Fiance Visa to Spouse Visa UK

fiance visa to spouse visa

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If you have been granted a fiancé visa, the validity of that visa, including the time it takes to get married or enter into a civil partnership in the UK, will be just 6 months. This means that, shortly following the wedding or civil ceremony, you will need to apply to switch from a fiancé to spouse visa if you want to start a new life with your loved one in the UK.

The following practical guide looks at switching from a fiancé visa to spouse visa UK, including the requirements and application process to do so. We also look at the benefits of applying for entry clearance as an unmarried partner instead, rather than as a fiancé or proposed civil partner, and how to switch from a spouse or partner visa to settlement.

 

Can you switch from a fiancé visa to spouse visa UK?

If you have been granted permission to come to the UK as a fiancé or proposed civil partner, it is possible to switch from a fiancé visa to spouse visa UK, provided you have been legally married or registered your civil partnership within the 6-month validity period of your visa and you apply to switch status prior to expiry of that visa. If approved to switch to spouse visa status, provided you meet all of the relevant requirements for this route, you will be granted permission to stay in the UK for a further period of 30 months.

In contrast, if you have been granted permission to come to the UK on a marriage visitor visa, you will not be able to switch to a spouse visa from within the UK where, under the rules relating to family visas, the applicant cannot be in the UK as a visitor to apply.

 

Requirements to switch from a fiancé to spouse visa

As with your application as a fiancé or proposed civil partner when applying from overseas to come to the UK, there are strict requirements that must be met when applying to switch to a spouse visa to be able to stay in the UK. This means that you must be able to satisfy UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) that you are now in a legally recognised marriage or civil partnership with your UK sponsor, and not someone different, where the marriage or civil ceremony must have taken place within 6 months of your arrival in the UK.

If you are applying to stay in the UK with leave as a fiancé or proposed civil partner, where your marriage or civil partnership has not yet taken place, there must be a good reason for this, together with evidence that you will tie the knot within the next 6 months.

When submitting your visa application, either having recently wed or entered into a civil partnership, or where your marriage or civil ceremony has been temporarily delayed, you must still be in lawful status in the UK under your existing grant of leave. This means that you must have submitted your application to UKVI for a spouse visa (or an extension of your fiancé visa), prior to expiry of your current visa. The relationship between you and your partner must also be genuine and subsisting, where you both intend to live together permanently in the UK as a legally married couple or as lawful civil partners.

Additional requirements when applying to switch from fiancé to spouse visa status can include meeting an English language and financial requirement, although much will depend on the nature of the evidence already supplied to UKVI when you first applied.

In the context of the English language requirement, this is identical to the requirement when applying for a fiancé visa, ie; a basic competence in the English language to Level A1 on the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) for Languages. In most cases, you should therefore automatically meet this requirement when applying to switch.

You will automatically meet the English language requirement, for example, if you are a national of a majority English-speaking country, have a UK degree or PhD, or the equivalent of a UK degree taught or researched in English. You will again meet this requirement if you have already passed a secure English language test (SELT) in both speaking and listening at CEFR Level A1. However, if you were initially exempt from the English language requirement because of a physical or mental condition preventing you from meeting this requirement, but that condition has improved, or if there were exceptional circumstances that prevented you from meeting this requirement prior to entry to the UK, there may now be a requirement to prove your English language ability when applying to switch.

When it comes to the financial requirement, you would have had to provide UKVI with evidence when applying for entry clearance that you and your proposed spouse or civil partner had a combined annual household income of at least the relevant threshold, which for applications submitted before 11 April 2024 is a gross annual income of at least £18,600. From 11 April 2024, the financial threshold for the UK spouse visa is increasing from £18,600 to £29,000, and will rise again to £38,700 by early 2025.

(plus £3,800 a year for your first child and £2,400 a year for each additional child). When switching to a spouse visa, UKVI will normally use the evidence provided in your initial application, although you may be asked to prove that your financial situation remains the same.

 

How to switch from a fiancé visa to spouse visa UK

To apply to switch from a fiancé to spouse visa, you must complete an online application at GOV.UK and pay the applicable fee to UKVI. You may also need to schedule an appointment at a UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) centre to re-enrol your biometric information, where you will be told if an appointment is needed when you apply.

 

What supporting documents do you need to switch to a spouse visa?

In support of your application to switch to spouse visa status, you will need to re-submit a valid passport or other valid travel ID, together with proof of your recent marriage or civil partnership, and evidence that you and your spouse or civil partner are living together in the UK. If you have not yet got married or entered into a civil partnership, where your plans have been delayed, you will need evidence to support the reason for this, together with proof that your marriage or civil partnership will still take place within the next 6 months.

You may also need additional documentation, depending on your personal circumstances and the nature of any evidence that you provided in support of your fiancé visa application, including evidence that you meet the English language and financial requirements.

 

How much is the application to switch from a fiancé to spouse visa?

To apply to switch from a fiancé visa to spouse visa UK, the cost is currently set at £1,048. You will also be liable to pay an annual immigration health surcharge (IHS) for the duration of your spouse visa to be able to access the UK’s National Health System.

From 6 February 2024, the IHS will be charged at £1,035 per year of stay (an increase from £624 per year). The total healthcare surcharge payable when applying to switch will therefore equate to £2,587.50 for a spouse visa granted for an initial period of 30 months.

 

How long do applications take to switch from a fiancé to spouse visa?

When applying to switch from a fiancé to spouse visa, it will usually take up to 8 weeks for your application to be processed by UKVI, although you may be able to pay for premium processing for a faster decision. However, if the application to switch to a spouse visa is made on or before your permission as a fiancé expires, then your leave will be protected under UK immigration laws until a decision on your application for a spouse visa is made.

 

What happens if an application to switch visas is refused?

If your application to switch to a spouse visa is refused, your letter from UKVI will explain the reason for refusal and any appeal rights, including whether you can lodge a formal appeal or request an administrative review if you believe that UKVI has made a mistake. You may also be able to submit a fresh visa application or apply for a different type of visa.

However, in the event that you receive a refusal decision from UKVI, it is always best to seek expert advice from an immigration specialist to explore your available options.

 

Unmarried partner visa as an alternative visa option

In some cases, it may be possible to apply for an unmarried partner visa from the outset, rather than first applying for entry clearance as a fiancé or proposed civil partner, only then to have to apply to switch to a spouse visa to enable you to live in the UK.

There are various advantages to applying for entry clearance as an unmarried partner, rather than as a fiancé or proposed civil partner, even if you intend to get married or enter into a civil partnership once you are in the UK. In particular, if you apply for a partner visa from overseas, if eligible, this will not only allow you to come to the UK to get married or enter into a civil partnership, but you will be able stay for an initial period of 33 months. This means that you will not be required to apply for an extension of stay soon after the marriage or civil ceremony. You will also be able to work on this visa, where the ability to undertake paid employment is prohibited as either a fiancé or proposed civil partner.

The requirements to apply for a partner visa, when compared with those needed for a spouse visa, are broadly the same, except for the relationship requirement. When applying for a partner visa to come to the UK, you will need to be in a relationship akin to a marriage or civil partnership, where you have already lived with that person for at least 2 years, and that person is either a British citizen or someone settled in the UK.

Importantly, to be eligible for a partner visa, while the 2-year cohabitation period must have been fully completed prior to the date of your application for entry clearance, this does not have to be completed immediately preceding that date. For example, if you and your UK sponsor are currently living apart for work-related reasons in order to meet the financial requirement, provided your relationship is genuine and subsisting at the date of your visa application, you should still meet the qualifying relationship requirement.

 

How do you switch from a spouse visa to settlement UK?

Having switched from a fiancé to spouse visa, or having come to the UK as an unmarried partner to live with your loved one, regardless of whether or not you go on to tie the knot, you can subsequently apply for further leave prior to expiry of your existing grant of leave. Additionally, having lived in the UK as a spouse, civil partner or unmarried partner for a total period of 5 years, you may be able to apply for settlement. Also known as indefinite leave to remain, this will allow you to live and work in the UK without restriction.

To apply for either an extension of stay or settlement in the UK, you must apply prior to expiry of your existing grant of leave and meet all of the relevant requirements. In particular, when applying for an extension, you will need to demonstrate competence in English speaking and listening of at least CEFR Level A2. Additionally, to switch from a spouse or partner visa to settlement, you will need to demonstrate competence of at least CEFR Level B1. In either case, you may need to take a more advanced SELT to meet this requirement. When applying to settle, you must also pass a “Life in the UK” test (unless exempt) and have continuously lived in the UK for 60 months on your chosen route.

Importantly, any time spent in the UK as a fiance or proposed civil partner will not count towards the qualifying residence requirement. In contrast, if you apply to come to the UK as an unmarried partner, if eligible, any time spent living in the UK in this capacity will count.

 

Need assistance?

DavidsonMorris are UK immigration specialists. For expert guidance with your spouse visa application, contact us.

 

Fiancé Visa to Spouse Visa FAQs

Can I change fiancé visa to spouse visa?

It is possible to switch from a fiancé visa to spouse visa UK, provided you have tied the knot or registered your civil partnership within 6 months and you apply to switch status prior to expiry of your existing visa.

How long does it take to get a fiancé to spouse visa UK?

When applying to switch from a fiance visa to spouse visa UK, it will usually take up to 8 weeks for your application to be processed, although you may be able to pay for premium processing for a faster decision.

How much does it cost to switch from fiancé visa to spouse visa?

The cost to switch from a fiancé visa to spouse visa UK is currently set at £1,048. You will also be liable to pay an annual immigration health surcharge to be able to access the UK’s National Health Service.

Can I bring my fiancé to UK to get married?

You can bring your fiancé to the UK to get married, either on a marriage visitor visa or a fiancé visa, although they must switch from a fiancé to spouse visa if you plan to live in the UK afterwards.

Last updated: 21 February 2024

Author

Founder and Managing Director Anne Morris is a fully qualified solicitor and trusted adviser to large corporates through to SMEs, providing strategic immigration and global mobility advice to support employers with UK operations to meet their workforce needs through corporate immigration.

She is a recognised by Legal 500 and Chambers as a legal expert and delivers Board-level advice on business migration and compliance risk management as well as overseeing the firm’s development of new client propositions and delivery of cost and time efficient processing of applications.

Anne is an active public speaker, immigration commentator, and immigration policy contributor and regularly hosts training sessions for employers and HR professionals

About DavidsonMorris

As employer solutions lawyers, DavidsonMorris offers a complete and cost-effective capability to meet employers’ needs across UK immigration and employment law, HR and global mobility.

Led by Anne Morris, one of the UK’s preeminent immigration lawyers, and with rankings in The Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners, we’re a multi-disciplinary team helping organisations to meet their people objectives, while reducing legal risk and nurturing workforce relations.

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