in immediate detention or deportation and means that you may not be eligible for future immigration applications (like ILR) unless there are extenuating circumstances.
Spouse Visa extensions are relatively straightforward to process, so you should have a decision on your application within three weeks after it is submitted.
However, the process of finding and gathering your supporting evidence, as well as completing your forms and taking any necessary tests (such as an English language test) can take time. This means the entire Partner/Spouse Visa renewal process usually takes around two-three months from start to finish.