The rules and requirements for couples applying for a UK spouse or partner visa are extremely complex. Couples need to make sure they meet the relationship requirements, maintenance requirements, and English language requirements of the Rules.

“…took on my case when everyone else failed. Mr Ansari was very organised and kept me up to date with each step and made sure Iwas well informed before taking any decisions … his attention to detail was immaculate”

Shehzeena, London
Spouse visa application

Relationship Requirements

You must be able to show that

  • Your partner is a British citizen or has indefinite leave to remain
  • Your partner is present and settled in the UK
  • You and your partner are over 18 years of age
  • You have met in person
  • You intend to live permanently together in the UK
  • Your are in a legal marriage or civil partnership or have cohabited for at least two years
  • The relationship must be a genuine one
  • The relationship must be subsisting
  • Any previous marriages or relationships must have permanently broken down

Financial Requirements

You must have enough money to be able to support yourself while living in the UK, without having to claim public funds.

You will need to prove that you and your partner have a joint minimum annual income (before tax). The amount depends on how many people are trying to come to the UK.

Family member How much your partner needs to earn per year before tax
Just you £18,600
You and one child £22,400
Each additional child £2,400

The financial requirement can be met through income from employment, self-employment, rental or investment income, and cash savings greater than £16,000.

Regarding living arrangements, the property that you are intending to live in within the UK has to be “owned or occupied exclusively” by the couple. The property cannot be overcrowded or unsafe to live in.

You DO NOT need to meet the maintenance requirement if  your partner has refugee status/humanitarian protection or if they are receiving certain state benefits such as Disability Living Allowance or Personal Independence Payment. In such circumstances, you must be able to show that your joint income after accommodation costs are deducted is at least the same that you would get if you were receiving income support.

If you’re not on any of these benefits and don’t earn £18,600 a year yourself, you can ask to have other sources of income taken into account. However, they will only do this if you can prove that there are “exceptional circumstances” in your case. There is no fixed definition of “exceptional circumstances,” but it is a high bar. You need to prove that the human rights of the applicant, the sponsor or a “relevant child” – a child who has a strong connection to the application – would be harmed if the application was refused. Proving this can be very complicated.

English Language Requirement

Unless you are a national of a country which is exempt by the Home Office (majority English-speaking countries), are over 65 years old, have a physical or mental disability preventing you from taking the test, or have an exceptional compassionate circumstance, then you must meet the English language requirement by passing an approved language test.

You must, at a minimum, have A1 level English for speaking and listening, under the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). You must go to an approved centre in order to take the test.

You can also meet the English language test if you have a post-graduate qualification in a course completed in English. If the degree is from a university outside of the UK, you will have to apply to an organisation called UK NARIC to get them to certify that the qualification is equivalent to a UK Bachelor, Masters or PhD.

Other Key Requirements

When applying as a national from certain countries, you must include a certificate within the application which proves that you have been screened for tuberculosis (TB) at an approved centre.


The Rules now require certain specified pieces of evidence in a particular format to be provided in support of the application. A failure to provide these documents could result in the application being refused. The list of documents you need to provide varies depending on how you claim you meet the different requirements.

If your application is successful, you will be granted a visa for 33 months which can be extended for an additional 30 months. After you have completed 5 years in this category, you can apply for settlement or indefinite leave to remain.

If you do not meet all the requirements of the Rules but are granted a visa because a refusal would breach your human rights or that of your family members, you will need to wait until you have completed 10 years residence in the UK before you are entitled to apply for settlement.

Our advisers have an excellent track record in this category of application and will assist you to understand the complexities of the Rules and provide you with a clear list of documents you need to provide to support your application in accordance with your instructions. We will thoroughly check every document and ensure that your application has the optimal chances of success.