If you are a UK spouse visa holder and your period of leave is due to expire, you will need to apply for a spouse visa extension to remain in the country with your partner.
The spouse visa extension application can be just as rigorous and demanding as your initial visa application. You will again be required to evidence that you continue to meet the visa eligibility requirements in respect of your relationship and finances.
If your spouse visa extension application is successful, you will be granted a further 30 months to remain in the UK, at the end of which you should have accrued five years‘ qualifying residency in the UK and become eligible to apply for indefinite leave to remain.
With so much at stake, how should you prepare your extension application?
Spouse visa extension requirements
When making an application for a spouse visa extension, both you and your spouse or partner must be aged 18 years or over, be present in the UK and be living together permanently.
To qualify for the spouse visa extension, you will need to prove that you are in a ‘genuine and subsisting’ relationship with your spouse who is either:
- a British citizen
- someone who is present and settled in the UK, with either indefinite leave to remain or proof of permanent residence; or
- a person with refugee status or who has been granted humanitarian protection in the UK.
Your relationship must either be legally recognised as a marriage, civil partnership or, if you are unmarried, have proof you have been in a relationship which is akin to a marriage or civil partnership for at least two years.
You will also be required to prove you have been living with your spouse for the duration of your UK residency and that you intend to continue to cohabit indefinitely – throughout the extension period and beyond.
Financial maintenance requirement
Put simply, to satisfy the financial requirement when applying for a spouse visa extension, you and your spouse or partner will need to have a combined annual income of at least £18,600.
If you have a child, the minimum requirement increases to £22,400, with an additional £2,400 for each additional child. A ‘child’ is classed as someone under the age of 18 who is dependant on you or your partner.
This minimum income threshold can be met either through your spouse or partner’s salaried or self-employed income, or your own income where you have permission to work in the UK.
You can combine income from different sources, such as pension income or maternity allowances. You can also use cash savings above £16,000 in lieu of income.
In the event that your spouse or civil partner is in receipt of a specified benefit or allowance, such as Disability Living Allowance or Carer’s Allowance, you will be exempt from meeting the financial requirement in the form of a minimum income threshold.
This is a complex area, and with other sources of funds potentially considered acceptable, it is advisable to take professional guidance on your specific circumstances.
English language requirement
Spouse visa extensions applicants will have to show they meet a standard of A2 level in English speaking and listening, under the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages.
You can also prove your knowledge of English by taking an approved English language test in speaking and listening.
You will be exempt from the English language requirement if you are a national of an English speaking country (such as the USA or New Zealand), if you are aged 65 or over, or you have a physical or mental condition that prevents you from meeting this requirement.
Good character requirement
You will also need to pass the good character requirement. This is a general test to determine if there are grounds to refuse your application due to issues such as immigration breaches or criminal convictions while you have been in the UK.
If you do not meet the requirements for a spouse visa extension, you may still be able to apply to extend your permission to stay in the UK in the following circumstances:
- there would be significant difficulties for you and your partner if you lived together as a couple outside the UK that could not be overcome.
- you have a child in the UK who is a British citizen or has lived in the UK for 7 years and it would be unreasonable for them to leave the UK.
- it would breach your human rights to make you leave the UK.
Take advice on your circumstances if you are concerned about your eligibility.
How do I apply for a UK spouse visa extension?
You should apply online for your spouse visa extension before your existing UK spouse visa expires. Ensure you have collated all the required supporting documents and have all the required information to hand.
As part of the application process you will be required to provide details of your spouse or partner, including the nature of your relationship with them.
In circumstances where, for example, you have been unable to provide all the evidence that the Home Office needs, you may be invited for an interview.
You will need to pay the application fee and the Immigration Health Surcharge before the application will be accepted for submission.
Spouse visa extension form
The form to use to apply for a spouse visa extension is Form FLR (M). The form should be completed online on the government’s website.
Please note, if you are looking to extend your stay in the UK indefinitely, you cannot use form FLR (M). Applying to settle in the UK requires a different form with different requirements.
Spouse visa extension documents
You will be required to submit various documents in support of your application for a spouse visa extension, including your existing and previous passports or travel documents, as well as any Biometric Residence Permit.
The specific documents to provide will depend on your personal circumstances, but generally you would look to include the following to prove you meet the visa requirements:
- Proof of your identity such as your passport
- Proof of your spouse’s UK status e.g. proof of indefinite leave to remain
- Proof of your relationship, such as your marriage certificate and evidence of cohabiting for the period of UK residency, correspondence (e.g. utility bills, with both addressees)
- Proof of meeting the financial requirement such as payslips to prove your income or bank statements showing savings
- Proof of your knowledge of English if applicable, such as a degree certificate or a certified English language test certificate
- Additional documents depending on your circumstances, for example, a divorce certificate to show that any previous marriages or civil partnerships have come to an end
Spouse visa extension fee
The application fee for applying for a spouse visa extension from within the UK is £1033 (at January 2021).
Additional costs include the fee to enrol your biometric information (£19.20 at January 2021), the fee to sit the English language test (if applicable), and you will also incur costs if you need any documents translated into English.
You may also be liable to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge. This is a compulsory fee that provides you with access to the National Health Service for the duration of your period of leave as a UK spouse visa holder.
You may be able to pay an additional fee for fast-tracked processing of your application. Priority and super priority processing has however been impacted by COVID and applicants are advised to check on the availability of premium services before making their application.
Spouse visa extension refused?
You will receive a decision letter from the Home Office outlining the grounds for refusal. In most cases, these will be minor errors that can be rectified and the application resubmitted.
There is no general right to appeal a refused spouse visa extension. However, if you believe the Home Office has made a mistake, you may be able to challenge for the application to be reconsidered through an ‘Administrative Review‘, or Judicial Review in more serious cases. You would need to take advice soon after receiving the refusal as strict time limits apply when challenging the Home Office.
DavidsonMorris is a law firm specialising in UK immigration. We help individuals with their UK immigration needs, and can guide and support you through any Home Office process, including applications to extend spouse visas. If you have a question about a spouse visa extension, please contact us.
Spouse visa extension FAQs
How much does it cost to extend spouse visa?
It costs £1033 to apply to extend your spouse visa. Other costs will also apply, such as the Immigration Health Surcharge and the fee to submit your biometric information.
When can I apply for spouse visa extension?
You will need to apply for your spouse visa extension before your current visa is due to expire, usually this is within 28 days of the expiry date.
How do I extend my spouse visa UK?
You apply online by completing form FLR (M), and submitting evidence to prove you meet the visa requirements, including proof of qualifying relationship, proof that you meet the financial requirement and proof you meet the English language requirement.
How long is the spouse visa valid for?
The spouse visa extension will allow you a further 30 months in the UK. At this end of this period of leave, your combined residency in the UK as a spouse of 5 years will enable you to become eligible to apply for ILR.
Last updated: 9 January 2021