Arriving in the UK on a Spouse/Fiancé visa

Advice & Resources

Top 10 things you should do straight away

When your partner first arrives in the UK on a settlement visa, it is the responsibility of the UK sponsor to organise and guide their partner with all the practicalities of getting set up for life in the UK.

Arriving in the UK (Immigration control)

Upon arrival in the UK at an international airport you will have to go through Immigration and Customs Control (UK Border Force).

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Usually, there are 2 queues – one queue is for EEA and Swiss nationals and the other for everyone else. Make sure you join the correct queue.
  • Here, your passport and visa/entry clearance will be checked. You should carry your passport and visa in your hand luggage.
  • This process can take at least an hour.
  • After this, you can collect your baggage. Check the screens for your flight number and where your flight departed from to know where to collect your baggage from.
  • If any item of baggage has not arrived you will need to speak to an airline representative and fill out a lost baggage form.

Customs

Once you have collected all your baggage the next step is to pass through Customs Control.

  • The Green channel is if you have nothing to declare
  • The Red channel is if you have goods to declare
  • The Blue channel is if you have arrived from an airport within the EU

A Customs Officer can check your baggage regardless of which channel you pass through.

You must declare the equivalent of 10,000 Euros or more in any currency to Customs Control if you are travelling to the UK from outside the EU.

If you fail to declare this or provide incorrect information, a large fine can be imposed.

It’s always best to check in your home country, with the British Embassy or High Commission , what you can and cannot bring to the UK with you.

Top 10 things you should do straight away

Collect the Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) card from the Post Office

When you received your passport back with your travel vignette, you will have been given a decision letter which tells you exactly which Post Office to collect your BRP card from. When you go to collect the BRP card take the letter with you.

This must be done within 10 days of arriving in the UK or before your vignette expires, whichever is later.

Call DWP to apply for a National Insurance number

Once you are in the UK, you can apply for a National Insurance number. In order to get a National Insurance number you must have the right to work or study in the UK. You may be asked to go to an interview with Jobcentre Plus who will want to know why you need a National Insurance number and what your current circumstances are. If you tell your employer that you have applied for a National Insurance number you can start work before it arrives and give it to them when you have it.

https://www.gov.uk/apply-national-insurance-number
Telephone: 0800 141 2075

Add your name to the Tenancy Agreement
You will need to speak to your Landlord and request them to change the tenancy agreement. If the Landlord agrees to the change, a new tenancy agreement or an amendment to the existing tenancy agreement should be drawn up in writing with both yours and your partners names on.  
Add your name to the Council Tax bill
If you’re 18 or over and own or rent a home then you will have to pay Council Tax, in most cases. To add your name to the Council Tax bill you must call your local council office to complete a change of circumstances form. Many councils now offer the option of reporting a change in circumstances online so check your local council website. Once the change in circumstances has been processed you will be sent a new and updated Council Tax bill with both yours and your partners name on.
https://www.gov.uk/council-tax

Register with a local GP and Dentist

All practices will have registration forms available which you must submit in order to formally register with them as an NHS patient. When you have completed and returned the form, your new practice will write to you to confirm your registration as a patient with that practice. When you register, you may be asked for proof of identity by some GP practices. However, GP practices should not refuse your registration if you don’t have proof of address or personal identification to hand. It is not considered a reasonable ground to refuse registration whether lawfully in the UK or not.

https://www.nhs.uk/nhs-services/gps/how-to-register-with-a-gp-surgery/

Add your name to as many of your utility bills as possible.
You should definitely add your name to these bills. Some utility providers will let you do this and others will not, this isn’t a problem so just add them to any that will. You can request this when you phone up your chosen supplier, this also applies when applying for a TV licence.
Opening a Bank Account & Proof of address

Once you have received some mail addressed to you, you should be able to use these letters as proof of address to open a UK bank account.

Each bank will accept different things as proof of address so be prepared to shop around. Banks usually insist on utility bills, Council Tax bill letter, GP letters or DWP letters regarding your NI number as an example.

Santander has a new bank account specifically for people who are new to the UK with no credit history.

https://www.santander.co.uk/personal/current-accounts/basic-current-account

Your partner could add you to their existing account or open an extra joint account.

With a joint account:

  • You and your partner will both get a debit card and can request a cheque book, if it is available with the main account.
  • Each person can make withdrawals, write cheques, apply for an overdraft or use cash machines without needing the approval of the other.
  • Both people named on the account are individually and jointly responsible for any debts  that might occur on the joint account.

Apply for a provisional driving licence

A provisional driving licence is a great way for you to have further photo ID and proof of address. You can apply online or by post.

It costs £34 to apply online. You can pay by MasterCard, Visa, Electron, Maestro or Delta debit or credit card.  You must send in an identity document with your application, (biometric residence permit (BRP) and a recent photograph.

https://www.gov.uk/apply-first-provisional-driving-licence

Alternatively, you can apply by post. You must fill in form D1 which is available to download online or at certain Post Office branches. It will cost £43 to apply by post. You can make your cheque or postal order payable to DVLA (don’t send cash).

You will also need to include your BRP and a photograph. You will get your driving licence and identity documents sent back to you separately. Identity documents are returned by second class post. Include a stamped, self-addressed, special delivery envelope, or signed for envelope with your application if you want to track when your documents are posted. Contact Royal Mail if you don’t get your documents back within 2 weeks of receiving your licence.

Send your application and payment to: DVLA, Swansea, SA99 1AD

Apply for joint mobile phone contracts
Most mobile phone companies now offer a “shared plan” option. You will get one bill at the end of every month. You should request that your name is shown on the contract and on the bills. A “shared plan” can be for two mobile phones or just two sim cards if you already have mobile phones.
Update CV and circulate it online.
Your CV could be made in advance of arriving in the UK. You could set up online accounts with recruitment agencies so you will receive daily vacancies by email. There are many examples of CVs on the internet in all different styles. Once you have your CV ready, you can upload this to recruitment agencies and websites like Indeed which is an employment-related search engine for job listings.

Top Tip!

Keep your official mail and utility bills, it doesn’t matter whether your mail is in joint names or single names, as you will need official letters and bills for the next stage of the visa process FLR(M). This is to show that you’ve been living together since your spouse arrived up until their next application.

If you were already married before you arrived in the UK, you will apply for the next visa after 30 months of being in the UK OR 28 days before your BRP card expires.

If you arrived on a fiancé visa, you will have 6 months in which to marry and extend the visa to FLR(M).

Josh Lindsey
Josh Lindsey

Immigration lawyer with more than 20 years of consulting experience

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VisaHelpUK - UK Immigration and Visa Application Advice Service
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