Getting any sort of visa these days has been somewhat difficult due to certain circumstances in the world. The first thing that made everything difficult was the global pandemic that slowed us down, alienated us and shut down the world for several months.
Today we are talking about a spouse visa UK, how to get to it and what to do to speed the process up. For those of you that don’t know the Spouse visa is a family-based visa category that permits spouses of British nationals or those with indefinite permission to remain in the United Kingdom to enter, stay, and eventually settle in the country. The road is open to any non-EEA nationals who are married to a British citizen or have Indefinite Leave to Remain. A Fiancée visa is also available for persons who are planning to marry, as well as for couples who want to apply as unmarried companions (providing they have lived together for 2 years or more).
One thing is to remember and that is the fact that there is an expiration date on this type of visa and applications to transfer or renew a spouse visa are permitted for a term of 2.5 years (30 months), while applicants wishing to enter the United Kingdom as a spouse for the first time are permitted a stay of 33 months.
Before you start applying for this type of visa you also need to know that it has some requirements you need to fulfil beforehand. You don’t want to pay money for this visa and start the entire process and a waiting game if you don’t fulfil these requirements:
- A legally acknowledged and continuing marriage or civil partnership;
- A1 English proficiency examination (speaking and listening);
- Unless excluded (see below), you must have an annual income of £18,600 or savings of £62,500 from approved sources.
- In the United Kingdom, enough lodging is available.
- Intention to make the UK your permanent home.
When it comes to processing times, you all know that there has been an increase in the waiting period due to the conflict between Russia and Ukraine and because of the large number of refugees seeking shelter in the countries of the EU the waiting period has been increased because they have received some sort of priority when it comes to this. The UK government and all others are working round the clock to shorten these times, and since December 2023 we saw an announcement that since mid-December processing times are going back to normal for almost all visas and all applicants.
These waiting times can now and could then be sped up by requesting a priority service. Priority service is only possible if the application is simple and fulfils all of the usual criteria. If you choose priority service, you can expect a decision within four weeks, but this is not guaranteed.
The normal processing period for applications submitted in the United Kingdom is roughly 8 weeks. You may also speed things up by scheduling a super-priority service and get your decision within 24 hours of submitting your biometrics.
The application process by itself is pretty much straightforward and is done by filling out an online form and paying the government costs. Following that, you may schedule a biometric session to have your photograph and fingerprints taken. At the appointment, you will not be interrogated; instead, your biometric information will be collected. If you want to accelerate the application, you may also schedule a priority service (available worldwide) or a super-priority service (available in the UK).
After submitting your online application, you must upload your supporting papers to the government portal. All papers are now accepted in digital format, but the Home Office may request the original if there are any issues.
If you apply for entry clearance from outside the UK, you will receive a vignette or sticker in your passport valid for 28 days, during which you can travel to the UK and pick up your Biometric Residence Card at the post office. You would have picked the closest post office to your UK address as part of the visa application process.
If you apply from within the UK, your biometric residence card will be mailed to you. The card will expire in December 2024, but your visa or permission to stay in the UK will be valid for another 30 months. The discrepancy is the consequence of changes made to the documentation verifying the right of residence by the Home Office. It has no bearing on your right to stay.
For those of you wondering what to do right after you get that sweet call that your visa has been approved here it is – you will be issued a passport along with a 30-day entrance visa. You must reach the UK within this time frame since the entire visa is provided on a Biometric card that can only be obtained in the UK. Once you have obtained the Biometric card, you are free to enter and depart the UK as you want.
As of now, there are not many ways you can speed up the visa process no matter what you do. The only thing that may have some sort of impact on the time you have to wait is where are you applying from – inside or outside of the UK. If you are applying inside of the UK you will have to wait 8-12 weeks while those outside of the UK applicants will have to wait for 4-16 weeks.
There is an ability to hire priority service which we mentioned before and for an additional fee they can try to speed up the whole process, but that boils down to more of an occasion than a general rule. We know of some cases where it took as long with the priority service as it would without them, or they shaved a couple of days to a couple of weeks max. another thing to do is check if your country has any sort of priority for whatever and use that to your advantage.