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Five Ways to Ensure your UK Spouse Visa isn’t Refused

Article published (or last modified) on 11 July 2019

Applying for Family Visas, in particular Partner/Spouse Visas, can be some of the hardest immigration applications to prepare appropriately.

The specific UK immigration rules for Spouse visas and all other Family visas is called Appendix FM, with an additional guidance list for supporting evidence called Appendix FM-SE.

These guidelines are infamously complicated to understand, with the amount of supporting documents needed for a successful application being higher than almost any other immigration route.

At White Rose Visas we have a wealth of experience in handling many different variations of Spouse visa applications. We have therefore compiled this list to highlight the most important things to remember when applying.

1. A Genuine and Subsisting Relationship: More than just a Marriage Certificate

The genuine and subsisting relationship rule is one of the unique criteria in UK spouse visa applications.

This requirement exists to make sure that anyone applying for a visa is telling the truth about their relationship with their partner, and to avoid accepting those who have gotten married only in an attempt to get their visa.

Failing to properly meet this requirement is one of the main reasons why these applications are refused by the Home Office.

Providing your marriage certificate is mandatory, but it is not enough evidence on its own to prove that a relationship is genuine and subsisting.

Despite the Home Office stating this, they do not provide further guidance on additional evidence needed for a successful application.

To prove that your relationship meets the criteria, and when applying for a partner visa in general, we recommended a more is more approach to providing your evidence. Examples can include:

Application Form, photo by White Rose Visas
  • Records of holidays taken together (such as flight and hotel bookings).
  • Photographs as a couple.
  • Supportive Letters from friends and family.
  • Evidence of joint financial commitments.
  • Evidence of communication between applicant and sponsor (emails, call logs, WhatsApp messages, Facebook messages etc.).
  • Cohabitation Evidence (tenancy agreements with both names included, tax/utility bills etc)
  • Proof of having children together (birth certificate).
  • Evidence of visiting each other’s home countries.
  • Gifts bought for each other.

You should strengthen your case as much as possible with as much of the above evidence as you can.

The strongest applications are those that leave no doubt that, based on the supporting documents, the relationship between applicant and sponsor is legitimate.

2. Financial Requirement: No Missing Documents

To meet the financial requirements for spouse visa applications you must meet the minimum gross annual income threshold, which is currently £18,600.

This threshold will be higher if you are applying with child dependants.

There are ways to meet this requirement through income from employment, income from self-employment, non-employment income like property rentals or dividends, money from a state (either UK or foreign) and some allowances or benefits.

You can also meet the requirement through some combinations of the above, and you may also be able to use cash savings (over £62,500 is usually needed) to meet the minimum threshold.

There are also certain exemptions with evidence of ‘adequate maintenance’ including the receipt of certain allowances or benefits, but this will crucially need to be supported with its own evidence.

This can make supplying the correct evidence for the financial requirement extremely confusing, particularly for those looking to meet through a self-employment salary.

Couple holding hands, photo by Alex Iby on Unsplash

You must make sure to include every possible document proving your income. This will often include several months of bank statements, payslips, letters and numerous other documents.

A missing financial document or discrepancy in the annual income claimed and the amount evidenced can often lead to a visa refusal.

You must thoroughly check and cross-check all financial evidence before submission to be sure you meet this requirement.

3. English Language Requirement: UKVI Approval

Like many UKVI applications, an appropriate English Language level must be proven for a spouse visa to be granted.

Depending on whether the application is initial or an extension you will need to meet CEFR level A1 or A2. This means you will need to have passed a test for speaking and listening in English.

However, to meet this requirement the English Language test you take must be approved by UKVI. This means it needs to be at an approved test location by an approved test provider.

Even if you’ve taken an English Language test at a higher level than this, if it wasn’t a UKVI approved test then it will not be sufficient as evidence in your application.

For further information on this requirement and approved English Language tests, please see our recent blog post.

4. Parental Responsibility: Remembering Previous Relationships

If child dependants are involved in a spouse visa application it can become much more complicated, especially if they are children from a previous relationship.

Often applicants assume that their current relationship is the only important relationship to evidence in the application process.

Unfortunately, if you have been married or had children with someone else previously, you must declare this, and the question of who has parental responsibility for the child can affect your chances of obtaining your visa.

If there are children involved from a previous relationship the application can be refused if the Home Office aren’t satisfied that the visa applicant has sole parental responsibility. The way in which is evidence this can be complicated and expert advice should be obtained.

5. Intention to Live in the UK: Proof of Your Future Home

One of the main requirements of a spouse visa is that you must intend to live permanently with your spouse in the UK.

This is particularly important in situations where families have been living outside of the UK and intend to move back together to settle.

Countryside walk, photo by Robert Bye on Unsplash

In these circumstances you need to provide additional evidence that proves you intend to settle permanently in the UK.

This can include documents relating to property in the UK, employment offers, school places for children or other evidence which otherwise shows that you aim to stay in the UK together for an extended period of time.

This doesn’t mean that you’re not allow to travel outside of the UK once the visa has been granted.

However, if you are hoping to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain in the future, the UK must be viewed as your permanent home.

If you remember these five points, you will be able to better prepare your application.

Here at White Rose Visas we can provide a full and free assessment of your circumstances to explore all visa options open to you.

We are well-versed in preparing applications for family visas, including spouse visas, and can advise and assist you every step of the way. Please contact us directly for further information, and one of our qualified immigration advisers will be ready to help.

Linzi Drummond, photo by White Rose Visas

Linzi Drummond, Immigration Adviser at White Rose Visas, comments:

“Because of the amount of evidence needed, spouse visas can end up being some of the most complex immigration applications to prepare appropriately. Forgetting one important document or not checking Appendix FM-SE can result in the Home Office refusing an application even though the requirements are met. Document collation and checking is vital, which is why we ensure all applications are reviewed by our senior immigration advisers before submission to make sure all the requested evidence has been included.”

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