Spousal & Fiancé Visas for the UK

If your partner or spouse has a long-term visa or residence in the UK you may be able to apply to join them as a dependent on a Family Visa for a spouse or partner.  A visa is needed if you are planning to live with a family member for more than six months. If you are already in the UK you may be able to apply to extend your visa.


However, if you have a visitor visa of less than six months you will not be able to apply for a family visa from within the UK. If your partner, fiancé or spouse is a student or temporary worker, you will not be able to gain a family visa.


The Family Visa process has stringent criteria. There are lots of reasons why you may qualify but a number of incidences where you might not. Family visas are something which need to be investigated fully for your individual circumstances.


The UK government publishes the criteria and process here https://www.gov.uk/uk-family-visa


Refusal of family visas does happen and can lead to difficult choices for families and relationships. We look at a few scenarios in this article.


Spousal visa difficulties experienced by couples


Currently partner visa applications are falling, from 46,906 in June 2006 to 27,345 in June 2015, when 66% of applications were granted favorably.


Case 1: David Kiff of the UK, and Wanwan Qiao of China


Wanwan lived in the UK for three years, initially on a student visa, and met David in April 2016. For a visa to be granted to a non-EU spouse any couple needs to be earning a combined income of £18,600, or be facing significant difficulties to live outside the UK. Their first application was denied as David was self-employed and could not properly demonstrate his income. The Home Office stated they were declining their second application based on immigration rules, and saw no reason why the couple cannot live in China. Wanwan is heavily pregnant, but has been granted exceptional leave to remain with an extension for four months, and can re-apply after she has given birth.


Their full story can be found here: http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-beds-bucks-herts-41012762


Case 2: Toni Stew of the UK and Mohamed El Faramawi of Egypt


Again, this couple’s issues began with them not earning the combined £18,600 per year requirements. They met in Egypt in 2009 and married six years later. They have a 17-month-old son Ali who lives with mum Toni in the UK. As Toni doesn’t earn the income threshold requirement, Mohamed is not allowed to come to the UK, and has only seen his son a handful of times. Toni works part-time while caring for her son.


Thousands of couples are said to be affected by the minimum income requirement introduced in July 2012.


Case 3: Lauren Segan of the UK and American, Spencer Russ


Both students, Laura and Spencer have been married for less than a year. Laura is still studying and feels it’s unfair of the UK government to expect her to earn the £18,600 threshold, whilst studying, in order to bring Spencer back to the UK. They met when they were both teaching English in Russia.


Both couple’s stories and more can be found here: http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-35552289


What exactly was the change in law for income requirements for couples?


Under the family migration policy British citizens, foreign nationals who are settled in the UK and those with refugee status can apply to sponsor their partner’s visa. They must also show they have sufficient funding to support them. The minimum income requirement was introduced in July 2012.  For a non-European partner and child, the amount is £22,400 with an additional £2,400 for each additional child. Applicants who receive the status of “family of a settled person” cannot claim benefits or public funds.


The minimum income requirement policy was challenged in the High Court in 2013 and the Court of Appeal in 2014 as being discriminatory, and not compliant with Article 8 of the Human Rights Act. Article 8 is the right to a private and family life. The Supreme Court ruled the immigration policy lawful, but it continues to separate and cause pain to many couple and families.


What is the “Surinder Singh” route?


Some applicants who were unable to meet the income threshold have taken the “Surinder Singh” route to bypass the law. They work in another nation in the European Economic Area for three months or more. When they return to the UK they are treated as an EEA citizen, instead of a British citizen. This means they can bring their spouse to the EEA country, then on to the UK without having to meet the income threshold. The Home Office must be satisfied that any applicant following this route did not do so just for immigration purposes.


Why is the American show “90-day Fiancé” so popular?!


The American TV show “90-day Fiancé” and its spin-offs follow the stories of American citizens moving abroad to be with partners, often that they have recently met online. Or American’s who bring their partners to the USA. These relationships often result in quick marriages, which some see as a route to immigration or monetary gain, and not real love stories. For some the stories are true romance and show individuals adapting to new countries and relationships. For other participants in the show there are obvious issues, visible one-sidedness, or a need for love or gain not shared by the spouse to be.


Lastly, can simple mistakes on visa applications cause problems for couples?


Yes! Simple errors on any visa and immigration application can cause huge problems, even the rejection of the visa itself. It’s vital that anyone completing an application is 100% confident they meet the requirements and criteria and can demonstrate this. Submitting an incomplete or incorrect application will almost certainly cause problems. Any attempt to hide details or submit fraudulent applications is likely to cause both immediate and future refusals. If you are not sure about any part of a visa application – take advice, it may seem expensive, but is likely to save money and heartache later.

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