How to apply for a UK Spouse Visa: step by step

Step by Step Visa Guides

If you or your partner want to apply for a UK Spouse Visa then follow our step by step guide to processing your own UK Spouse Visa written by our team of qualified immigration experts and ex Home Office caseworkers.

Still need help? Our “Do Your Own Partner Visa Pack” service provides you with a list of documents and template letters based on YOUR specific circumstances.

So, what is a Spouse Visa?

A Spouse Visa, also known as a UK Marriage Visa or a UK Partner Visa, is a type of UK Settlement Visa.

A spouse visa allows overseas nationals (“applicants”) to enter or remain in the UK with their UK partner (“sponsor”) for a period of 33 months.

This can be extended for another 30 months after this. After this, you can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) and eventually British Citizenship.

The Home Office deals with visa applications and is responsible for applying the Immigration Rules.

For a UK Spouse Visa, the rules that applicants need to familiarise themselves with are “Appendix FM” (FM stands for family members) and “Appendix FM SE” (specified evidence).

Step 1 : Suitability Requirements
The suitability requirements will not apply to most people but it is vital that you check them to avoid an application refusal. We’ve put all the suitability requirements mentioned in Appendix FM into a chart below so you can quickly and easily check over them before moving onto the next step.


Definitely Refused

The applicant is currently the subject of a deportation order.

The presence of the applicant in the UK is not conducive to the public good because they have been convicted of an offence for which they have been sentenced to imprisonment for at least 12 months.

The presence of the applicant in the UK is not conducive to the public good because their offending has caused serious harm or they are a persistent offender who shows a particular disregard for the law.

The presence of the applicant in the UK is not conducive to the public good because conduct, character, associations, or other reasons, make it undesirable to allow them to remain in the UK.The applicant has failed without reasonable excuse to comply with a requirement to-

  • attend an interview
  • provide information
  • provide physical data
  • undergo a medical examination
  • provide a medical report

Normally refused

Whether or not to the applicant’s knowledge –

  • false information, representations or documents have been submitted in relation to the application
  • there has been a failure to disclose material facts in relation to the application

A maintenance and accommodation undertaking has been requested and has not been provided.The Secretary of State has given notice to the applicant and their partner under section 50(7)(b) of the Immigration Act 2014 that one or both of them have not complied with the investigation of their proposed marriage or civil partnership.

Maybe refused

The applicant has made false representations or failed to disclose any material fact in a previous application for entry clearance, leave to enter, leave to remain or a variation of leave, or in a previous human rights claim; or did so in order to obtain from the Secretary of State or a third party a document required to support such an application or claim (whether or not the application or claim was successful)

The applicant has previously made false representations or failed to disclose material facts for the purpose of obtaining a document from the Secretary of State that indicates that he or she has a right to reside in the United Kingdom.

The applicant has failed to pay litigation costs awarded to the Home Office.

One or more relevant NHS bodies has notified the Secretary of State that the applicant has failed to pay charges in accordance with the relevant NHS regulations on charges to overseas visitors and the outstanding charges have a total value of at least £500.

Step 2 : Relationship Requirement

In order to qualify for a UK Spouse Visa, the person applying (applicant) must meet the relationship requirements outlined in Appendix FM.

Read through our guide to The Relationship Requirements of a Partner Visa to make sure that you meet all the requirements mentioned. The guide also explains what documents can be included with your visa application as evidence that you meet these relationship requirements.

Step 3 : TB Test Requirement

Normally, a tuberculosis (TB) test will be required if you are applying for a UK Spouse Visa. If you are resident in certain countries then you will need to add a TB certificate to your application before you submit it. The list of countries can be found by clicking on this link.

If the country where you are resident IS on the list then you must get your TB test certificate from a Home Office approved clinic. A TB certificate will be valid for 6 months.

If the country where you are resident is not on the list then you do not need to get a TB test certificate.

Step 4 : English Language Requirement

The next requirement is that you have English language skills. How can you show this in your application? There are a number of ways discussed below….

You can meet the English Language requirement by:

• passing an approved test, with an approved provider, at or above A1 level of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR).

• being a national of a majority English speaking country

• having a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree or a PhD awarded in the UK; or

• if your degree was not awarded in the UK, your qualification is recognised by UK NARIC as being equivalent to a UK bachelor’s degree or higher


• UK NARIC has provided you with a certificate confirming the degree was taught or researched in English at or above the required ‘A1’ CEFR level.

You will be exempt from the English Language requirement if:

• you are 65 years old or over when applying

• you are unable to meet the requirement because of a physical or mental disability or condition.

• you are unable to meet the requirement due to exceptional circumstances

If you cannot demonstrate how you meet the English Language requirement or if you are exempt, your visa application will be refused.

For more information, read our detailed guide on The English Language Requirement including what evidence you will need to provide, approved providers and test centres.

Step 5 : Financial Requirement

The immigration rules in Appendix FM contain a financial requirement for a person applying for a UK Spouse Visa. These rules are in place to ensure that the family’s financial position is strong and to avoid the need to claim state benefits.

For the UK Spouse Visa, your partner must have an annual income of at least £18,600 a year. This is called the ‘minimum income threshold’.

If you have children who are not British Citizens, EEA nationals or permanently settled then the minimum income threshold will be higher. An additional gross annual income of £3,800 is required for the first child sponsored in addition to the partner and £2,400 for each further child.

Sources of Income

Your partner can use the following sources of income to prove they meet the financial requirement:

  • income from employment
  • income from self-employment or as a director of a limited company in the UK
  • cash savings above £16,000
  • money from a pension
  • non-employment income, for example property rental income or dividends

Exempt from the Financial Requirement

You do not have to meet the financial requirement if you are in receipt of certain benefits such as Personal Independence Payment or Disability Living Allowance.

Read our guide on Adequate Maintenance to see what you will have to do instead.

Evidence Required

You will need to provide evidence of your income as part of your visa application.

If your partners income is complicated or you want to combine different sources of income read our detailed guide to The Financial Requirement of a Partner Visa.

The guide also provides you with information on what evidence to provide for each source of income you will be using to meet the financial requirement.  

To give yourself the best chance of success with your UK Spouse Visa we highly recommend our “Do Your Own Partner Visa Pack” service. VisaHelpUK will provide you with a complete document checklist and template letters created to suit YOUR circumstances.

Step 6: Accommodation Requirement

You will need to provide evidence that the accommodation you and your partner will live in is ‘adequate’. If the accommodation will be overcrowded or it contravenes public health regulations then it will not be regarded as ‘adequate’.

The evidence you need to provide will depend on your living arrangements with your partner when you come to the UK:

You and your partner will be living in rented accommodation

  • A signed and dated letter from the landlord or estate agent

You and/or your partner owns the accommodation you will be living in

  • A copy of the title deeds
  • If the property is mortgaged you must provide a letter from the mortgage provider confirming who owns the property.
  • A Housing Report to prove that the accommodation is not overcrowded

You and your partner will be living in a family or friend’s home

  • Your family or friends should write you a letter stating that they are happy and willing to allow you to live with your partner in their home.
  • If they own the accommodation, a copy of the title deeds and/or mortgage letter
  • If they rent the accommodation, then you will need them to get a letter from their landlord.
  • A Housing Report to prove that the accommodation is not overcrowded

To get more information read our detailed guide on The Accommodation Requirement of a Partner Visa.

Step 7 : Document Checklist

When applying for a UK Spouse Visa, your application will generally include the following sections:

  1. Application forms
  2. Applicants documents
  3. UK based sponsor’s documents
  4. UK based sponsor’s financial information
  5. Evidence of adequate accommodation
  6. Relationship Documents

Applicant’s documents

In this part of your documents & application pack you will add travel documents like your passport. If applicable, you will also need to include your TB Certificate here. Also, evidence of how you meet the English language requirement, such as a degree certificate or an English language certificate, will be included here.

UK Sponsors documents

Your partner based in the UK will need to write a letter of support detailing the relationship between you and your partner and explaining why your Spouse Visa application should be granted. The letter will be included in this section along with your UK partner’s travel documents.

UK Sponsors financial documents

Here, you will include all the required evidence demonstrating how you meet the financial requirement of the UK Spouse Visa application.

The financial requirement is often the most complicated part of the application.

Read our guide to The Financial Requirement to see what evidence you should include here.

Evidence of adequate accommodation

The UK Spouse Visa rules state that you must intend to live permanently with your UK partner and that the property where you (and any children coming with you) has enough space.

The documents you need to provide will depend on whether you are renting, staying with family/friends or you and/or your partner own the property.

Relationship Documents

The UK Spouse Visa rules state that the relationship between yourself and your partner must be genuine and subsisting. Here, you can include documents to evidence this. Examples of what you can include are:

  1. Chat logs from Facebook/WhatsApp etc. For instructions on how to export chat logs click here.
  2. Travel documents evidencing that you and your partner have visited each other
  3. Photographs of you and your partner at different times throughout your relationship
  4. Marriage certificate (if applicable)
  5. Divorce certificate (if applicable)

To give yourself the best chance of success with your UK Spouse Visa we highly recommend our “Do Your Own Partner Visa Pack” service. VisaHelpUK will provide you with a complete document checklist and template letters created to suit YOUR circumstances.

Supporting Letters

A cover letter should be included in your UK Spouse Visa application. Supporting letters from the applicant and the UK partner should also be included.

These letters help to strengthen your Spouse Visa application and you can include details on the following points in these letters:

  1. The relationship between you and your partner
  2. How you meet the relationship requirement
  3. How you meet the financial requirement
  4. How you meet the accommodation requirement.

Our “Do Your Own Partner Visa Pack” comes with template letters professionally written by our immigration experts to help you save time.

Step 8 : Complete Appendix 2 of VAF4A form

Applicants must complete Appendix 2 of VAF4A form which can be downloaded from the GOV.UK website by clicking here.

You do not have to complete every part of the form. How you meet the financial requirement for your UK Spouse Visa will determine which parts of the form you must complete.

If you are unsure about filling out the form yourself, check out our Step by Step Guide to Completing Appendix 2 of VAF4A Form.

Step 9 : Complete Visa Application Form

Applications for a UK Spouse Visa will be made from outside the UK. This means you will need to complete an online application. Before completing the online form, check the  VFS Global website to see the visa application process in your country. Some countries will process visas differently to others.

You might be asked to send all your supporting documents to Sheffield UK or you may have to submit supporting documents in the country you are applying from.

Once you have done this, you can complete the application using our easy step by step guide.

Step 10 : Visa Centre Appointment

The applicant should take all requested documents to their appointment at the visa centre.

We always recommend applicants to contact the visa centre or check the VFS Global website to confirm what documents should be taken along to the appointment. Normally, it is just your passport and appointment booking confirmation but it is always best to double check before attending the appointment. 

At the appointment, biometric information is taken from the applicant like fingerprints and photographs.

The applicant might be asked questions regarding their relationship like how they contact their partner, where they met their partner or details about their families. This does not always happen but it’s always best to be prepared for any questions.

However, this should not concern you too much as the questions you will be asked are likely to be similar to the questions you will have already answered on the visa application forms.

Click here to read about visa processing times.

With Home Office statistics showing an increasing number of visa refusals due to “technicalities” or “administrative errors” and the rising costs of UK Visa applications, it is crucial you get the visa application right the first time.

At VisaHelpUK, we think immigration advice should be uncomplicated and easy to access – so that’s exactly what we provide.

No fuss, no expensive fees, no long waits; just a straightforward, easy to use Do Your Own Partner Visa Pack” based specifically on YOUR circumstances so you can get on with what’s important to you – submitting your visa application.

If you require assistance with completing the application, we provide you with a document checklist and template letters compiled by our OISC regulated Immigration Advisers.

For a fraction of the cost of instructing an Immigration Adviser you can get all the help you need to complete the application yourself.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this guide is for general information purposes only and is not legal advice. The information is provided by VisaHelpUK and while we endeavour to keep the information up to date and correct, we can accept no responsibility for its accuracy or for any loss or damages arising from the use of this guide.

Josh Lindsey
Josh Lindsey

Immigration lawyer with more than 20 years of consulting experience

Rate author
VisaHelpUK - UK Immigration and Visa Application Advice Service
Add a comment

  1. Avatar photo

    My husband is working in the NHS with Skilled worker Visa. Now he is changing his employer (moving to another NHS trust) with same employee title. Job code doesn’t change but his Visa and COS will be given by his new employer. I have a dependent Visa. I guess I should also change my Visa if my husband’s Visa changes. My current visa validity ends by February 2024. My husband will be applying for the new Visa by June. We had a kid born this May. We have applied for baby’s passport and once it comes, we will be travelling to India by July and will return to UK only by September 2023, by that time my husband’s Visa will be changed. Below are my queries;

    1) Will I be allowed to return to the UK by September even if I don’t change the Visa before the validity ends. I have read in the UKVI website that the spouse doesn’t require to change her visa until her Visa validity ends.
    2) Will I be able to apply for new Visa from India and then come to UK by September 2023?
    3) Is it possible for me to apply for a new Visa along with my husband in June itself and travel to India by July before my new Visa is issued?

    1. Josh Lindsey
      Josh Lindsey author

      Dear Michelle,

      Thank you for your detailed query. I understand that you’re going through a complex situation, and I’ll do my best to provide some guidance on your questions. Please note that while I’ll provide some general guidance, you should consult with a legal professional or an immigration advisor to get tailored advice for your specific circumstances.

      1) Returning to the UK on Current Visa: As a general rule, if your current visa is still valid, you should be allowed to return to the UK, even if your husband has changed his employer and obtained a new Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS). It’s important to keep in mind that your dependent visa is tied to your husband’s visa, so if he changes his status, you may need to change yours. However, according to the information you’ve found on the UKVI website, you may not need to do this until your current visa expires. This is a complex area, and I would recommend confirming this with an immigration advisor or the UKVI directly.

      2) Applying for New Visa from India: Yes, it is generally possible to apply for a UK visa from outside the UK, including India. You would need to use the online application system and then attend a biometric appointment at a visa application centre in India.

      3) Applying for New Visa Before Travel: If your husband is applying for his new visa in June, it might be possible for you to apply at the same time. However, processing times can vary, and there is a chance that your new visa may not be issued before your planned travel date in July.

      When considering this option, it’s also important to note that you might be required to submit your current passport as part of your visa application, which could impact your ability to travel as planned. It would be prudent to confirm the specifics of this process with an immigration advisor or the UKVI.

      Given the complexity of your situation, I strongly recommend that you seek professional advice tailored to your circumstances. This will ensure that you understand all your options and can make an informed decision.

      I hope this provides some initial guidance. If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.

      Kind regards,