This relates to UK partner or spouse visa requirements for leave to remain applications (extension and switching) under the 5-year route. Indeed, the Appendix FM provides for 5 and 10-year routes for settlement based on family life as a partner. However, the 5-year partner route is for those applicants who meet all the requirements at every stage.
UK Spouse Visa Extension Requirements
Under the 5-year route, the requirements to be met by an applicant for leave to remain as a partner of a British citizen, a person present and settled, or a person with refugee leave or humanitarian protection under paragraph R-LTRP.1.1. of Appendix FM are that the applicant and their partner must be in the UK and have made a valid application for limited or indefinite leave to remain as a partner. And the applicant must not fall for refusal under suitability and must meet the eligibility requirements relating to the relationship, immigration status, financial and English language.
In terms of E-LTRP of Appendix FM, to qualify for leave to remain under the 5-year route, a spouse or civil, unmarried, same-sex partner must meet all the eligibility requirements:
- Sponsor is Present and Settled in the UK
- Minimum Age of the Applicant and Sponsor
- The prohibited degree of relationship
- Couple to have met in person
- Genuine and subsisting relationship
- A valid marriage or civil partnership
- The previous relationship has broken down permanently
- Intention to live together permanently in the UK
- Immigration Status of the applicant
- Financial Requirements
- Adequate Accommodation
- English Language
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1. Sponsor is Present and Settled in the UK
In terms of paragraph E-LTRP.1.2. (b), the applicant’s partner must be present and settled in the UK. Moreover, under paragraph 6 of the Immigration Rules “present and settled” or “present and settled in the UK” means that the person concerned is settled in the UK. And at the time that an application under the immigration rules is made, is physically present here or is coming here with or to join the applicant and intends to make the UK their home with the applicant if the application is successful.
2. Minimum Age
In terms of paragraphs E-LTRP.1.3. and E-LTRP.1.4, the applicant and their partner must be aged eighteen or over at the date of application.
3. The prohibited degree of relationship
In terms of paragraph E-LTRP.1.5, both the applicant and their spouse or partner must not be within the prohibited degree of relationship. Moreover, as per paragraph 6 on the immigration rules, the “prohibited degree of relationship” has the same meaning as in the Marriage Act 1949, the Marriage (Prohibited Degrees of Relationship) Act 1986 and the Civil Partnership Act 2004.
The Marriage Act 1949
In England and Wales, the Marriage Act 1949 prohibits a marriage between a person and any person such as an adoptive child, adoptive parent, child, former adoptive child, former adoptive parent, grandparent, parent, parent’s sibling, sibling (means a brother, sister, half-brother, or half-sister) and sibling’s child.
The Marriage Act 1949 prohibits marriage between a person and any person in the following list, until both parties are aged twenty-one or over, and provided that the younger party has not at any time before attaining the age of eighteen been a child of the family in relation to the other party:
- child of a former partner or spouse
- former civil partner or spouse of a grandparent or that of a parent
- grandchild of a former civil partner or spouse
4. Couple to have met in person
In terms of paragraph E-LTRP.1.6. of Appendix FM, both the applicant and their spouse or partner have met in person. Please note, “To have met” has been interpreted by the Tribunal as “to have made the acquaintance of” which means that, provided both parties have made the acquaintance of each other, that acquaintance need not be in the context of marriage or civil partnership. Accordingly, this means, for instance, that if both parties had been childhood friends, which is quite acceptable. However, the meeting of two infants may not be acceptable. A mutual sighting or mere coming face-to-face followed by telephone or written contract would not suffice. Furthermore, the Tribunal has decided that “met” implies a face-to-face meeting itself resulting in the making of a mutual acquaintance.
5. Genuine and Subsisting Relationship Requirements
In terms of paragraph E-LTRP.1.7. of Appendix FM, the relationship between the applicant and their spouse or partner must be genuine and subsisting.
Certainly, an applicant applying as an unmarried partner or same-sex partner must have been living together with their partner in a relationship akin to a marriage or civil partnership for at least two years prior to the date of application. Moreover, an applicant needs to provide documentary evidence of this.
6. A Valid Marriage or Civil Partnership
In terms of paragraph E-LTRP.1.8, the applicant needs to prove the validity of a valid marriage or civil partnership with appropriate specified evidence such as a marriage or civil partnership registration certificate. Moreover, paragraphs 22 to 26 of Appendix FM-SE provide the details of the specified evidence:
- A valid marriage certificate recognised under the laws of England and Wales, Scotland, or Northern Ireland as evidence of marriage in the UK
- A decree absolute from a civil court as evidence of a divorce in the UK
- Civil Partnership Certificate as evidence of civil partnership in the UK.
- A final order of civil partnership dissolution from a civil court as evidence of dissolution of a civil partnership in the UK.
- For marriages, civil partnerships or evidence of divorce or dissolution from outside the UK: reasonable equivalent evidence in terms of paragraphs 22 to 25 of Appendix FM-SE, valid under the law in force in the relevant country
7. The previous relationship has broken down permanently
In terms of paragraph E-LTRP.1.9. of Appendix FM, the applicant must satisfy that any previous relationship of the applicant or their spouse or partner has broken down permanently unless it is a marriage or civil partnership which falls within paragraph 278(i) of the rules- relating to polygamous marriage or civil partnership.
Where the applicant and/or their partner has previously been married or in a civil partnership, the applicant must provide evidence as specified in paragraphs 23 and 25 to 26 of Appendix FM-SE that the previous marriage or civil partnership has ended.
What if the Marriage or Civil Partnership not legally dissolved?
In case, if the marriage or civil partnership of the applicant or their sponsor to a previous partner has not been legally dissolved, the applicant may still qualify under Appendix FM as an unmarried partner or same-sex partner. However, the applicant needs to meet the criteria set out in paragraph GEN.1.2. (relating to the definition of a “partner”). Moreover, the applicant also needs to furnish evidence that the new relationship is genuine and subsisting. And also that the previous relationship has broken down permanently.
8. Intention to live together permanently in the UK
In terms of paragraph E-LTRP.1.10 of Appendix FM, both applicant and their spouse or partner must prove that they intend to live together permanently in the UK.
Under paragraph 6 of the Immigration Rules “intention to live together permanently with the other” or “intend to live together permanently” means an intention to live together, evidenced by a clear commitment from both parties that they will live together permanently in the UK immediately following the outcome of a UK partner or spouse visa leave to remain application or as soon as circumstances permit thereafter.
In applications for further limited leave to remain as a spouse or partner, where there have been limited periods of time spent outside the UK, this must be for good reasons and the reasons must be consistent with the intention to live together permanently in the UK. Good reasons could include time spent overseas in connection with the applicant’s or partner’s employment, holidays, training, or study.
What if Spouse or Partner is Spending Majority of Time Overseas?
If the applicant, their spouse, or partner or both have spent most of the period overseas, then it may create doubts that the couple does not intend to live together permanently in the UK. In such situations, factors such as reasons for travel and length of absence become critical. And whether the applicant and partner travelled and lived together during the time spent outside the UK.
9. Immigration Status of the Applicant
The immigration status requirements are set out in paragraphs E-LTRP.2.1. to E-LTRP.2.2. of Appendix FM. For leave to remain as a partner on the 5-year route to settlement the applicant must not be in the UK:
- as a visitor
- with valid leave granted for a period of 6 months or less, unless that leave is as a fiancé or fiancée or a proposed civil partner or was granted pending the outcome of the family court or divorce proceedings
- on temporary admission or temporary release
- in breach of immigration laws (except that, where paragraph 39E (exceptions for overstayers) of the rules applies, any current period of overstaying will be disregarded)
Moreover, a visitor who has overstayed (by any period) cannot qualify for the 5-year spouse or partner route.
10. Financial Requirements
To qualify for leave to remain as a partner on the 5-year route to settlement the applicant must meet the financial requirement in terms of E-LTRP.3.1. to E-LTRP.3.3 of Appendix FM – Family Life as a Partner. This includes providing the required evidence specified in Appendix FM-SE.
For UK spouse or partner visa leave to remain, extension, switching application, in terms of E-LTRP.3.1. (a) the applicant needs to meet the min income threshold. Accordingly, the applicant or UK sponsor/partner must earn a min annual income of £18,600.
Moreover, if the applicant is applying with one dependant child under the age of 18 years, then the amount increases by £3,800. For each additional dependent child, the financial requirement, for UK spouse or partner extension, leave to remain, switching application, increases by £2,400. Accordingly, if an applicant is applying with three (3) dependent children under 18 years of age then the min threshold of income is a £24,800 (i.e. £18,600 for spouse/partner + £3,800 for the first child + £2,400X2 for the additional two children).
In terms of E-LTRP.3.1. (b) the specified savings is £16,000. If an applicant has cash savings of £62,500/- then they may not need to combine the savings level with the Income from other sources. As after deducting £16,000 (i.e. the amount of mandatory savings) from total available savings (£62,500), the residual cash savings amounts to £46,500, which in terms of (b)(ii) are 2.5 times of the min income of £18,600.
Combining Income Sources
The financial requirement can be met through a combination of sources. These include income from employment or self-employment, a pension, non-employment earnings like rent and savings of over £16,000. Moreover, an applicant can use their own income if they are earning it in the UK as this will contribute to the household income. There may also be cases which exempt you from the financial requirement.
You will be able to combine income from multiple sources to reach the financial requirement. These include:
- income from employment/self-employment if you have been earning the wage for at least six months
- maternity, paternity, adoption, or sick pay
- Other income such as rent or dividends on shares
- Cash savings of over £16,000 if they have been in the couple’s control for over six months
Applicants who are exempt from the minimum income threshold under the financial requirement in Appendix FM (because their partner is in receipt of a specified benefit or allowance) must instead demonstrate that their partner is able to maintain themselves, the applicant, and any dependants “adequately” without recourse to public funds. Specified evidence must be provided as set out in Appendix FM-SE.
11. Adequate Accommodation in the UK
In terms of paragraph E-LTRP.3.4 of Appendix FM, for qualifying for leave to remain as a spouse or partner on the 5-year route to settlement, an applicant needs to meet the adequate accommodation requirements in the UK. Certainly, an applicant needs to furnish cogent evidence for proving adequate accommodation, without recourse to public funds, for the family, which the family own or occupy exclusively. In this regard, the meaning of family includes other family members who are not included in the application but who live in the same household.
When accommodation is not adequate?
Accommodation will not be regarded as adequate if the accommodation is, or will become, overcrowded, and contravenes public health regulations.
12. English Language
In terms of paragraph E-LTRP.4.1. and E-LTRP.4.2. of Appendix FM, an applicant needs to meet the English language requirements for spouse visa extension. In fact, from 1 May 2017, under paragraph E-LTRP.4.2A a spouse or partner applying to extend his/her stay after 30 months in the UK as a partner on the 5-year route to settlement- who met the English language requirement in his/her previous application by passing an approved test at level A1- needs to provide the specified evidence under paragraphs 27 to 32D of Appendix FM-SE that the applicant meets the English Language requirements by:
- being a national of a majority English speaking country listed in paragraph GEN.1.6.
- passing an English language test in speaking and listening at a minimum of level A2 of the CEFR with a provider approved by the Home Office
- having an academic qualification which is either a bachelor’s or master’s degree or PhD if awarded in the UK; or, if awarded outside the UK, is deemed
- UK NARIC to meet or exceed the recognised standard of a bachelor’s or master’s degree or PhD in the UK, and UK NARIC has confirmed that the degree was taught or researched in English to level A2 of the CEFR or above
- qualifying for an exemption
An applicant for leave to remain who was exempt from the English language requirement at the entry clearance stage needs to meet the requirement at paragraphs E-LTRP.4.1 to 4.2 they apply for a further leave to remain in the UK on the 5-year route to settlement, unless the applicant again qualifies for an exemption, on the same or a different basis.
Certainly, it is permissible under the immigration rules to switch from other immigration routes to spouse visa from inside the UK. A person who is in the UK with leave to remain which was originally granted for a period of more than six months and who is married to or a civil, unmarried, same-sex partner (of a British Citizen, or a person with ILR, or a person with refugee status, or as a person with humanitarian protection) can apply to switch into a spouse or civil, unmarried, same-sex partner visa from inside the UK as long as he/she meets all the relevant requirements of the Immigration Rules.
An application for switching into spouse or civil, unmarried, same-sex partner visa from inside the UK is submitted to the Home Office by completing application form FLR (M).
Requirements for Switching to UK Spouse Visa
A person can switch to a spouse, civil, unmarried, same-sex partner visa based on the relationship with a British Citizen or a person present and settled in the UK. The application will be considered in accordance with the requirements of the Immigration Rules as set out in Appendix FM of the Immigration Rules.
An application for switching to a spouse or civil, unmarried, same-sex partner status, an applicant needs to meet the following requirements:
- The evidence of the relationship between the sponsor and the applicant
- The documentary evidence to comply with the financial requirement as set out in Appendix FM
- The adequate accommodation; and
- English language requirement
- Additionally, the applicant should also meet the suitability criteria as set out in the immigration rules.
UK Spouse Visa Extension Requirements
All applications for leave to remain (extension, switching) as a spouse, civil, unmarried, or same-sex partner and their dependant children consider for suitability requirements in paragraphs S-LTR.1.1. to .4.5. of Appendix FM under the family visa route, which relates to:
- deportation order
- presence of the applicant is not conducive to the public good because of criminality, conduct, character and associations or other reasons
- false documents, representations, information, and material facts not disclosed in the current or any of the previous applications
- a sham marriage or civil partnership and non-compliance to an investigation section 50(7)(b) of the Immigration Act 2014
- failure to pay litigation cost to the Home Office
- failure to pay an outstanding charge to the National Health Service (NHS) with a total value of at least £500
If paragraphs S-LTR.1.2. to S-LTR.1.8 of Appendix FM are applicable then partner or spouse visa leave to remain application is refused on the grounds of suitability. The suitability criteria under paragraphs S-LTR.1.2. to S-LTR.1.6. are usually considered with reference to the Criminality. However, suitability criteria under paragraph S-LTR.1.8. is considered under Restricted Leave.
False Documents and Non-Compliance with the Investigation
Leave to remain or extension application as a spouse or partner is usually refused under paragraph S-LTR.2.1. on grounds of suitability if paragraphs S-LTR.2.2 to S-LTR.2.5 are applicable. The suitability grounds in these paragraphs relate to false information, documents, representation, material facts not disclosed, failure to provide maintenance and accommodation undertaking and non-compliance to the investigation relating to the proposed marriage or civil partnership.
Presence Not Conducive to Public Good
Under paragraph S-LTR.3.1, when considering whether the presence of an applicant in the UK is not conducive to the public good, any legal or practical reasons why the applicant cannot presently be removed from the UK is mostly ignored.
Use of False Documents in a Previous Application
In terms of paragraph S-LTR.4.2 and S-LTR. 4.3 of Appendix FM, a spouse or partner visa leave to remain application is refused due to false documents, representation, material facts not disclosed in a previous application.
In terms of paragraph S-LTR.4.4 and S-LTR.4.5 of Appendix FM, a spouse or partner visa leave to remain application is refused due to non-payment of litigation to the Home Office and that of NHS.
If an application fails under paragraphs S-LTR.2.2. to S-LTR.2.5 and S-LTR.4.2. to S-LTR. 4.5 it is quite likely to be refused. However, the decision maker usually considers the whole context of the application. Accordingly, the caseworker may consider the suitability on compelling grounds on a case-to-case basis.
In considering the suitability criteria under paragraphs S-LTR.1.7, S-LTR.2.2., S-LTR.2.4., S-LTR.3.1. and S-LTR.4.2. to S-LTR.4.5. of Appendix FM, the decision maker refers to the General Grounds for Refusal.
In considering the suitability criteria under paragraph S-LTR.2.5., a decision-maker is likely to consider whether the Secretary of State has given notice to the applicant and their partner, under section 50(7)(b) of the Immigration Act 2014. And that one or both have not complied with the investigation of the proposed marriage or civil partnership under the marriage and civil partnership referral and investigation scheme.
When a proposed marriage or civil partnership is referred to the Home Office under the 2014 Act, then the Home Office have the grounds to suspect that marriage or civil partnership is a sham. And where the Home Office notifies the parties that either one or both have not complied with the investigation, then marriage or civil partnership will not be able to proceed based on that notice. Moreover, the Home Office records the details of such referral, non-compliance decision and any relating information or evidence.
Certainly, after a non-compliance decision in case of non-EEA national applying for leave to remain as a partner based on a relationship with the same person, the application is usually refused. However, the decision maker usually takes account of any evidence that the couple is in a genuine and subsisting relationship and meet the relevant eligibility requirements of the rules.
If a couple after marriage or forming a civil partnership have complied with any further investigation under the 2014 Act scheme, then the application is not likely to be refused because of the earlier non-compliance decision but may be refused if the decision maker is not satisfied that the couple are in a genuine and subsisting relationship.
5. Guidance Notes
UK Spouse Visa Extension Requirements
A person in the UK with entry clearance or limited leave to remain granted based on family life on a 5-year route, in an application made from 9 July 2012, should apply for further leave to remain no more than 28 days before their extant leave expires or no more than 28 days before they have completed 30 months in the UK with such leave.
The Home Office Fees for spouse visa is £1033 from inside the UK. If an applicant is not requesting a fee waiver, then needs to apply online. Moreover, same day service for FLR (M) application for switching into spouse or civil, unmarried, same-sex partner visa is also available.
Applicants can request for a fee waiver. Accordingly, can submit the application by completing FLR (M) and fee waiver request and sending it to Home Office, Leave to Remain – FLR(M), PO Box 495, Durham, DH99 1WR.
Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS)
From 6 April 2015, under the Immigration (Health Charge) Order 2015, applications for leave to remain under the 5-year partner route are subject to the immigration health charge, in addition to the application fee, unless they are not required to pay the immigration health charge.
Biometric Enrolment Fee
As part of the leave to remain application, the spouse or civil, unmarried, same-sex partner needs to enrol for biometric information. Moreover, the applicant needs to pay an additional handling fee for this service, which is payable to the Post Office Ltd. Apparently, the applicant can only pay for the fee by cash or debit card whilst attending the Post Office Ltd to enrol for biometrics. Moreover, each dependant included in the application also needs to pay the fee. Moreover, an applicant does not need to send the biometric enrolment fee with the application fee.
The FLR (M) is for applicants for a leave to remain in the UK as a spouse/partner of a UK sponsor 30 months. If a migrant is on a fiancé(e) route and is applying for a leave to remain as a spouse/partner, then cannot do work in the UK until they get the visa.
UK Spouse Visa Extension Requirements
Where a spouse or civil, unmarried, a same-sex partner is applying to join or to extend leave under, the 5-year partner route to settlement in the UK and the applicant meets the requirements of R-LTRP.1.1. (a) to (c), the applicant is likely to get leave to remain as a partner under D-LTRP.1.1. for 30 months on the 5-year route to settlement, subject to a condition of no recourse to public funds. An applicant gets an extension/spouse visa for 30 months even if the sponsoring partner is a refugee or with HP.
Period of Leave to Remain
Where an applicant has extant leave as a partner under the 5-year route at the date of application, any period of extant leave up to a maximum of 28 days, (excluding leave as a fiancé or fiancée or proposed civil partner), will be added to the period of leave that they are being granted under paragraph D-LTRP.1.1. An applicant with extant leave may get a UK spouse visa extension for slightly more than 30 months.
First Grant of Leave to Remain as a Partner
If an applicant granted leave to remain as a partner is receiving their first grant of limited leave on the 5-year route (rather than their second grant following an earlier grant of entry clearance or leave to remain as a partner under that route), the applicant should be advised they will in due course need to make an application for further leave to remain as a partner of 30 months. They should make that application no more than 28 days before their extant leave is due to expire, or no more than 28 days before they have completed 30 months in the UK with such leave. They may be eligible to apply for settlement after completing 60 months (5 years) in the UK with leave to remain as a partner under the 5-year route under Appendix FM.
Continuous Residence Period
If a spouse/partner makes an application up to 28 days before the completion of 60 months in the UK. And the application decides before the 28 days of the required 60 months then this means that the applicant has met the continuous residence period of 60 months.
If a spouse/partner gets a visa under paragraph D-LTRP.1.1. then any dependent child included in the application also likely to get the visa under paragraph R-LTRC.1.1. Accordingly, a dependant child also gets the leave to remain of the same duration. And subject to the same conditions in respect of recourse to public funds.
UK Spouse Visa Extension Requirements
All applicants (except as a bereaved partner) applying for leave to remain under the 5-year partner route have a right of appeal. Perhaps, based on human rights.
The UK a spouse visa extension refusal notice usually starts with the following lines:
On 17/02/2018 you made an application for leave to remain in the UK under Appendix FM to the Immigration Rules on the basis of your family life with your partner Michelle C Johnston and children Sarah Connors and James Connors.
Your application has been considered under those Rules, with reference to Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). The relevant Immigration Rules can be viewed on gov.uk here: Immigration Rules – Guidance – GOV.UK.
This decision takes into account as a primary consideration the best interests of any relevant child in line with the Secretary of State’s duty under section 55 of the Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009
The refusal letter usually states the UK spouse visa refusal reasons under the 5-year route. And includes the reference to exceptional circumstances under the 10-year route and appropriate paragraphs with reference to rights of appeal.
In light of the above, your application is refused under paragraph D-LTRP.1.3. with reference to paragraph R-LTRP.1.1. (a), (b), (c)(i) and (ii), & (d) of Appendix FM, and under paragraph 276CE with reference to paragraph 276ADE(1)(i), (iii), (iv), (v) and (vi) of the Immigration Rules. Accordingly, you do not qualify for leave to remain under the 5-year or 10-year partner routes of Appendix FM, or the 10-year private life route of Part 7 of the Immigration Rules.
Family Visa Extension
During 2008-17, a total of 439,086 leave to remain, extension and switching decisions made under five broad family visa categories. Moreover, the partner visa leave to remain and extension decisions account for 62.14% of the total decisions. Moreover, a few decisions (261) also made for the fiancé(e) visa extension. (Table No. 1)
Spouse Visa Extension
For 2008 to 2017, a total of 272,858 leave to remain, extensions, further leave to remain and switching decisions made under the partner visa route. Accordingly, 246,066 grants made to spouses, civil, unmarried, or same-sex partners and their dependants visa under the family route. However, 26,792 applications of the main applicants (partners) and their dependants refused. Moreover, the ten years refusal rate for main applicants and their dependants hovers in the range of 9.82%. Accordingly, this indicates that nine out of ten applicants under the partner visa route usually get a favourable decision. (Table No. 2)
During 2008-17 a total of 254,226 extensions and leave to remain decisions made for a spouse, civil, unmarried, or same-sex partner visa under the family route. And 229,467 grants and 24,759 rejections. Accordingly, the average UK spouse visa extension refusal rate is 9.74% during the 10 years period. Certainly, the UK spouse visa extension refusal rate was highest (18.76%) in 2013. And afterwards gradually came down to its lowest ebb (4.96%) in 2017. During the preceding three years spouse extension refusal rate is below than the 10-year refusal rate of 9.74%. (Table No. 3)
Apart from 254,226 decisions for the main applicants, during 2008-17 also a total of 18,632 extensions and leave to remain decisions made for the dependants of spouses, civil, unmarried, or same-sex partners under the family route. And 16,599 grants and 2,033 rejections. Accordingly, the average UK partner or spouse dependant visa extension refusal rate is 10.91% during the 10 years period. Certainly, the UK spouse visa extension refusal rate was highest (20.84%) in 2013. However, afterwards gradually came down to its lowest (8.28%) in 2017. And during the preceding three years spouse extension refusal rate is below than the 10-year refusal rate of 10.91%. (Table No. 4)
UK Family Visa Extension Refusal Rate 2008-17
|Family Life (10-year route)||162,362||29.54%|
|UK Born children||3,191||0.00%|
UK Spouse Visa Extension Refusal Rate 2008-17
UK Spouse Visa Extension Refusal Rate 2008-17 (Main Applicants)
UK Spouse Visa Extension Refusal Rate 2008-17 (Dependants)
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