The UK’s immigration system can be extremely complex and difficult to navigate. Where you are looking to join family members in the UK, it can be confusing to know which visa is applicable and what steps you need to take to prepare your application.

Here are our top 5 tips for couples looking to live in the UK together.

  1. Understand which visa is appropriate for your situation

If your partner is in the UK or travelling to the UK, you need to know which visa you should apply for to join them. Where your partner has their own points based visa (such as a Tier 2 General visa), you would need to apply as a points based dependant. Where your partner is an EU or EEA citizen, you would need either an EEA Family permit or an EU Settlement Scheme family permit.

If your partner is a British Citizen or someone who has indefinite leave to remain, refugee status, or humanitarian protection in the UK, you will need to apply for a family visa. The remainder of this blog deals with this type of visa.

  1. Check the eligibility requirements for the family visa

To successfully obtain a spouse or partner (family) visa, you need to prove your relationship status. Eligible relationships are:

  • A civil partnership or marriage that’s legally recognised in the UK
  • A relationship where you have been living together for at least two years

You can also obtain a visa where you are coming to the UK and intending on getting married or entering into a civil partnership within 6 months of entry.

As well as the relationship requirement, you also need to prove that you have enough income as a couple to support yourself in the UK. You also have to show you have the required English language skills.

  1. Consider how you will meet the financial requirement

By far the trickiest and most confusing element of the visa requirements is the level of income you must meet. You need to have an annual income of £18,600 to be eligible for this visa. If you have children, this increases by £3,800 for your first child and £2,400 for each child thereafter.

Proving you have this income can be difficult where you or your partner have not been in regular employment, or where your income varies from month to month. Some forms of income can be added to employment to reach the threshold and savings can be used. There are, however, strict and lengthy rules about what can and can’t be counted. It’s not often as simple as showing you earn at or above the required level. This is the element that causes most applicants difficulties, particularly as a lot of evidence is also required to support proving the income.

  1. Take time to prepare your evidence before starting your application

Each requirement of the visa will need supporting evidence. Sometimes this will be straightforward, such as proving your identity through your passport. Other pieces of evidence will need preparation such as ensuring your marriage certificate is translated, if necessary. You will also need to provide bank statements, payslips, and letters from employers to prove you meet the financial requirement. It can take some time to ensure you have everything ready with no gaps. You should prepare as much as you can before submitting your application.

  1. Work out when the best timing for your application

Finally, an important thing to consider is when might be the best time to make your application. If, for example, you or your partner have recently started a new job, you might want to wait (if possible) until you have been in the job 6 months as this makes the evidence process for the financial requirement much easier. It also means that you don’t need to provide evidence of meeting the requirement for the previous 12 months – this is hugely beneficial where you have recently started employment after a long period not working. You need to make sure that you can apply before the end of your current visa if you are already in the UK, as that means you can stay while your application is being decided.

If you are looking for further advice on applying for visas for you or your spouse, Farleys’ immigration team can help. Call 0845 287 0939 or submit your enquiry online.