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UK Partner or Spouse Visas

If a spouse or partner visa is granted to an individual, they are legally entitled to come to the UK from abroad to join their husband or wife, civil partner or unmarried partner, or fiancé(e) or proposed civil partner for an initial set period. Their UK-based partner or spouse has to meet certain requirements and is the sponsor for their application.

It is important to understand that every partner or spouse visa application carries strict substantive and evidential requirements. Home Office caseworkers have very little discretion to grant partner or spouse visas where there are deficiencies in the evidence provided as part of the application. Given the importance of what is at stake and the strict nature of the rules, representation by an immigration specialist is highly recommended for all partner or spouse visa applicants.

At Thorntons, we are proud to say that we have helped hundreds of couples achieve their goal of living together in the UK. We regularly support couples relocating to the UK from overseas as well as couples who have met here in Scotland or in other parts of the UK. We can act as your representative through the application process from start to finish, giving you peace of mind and saving you time by cutting through the mass of often confusing and unreliable internet information to give you advice focused on your specific situation.

ALERT: Major changes to this visa route come into effect on 4 April 2024. Contact our specialist immigration team for advice on how these changes might affect you. Call: 03330 430350

Frequently asked questions

Here we look at some commonly asked questions about partner or spouse visas.

Your partner who is sponsoring your visa must be one of the following:

  • A British citizen
  • An Irish citizen
  • The holder of indefinite leave to remain, or
  • The holder of status under the EU Settlement Scheme

They must also be one of the following:

  • Your spouse
  • Your civil partner
  • Your fiancé(e) or proposed civil partner, or
  • A person who you have been living with in a relationship akin to marriage or civil partnership for at least two years prior to the date of the application

Yes. As long as you have your partner’s permission, you can submit the application online to the Home Office on their behalf. 

The answer to this question depends on whether the child’s other parent is playing a role in their life. This is subject to your family circumstances.

The Immigration Rules only allow a child from a previous relationship to come to the UK if the child’s other parent is dead or if you have ‘sole responsibility’ for the child. If the child’s other parent plays no role in the child’s life, then you should be able to bring your child to the UK. If the other parent has any kind of role, even a limited one, it can be difficult to meet this requirement.

Sole responsibility cases are complex and expert legal advice on whether the ‘sole responsibility’ test is met should be obtained at the earliest stage in the planning.

  • You need to prepare an application package containing all the documentary evidence to meet the requirements set out in the UK Immigration Rules.
  • You then have to submit your Family visa application online to the Home Office.
  • After submission of the online application, you have to upload your supporting documentation to a portal operated by a third-party provider.
  • You also have to attend an appointment to provide your ‘biometrics’ (fingerprints and digital photograph). The biometrics appointment will take place at an approved centre operated by one of the Home Office’s commercial third partners, either in the UK or overseas.

Our team provide a highly personal and responsive service to support clients with all aspects of this process.

There are a number of fees:

  • Visa fee – This is non-refundable. The fee for a partner or spouse visa made overseas is £1,538. The fee for a partner or spouse visa made inside the UK is £1,048. All fees are correct as at April 2023; for the latest fee information see the Home Office’s website fee list.
  • Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) – This to allow you to use the National Health Service. The IHS is payable as part of the online submission, charged at £624 per year.
  • The initial partner visa application, which is submitted from outside the UK, is for a grant of two years and nine months, so the IHS is £1,872.
  • An extension visa, which is submitted from inside the UK, is for two years and six months, and so the fee is £1,560.
  • For the final visa application, known as the settlement application (made after the applicant has been five years in the UK) there is no IHS to pay. The current fee to settle as a partner is £2,404.
  • Additional fees - There may also be fees to pay in respect of biometric enrolment at the third-party commercial provider, which are subject to location and availability of your appointment. There is also the option of paying for premium services, such as out-of-hours appointments and access to additional facilities at some of the centres overseas. More information is available from TLS and VFS, who are the overseas appointment providers for UK visa applications.

No. The visa process is now fully digital, with documents uploaded to the digital platforms used by the Home Office. You will not need to send any original documents to the Home Office.

If you use our Representative Service Package, we will upload the necessary documents for you. Our team deal with this technology daily and so can make sure the process runs smoothly. We will ensure that your application and documents are uploaded correctly and in line with Home Office requirements.

Yes, you can.

At Thorntons, our specialist immigration solicitors will analyse the partner visa refusal decision and discuss your options with you, including the merits of any appeal. It may be appropriate to re-submit your application rather than appeal to the First-Tier Tribunal, particularly if you have submitted your own application without speaking to a lawyer and have been refused due to deficiencies in the evidence submitted.

Yes. If you apply from outside the UK, your initial visa will be granted for a period of two years and nine months. If you are inside the UK and have switched your immigration status to that of a partner, your initial visa will be for two years and six months. You must apply to extend your visa prior to your initial visa expiring and after you have resided in the UK for two years and six months.

You will qualify to obtain permanent residence in the UK once you have met the rules of the partner visa for 60 months (five years).

No. If you are in the UK as a visitor, you cannot switch your visa to that of a partner within the terms of the Immigration Rules. You should return to your country of origin and apply from overseas unless there are compelling and compassionate circumstances. It is strongly recommended that you seek specialist immigration advice if you think your case falls into a compelling and compassionate circumstances category.

How can Thorntons help?

At Thorntons, we are privileged to act as trusted advisor to many individuals and families.  You will receive the benefit of our decades of experience in supporting clients on their immigration journeys, and we will always consider your long-term immigration goals from the outset. Our immigration clients also benefit from our one-stop relocation legal services, which includes property purchases and sales, setting up a business, employment matters, family law matters and personal tax and estate planning.

We offer a tailored representation service for clients making partner or spouse visa applications, both from within the UK and from overseas, and a fixed-fee consultation package.

Consultation Service Package

You will receive an advice session as part of a fixed-fee consultation service with one of our immigration specialists, Gurjit Pall, Jacqueline Moore or Louise Crichton. At the session, we will discuss the requirements for the partner visa, assess your eligibility, answer any questions you have on the process, and provide a follow-up summary email. You can then choose to either submit the application yourself or instruct us to support you further through our end-to-end representation service package.

Representative Service Package

We will take care of all aspects of the application process for you and act as representative on your application. This service includes preparation of an application package, uploading all of your documents to UKVCAS and keeping you and your partner updated at all stages of the process.

You and your partner will be kept informed and up to date throughout, and always with fee transparency. You will have peace of mind that your visa application package will contain all the documentation required by the UK immigration rules.

We offer in-person consultations with immigration specialists at our Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow Offices, or via a video call if you prefer. To arrange a consultation, please call the Thorntons Immigration Law team on 03330 430350 or complete our online enquiry form below.