Are you a Nigerian citizen planning to apply for a UK settlement visa in 2023? If you’re looking to join your British partner in the UK, our comprehensive guide will provide you with all the essential information you need to navigate the spouse visa application process with ease. From eligibility criteria and financial requirements to processing times and exemptions, this article will answer your questions and ensure you’re well-prepared for a successful application.
Spouse Visa as an Immigration Option
The UK spouse visa, also known as the partner visa, is an immigration pathway that allows spouses, civil partners, and unmarried partners of British citizens or individuals with permanent right of residence in the UK to join their loved ones. This visa leads to settlement, granting indefinite leave to remain after five years.
Who Can Act as the Sponsor for UK Spouse Visa
The sponsor for a UK spouse visa is typically the British partner. However, it can also be a UK resident with specific permissions, such as indefinite leave to remain, EU nationals with settled or pre-settled status, Irish citizens resident in the UK, and more. The British spouse should be a resident in the UK at the time of the application or be returning to the UK along with the applicant.
Where to Apply for a UK Spouse Visa
Initially, spouse visa applications are made from outside the UK, typically from the applicant’s country of nationality or habitual residence. However, applications can be made from within the UK under certain circumstances, such as having previous permission to live in the UK or arriving on a fiancé visa. Notably, visitors are not allowed to switch into the spouse or unmarried partner route; they must leave the UK and apply from their country of residence.
Spouse Visa Requirements:
To qualify for a spouse visa, the couple must have the intention to live together permanently in the UK. Financial requirements, English language proficiency, and suitability criteria (related to criminal offenses) must be met. The financial requirement is primarily assessed based on the income of the British partner for applications made from overseas. For applications made in the UK, the non-British partner’s income can also be considered if they had the right to work at the time of applying.
Spouse Visa Application Process:
The application process involves completing an online application form, paying government fees, and attending a biometric appointment to capture biometric details. Documents are uploaded to the government portal. The application can be expedited with priority services, available both overseas and in the UK, depending on your needs.
UK Spouse Visa Processing Time in 2023:
Processing times vary, with the standard processing time for entry clearance applications (outside the UK) being extended to 24 weeks due to delays. Priority services can expedite this to 4-6 weeks. Applications made in the UK typically have an 8-week processing time, but a super priority service is available for a 24-hour decision.
Duration of the Spouse Visa:
The initial spouse visa, when applied from outside the UK, is granted for 33 months. An extension is required before it expires, which provides an additional 30 months. After five years of residence, you can apply for indefinite leave to remain and, eventually, British citizenship.
Spouse Visa General Requirements:
The key requirements include having a recognized and subsisting relationship, meeting the English language requirement, satisfying the financial requirement (annual income or savings), having adequate accommodation, and demonstrating an intention to make the UK your home. A TB test certificate may be required if you’ve lived in certain countries.
Financial Requirements for the Spouse Visa:
The financial requirement entails showing income of at least £18,600 per year or savings of not less than £62,500. Income and savings can be combined, and the calculation depends on various factors, including the number of dependent children. Approved sources of income are considered, such as employment, self-employment, rental income, and more.
Exemption from the Financial Requirement:
In some cases, you may be exempt from the financial requirement if you receive disability-related benefits. While you won’t need to demonstrate an annual income of £18,600, you’ll still need to show that your family can be supported without additional recourse to public funds.
English Language Requirement:
The partner visa application requires an English language test, with the required level increasing for different stages of the application. There are approved language test providers in the UK, and a university degree may serve as proof of English knowledge. Nationals of majority English-speaking countries are exempt from this requirement.
5 & 10-Year Partner Routes:
The partner visa can be granted under the 5-year route if all requirements are met. However, if some requirements are not met but refusal would be unfair, the 10-year route may be considered, delaying eligibility for indefinite leave to remain.
The costs for a spouse visa application include the visa fee, Immigration Health Surcharge, and optional priority services. The fees vary for applications made from outside the UK and those made within the UK, as well as for applications with dependent children.
UK Settlement Visa Application from Nigeria in 2023 FAQs
Do I need legal representation for a spouse visa application?
Seeking legal representation for your spouse visa application can significantly impact the outcome. A knowledgeable legal representative will offer guidance on assembling compelling supporting documents, ensuring your case is presented robustly. Their representations articulate how your application aligns with immigration rules, reducing the likelihood of follow-up queries or delays. Clear and concise representations minimize errors and enhance your chances of a successful application.
Can I work on a spouse visa?
Absolutely, a partner visa for the UK grants you the freedom to work without constraints. To prove your right to work, obtain a share code online and provide it to your employer. You can engage in employment, self-employment, or even start your own business.
Can I claim benefits in the UK?
While holding a spouse visa, you aren’t eligible for benefits or tax credits. However, this restriction doesn’t impact your partner’s entitlement to benefits, which include Child benefit, housing benefit, and tax credits.
Can I apply for a spouse visa if I don’t meet the financial requirements?
If you fall short of the financial criteria, yet your case demonstrates compassionate circumstances, you can request the Home Office to consider alternative income sources not specified in the rules. If your application under the standard route fails but your case is deemed to merit exceptional consideration, you might be granted entry clearance or leave to remain under the 10-year route.
If I have a child from a previous relationship, can I join my partner and bring my child later once we are settled?
Your children under 18 can apply for a child dependent visa later. However, you must demonstrate sole responsibility for their upbringing and illustrate that any temporary arrangements made while establishing your home in the UK were just that – temporary. The longer this transitional arrangement persists, the more challenging it becomes to prove its temporary nature.
Navigating the spouse visa application process from Nigeria to the UK in 2023 may seem complex, but with the right knowledge and preparation, you can successfully reunite with your partner. From meeting financial requirements to language proficiency, this guide has provided you with the information you need to make the process smoother. If you need further assistance, consider seeking legal representation to ensure a swift and successful outcome.
By following the guidelines in this comprehensive article, you’ll be well-equipped to embark on your journey to secure a UK settlement visa and reunite with your loved ones in the United Kingdom. Don’t let the process overwhelm you; take one step at a time, and soon you’ll be on your way to creating new memories in a new home. Good luck with your UK settlement visa application!