New Rules for UK Settlement Visa Application as of June 2017 (Uk Fiance/Spouse Visa from outside the UK)

Visa application for partners have changed since I last posted about it in 2016, so I thought it’s time to update you on the New Rules for UK Settlement Visa Application. 

If you are looking to apply for a UK fiance or spouse visa, chances are, you’re reading my blog because you have some questions and you need some clarity, guidance, or even reassurance about this process. I really appreciate the comments from everyone but I want to remind everyone, before anything else, that I am not an expert! I am just a person who is going through the same processes that come with being a non-EU national married to a British citizen. THIS IS NOT OFFICIAL ADVICE, THIS IS JUST A MEANS FOR ME TO SHARE MY EXPERIENCES, SO PLEASE DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH AND TRUST YOUR OWN INSTINCTS. It can feel really overwhelming and intimidating, but as I have repeated in my posts – it is more straightforward and manageable than people think. It is easy to get stressed out because it is such an important and expensive process, but if you take a deep breath and do your research, you should be able to manage fine.

I’ve noticed a few people on the comments section pointing out that many things have changed recently, and so I thought it is time to write an update post on UK partner visas. I’m going to try to write this in the simplest and easiest way I know how – I’ll be dissecting the main concerns and write this in a Q&A format like I have with my old posts. If you have any other questions, please feel free to post it below so other people can respond to it if I don’t have the answers.


Q: So are your older posts about UK partner visas irrelevant now?

A: There may be new rules to the process, but I think the core message of my posts about getting a UK Fiance Visa or UK Spouse Visa are still quite relevant. The grounds for eligibility and document requirements remain the same, but the process and cost have changed a little. If you haven’t yet, I recommend that you have a read: 


Q: What are the main things that have changed in the process? 

A: From what I am seeing there are 4 things that have changed to the process: 

  1. Fees have been raised for settlement applications
  2. There have been specific changes to the way you need to organise and present your documents
  3. You now can choose to send SUPPORTING DOCUMENTS directly to Sheffield
  4. You can also opt to scan your documents for a fee


kaboompics_Pillow with a motto

Q: How much are fees now? 

A: From 6 April 2017, fees for Settlement Applications (ie. Fiance/Spouse visa made outside of the UK) have gone up to  £1,464 from £1,195. That is an increase of £269. The fees for Further Leave to Remain (Spouse Visa lodged from inside the UK after the Fiance Visa) has gone up to £993 from £811. You could find the most updated list of fees here: UK Visa and Immigration Updated Fee Table

I’ve heard that the reason for this is because the government has vowed to increase the cost of settlement fees gradually over the course of the next few years in order to lessen the burden on public funds. In my opinion, this is completely understandable but this means that fees will continue to rise, unfortunately. If you intend to live your family life in the UK, you need to be aware of this and start saving for future applications. The Indefinite Leave to Remain, which is the final phase of the partner visa process (after the 7-year Further Leave to Remain) is now £2,300. Andrew and I are saving for this now, cause it would most likely come up to more than £3,500 by then!

This is definitely a VERY IMPORTANT consideration between you and your partner. Really be honest with yourselves and look at how you would be able to afford the entire process and the cost of living in the UK. Some people do not understand this and get separated due to the foreign partner getting deported even after years after living in the UK. Cold as it sounds – rules are rules. As with anything else, if you love one another, you will be able to make a decision that is best for the two of you and your future family. 


Q: How should I print and organise my supporting documents? 

A: Okay, this is what is on the official memo from the UKVI –

  • Where required, original documents should be provided. If photocopies are also submitted, they must be clear and legible. We also recommend you provide photocopies of all the original documents you submit to help us process your application quickly.
  • Where possible all documents should be A4 size. Any documents which are smaller or larger than A4 size should, where possible, be photocopied onto A4 sized paper. This includes the pages of any previous passports. All documents should be free from paper clips, pins or staples before they are submitted.
  • Please attach any Premium or Priority Service receipts to the front of the bundle, to alert the team it is a priority application.
  • Please also include a photocopy of the biometric page of the applicant’s passport at the front of the bundle.
  • Ensure that the GWF reference number (generated when the application is completed online), and the location of the centre where the application was lodged, are both marked clearly on the outside of the envelope and at the top right-hand corner of the first page of the enclosed documents. 
  • Torn, crumpled or heavily creased documents cannot be scanned and therefore should be photocopied onto A4 sized paper before they are submitted.
  • Documents should not be laminated. 
  • You must sort and separate the documents that you wish to submit in accordance with the categories set out below. A barcode separator for each of these categories must then be downloaded from the VFS Global website and placed on the top of each set of documents. A list of the relevant documents for each category can be found on the barcode separators.

Basically – this is how I understand  it:

Prepare two bundles – one with all your original docs (whatever the size of the documents) and another bundle where you have photocopied or scanned& printed your documents in uniform A4 size. (I recommend the scan & print option for legibility) This will need to be sent to straight to Sheffield or brought with you when you get your documents scanned at the VFS. Make sure that you have a copy / scanned print out of the first page of your passport (where your information is) on the very top of your bundles. Take out all the pins and staples. Write down the GWF reference number and centre location on the first pages of your two bundles as well.

Now. Print two copies of the barcodes available here: and ORGANISE your bundles based on the checklist. Basically, put the barcode in front each section (proof of finances, accommodation, sponsor docs, etc.) Anything not on the checklist on the barcode page should be added to the additional docs barcode. 

No need to panic, it sounds quite easy, actually. This is basically a way to streamline the process. It is still the same supporting documents, it is just more specific and organised. 


Freaking out about New Rules on UK Settlement Visa Application? Get organised, have patience, and wish for the best!
Freaking out about New Rules on UK Settlement Visa Application? Get organised, have patience, and wish for the best!

Q: How do I submit my application and documents? 

A: And again, this is what is on the official memo from the UKVI –

From 3 April 2017, all supporting documents should be sent to the UK address below by the sponsor or applicant.

Settlement Applications, International Operations and Visas, PO Box 5852

Sheffield, United Kingdom S11 0FX

The applicant can also choose a new service where their documents will be scanned and submitted by our commercial partner VFS Global for an additional fee.

Again, for clarity.  This is how Andrew and I understand the above clause. You have two options: 

  • You can choose to send your supporting docs to Sheffield. If you are, send your two bundles in one envelope. The address should be on the centre of the envelope, and your GWF reference number and centre location on the upper right-hand side of the envelope. Pro: No processing fee, but you’ll need to pay for the courier.  Con: I don’t personally trust couriers.  You risk losing your docs, and that’s a scary thought. It is also important to note: YOU ARE NOT SENDING YOUR PASSPORT AND APPLICATION FORM TO SHEFFIELD. You will take your passport and application form to VFS when you get your biometrics taken. They will take both your passport and application form then. 
  • You also have the option to SCAN your documents through VFS. What this entails is that they will be scanning your A4 bundle into a soft copy and I’m assuming they will be verifying it with your original docs bundle. They will then send these soft copies of your documents to Sheffield through their system. Pro: easier as you need to go to the VFS anyway to give them your passport and get your biometrics done. Also, you get to keep your original documents, which is great if you’re a business owner. Con: It comes with an additional fee of PHP 3780. 

I don’t think either one of these options is better than the other. Your application and documents will reach Sheffield using either of the two options. 


Q: Do I need my sponsor’s original documents? 

A: There has been a debate about this on forums, but what I am seeing is that you don’t actually need them when you go through the Scanning service with VFS. You do, however, need legible and clear printouts of the documents. This was the same thing I did when I applied for mine a couple of years back. There was no scanning service then, but I only had my sponsor’s documents printed out in colour. If you want to read the forum I found, check out:


Q: What’s the point of having two bundles if I just get my documents scanned anyway? 

A: Uniformity, I guess? It doesn’t hurt to have a copy of your documents anyway. No harm in it so just make sure you have it! 


I’m going to end this post by giving you all the links to look into for reference. Check out: 


ALRIGHTIE! So there we go. I hope this is clear and that it helped. If you think I’ve made a mistake or have any more questions, post it below! I’ll try my best to answer them when I have the time. Good luck! 



68 thoughts on “New Rules for UK Settlement Visa Application as of June 2017 (Uk Fiance/Spouse Visa from outside the UK)

  1. I lost my old passport showing proof of my entry to uk and biometric card, i have a new passport now. I’m about to apply for a uk spouse settlement visa, I have scanned copies of my lost documents, can you advise how to go about the application pls

    • Sorry Ron, I don’t give UK visa advice. I only share my experiences and compare other people’s experience to mine. Sorry I cant help further.

  2. Heya, just came across your blog (and wishing I’d found it earlier when preparing everything!). My partner is applying for the UK family visa from Thailand and we’ve just discovered that everything has to be sent to Sheffield (pain in the rear end since I could’ve sent everything far cheaper from within the UK – sods law!!).

    My question however (not sure if you’ll know) – if you don’t provide a pre-paid envelope (or small box in our case), is it possible to arrange alternative collection of the documents when they’re ready to be returned? We’ve both included a lot of critical documents like contracts, degree certificates and so on but we wouldn’t be able to fit an extra box in with the parcel being sent to Sheffield. Any ideas?

    And thanks for such a helpful blog – it’s reassuring to hear from someone else who has gone through this experience and knows how confusing they make it! 🙂


    • Hi James!

      Thanks for your message! I’m not aware of other return/collection options – unfortunately, I only wrote this post with a bit of research. I have no actual experience in this new process as I applied prior to this coming to place.

      I wish you the best of luck though!


  3. Hi, Thanks for your helpful post.. made my life a lot easier! Just a quick question relating to organisation using the specified barcodes/page separators: where should applicant docs (e.g. applicant letter/ copies of current & previous passports etc) go? At the top of the bundle, before the first barcode or in the additional docs section?

    Thanks for clarifying, really appreciate your help!

  4. Hi abbey,

    My fiance and i are planning to marry to in august 2018 in uk and marriage in india dec 2018. We plan to settle in the uk but i have a small doubt.
    In this case, which visa i should apply for spouse visa or marriage visa as we plan to have two weddings. August wedding in uk and dec wedding in india.
    If i do apply for spouse visa can i enter uk say maybe in May 2018, can me and my partner leave the country for a short while for marriage in india in Dec 2018.


    • From my knowledge, if you are getting married first in the UK then you need to get a fiance visa first. You can leave the country in December if you already switched over to the spouse visa.

      Thanks for the kind words. Remember that this is not official advice!

      Please do check my most recent post and leave a comment!

  5. Hi im preparing all my documents in A4 size to apply for a spouse visa. As mentioned above, procedure was updated 23 Dec 2017 which mentioned about the scanning of documents in VFS was STOPPED, in short the only option is to send it through post? So where will i send my passport to have the vignette if my visa is approved?

  6. hey thanks for this article , actually i am looking for UK Student visa but they rejected twice , so can you please guide me thru my UK Student visa application?

  7. I’ve seen many people put employer letter.

    I’ve recently started a new job. Have my job offer letter contract and one month payslip. I am earning above the threshold now and I was in the job prior to my new job.

    Would I really need to submit Employer letter? My contract (recently signed) has all the details the letter would have.


    • I’d say if it is in the official requirements, it is non-negotiable. So please refer to the official requirements. I don’t know whether it is, as the visa requirements and process have changed since I applied myself. Sorry that was such a vague response!

      Remember that this is not official advice!

      Please do check my most recent post and leave a comment!

  8. Hi Abbi!

    I’d like to start by telling you I found your site very helpful. Thank you.
    My fiancée has been granted a settlement visa. We plan to marry soon with the intention to then change to the spouse visa so she can begin to work and live a happy life. My question is, does she need to show a return ticket if she intends to stay?

    Thanks and look forward to hearing from you.


    • Hi Paul, congratulations to you both!

      I don’t think a return ticket is required in the switch to a spouse visa, is it? If you already have a settlement visa, then that would mean she already has proof in her passport and that she only needs to travel over to the UK to get married and then that’s it?

      Where are you worried that she’d be asked for one, at the airport? If she has the visa and her exit documents I don’t think she’d have to show a return ticket as that defeats the purpose. 🙂

      Thanks for the kind words. Remember that this is not official advice!

      Please do check my most recent post and leave a comment!

  9. Hi Abbi
    at the end of the Sponsorship Undertaking Form: Form SU07/12, there is a text entitled “For official use only”; I was wondering, does this Undertaking Form should be stamped or notarised by any agency or government department? or should i only sign it?
    thanks a lot

  10. Dear Abbi,

    Thank you so much for having created this wonderful resource! It’s so very helpful.

    I have a question about appplying for a spouse visa. My British partner and I just got married. 🙂

    The UKVI website refers to the relevant visa as a “Family Visa” but the language on the application website is different. Am I correct in assuming that I should be applying for the following?
    Reason of visit SETTLEMENT
    Visa type SETTLEMENT
    Visa Sub type WIFE

    Sorry if this is a silly question!

    • Not silly, and I think this is correct!

      Thank you for your kind words but please remember this is not official advice! 🙂


      I would really appreciate it if you please do visit the rest of my blog and leave comments on other posts. xx

  11. Hi, Abbi!

    My fiance and I found your blog site while we are preparing for our visa application for me. I have just recently submitted the application and sent the documents so we are now going through the torture of waiting for an update. Your articles have been very helpful. Thank you.

    To help you update this though, I hope to share with you about 2 important bits from my experience:

    1. The scanning service has been stopped according to VFS. They received a directive from the UKVI last year, and effective 23 Dec 2017 VFS no longer offers this service.

    2. I had our supporting documents sent to the Sheffield office via DHL in Victory Mall in Monumento, Caloocan City. At first the DHL branch personnel was insisting to me they cannot deliver to a PO Box address so she said I need to get a physical address for the parcel to be delivered successfully, otherwise there is a risk of losing it. I told her repeatedly that the address is what the UK Immigration office has and even showed her the print out from VFS.

    Settlement Applications,
    International Operations and Visas
    PO Box 5852,
    United Kingdom
    S11 0FX

    I am hoping I did the right thing. Anyway, I am sure more people have sent their documents to the same PO Box addy before me so I am just hoping for the best.

    Anyway, thanks again for your brilliant articles, you’ve helped me and my fiancè a lot.

  12. Hi Abbi
    Quick question)), me and my partner (Ukrainian) have been seeing each other 3 1/2 years. I have been over there more times than I can remember and she has been to England 3 times , last time for 3 months.
    We want to get married in the Ukraine and then for her to visit on a normal visa . One she’s back in the U.K. can we just apply for a U.K. spouse visa ?


    Read your amazing posts and feel full of hope and in most part you clear lots of things up.

    • Hi Richard! This is from my knowledge, I’m not sure if this is accurate but based on my research, if you get married in her hometown she needs to apply for a spouse visa from her country. You can’t apply for a spouse visa from a tourist visa. (This might even hurt your chances of getting a settlement visa in the future) The process needs to be:

      Get fiance visa (6 month marriage visa) from home country >> Get married in UK >> Extend visa into a 2.5 year spouse visa in UK.
      Get married in home country >> apply for spouse visa from home country.
      Get marriage visitor visa >> Get married in the UK but leave UK right away and and live somewhere else >> apply for spouse visa in home country.

      This is the guide from ukvi

      Hope that helps!

      PS. I respond to questions based on my experience or information that is readily available through internet research, I do not position myself as an expert but I understand the anxiety that comes with the process so I’m sharing what I know. Again, this is not official advice so please do your own research.

  13. Hi Abbi,
    Great to read some good sense and direct advice on visa applications; if only we’d found your site earlier! Hehe.
    We’re about to send our application from China to my Mum so she can send it to the S11 0FX P.O. Box.
    Wondering if my mum would be able to deliver it by hand, as they live in Sheffield. If you can tell us that would be great, if you don’t know we understand.
    Thanks for your support from everyone trying to swim thru this quagmire.

    • Hi Tim! Sorry, but I don’t know what the answer to this one is! Might be best to have her check if there is a way to walk in and submit it if she lives within the area!

      Thanks for the kind words. I have been so disheartened about these things as I have been threatened by a solicitor to stop responding to questions and sharing my experience. I am in no way offering expert advice or telling people what to do, I am just answering questions based on what I know. I appreciate the kind words and wish you and your wife all the best!

  14. I applied my husband visa to sheffield and still wait my orginal pasport back i sent extra envelope and other dacuments thanks

  15. Hi
    I applied for the extra 30months visa for my Husband and got it after 8weeks.. I did all the filing myself, even applying for him to come here from Jamaica after wemarried there.. the form is self explanatory…
    Take it slowly follow the form and you wont go wrong..

    Good Luck


  16. My wife has just received her spouse visa and it says valid from 12/12/17 to 11/01/18, Is this just the dates for travelling to the UK?

  17. Hi I just found your blog as I try to navigate my way through. Do ALL applications go through Sheffield or are there other places in the world that do it and perhaps won’t be as busy? Thanks, Kate

  18. hi..its prime…just want to ask if how many weeks or months waiting for my documents from sheffield..I done spouse visa and yeah im already here in uk..thank god! And my concern is that my original documents that ive sent before hasn’t arrive yet..what will i do? thanks

  19. Hi, i applyed for my wifes visa, its been 7 months, they sent me an email last week say it’s going to take one more month for there decision….thanks

  20. Hi Abbi

    Very useful post, thank you.

    I have a question if you don’t mind, I will be applying for the spouse visa soon don’t have some of the wage slips, only have copies of them as I needed three wage slips to get married abroad and never got them back. Will this be a problem?

    Please let me know as it has gotten me worried. Thanks.

    • Hi Nav, I’m sorry but I am not in a position to reassure you about this as I haven’t had the same experience. Maybe you can explain this in the cover letter? Or you can just go for the scanning procedure? This is assuming that you are applying from your home country. All of these are guesses, but I hope it helps.

  21. Hi Abby!

    I got my fiance visa a couple of months ago thanks to your post. And as I’m married and moving onto the spouse visa process, I’m coming back for your helpful tips again. One thing I noticed is that there is an online application link now for those in the UK , in addition to the manual form or premium service options. Did you use the online site to fill out the form or are you aware of it?

    Thanks xx

  22. Hi abbey,
    I got all my documents for spouse visa,i passed the ielts test.aside from the ielts result do i need to submit my transcript of records from my college too for the application?hope you can help me out.still confused.thanks


  23. Hi Abbi,

    As always, thanks so much for this. We are still waiting for our fiancé visa to come through – wedding is booked for 7 October -eeeek!!! The embassy and registrar said that we should make it – I’ll be making down that aisle by the skin of my teeth!! Haha! Anyway, on the plus side, it will mean we have plenty of time to apply for the FLR. My question is what documents did you need to take to your embassy to register your marriage? I’m assuming the marriage certificate but anything else unusual?

    Thanks loads,


  24. Hi abby. Can you please enlighten me about the proof of relationship photos especially in this new scanning process… does the photos needed to be printed on a4 size plain paper or it should be on a photo paper? I am very much concerned about this matter because i will be applying for fiance visa in a few weeks. If you can’t respond in here where can I email you? Thanks

    • For relationship photos from the likes of Facebook, etc, for most home printers, printing on plain paper produces very mixed results. I tried a few times with my HP printer and the printed images were awful. In the end we used UPS’s own print service. These were professional level printers. So in my view, you can use A4 paper but get it done professionally to get clear photos. If you use non-A4 paper then it’s not the end of the world, but any additional work by UKVI in photocopying paper to A4 size slows down the application process.

  25. Hi Abbi, I have a Russian fiance and we are planning to marry in the UK. It looks like she needs to apply for fiance family visa at £1464 but it says for fiance it is only valid 6 months to get married, then apply for extension from within the UK. Do you know if we then have to pay again for the extension or is it part of original £1464 fee ? Thanks for great web site information on a confusing topic. regards Alan

  26. hello,I just received my Uk entry clearance from VFS…but my original documents still did not return to me as I sent it to the address given (Settlement Applications, International Operations and Visas PO Box 5852 ,Sheffield ,United Kingdom,S11 my question can still travel without the original documents only the photocopy? like the medica certificate?

    • Oh i dont think you will need it when you leave for the uk… they just check your visa and passport when you get to the immmigratiom booth. but it would be nice to however get back! If you do get it back can you let me know how long it took? This is the new process so i am unfamiliar.

  27. Hii I will be applying for fiancé visa. I have a big confusion like you said in your blog. Should I have to choose marriage or unmarried partner?

    On application
    Reason of visit SETTLEMENT
    Visa type SETTLEMENT

    When switching from Fiancé visa to FLR M, does my partner need to fulfil 18600£ salary criteria again while submitting? He has variable income like rota based.

    Thanks a lot

    • Hi reah!

      1. From my experience i picked “MARRIAGE”
      2. I believe yes, but i cant be completely sure. To err on the safe side i think just try to meet the requirement anyway

      Sorry for the succinct and delayed response, catching up on comments as it has been a busy summer! Good luck!

  28. This is a very insightful post I must say.

    I think I should have read this post earlier before applying for visa to get married, however I applied for a marriage visit visa hoping to switch to a spousal visa after the wedding in the UK but reading from your post I should have applied for fiance visa.

    We have been issued a C-MARRIAGE-VISIT VISA

    The question I do have, Can I switch to spousal visa within the UK or does she have to return to her home country

    Kind Regards

  29. Hi Abby. I am having trouble arranging my documents for the new scanning process as there are documents that shouldn’t be separated from each other… I am also having trouble as to where to put my cover letter, ukvi application form in all the categories given and nothing is seem fit.

    with the fiance visa application you made before, How would you be arranging the documents to fit in the categories stated? so it can enlighten me.

    thanks a lot.

    hoping for your help with this matter.

  30. Hi,
    I need help and will be very grateful for any tips in advance.

    First question is if my partner has ILR ( indefinite leave to remain) refugee settlement in UK and am non EU living in EEA country, which application we must fill in in order to join him in UK? Is his settlement as a refugee the same as any other person who has ILR? I started to fill in the application on visa4uk but after I got confused if I have to print and fill in the post flight refugee application on for family reunion? The thing is in the on line application on visa4uk they ask about the passport number of the sponsor and my boyfriend does not have one!? If I print and fill in the application from (settlement’ application form VAF4a + ELT annex) how to pay and get an appointment at the UK embassy?

    Second question is: my partner has 2 non salaried jobs which means getting paid hourly. In order to meet financial requirement, should we apply under Category A or B?

    Thank u very much for the time and answer in advance

    • Hi mina, as much as i want to help, i am not the person to ask abbot this as my experience is very different to yours. I would suggest posting on threads to get a better response. I do wish you the best of luck though.

    • Hi mina, as much as i want to help, i am not the person to ask about this as my experience is very different to yours. I would suggest posting on threads to get a better response. I do wish you the best of luck though.

  31. I’m struggling to work out if that address above, plus the barcodes are relevant to all countries. My wife is in the US and I’m trying to find the equivalent details. I previously had 6 Millsands, Vulcan House, Sheffied S3 8NH. I’m flying out next weekend to start the biometrics and final application with evidence (all completed online at and this new information has been a bit of a shock (in a good way) but also causing panic with 1 week to go. Thanks.

        • Regarding the IELTS test, my wife did the A1 test a month ago in LA and the test involved being tested with someone else and an examiner. I guess they test 2 people at once to cut down on costs. An audio tape was played for ~5 minutes and the examiner asked them about the tape. Then they were asked to ask each other about the tape. And it was all filmed. So if you can chat in English then you will be fine.

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