LONDON, UK, 4th May 2023 - If you and your British partner are living together abroad and one day decide to set up your home in the UK, there are seven most important things you should know.
1. Being married to a British citizen does not give you an automatic right to live in the UK.
Non visa nationals often believe that they do not need a visa to the UK. This is not quite right. As a non-visa national, you may not need a visa to travel to the UK as a tourist or for a family visit. However, to set up a home in the UK you will need a visa which will allow you to stay in the long term, take up employment or set up your business in the UK, rent accommodation, open a bank account, send children to a state funded school, and use the NHS.
2. Spouse visa is not the only option you may wish to consider.
Other types of visa may be a better fit for your circumstances. For example, if you have a job offer in the UK and the employer is prepared to sponsor you, the skilled worker or scale-up visa has a much shorter processing time and you may get your sooner by a few months than applying for the spouse visa. You won’t have to meet the financial requirements, but there will be a higher requirement for the knowledge of English.
You may also wish to check if you qualify for the Global talent visa. This visa is not only for winners of prestigious prizes and glamorous people from out of this world, but you may also qualify as a leading figure in research and academia, digital technology, or arts and culture. A prize winning photographer or lead researcher in a project with a qualifying grant may qualify for the Global talent visa. The advantage of this route is not only a much shorter processing time and no financial requirement, but also that you may qualify for indefinite leave to remain after three years of residence, and the visa fees will be much lower than the spouse visa fees.
3. For the spouse visa - check if you meet the financial requirement
If you decide that the spouse visa is the right option for you, do not forget to check out the financial requirement. You may rely on savings for this, but if, as most of us, you have to rely on income from earnings, the British partner has to show that their earnings outside the UK are above the minimum threshold, and they have a suitable job offer in the UK with prospective salary above the minimum threshold. The non- British partner cannot rely on their earnings outside the UK or a job offer in the UK to meet the financial requirement for the spouse visa.
4. Do not forget that you will need a visa extension
After 33 months, spouse visa has to be extended for another 2.5 years before you can apply for indefinite leave to remain. If you miss the deadline for the extension application, you may have to leave the country and apply again for entry clearance from outside the UK.
5. You will be eligible to apply for indefinite leave to remain after five years of residence as a spouse. Indefinite leave to remain is not the same as British citizenship.
6. Being married to a British citizen allows you to apply for citizenship straight after your application for ILR is approved. You will have to make a separate application called application for naturalisation. After naturalisation you are entitled to apply for a British passport.
7. And last but not least, don’t forget that an immigration lawyer in London is best suited to represent you in your visa application from overseas. All applications are done electronically online, and instructions from clients are taken in zoom meetings, by email and over the telephone. UK-based lawyers are regulated and you will have much better chance of success if your case is handled by an expert.