Spouse Visa Refusal Reasons UK: Entry Clearance & Leave to Remain

Perhaps, in terms of Appendix FM, a spouse, civil, unmarried, same-sex partner and fiancé(e) or proposed civil partner visa refusal reasons mainly relates to an applicant’s inability to meet the eligibility requirements such as failure to meet the relationship, financial, maintenance, accommodation and English Language requirements. However, at times, a UK spouse visa is also refused on suitability or general grounds such as false documents, use of deception in a previous application, criminality, medical grounds etc. Therefore, the post provides the complete details of UK spouse visa refusal reasons under the Immigration Rules. And also explains what to do after UK spouse visa is refused: appeal or reapply?

Table of Contents
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  1. UK Spouse Visa Refusal Reasons on Eligibility Grounds
    1. Non Genuine and Subsisting Relationship
    2. Inability to meet the Financial Requirements
    3. Inadequate Maintenance
    4. Inadequate Accommodation
    5. Failure to meet the English Language Requirement
    6. Inability to meet the definition of ‘Partner’ under Appendix FM
    7. Immigration Status of the Sponsor in the UK
    8. Age of the Applicant or Sponsor
    9. Prohibited Degree of Relations
    10. Failure to have met in person
    11. Inadequate valid evidence of marriage or civil partnership
    12. The previous relationship has not broken down permanently
    13. Doubtful intentions to live together permanently in the UK
    14. The purpose of the fiancé(e) visa is doubtful
    15. Inadequate immigration status of the applicant
  2. Spouse Visa Refusal Reasons on Suitability (General) Grounds
    1. Presence of an applicant is not conducive to the Public Good
    2. Deportation Order
    3. Criminality
    4. Conduct, Character, Association or Other Reasons
    5. Non-Compliance to attend an Interview or provide Information
    6. Medical Grounds
    7. The applicant left or removed with a conditional caution
    8. False representation and failure to disclose material facts
    9. The UK Sponsor/Partner failed to give the undertaking
    10. The UK Partner/Sponsor’s non-compliance with the Investigation
    11. False Representation or Failure to Disclose Material Facts
    12. Failure to pay litigation costs to the Home Office
    13. Failure to pay an outstanding charge to the NHS
    14. Current partner is not the same as at the last grant of leave
  3. What to do after UK Spouse Visa Refusal: Appeal or Reapply?
    1. UK Spouse Visa Appeal Processing Time
    2. Issuance of Spouse Visa after a successful appeal

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UK Spouse Visa Refusal Reasons on Eligibility Grounds

The details of UK visa refusal reasons on eligibility grounds are as under:

Non Genuine and Subsisting Relationship

If the immigration officer does not accept that an applicant’s relationship with UK partner/spouse is genuine and subsisting then refuses a:

  • UK spouse visa entry clearance application under paragraph E-ECP.2.6. or E-LTRP.1.7. of Appendix FM
  • UK spouse visa leave to remain application under paragraph E-LTRP.1.7. of Appendix FM

Perhaps, a genuine and subsisting relationship is usually a combination of the following factors:

1- Long-Term Relationship

The applicant is in a current and long-term relationship with the UK sponsor and can provide evidence to this end.

2- Evidence of Cohabitation

The applicant is cohabiting with the UK partner/spouse and is able to provide satisfactory documentary evidence.

3- Children

The applicant has biological children together with the UK partner/spouse and shared responsibility for them (and also for any adopted or step-children).

4- Joint Financial Responsibilities

The applicant shares financial responsibilities such as paying for mortgages, utility bills or tenancy, operating a joint bank account with the UK partner/spouse.

5- Visiting Other’s Home Country and Family

The applicant or the partner has travelled to other’s home country and met with family members and can provide evidence of this.

Perhaps, if an applicant has never visited the United Kingdom then it is not a negative factor. However, as stated above, to met in person is a requirement under the Immigration Rules.

6- Arranged Marriage

The couple, or their families acting on their behalf, have made definite plans concerning the practicalities of the couple living together in the United Kingdom. In the case of an arranged marriage, the couple both consent to the marriage and agree with the plans made by their families.

Inability to meet the Financial Requirements

UK spouse visa refusal reasons on eligibility grounds

In fact, if an applicant has failed to meet the financial requirements then the refusal letter will state that the applicant has not met the required level of income or cash savings. However, at times, the UK spouse visa is also refused on financial grounds if

  1. an applicant has not provided the specified evidence or
  2. the evidence does not cover the specified period in terms of Appendix FM-SE

Inadequate Maintenance

If the applicant has not been able to meet the adequate maintenance then a:

  • UK spouse visa entry clearance application is refused under paragraph E-ECP. 3.3.(b)
  • UK spouse visa leave to remain application rejects under paragraph E-LTRP. 3.3.(b)

In fact, to prove that the applicant has failed to meet the adequate requirements, the decision maker will calculate the applicant’s net income after deduction of the accommodation expenses. And will inform in the refusal letter that based on the current benefit and tax rates the applicant’s net income after deduction of the accommodation costs is less than income support entitlement of a British family of that size. Therefore, the applicant has failed to demonstrate ‘adequate’ maintenance without recourse to public funds.

Calculation of Income for maintenance

The Home Office uses the following formula to calculate the income available for maintenance:

A – B ≥ C i.e. A minus B is greater than or equal to C. Where:

  • B is what needs to be spent on accommodation
  • A is the projected income (after deduction of income tax and national insurance contributions)
  • C is the Income Support equivalent for a British family of that size

Inadequate Accommodation

UK spouse visa refusal reasons on eligibility grounds

Apparently, an applicant needs to provide evidence of adequate accommodation in the UK without recourse to public funds. Therefore, if an applicant fails to provide the evidence or the evidence does not demonstrate that an applicant has adequate accommodation in the UK without recourse to public funds then the:

  • UK spouse visa entry clearance application is refused under paragraph E- ECP. 3.4
  • UK spouse visa leave to application rejects under paragraph E-LTRP. 3.4

Failure to meet the English Language Requirement

If an applicant is not able to meet the spouse visa English Language Requirement, then an entry clearance, leave to remain and further leave to remain applications reject under E-ECP.4.1 E-ECP.4.2, E-LTRP.4.1, E-LTRP.4.1A and E-LTRP.4.2 of Appendix FM to the Immigration Rules and paragraphs 32B, 32C and 32D of Appendix FM-SE to the Immigration Rules, respectively.

Inability to meet the definition of ‘Partner’ under Appendix FM

UK spouse visa refused on eligibility grounds

In fact, the UK spouse/partner visa is applied on the basis of applicant’s relationship with the UK sponsor/partner. Moreover, the requirements for entry clearance or leave to remain as a partner/spouse are set out in section EC-P or R-LTRP of Appendix FM, respectively. Accordingly, a “partner” is defined in paragraph GEN.1.2. of Appendix FM as an applicant’s spouse, civil partner, fiancé(e) or proposed civil partner, or a person who has been living together with the applicant in a relationship akin to a marriage or civil partnership for at least two years prior to the date of application.

Therefore, if an applicant does not meet the criteria under GEN.1.2. and does not fulfil the definition of a partner. And also cannot meet the requirements of section EC- P or R-LTRP then an UK spouse visa entry clearance or leave to remain application is refused under paragraph D-ECP.1.2. or D-LTRP.1.3. of Appendix FM, respectively.

Immigration Status of the Sponsor in the UK

An application for entry clearance or leave to remain as a partner/spouse under paragraph E-ECP.2.1. or E- LTRP.1.2. of Appendix FM, respectively, if the UK partner/sponsor is not:

  • in the UK or returning to the United Kingdom with the applicant as his/her partner or spouse
  • a British citizen
  • present and settled in the United Kingdom
  • being admitted for settlement on the same occasion with the applicant
  • in the UK with refugee leave or humanitarian protection

The Immigration Status of EEA National of a Non-EEA Partner

If an applicant has applied for leave to remain on the basis of relationship with his/her EEA (Non-EEA) partner/spouse, then for the purposes of Appendix FM, “present and settled” or “present and settled in the UK” is defined in paragraph 6 of the Immigration Rules, which states that the EEA (Non-EEA) partner must hold a valid residence permit issued under the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2000 that has been endorsed under the Immigration Rules to show permission to remain in the UK indefinitely, or a valid document certifying permanent residence issued under the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2006 or 2016, in order to be recognised as present and settled in the UK.

Therefore, if from the information provided by the applicant the immigration officer concludes that an applicant’s EEA (Non-EEA) partner/spouse does not meet the criteria of “present and settled” under paragraph 6 of the Immigration Rules then the application is refused under paragraph E-LTRP.1.2. of Appendix FM to the Immigration Rules.

Age of the Applicant or Sponsor

UK spouse visa refused on eligibility grounds

If an applicant is under the age of 18 at the date of application, then spouse visa is refused under paragraph E-ECP.2.2. And a UK spouse visa leave to remain application is rejected under E-LTRP.1.3. of Appendix FM.

Moreover, if an applicant’s partner is under the age of 18 at the date of an entry clearance or a leave to remain application then the application is refused under paragraph E-ECP.2.3. or E-TRP.1.4. of Appendix FM, respectively.

Prohibited Degree of Relations

If the immigration officer deems an applicant’s relationship with the UK partner/spouse within the prohibited degree of relationship as defined by the Marriage Act 1949, the Marriage (Prohibited Degrees of Relationship) Act 1986 and the Civil Partnership Act 2004 then an entry clearance or leave to remain application as a spouse/partner is refused under paragraph E-ECP.2.4. or E- LTRP.1.5. of Appendix FM, respectively.

Failure to have met in person

UK spouse visa refusal reasons on eligibility grounds

If the immigration either not able to verify or accepts due to certain reason(s) that an applicant has not met in person with the UK sponsor/partner then an entry clearance or leave to remain application as a spouse/partner of a UK sponsor is refused under paragraph E-ECP.2.5. or E-LTRP.1.6. of Appendix FM, respectively.

Inadequate valid evidence of marriage or civil partnership

For establishing the validity of a marriage or civil partnership in an application for entry clearance or leave to remain as a spouse/partner of a UK sponsor, an applicant needs to provide the specified evidence as required by paragraph 22, 24 or 26 of Appendix FM-SE to the Immigration Rules. A failure to do so would deem the marriage or civil partnership invalid for entry clearance or leave to remain application as a spouse/partner of a UK sponsor/partner under E-ECP.2.7. or E-LTRP.1.8. of Appendix FM, respectively. Moreover, an application will be refused on the aforesaid grounds if the evidence furnish is not acceptable. However, the ECO needs to explain the refusal reasons in the spouse visa refusal letter.

The previous relationship has not broken down permanently

UK spouse visa refused on eligibility grounds

For establishing that the previous relationship has been broken down permanently and the relationship is not polygamous for an entry clearance or leave to remain application as a spouse/partner of a UK sponsor, an applicant needs to provide the specified evidence as required by paragraph 23, 25 or 26 of Appendix FM-SE to the Immigration Rules. A failure to do so would attract a refusal of entry clearance or leave to remain application as a spouse/partner of a UK sponsor/partner under E-ECP.2.9. or E-LTRP.1.9. of Appendix FM, respectively.

The refusal letter may refer to the date of previous marriage or civil partnership with the previous spouse/partner; however, the applicant has not provided the evidence specified in paragraph 23 or 25 or 26 of Appendix FM-SE to the Immigration Rules that concludes that the applicant’s previous marriage or civil partnership with the previous spouse or partner has been dissolved. There is no evidence that this is a polygamous relationship that falls within paragraph 278(i) of the Immigration Rules.

Fiancé(e) or Proposed Civil Partner

It is essential for grant of an entry clearance visa as a Fiancé(e) or proposed civil partner for marriage or civil partnership in the UK that neither the applicant nor partner is still married to, or in a civil partnership with, another person at the date of the entry clearance application.

If either the applicant or the partner in the UK has been married or in a civil partnership with another person then the applicant is required to provide acceptable evidence that the previous marriage/civil partnership has ended to enable the proposed marriage/civil partnership to take place.

A failure to provide the specified evidence would attract a refusal under paragraph E-ECP.2.9.(ii) of Appendix FM.

Doubtful intentions to live together permanently in the UK

If the immigration officer does not accept that either an applicant or his/her UK spouse either intend to live together or have been living together permanently in the UK then a spouse/partner visa application for entry clearance or leave to remain will be refused under paragraph E-ECP.2.10. or E-LTRP.1.10, respectively. The ECO will explain the reasons for this end in the refusal letter.

The purpose of the fiancé(e) visa is doubtful

Since the sole purpose of entry clearance application as Fiancé(e) or Proposed Civil Partner is to enable marriage or civil partnership to take place. Therefore, if the immigration office is not satisfied that an applicant is seeking entry to the UK to enable his/her marriage or civil partnership to take place with the UK sponsor then the application is refused under E- ECP.2.8. of Appendix FM to the Immigration Rules.

Fiancé(e) visa extension refusal as marriage does not take place

If an applicant was last granted entry clearance to the UK as a fiancé(e) or proposed civil partner and the marriage or civil partnership did not take place during the 6 month period of that entry clearance then in terms of E-LTRP.1.11. of Appendix FM if the applicant has a good reason and evidence that the proposed marriage or civil partnership will take in the next six months then he/she can apply for Marriage or Civil Partnership Visa Extension.

Inadequate immigration status of the applicant

UK spouse visa refusal reasons on eligibility grounds

In order to qualify for leave to remain as a spouse/partner, an applicant must not be an overstayer, on immigration bail, temporary admission, temporary release and in breach of immigration laws. A failure to do so would attract a UK spouse visa refusal reasons under paragraph E-LTRP.2.2. of Appendix FM.

Spouse Visa Refusal Reasons on Suitability (General) Grounds

The details of UK visa refusal reasons on suitability grounds are as under:

Presence of an applicant is not conducive to the Public Good

If an applicant fails to meet the requirements for entry clearance as a partner because paragraph S-EC.1.2 of Appendix FM to the Immigration Rules applies then the application is refused with the reason that the Secretary of State has personally directed applicant’s exclusion from the UK Kingdom is conducive to the public good.

Deportation Order

UK spouse visa refusal reasons on suitability grounds

If on the date of application, the applicant was subject to a deportation order then an entry clearance or leave to remain application as a partner/spouse is refused under paragraph S- EC.1.3. or S-LTR.1.2. of Appendix FM.

Criminality

An entry clearance application as a partner/spouse is refused on Criminality & General Grounds for Refusal under S-EC.1.4 and S-EC.2.5 of Appendix FM; whereas, a leave to remain application of a spouse/partner is refused on the basis of criminality under paragraph S-LTR.1.3.-1.5 of Appendix FM.

Conduct, Character, Association or Other Reasons

UK spouse visa refused on general grounds

If an applicant fails to meet the requirements for entry clearance or leave to remain as a partner/spouse under paragraph S-EC.1.5 or S- LTR.1.6 of Appendix FM, respectively then UK spouse visa refusal reasons may state an applicant’s exclusion from the United Kingdom is conducive to the public good due to conduct, character, associations or other reasons. This makes it undesirable to grant either entry clearance or leave to remain – and may also include convictions that do not fall within the purview of paragraph S-EC.1.4. or S- LTR.1.3. to S-LTR.1.5.

Non-Compliance to attend an Interview or provide Information

If an applicant fails to attend an interview, provide information, provide physical data, undergo a medical examination or provide a medical report then an application for entry clearance or leave to remain as a partner/spouse is refused under paragraph S-EC.1.6. or S-LTR.1.7. of Appendix FM, respectively.

If an applicant has given a reason then in the refusal letter provides an explanation that why the reason is not accepted. If an applicant fails to respond to then essentially fails to comply with the requirement without giving any reasonable excuse.

Medical Grounds

UK Spouse visa refusal reasons on medical grounds

If an applicant fails to meet the requirements under paragraph S-EC.1.7 then the application rejects on medical grounds. Accordingly, the refusal letter may state that the ECO has received a medical report from the Medical Referee of the applicant. And has concluded that on medical reasons it is undesirable to admit the applicant to the UK.

The applicant left or removed with a conditional caution

If an applicant either left or was removed from the UK with a Conditional Caution issued by a constable, an investigating officer, or a person authorised by a relevant prosecutor in accordance with section 22 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003  and it has been less than 5 years since the caution was issued then a UK spouse visa entry clearance application rejects under paragraph S-EC.1.8 of Appendix FM.

False representation and failure to disclose material facts

UK spouse visa refusal reasons on general grounds

If an applicant has the refusal letter states the nature of false document, representations, or information, which has been furnished in support of your application then a:

  • UK spouse visa entry clearance application rejects under paragraph S-EC.2.2.(a) of Appendix FM
  • UK spouse visa leave to remain application refused under paragraph S-LTR.2.2.(a) of Appendix FM

Accordingly, the refusal letter also provides the details of the false documents, information or representations.

Failure to disclose material facts

If an applicant has failed to disclose the material facts and provide the details i.e. which material facts the applicant did not disclose in the application, along with the reasons for not disclosing the material facts then a:

  • UK spouse visa entry clearance application rejects under paragraph S-EC.2.2.(b) of Appendix FM
  • And a UK spouse visa leave to remain application refused under paragraph S-LTR.2.2.(b) of Appendix FM

In fact, under the Rules an ECO can use discretion if the ECO deems appropriate. Therefore, if the ECO has considered about using discretion but finally decided not to use discretion then can add in the refusal letter that exercise of discretion is not appropriate on this occasion, along with the reasons of not exercising the discretion.

The UK Sponsor/Partner failed to give the undertaking

If the immigration officer has requested the sponsor to provide the maintenance and accommodation undertaking under paragraph 35 of the Immigration Rules or otherwise, but the sponsor did not provide any such undertaking then a:

  • UK spouse visa entry clearance application refused under paragraph S-EC.2.4 of Appendix FM
  • UK spouse visa leave to remain rejects under paragraph S- LTR.2.4 of Appendix FM

The UK Partner/Sponsor’s non-compliance with the Investigation

UK spouse visa refusal reason on general grounds

If an applicant or the UK partner/sponsor has not complied with the investigation u/s 50(7)(b) of the Immigration Act 2014 then the decision-maker refuses UK spouse/partner visa leave to remain application under paragraph S-LTR.2.5. of Appendix FM to the Immigration Rules.

The refusal letter usually states the date on which the Secretary of State gave notice to the applicant or his/her partner under section 50(7)(b) of the Immigration Act 2014 and either one or both of respondents did not comply with the investigation of the proposed marriage or civil partnership.

False Representation or Failure to Disclose Material Facts

If the Secretary of State is satisfied that the applicant has made false representations or failed to disclose material facts for the purpose of obtaining a leave to enter or a previous variation of leave or in order to obtain documents from the Secretary of State or a third party in support of the application for leave to enter or a previous variation of leave then the UK spouse visa leave to remain application refused under paragraph S-LTR.4.2. of Appendix FM

Use of deception in a previous application

If the Secretary of State is satisfied that the applicant has made false representations or failed to disclose material facts for the purpose of obtaining a document indicating that the applicant has a right to reside in the UK then the UK spouse visa leave to remain application rejects under paragraph S-LTR.4.3. of Appendix FM. In fact, the spouse visa refusal letter provides details of deception in a previous application. Accordingly, the refusal letter may also state that the Secretary of State deems that the refusal is appropriate. And it is not possible to exercise discretion in favour of the applicant.

Failure to pay litigation costs to the Home Office

UK spouse visa refused on general grounds

If the Secretary of State is satisfied that the applicant has failed to pay outstanding litigation costs awarded to the Home Office then a:

  • spouse visa leave to enter application refused under paragraph S-EC.3.1. of Appendix FM
  • spouse visa leave to remain application rejects under paragraph S-LTR.4.3. of Appendix FM

Failure to pay an outstanding charge to the NHS

If the Secretary of State satisfies that the applicant has failed to pay an outstanding charge or charges with a total value of at least £500 in respect of National Health Service (NHS) treatment that the applicant has received then a:

  • UK spouse visa entry clearance application gets refused under paragraph S-EC.3.2. of Appendix FM
  • UK spouse visa leave to remain application rejects under paragraph S-LTR.4.4. of Appendix FM

Please note this is in accordance with the relevant NHS regulations on charges for overseas visitors. And on basis of on evidence received from the relevant NHS body.

Current partner is not the same as at the last grant of leave

UK spouse visa refusal reasons on suitability grounds

If an applicant applies on the basis of a partner who is not the same partner with whom the applicant applied for the previous grant of leave then a:

  • UK spouse visa extension application gets refused under paragraph E-LTRP.1.10. of Appendix FM
  • Spouse visa ILR application rejects under paragraph E-ILRP.1.4. of Appendix FM

What to do after UK Spouse Visa Refusal: Appeal or Reapply?

In 2019, 48,094 entry clearance decisions made and 40,792 spouse visas granted. Moreover, 7,067 spouse visa applications rejected. And 229 applications withdrawn and 6 applications lapsed. Therefore, UK spouse visa success rate is 84.81%. And the UK spouse visa refusal rate is 14.69%. Therefore, depending on the nature of the UK spouse visa refusal an applicant can reapply or file an appeal against the decision. Perhaps, in most of the situations it is better to appeal against the UK spouse visa refusal decision. In 2017/18, the UK immigration appeal success rate was 50 per cent, which is quite encouraging.

In fact, before refusing a UK spouse visa application, it is mandatory to consider the application for exceptional circumstances. However, in any case, if the UK spouse visa is rejected or denied then an applicant has a full right of appeal to challenge a spouse visa refusal on human rights grounds within 28 or 14 days from the date of entry clearance or leave to remain refusal decision, respectively. However, it is better to lodge an appeal as soon as possible on an IAFT-6 Appeal Form.

UK Spouse Visa Appeal Processing Time

Apparently, the UK spouse visa appeal processing time is usually 6-9 months. However, depending on the administrative workload on the Immigration Tribunals the waiting time may escalate.

Issuance of Spouse Visa after a successful appeal

If the appeal is allowed/successful then the Home Office usually process a spouse visa within 4-6 weeks after the call letter and submission of the passport at the UKVAC.

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Country-specific details:

Moreover, to know the country-specific details of UK visa applications and priority service please refer to Egypt, Ghana, India, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, UAE and the USA.