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. 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

 

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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: https://www.vfsglobal.co.uk/philippines/pdf/Intro-Scan-Process.pdf 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 as my advice on what supporting documents to pass, 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: http://www.expatforum.com/expats/britain-expat-forum-expats-living-uk/1226073-presenting-documents-barcode-separators.html

 

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! 

Abbi

 

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

  1. 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.

  2. 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 https://www.gov.uk/uk-family-visa/partner-spouse , 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

  3. 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

    Sheila

  4. 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,

    Emma

  5. 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.

  6. 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

  7. 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 0FX..now 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.

  8. 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
    Visa Sub type MARRIAGE or UNMARRIED PARTNER?

    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!

  9. 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

  10. 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.

  11. 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 gov.uk 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 gov.uk (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.

  12. 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 http://www.visa4uk.fco.gov.uk) 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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