Switching from a Fiance Visa to a Spouse Visa
The UK Fiance Visa does not lead directly to settlement in the UK. However, once you have married in the UK you will be able to apply for and switch to a UK Spouse Visa before your current leave in the UK expires.
The UK Spouse Visa is for married partners of British or Irish citizens, persons who are settled in the UK, persons with pre-settled status, persons with a Turkish Businessperson or Turkish Worker visa and persons with refugee status or humanitarian protection who wish to join, or stay with, their husband or wife in the UK. An application for a UK Spouse Visa can be made from inside the UK when switching from a Fiance Visa. The UK Spouse Visa can lead to indefinite leave to remain or settlement in the UK after a period of 5 years.
In this post we look at how to switch from a UK Fiance Visa to a UK Spouse Visa.
When Should I Switch from a Fiance Visa to a Spouse Visa?
An application to switch to a UK Spouse Visa should be made before your leave in the UK as a Fiance has expired. If your leave is due to expire and you are still yet to get married, you can apply to extend your stay for a further 6 months in order to allow the ceremony to take place. However, there must be a good reason why the wedding has not taken place so far and evidence that a ceremony will take place within the next 6 months.
An application to switch to a UK Spouse Visa can be made anytime after you have married and received your marriage certificate (and so long as you meet all the other requirements mentioned below). If the application to switch to a UK Spouse Visa is made on or before your leave as a Fiance expires then your leave will be protected under Section 3C of the Immigration Act 1971 until a decision on your application for a UK Spouse Visa is made. Any late application will make you an overstayer.
Differences between the Fiance Visa and the Spouse Visa
One difference is that an application for entry clearance for a Fiance visa is made from outside the UK. An application for leave to remain as a Spouse can be made from within the UK, so long as the Immigration Status Requirement is met. The application processing time will also be shorter when switching into a UK Spouse Visa than when the application for the UK Fiance Visa was made. This is addressed in more detail below.
Another difference is that as a fiance you are granted a period of leave of 6 months within the UK. If an application to switch to a UK Spouse Visa is successful then you will be granted leave to remain for a period of 30 months initially. Before the initial grant of leave as a Spouse expires, you will need to apply to extend your stay. If the application for further leave to remain as a spouse is successful then you will be granted further leave to remain for a period of 30 months. After spending 5 years (60 months) in the UK as a spouse, you will be eligible to apply for indefinite leave to remain. Time spent in the UK on the Fiance Visa does not count as part of the route to settlement.
Lastly, on a Fiance Visa you are not legally entitled to work or study in the UK. Once you have successfully switched to a UK Spouse Visa you will legally be entitled to work and study in the UK. Additionally, on a Spouse visa you can fully access the NHS for free after paying the Immigration Health Surcharge. Whereas, on the Fiance visa you have limited NHS access, and you will have to pay for secondary treatment. To find out more on NHS accessibility please see here.
Similarities between the Fiance Visa and the Spouse Visa
Many of the requirements that you had to satisfy to be eligible for a UK Fiance Visa are similar to that of a UK Spouse Visa. The key difference from the previous UK Fiance Visa is that you are now married.
UK Spouse Visa Requirements
In order to qualify for a UK Spouse Visa, you will need to satisfy UK Visas and Immigration that you meet the following requirements:
- Your partner is British or Irish, is settled in the UK, has been granted pre-settled status, holds a Turkish Businessperson or Turkish Worker visa or has refugee status or humanitarian protection;
- You and your partner are both over the age of 18;
- You and your partner are not within a prohibited degree of relationship;
- You and your partner have met in person;
- You and your partner are legally married in a marriage that is recognised in the UK;
- Your relationship is genuine and subsisting;
- You and your partner intend to live together permanently in the UK;
- Any previous relationship has broken down permanently;
- You satisfy a financial requirement;
- There is adequate accommodation for you and any dependents;
- You speak and understand English to a required level.
A post to read in detail about the requirements and supporting documents for the UK Spouse Visa can be found here.
Read about some of our Spouse, Partner and Family Visa Success Stories.
Requirement for Marriage to Be Recognised in the UK
In order to qualify for a UK Spouse Visa, you and your partner will need to be legally married in a marriage that is recognised in the UK.
To be recognised as valid, all marriages which take place in the UK must be monogamous and must be carried out in accordance with the requirements of the Marriage Act 1949 (as amended), the Marriage Act (Scotland) 1977 or the Marriage Order (Northern Ireland) 2003.
This means that any required notice of intention to marry must have been given, you must have been married at an authorised place of marriage and your marriage must have been conducted by, or in the presence of, a person authorised to register marriages. You and your spouse must also both have been at least 18 years old (in England and Wales) or 16 years old (in Scotland and Northern Ireland) on the date when you married in order for your marriage to be recognised as valid.
A marriage in the UK must be evidenced by a marriage certificate.
What if I Cannot Satisfy the Requirements for a UK Spouse Visa?
If you are not able to satisfy the requirements for a UK Spouse Visa you may still be able to remain in the UK on human rights grounds if there are exceptional circumstances.
What if my Spouse Visa application is Refused?
The most common reason for a Spouse Visa application to be refused is because the applicant fails to include sufficient documentary evidence in support of their application. Every case is different and the required supporting documents for a Spouse Visa application will vary from case to case. You may want to speak to an immigration lawyer for expert advice.
If your application for a UK Spouse Visa is refused then you should have a right of appeal. This is because a spouse application is automatically deemed a human rights claim.
Applications to switch into or extend as a spouse submitted from within the UK should be decided within 8 weeks. The Home Office has reopened the Super Priority Visa which should give a decision by the next working day.
Application Fees and Immigration Health Surcharge
The Home Office application fee to switch into the spouse category from within the UK or extend stay as a spouse is currently £1,048.
The Home Office has also announced that the Immigration Health Surcharge will be increasing. A post to find out more information can be found here. The Immigration Health Surcharge for Leave to Remain as a Spouse is currently £624 per year. This means that if you are granted Leave to Remain as a spouse for 30 months you will have to pay £1,560.
How Our Immigration Barristers Can Help
Our immigration barristers regularly assist foreign national Fiances to switch in the Spouse route to settle in the UK with their partners. We have assisted hundreds of foreign national spouses to prepare and submit successful UK Spouse Visa applications.
Whether you require expert advice on the requirements of the Immigration Rules for Spouse Visas, an independent assessment of your prospects of qualifying for a Spouse Visa or professional assistance with preparing a Spouse Visa application, our immigration barristers can help.
The financial requirement rules are particularly complex and include mandatory requirements in terms of the documentary evidence that must be provided to UK Visas and Immigration in order to demonstrate access to the relevant funds. Our immigration barristers specialise in assisting applicants with complex financial circumstances to secure successful outcomes in their Spouse Visa applications.
We pride ourselves on being approachable and proactive in understanding and meeting our clients’ needs. We are a highly driven team of immigration barristers, dedicated to providing clear and reliable immigration advice to individuals applying for a UK Spouse Visa as part of a professional and friendly service.