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Complete Guide to the
UK Spouse Settlement Visa

15 June 2017 | Mri Grout - A Lifelong Vagabond

Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer so do not take this guide as definite legal advice. I am simply someone who has struggled through the UK spouse settlement visa process and have written a guide about the steps I took to get accepted.

See the start of this guide at Complete Guide to the UK Spouse Settlement Visa Page 1.

4. Collect All of the Original Supporting Documents

These MUST be the original documents; copies will not be accepted as proof. The absolute mandatory supporting documents for the UK spouse visa is as follows:

  • your passport (they will keep this until a decision is made)
  • sponsor’s bank statements (six months worth starting from the time of the required savings or job payment)
  • proof of relationship (meeting in person and being together akin to marriage is a must)
  • proof of English efficiency (or proof of exemption)
  • proof of maintenance (needed even with proof of funds)
  • your passport (needs to have at least one blank page)
  • evidence of your permission to be in the country you’re applying in (if home country, send in birth certificate)
  • tuberculosis test (only if you’re from any of these countries)

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Sponsor’s Bank Statments:

The most time consuming supporting documents that you will need for the UK spouse settlement visa are the bank statements. These WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED if they are not official bank statements!!! Online copies will not be accepted as actual proof and your application will be denied if that is all you send in. You can, however, take your online copies to your bank and have them stamp EVERY page, as well as give you a letter of authenticity that mentions the number of pages they’re authenticating. The letter HAS to mention the number of pages and be on official paper that has their bank logo and a stamp on it.

We rang up our bank to get official bank statements of six months worth printed out on colored, headed paper, had a manager sign and stamp each page with their seal, include a signed and dated cover letter stating the number of pages that were authentic (aka: all of them). I also had them mention the total amount in our savings as they were spread across different accounts and we didn't trust immigration to take the time to try to actually add it. This might technically be overkill, but when it’s your future at risk, why chance it?

Also according to Appendix FM Financial Requirements

3.3.8 (page 11), any document that is being used for evidence that needs to be proven until the end of this application (ie: bank statements) cannot be older than 28 days at the time of submission. However, it does not go on to specify what part of the UK spouse visa process counts as the date of submission. Is it the day you submit your online application? The day you have your biometrics appointment (which is when the '90 days for a decision' is counted)? The day you mail in the full application? Or when your application is received for processing? Like most of the information from the government, it is up for discussion. However, I have scoured many forums and everyone seems to agree that the 28 day rule starts at the time you submit your online application. Nevertheless, for peace of mind in this stressful time I would recommend having everything as recent as possible and if you can make it 21 days from the time you mail everything in (giving them a week to have it processed), even better. A bit more effort now will save so much time later.

Our bank statements were ten days old at the time we mailed in our application.

Proof of Relationship

They pretty much just want to make sure that the relationship between the applicant and the sponsor is genuine. A marriage certificate is not mandatory since despite its name, you do not actually need to be married to apply for the UK spouse visa; you just have to prove you’ve been in a relationship akin to marriage for at least two years.

I would recommend sending in things like:
  • photos of you two together over a two year minimum time period
  • travel documents (original flight tickets would be best)
  • joint bank accounts (make sure they’re official statements)
  • Facebook and email messages between you two or about you two
  • Facebook friendship history (go to their profile and click the three extension dots at the bottom right of their banner photo; then click 'See Friendship')
  • joint bills
  • joint rental agreements
  • marriage certificate
  • wedding photos (if, like us, you didn’t have many friends or family at your wedding then this is a point against you according to the immigration guide so include EVERYTHING that will prove you’re in a genuine marriage)
  • letter of introduction, one from each party (basically saying how you met, why you’re applying, and future intentions)
We sent in our original foreign marriage certificate (it had an apostle and was in English), photos of us together over the last five years with descriptions and dates on the back, signed letters of introduction each (his detailing our relationship history and his desire to sponsor me; mine being more personal talking about the hardship of us being unable to stay in the same country), foreign joint bank statements and their signed cover letters (our bank had an easy online option for this), our Facebook friendship history, emails from various people talking about the both of us (since we've had the fortune of being beside together there aren't any between us), proof of me being his emergency contact for a UK emergency response unit (he paraglides), and an original copy of a newspaper we were in due to our travels.

Proof of English Efficiency

If you’re from an English speaking country, your original birth certificate will do.

However, if not you will need to provide at least one original document of the following:

  • a test of english efficiency from an approved source taken at an approved center
  • a degree taught or researched in English (if taken in the UK, you just need your original degree certificate; if outside of the UK or don’t have a the original degree yet/anymore then click on this link).

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Proof of Maintenance

This is anything to show that you will not be a burden on society and that the currrent finances you have will support you for the full 2.5 years that your UK spouse settlement visa is valid for upon acceptance.

The only mandatory supporting document (as far as I can tell) for proof of maintenance is evidence of accommodation, which goes as follows:

  • If you’re renting from someone, this is normally a signed rental agreement saying price and length of contract.
  • If you’re staying in a relative’s/friend’s house, a signed and dated letter of accommodation is needed. This needs to say what the price of staying there is (if any) and include how many rooms are in the house, as well as who is living there. This information is to prove that the house you will be staying in is uncrowded and fit for you to live there. This letter of accommodation will also need to be supplied with either a notarized copy of the house deeds in their name or a government bill to show proof of ownership and a right to let you stay there.
  • If you’re staying in your sponsor’s house, the above signed and dated letter of accommodation as well as all supporting documents of ownership is needed.
In addition to the above evidence of accommodation, you may decide to include some other proof of maintenance supporting documents such as:
  • sponsorship undertaking form (this will act as a letter of invitation, which is EXTREMELY advised by the immigration office)
  • both applicant’s and sponsor’s resumés/CVs to show an ability to find work
  • official UK job offers (if you have one)
  • letters to you at that address (if you've lived there before)
If you're worried about how much rent you can be charged without denial, you can use this equation of adequate evidence of accommodation:

(Weekly income after all tax and deductions) - (all rent and housing costs) > (Income Support your family size could qualify for)

However, though I found this equation thinking it was an actual requirement, I've been told that this is not the case and is rather just for those applying when they themselves are on benefits. So this is just if you're worried about it like I was due to the logic of: If people on benefits are allowed it, then surely it's also okay for those who are not?

To see what the adequate evidence of accommodation equation means in detail, see page eight of Annex F Adequate Maintenance & Accommodation.

We sent in a hand-written and signed letter of accommodation from his mum, an electric bill in her name, a sponsorship undertaking, and notarized proof of his right to settle in the UK (this was his original UK birth certificate and a US notarized copy of his passport bio and stamp pages).

5. Make Copies of Everything You Want Sent Back

They will NOT send back anything that is not accompanied with a copy. For instance, if you have not made a copy of your marriage certificate they will not send your original one back.

I would advise splitting the original pile from the copy piles so they know what to send back and what to keep.

6. Finish Your Online Application Steps

If you applied for the UK spouse visa online, this is the time to go back and complete the remaining sections. The reason you did not do this earlier is because once you attend your biometric appointment, you will be given a varying deadline of five to fourteen days to have everything mailed to England. And when I say 'varying' I don't mean it's different for each country (though that might also be the case). Rather, I was told three different timelines in my single application. Online claimed fourteen days, their email five, and the people at the biometric office ten. I sent it off in seven days and it was received and processed. However, why give yourself more stress trying to get all of the original documents in time? Also, having bank statements closer to the date of mailing this application the better.

If you did not apply for the UK spouse visa online, then these are the following steps you need to do:

  • Pay your NHS surcharge
  • Book a Biometric Appointment (your passport will be sent back here; process different in each country)
  • Apply for your Biometric Residence Permit (attended in the UK 10 days or less after your arrival)

Pages: 1, 2, 3

Further pages of information on the UK Spouse Visa Guide:

Complete Guide to the UK Spouse Settlement Visa comments: