UK Spouse Visa Difficulties February 2024

UK Spouse Visa Difficulties February 2024

  1. Financial requirements and Visa fees.
  2. Self-Employed or own your own company.
  3. Accommodation requirements.
  4. English language requirements.
  5. Relationship requirements.
  6. TB / Medical testing.
  7. Married to someone under 18.
  8. Previously married.
  9. Interracial and Interfaith marriages.
  10. Polygamy / Polygyny.
  11. Arranged marriage .
  12. Proxy marriage.
  13. Large age gap.
  14. No common language.
  15. Final 3 months of your existing visa.
  16. Switching in the UK.
  17. Resident in third country.
  18. UK Visitor’s visa or Over-stayer.

For your Free initial overview consultation please call UK 02071935178 |

  1. Financial Requirements and Visa fees.

One of the key difficulties introduced on 9th July 2012 was the £18,600 minimum financial requirements. Recently on 4th December 2023 this has been increased to £38,700. Although not yet law until end of March 2024. The Home Office may implement the increase in stages (£29,000 (11 April 2024) / £34,500 (Oct 2024) etc). This increase in required salary is not the only change in 2024. They have also the increased the UK Spouse Visa medical fees, it was £500 in 2015, now it is £3,105 in 2024. This has created additional difficulties for many couples without any simple solution.

The minimum wage on an annual basis would mean around £19,500 per year (£10.18 ph x 37h x 52w). This leaves a lot of sponsors short by £10,000 for (£29,000) and short by £19,200 to reach £38,700. Of course if they have non-British children the figure increases to £42,500 for one child and £44,900 for two children.

If someone is fresh out of university or in their early twenties there is a good chance that they will struggle to meet the financial requirements. Additionally if they take unpaid holidays to get married or spend time with their spouse abroad their income may drop even further and thus likely to increase the chance of failing to meet the financial requirements.

Someone on £30,000 a year may feel safe in April 2024, assuming that initially £29,000 is the required amount (with no further changes) instead of £38,700. In any event they could find themselves unable to sponsor because they have a recent payslip paying less than £2,500 (£30,000 / 12) due to their absence from work. In this case they will have to provide 12 months payslips rather than the usual previous 6 months (due to the drop) and so hope they have a total amount gross annual salary above £29,000. In the above case one month totally unpaid leave will result in their total being (£30,000) – (£2,500) = £27,500 thus short by £1,500. They would need to earn £31,650 to afford the luxury of going abroad for their unpaid month long wedding and honeymoon.

As regards the visa application fees, you have two sets, applications made within the UK and applications lodged from out-side the UK. Within the UK the Home Office spouse visa application fee is £1,048 plus Biometric fingerprints session fees. Then you have a separate fee of £1,560 / (£2,587.50 – 16 Jan 2024 onwards) for IHS medical insurance fee. For out-side UK applications the office Home Office fee is about £800 higher at £1,846, however the actual fee charged could be even higher close to £1,950 as it is usually paid in local currency or in US dollars. The same for the IHS fee due to exchange rates and Home Office putting about 4% top up. In all cases you may need to add another £150 for English language test and £100 for TB test where relevant. You may also need to pay £70 to £400 to secure your fingerprints appointment as there is a huge demand and appointments are for sale. Total per person cost could easily be above £5,000 (from 6 February 2024). The Home Office makes about 1000% profit on the fees charged and that’s from the official figures released by them.

2. Self-Employed or own your own company

For your Free initial Self Employment overview consultation please call UK 02071935178

If you are self-employed or own your own company, the evidence required is even more difficult to gather. normally the Home Office would be looking for up to tow years of income and profit evidence. If someone recently switched from salaried employment to self employment it become even more tricky as they wont be able to show two years of self-employed evidence. In any event the minimum they are looking for is the last full financial year for which you have made your returns, have the submitted documents and hopefully paid your taxes. Then since the end of that period you need to show until the present day when you are looking to make the application. you wont have the annual returns but they would be looking for invoices, quarterly reports or accountants documentation to establish your profit share. The aim is to evidence £38,700 or more in your annual returns as your profits or take home plus the same or more pro-rata for the period leading up to your application.

For example, you are applying in March / April 2024. This would usually mean providing your completed annual returns for tax year April 2022/2023 and April 2023/2024. It is best not to show £39,000 or £40,000 on the dot. As a self employed person it is possible to pay yourself any salary you want and so the Home Office needs to be satisfied that the numbers are not propped up for the visa purposes. Rarely the Home Office can reject applications where they do not believe the company it self is incapable of paying the level of income or salary claimed. Usually they look at Companies House submissions and even in a salaried environment and the company is not owned by the sponsor, they still can use this somewhat unfair reasoning because the company is too small and the salary claimed is not readily believable.

3. Accommodation requirements

Accommodation can be tricky as the sponsor may live with their extended family or has a singles-pad or a basic room. This was enough and until the spouse gets his or her visa this does not need to change. This is confusing for most couples as the sponsor has to evidence that he / she has sufficient space to accommodate themselves and their spouse and any additional children (British, EEA or other nationality).

In an environment where people pay 30-50% of their income on rent or lodging costs having a space secured for their partner 3-4 months prior to a visa being granted may add thousands of pounds on top. Not to mention since Immigration Act 2014, landlords will not give consent letters for people who do not have right to reside in the UK. If the visa is refused, the sponsor is left to pay for the extra space that they did not need and will not use.

It is possible to secure future tenancy agreements but not without financial loss, this includes large deposits and other commitments, and good degree of certainty the visa will be issued as otherwise the tenancy will commence, pay for the extra space on a minimum contract period and the spouse will not join perhaps until many months have passed though re-application or an appeal decision.

4. English language requirements

For a UK Spouse visa A1 CEFR level English language certificate is required from an UKVI approved provider. This usually means British Council or IDP Education and recently added Pearson education and PSI. You can also use other evidence such as UK taught degrees or other courses taught in English and Ecctis has confirmed the qualification and its equivalence.

If you are from the following countries or hold its nationality you do not need to provide the certificates as your national passport evidence will suffice.

Antigua and Barbuda | Australia | The Bahamas Barbados | Belize |Canada Dominica | Grenada | Guyana | Jamaica | Malta |New Zealand |St Kitts and Nevis | St Lucia | St Vincent and the Grenadines | Trinidad and Tobago | USA and also Ireland (for UK citizenship only).

5. Relationship requirements

Establishing relationship can be difficult. Lets have an initial overview consultation so you can prepare your case call UK 02071935178

UK Spouse visa does require there to be a spousal relationship i.e marriage certificate. This needs to be issued in a manner that is valid in the country it was issued. There is no need to register the marriage in the UK. In fact the UK GRO office no longer allows for any registrations. Generally if the marriage is valid abroad it is valid in the UK.

The Home Office will consider the relationship evidence and look to satisfy themselves that the relationship is genuine, subsisting and durable.

Genuine means it is as presented and not something that is a sham marriage or designed to dishonestly gain entry or status documents. Usually if a marriage is conducted very quickly or in the final 3 months of a UK visa is due to expire, or it is between relatives or parties that do not share the same language or ethnicity the Home Office is likely to make further inquiries and assessments or simply refuse as the onus is on the applicant to establish their relationship.

Subsisting means that the claimed relationship is current and on-going. In some cases where the couple do not live together perhaps due to long distances or other factors, many months may have passed and there is no evidence of current interactions, communications, money transfers etc. This could lead to a refusal if sufficient documentary recent evidence is not provided.

Durable means that the relationship is likely to endure. The visa or leave to remain is given for a period in the future. The Home Office (“HO”) or the Entry Clearance Officer (ECO) has to accept that this relationship will continue in to the future.

6. TB / Medical testing

If the applicant is located in the following countries, they will be subject a medical certificate as part of their UK visa application. UK based applications are not subject to TB / Medical certification requirements.

Afghanistan | Algeria | Angola | Armenia | Azerbaijan | Bangladesh | Belarus | Benin (get tested in Nigeria) | Bhutan | Bolivia | Botswana | Brunei | Burma | Burkina Faso (get tested in Ghana) | Burundi (get tested in Rwanda) | Cambodia | Cape Verde (get tested in Gambia or Senegal) | Central African Republic (get tested in Cameroon) | Chad (get tested in Cameroon) | Cameroon | China | Congo (get tested in Democratic Republic of the Congo) | Côte d’Ivoire | Democratic Republic of the Congo | Djibouti (get tested in Ethiopia) | Dominican Republic | East Timor (get tested in Indonesia) | Ecuador | Equatorial Guinea (get tested in Ghana) | Eritrea (get tested in Kenya) | Ethiopia | Gabon (get tested in Cameroon) | Gambia | Georgia | Ghana | Guatemala | Guinea (get tested in Sierra Leone) | Guinea Bissau (get tested in Gambia or Senegal) | Guyana | Haiti | Hong Kong | India | Indonesia | Iraq | Kazakhstan | Kenya | Kiribati (get tested in Fiji) | Kyrgyzstan (get tested in Kazakhstan) | Laos (get tested in Thailand) | Lesotho (get tested in South Africa) | Liberia (get tested in Ghana) | Macau (get tested in Hong Kong) | Madagascar | Malawi | Malaysia | Mali (get tested in Gambia or Senegal) | Marshall Islands (get tested in Fiji) | Mauritania (get tested in Morocco) | Micronesia (get tested in Fiji) | Moldova | Mongolia | Morocco | Mozambique | Namibia | Nepal | Niger (get tested in Ghana) | Nigeria | North Korea | Pakistan | Palau (get tested in Philippines) | Papua New Guinea | Panama | Paraguay | Peru | Philippines | Russia | Rwanda | São Tomé and Principe (get tested in Angola) | Senegal | Sierra Leone | Solomon Islands (get ested in Papua New Guinea) | Somalia (get tested in Kenya) | South Africa | South Korea | South Sudan (get tested in Kenya) | Sri Lanka | Sudan | Suriname (get tested in Guyana) | Swaziland (get tested in South Africa) | Tajikistan | Tanzania | Togo (get tested in Ghana) | Thailand | Turkmenistan | Tuvalu (get tested in Fiji) | Uganda | Ukraine | Uzbekistan | Vanuatu (get tested in Fiji) | Vietnam | Zambia | Zimbabwe

7. Married to someone under 18

If you or your spouse is under 18 years of age you may have to wait till the 18th birthday. In 2008 the Home Office raised the age requirement to 21 and then it was dropped back down to 18 in 2011. Of course not until the Supreme Court ruling in the case of Quila and Bibi v Secretary of State. The Home Office managed to retain the age of 18 although in many countries the legal age of marriage is 16 (England) or low as 12 (USA – with parental consent).

8. Previously married

If you were previously married or in a relationship akin to marriage. The Home Office wants to know. If you have children, even if they do not live with you they still want to know. This sometimes can cause difficulties, perhaps you are from a place where you don’t have to get divorced to remarry or divorce is not allowed due to your faith. It is important to make sure the divorce happens before the new marriage as otherwise the Home Office can decide it is not valid. If you do not have any evidence of divorce or it was an unrecognized marriage and you did not need to get divorced, it is vital that you do not call it a marriage when you fill in the application as otherwise you will be forced to get divorced from a marriage that is not recognized in the UK. Usually it is best to provide details of your previous marriages and corresponding divorce certificates. if a document is not in English a sworn translation would need to be provided.

9. Interracial and Interfaith marriages

Generally race, religion and other factors do not play a role in getting a visa approved. This does not mean that the Home Office will not check if a relationship is genuine. If the parties are from different race, color, background etc this could trigger additional checks in the form of do you have a shared language, in there extended family and friends involvement, is there joint travels and no red flags pointing to arrangement of convenience.

10. Polygamy / Polygyny

If you are in a relationship which has more than one partner, the Home Office will not usually extend visas to more than one partner from abroad. In some countries polygamous marriages are possible, however the UK does not, thus a standard spouse application would be refused but a strong human rights based application where there are children could still succeed.

11. Arranged marriage

All marriages are arranged, by the parties, their families, friends etc so here they mean the marriage happened but the parties may not have fully approved or lacked consent. If your auntie found you the dream spouse and you clicked together, the answer to the arranged marriage question is probably “no”. If you say “yes” you may be subject to additional checks to make sure it was not forced, or lacking consent and other issues. The same is true if you are related to each other outside marriage, however here they want to know the ties but usually it is not a problem if you two are distance cousins. Again one would think is the marriage genuine or just you helping out a relative to obtain visa.

12. Proxy marriage

Generally the Home Office does not recognize proxy marriages. This is where the marriage was conducted but one or more of parties may not have attended physically to the contract or registry venue.

Lets have an initial overview consultation so you can prepare your case well call UK 02071935178

In some countries it is possible to assign the duty to someone else on your behalf and you attend to it over the phone or video link. if this is something you have done or need to do because the paperwork takes too long perhaps weeks and your employer will only allow you time off from work for the wedding and a short honeymoon period. A standard application without additional evidence could be refused, so it is best to supplement the marriage certificate with reasons why and also more importantly that the marriage is valid in the country it was conducted. Usually the embassy can provide a supporting letter confirming the marriage certificate and the conduct / formation is indeed valid.

13. Large age gap

Love does not have an age, however if you have a large age-gap and in particular the wife is much older and she is the sponsor or anything uncommon or unusual, the Home Office could take the view that there is some sort of convenience at play. It is important to recognize this and furnish additional relationship evidence as on the face of it, it could look suspicious and an older lady helping out a younger friend.

14. No common language

For a relationship to work, common language is helpful but not a must. In the eyes of the Home Office, this creates additional arrangement of convenience questions. How is it possible they do not have a common language and are a couple? So if a common language is an issue it is best that additional evidence of means of communication and language of communication is presented.

15. Final 3 months of your existing visa

If a marriage occurred or a visa application is lodged within the final 3 months of a UK visa is due to expire, additional checks are usually carried-out. The Home Office would consider if it could be an arrangement of convenience to continue residence in the UK by other means. It is therefore best that if you are eligible for a spouse visa that you switch as soon as you are married or have sufficient evidence of your relationship. The idea is that if you have 1 year or more to run on your work visa it is likely that the relationship is not one of convenience as you have valid alternative visa to remain for a lengthy period.

16. Switching in the UK

Usually you can only switch to a spouse visa if you have valid leave to remain in the UK which allows you to switch to another category. This means if you are a visitor or a visa waiver national you will need to return home and come back on the correct category. Student, work and similar visa holders can usually get married and switch to a spouse visa.

Contact us to discuss your options as it can sometimes be difficult and costly to return home simply to lodge a spouse visa application.

17. Resident in third country

Usually the UK Home Office demands that you only apply for a visa from a country where you hold its nationality or if elsewhere that you hold at least 6 month residence permit. Certain nationalities can apply in third countries using a short visit visa as there is no facility in their home country or other compelling reasons.

18. UK Visitor’s visa or Over-stayer

Generally visitors cannot switch to any other visa this includes spouse visa. If there is a strong reason why a return home to lodge the application is not possible, this has to be evinced and a UK in-country application made. Usually if there is a late stage pregnancy or very young children or other similar compelling reasons, it is possible for the wife to switch in-country, however this could lead to the 10 year route to settlement rather than the usual 5 year route to settlement where all requirements are met.

Over-stayers can return home and re-enter the UK without the 2 year ban on visas. For student, work and other visa types the ban will be strictly applied. For spouse visa purposes if all the spouse visa requirements are met they would usually be granted a visa. If there is a criminal history or another serious issue it is difficult to entertain an out-country application as the risk of refusal would be high. If this applies to you, you should seek strong representations to present all the evidence and surrounding facts.

Coronavirus / Covid-19 2020 / 2021 restrictions / Ukraine war / Afghan change in government had resulted in some time limited concessions. It is best to keep matters simple where possible, however if you must rely on a concession such as missing documents ( English / TB test etc) or lodge your application from a location which is not your home country due to lockdown or travel restrictions – make sure this is clearly mentioned and supported with evidence where required.

Please share your questions and difficulties below so that others can also benefit. Read our country specific UK Spouse Visa Guide and select your country / nationality of the non-British spouse.

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