The ongoing need for marriage visas

This type of visa is vital no end for your spouse or long-term partner to live in the UK. You’ll need to provide evidence that you’re in a genuine and continuing relationship and that there is nothing made up either. There can be scams when it comes to relationships. People can also pretend they are in a relationship that is not real. This is where there can be issues time and time again. It is sad to see this though this is known to happen. After all, there have been a number of scams seen in the last few years. This is even more the case when it comes to the movement of people across borders.

New for 2022 – the Spouse Visa Extension

The marriage visa extension application can be just as rigorous and demanding as your initial visa application. You will again be required to evidence that you continue to meet the visa eligibility requirements. This is in respect of your relationship and finances. If your marriage visa extension application is successful, you will be granted a further 30 months to remain in the UK, at the end of which you should have accrued five years‘ qualifying residency in the UK and become eligible to apply for indefinite leave to remain.

The requirements around your relationship

Your relationship must either be legally recognised as a marriage or civil partnership. If you are unmarried, you need to have proof you have been in a relationship. It needs to be akin to a marriage or civil partnership for at least two years. You will also be required to prove you have been living with your spouse for the duration of your UK residency. You should also prove you intend to continue to cohabit indefinitely – throughout the extension period and beyond.

The financial requirements to this type of visa

Put simply, to satisfy the financial requirement when applying for a spouse visa extension, you and your spouse or partner will need to have a combined annual income of at least £18,600. If you have a child, the minimum requirement increases to £22,400, with an additional £2,400 for each additional child. A ‘child’ is classed as someone under the age of 18 who is dependant on you or your partner. This is an item of small print so often overlooked that needs to be fully taken into consideration.

The minimum income

This minimum income threshold can be met either through your spouse or partner’s salaried or self-employed income, or your own income where you have permission to work in the UK. You can combine income from different sources, such as pension income or maternity allowances. You can also use cash savings above £16,000 in lieu of income. In the event that your spouse or civil partner is in receipt of a specified benefit or allowance. This is such as Disability Living Allowance or Carer’s Allowance. You will be exempt from meeting the financial requirement in the form of a minimum income threshold. This is a complex area. With other sources of funds potentially considered acceptable, it is advisable to take professional guidance on your specific circumstances. There may also need to be other advice if you may have your own business and you may in fact be self-employed.

Make sure your application is a genuine one

It is, therefore, wise to include as much evidence as possible which supports the relationship being genuine. Statements from third parties, such as friends and family members, are also something applicants can include to help strengthen their application. If an applicant or their UK partner has been married in the past (or civil partnership), it is important to include evidence (divorce certificate) of the permanent breakdown of the previous relationship. This must be translated into English if in another language.

The English language requirements you need to adhere to

Unless the applicant is a national of a country which is exempt by the Home Office (majority English-speaking countries), is over 65 years old, has a physical or mental disability preventing them from taking the test, or has an exceptional compassionate circumstance, then they must meet the English language requirement by passing an approved language test.

The applicant must, at a minimum, have A1 level English for speaking and listening. This is a ruling under the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). They are obligated to go to an approved centre. This in order to take the test and receive their English Language Certificate.

Other vital requirements you need to be aware of

When applying as a national from certain countries, applicants must include a certificate within the application. It should prove that they have been screened for tuberculosis (TB) at an approved centre. Regarding living arrangements, the property that the couple are intending to live in within the UK has to be “owned or occupied exclusively” by their family. The property cannot be “overcrowded”. The definition of this can be found in the Housing Act 1985. The documents that need to be included in the application will depend on whether the accommodation is rented, owned, or if they live in the home of a family member or friend.

How long will it take via the home office for your application to go through?

The Home Office states that for applications made outside of the UK it decides 95% of settlement applications (this includes Spouse visas and some other categories under Appendix FM) within 12 weeks (3 months) of the application date and 100% within 24 weeks (6 months) of the application date. However, in some application centres there are priority services for Spouse visa applicants available to allow a faster processing time. For those applying in the UK, there is a 24 hour service available. Priority services will incur an additional cost. Remember, the extra cost is worth paying. This is as you will be having your application processed even faster and more effectively too. In no time you could be able to move abroad.

During the Covid-19 pandemic

During Covid-19 not all priority services are available so it is best to check likely processing times before making plans and not to make inflexible travel bookings until your application is resolved. With all of this in mind, it will pay to be patient as and when and how this process is undertaken and handled. With other going on’s in the world as well as the pandemic, there has been a surge in the demand for marriage visa support in recent times too. At the moment there are a number of regions of the world seeing a need for marriage visa applications to be processed in a fast time.

Conclusion / the best advice ahead of your application

It is often wise to enlist the help of an immigration consultant or adviser. Make sure in all cases that they are knowledgeable in this area. Also, make sure they can help people correctly complete the necessary forms in order to increase chances of visa approval. As tempting as it may be to try and work on this yourself, it pays ten-fold to hire professionals to carry out and oversee the all-important application process. Never look at this service as a cost of a marriage visa, look at it as an investment. Also look at this in the sense you will be buying in first hand knowledge and experience which in essence doesn’t actually have a value. In this sense, this can be the difference between a successful and unsuccessful application taking place.

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