Getting a UK Visa for your spouse

We have imagined that you have already obtained your work visa in the UK. It is logical that you as an employee who has a family abroad will want to take them to the UK. This raises the question we voiced in the title of the article – How to get a UK visa for your spouse?

In this article, we tried to answer this question and other questions that in our opinion, you may have in the light of your situation. Questions such as Can I bring my husband or wife to the UK? Can I bring my partner if we are living together as civil partners? You might be asking how can you meet the requirements to bring my family members, what are these conditions, and so on.

We have considered all these situations and attempted to answer them below. Let's get started with the basics. The first thing to start with is in reference to the two types of partner visas, which are the following…

If you’re living in the UK on your own visa, your partner will have to either:

apply as a dependant of a Tier 2 (General) visa holder (Skilled Worker visa)

apply as a dependant of a Tier 4 visa holder (Student visa)

Our focus is to help skilled working expats in the UK, so we are going to focus on the first type of visa. Simply put, yes, you can bring your fiancé, unmarried partner, married partner, and kids to the UK if you are already settled there with your working visa and long term contract. But you must meet the other requirements  Read along as we discuss them below.

What are the requirements for a UK spouse visa?

If you want to join your family member in the UK for more than 6 months you will need to apply for a family visa. If you need to go to the UK for less than 6 months you need a standard visitor visa or marriage visitor visa.

Even if your origin country is a non-EU country but you are settled with a working visa in the UK you can take your spouse/partner or child to the UK. Without details and specific numbers, you have to prove your financial capacity to provide dependent family members and the proof that your relationship is legitimate.

This visa is not only limited to a spouse or partner of a UK citizen. You can apply for a UK spouse visa under the following scenario:

  • You are married or in a long-term relationship with someone who holds UK Ancestry
  • You are married or in a long-term relationship with someone in the UK through Tier 4 immigration
  • You are married or in a long-term relationship with someone who holds a work permit
  • You are married or in a long-term relationship with someone in the UK through Tier 1 immigration

Each of your family members who intends to join you in the UK must make an online application separately from their origin country.

As already mentioned, you and your partner need to provide proof that you have been living together in a relationship for two years or more.

To apply you must have an intention to live with your partner permanently and you as the applicant and a member of a family sponsoring,  must be able to support yourselves, and any dependants, without relying on public funds.

Visa is initially issued for 33 months, whether you're a married partner or not. But after that period you need to apply for the extension for 2 years and a half. Only after reaching 5 years living with a spouse visa in the UK can you apply for ILR (indefinite leave to remain). 

Your spouse, who is also your sponsor, needs an income of at least £18,600 before tax. However, if you have one dependent child, you will need an income of £22,400 before tax, plus an additional £3,800 for the first child, and an extra £2,400 for each child if your children are non-EU citizens.

If your income is less than what's needed, you can use cash savings to meet the financial requirement. You’ll need £16,000 plus £2.50 for every £1 below the financial requirement. The savings must have been in your name for 6 months or more.

Confirmation of English skills level for a spouse of non-EU citizens in the UK

Notice that we are talking about visas for spouses and partners for non-EU citizens that are in the UK on working visas. Visa for those applicants differs from the Family visa for either partner of a UK citizen, or those who have indefinite leave to remain (ILR), have settled status or proof of permanent residence, or have refugee status or humanitarian protection in the UK.

We have to point this out because as stated on, a family visa requires confirmation of English skills level (at least A1) which must be validated via test – CEFR level A1 in speaking and listening or you can confirm your English skills level if you have a degree that was taught in English (it requires a certificate from UK NARIC.).

You will likely find a lot of sources online that states you need to have an English test for confirmation of the level of your English skills. We do not deny this, since there is no evidence to the contrary on the official sites. But we definitely advise you to clarify what they need to do further when your family visits a visa application center to have their fingerprints and photograph taken for proving their identity. This is the only advice that we're sure for you to do – to clarify the requirements on English skills in your personal situation. After all, it's better that you're prepared by knowing how you can confirm your English skills in case you will need them.

Is IELTS required? No, IELTS is not required for TIER 2 dependant visa applications.

There are two ways of passing the test for at least A1 level — CEFR (IELTS Life Skills test is £150) or confirming your skills by applying to NARIC for a statement of comparability visa or nationality statement if your degree has been thought in English.

They’ll be told what they need to do when they apply. ( )

How long does the application process for a UK spouse visa take?

As soon as your spouse or child applied online and proved their identity and their documents, the decision might be received within 3 weeks. Your family members may get the visa faster if they use other services (if they apply from the UK it's £700 extra). It depends on which country they’re in. If they can use special services to get the results faster they will be told at the visa application center.

How much does a UK visa spouse cost?

The cost may vary from £1,033 to £3,250 and depends on where you are applying from and who is filing the application. Differences in cost are shown in the picture from 

Keep in mind that you will also need to pay an immigration healthcare surcharge (IHS). The cost for IHS is £1,872 applicable to applications made outside the UK and £1,560 for applications made inside the UK.

After applying online you will need to go to the nearest visa center to provide your biometric information (fingerprints and a photo) for further confirmation (you’ll need to pay £19.20 for this procedure).

Does the UK spouse visa include a work permit for the spouse?

If you got a spouse visa it automatically gives you the right to work in the UK.

With a spouse or partner visa you can work in the UK without restrictions

How long is a UK spouse visa valid?

You have the right to live and work in the UK for two years and 6 months after receiving a visa as a dependant of a settled member of your family in the UK. Generally, during this period you are not prohibited from exiting and re-entering the UK several times. But given the pandemic situation, there may be some limitations that should be checked when planning a trip. After two and a half years of obtaining a visa, you need to apply to extend it for the same period to be allowed to stay in the UK.

When it comes to your spouse visa extension, you can only apply to extend their visa 28 days before it expires.

An extension of this visa occurs when the main visa holder applies for their own extension. If the main visa holder applies for ILR, then the partner can either qualify to apply for ILR (visa dependent) or would need to apply for a further extension.

How can a spouse transfer from a spouse visa to an independent UK work permit visa?

After being in the UK for a total of five years, you may be eligible to apply for ILR and British Citizenship. You will once again have to satisfy the criteria of the spouse/partner status at the end of this period. You may apply for ILR if your partner is a holder of a work permit and working visa. You can apply for IRL as a partner too.

Switch to a UK partner visa

If you are in a relationship with or married to someone who is British or has settled status in the UK, you may apply to switch to a partner visa from another visa.

Under which conditions is a spouse visa application rejected?

Initially, the visa is issued for the same period of time as a remaining on the main visa holder’s visa. if the remaining period of time on the main visa holder is a short period of time the application might be refused.

The rules are different for each type of partner but you’ll always have to show you have enough money to support them and prove your relationship is genuine.

An absence of evidence of the legitimacy of your relationship or not meeting the requirements on savings threshold to support yourself and your spouse can be reasons for rejection.

If a partner owes £500 or more to the NHS their visa will automatically be refused.

But it is worth saying that the most common reason for rejection of a visa application is because there’s not enough evidence (documents that prove your specific case) sent with the application. In general, you’ll need to provide a piece of evidence to support each thing you say in the application. Every document will need to be in the exact format the application is asking for. Find out more about the information you’ll need to give on GOV.UK.

What about kindergarten and school access for tier 2 work permit and spouse visa holders?

In the UK, all 3 to 4-year-olds in England are entitled to free early education before they start school full time. Usually, children from 6 months are taken to the nursery. These are paid institutions.

The cost of kindergartens differs in the city but also on the area. If we talk about London and the duration of a child's stay in kindergarten from 8:00 am to 06:00 pm, then on average it will cost the family from 60 to 80 pounds a day.

Since all kindergartens in the UK are inspected on a 4-point scale, this significantly affects the quality and price. To get into kindergarten which is evaluated at 1 point (which is the best score and 4 – respectively is the worst) you need to apply immediately after the birth of a child.

To choose the right preschool institution according to the age of your child, the area of residence of the family, and the level of earnings, we advise you to visit the website with a tool for selecting options individually for you.

To find out what the pathway is and where to start with we'd recommend you to follow the instructions given on

It's important to check first whether you can get some assistance with childcare costs. The UK government has several options to help families pay for childcare. But this is only available to approved institutions. To check if an institution is approved visit the link on the UK government website.

We advise you to assess the situation carefully. But take note that  Tier 2 visa holders are not eligible for public funds unless otherwise indicated on the residence card.

The website also said the following:

You’re not eligible for help childcare cost if:

you’re from outside the EEA and your UK residence card says you cannot access public funds

Then you need to choose the institution for your child and apply. If your child is under 5 years, apply for nursery school, or free early education and childcare (dedicated for 2 – 4 years old kids).

All 3 and 4-year-olds in England are entitled to 570 hours of free early education or childcare a year. This is often taken as 15 hours each week for 38 weeks of the year.

Some 2-year-olds are also eligible.

The next step is to get help paying for childcare. In the UK you might get help for child care costs for children under 18.

You might be able to apply for:

Or you can apply for free hours if your child is aged between 2 and 4 years:

Check what to do when your child reaches school age

Your child starts primary school the September after they turn 4.

  1. Apply for a primary school place
  2. Find before and after school and holiday clubs

You might be able to use help like tax credits or Tax-Free Childcare to pay for childcare like wraparound care, after school clubs or other activities.

Until which age can children live with a spouse visa in the UK?

As a dependant partner of Tier 2 visa holder, their children can live  with the following members of the family:

your husband, wife, civil partner or unmarried partner

your child under 18 – including if they were born in the UK during your stay

your child over 18 if they’re currently in the UK as your dependant

The latest updated official source (Skilled Workers (Dependants) Policy Guidance ) has something. to say on that subject.

111. To apply for leave to remain as the child of a Main Applicant, you must be under the age of 18 on the date of application. If you are aged 18 or over, you must have, or have last been granted, leave as the family member of a Main Applicant or someone applying at the same time for leave as a Main Applicant.

112. You will not be considered to be a child family member of a Main Applicant where it is considered that you:
• are married or in a civil partnership
• have formed an independent family unit; or
• are living an independent life.

113. Children aged 18 or over who have not previously been granted leave as the family member of the Main Applicant cannot be granted leave as the family member of a Main Applicant.

You might be considered as part of an independent family unit if you: are living with your partner; or have children of your own.

You might also be considered by the Head Office as a person living independently if you are living away from the family (except for academic reasons, e.g., attending a boarding school or University; or when on full-time employment; or when you're financially independent (that is where your income exceeds their expenses)).

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