I have just come back from a big holiday, and have so much to write about! However, I owe you lovely people my post on my UK Spouse Visa experience, so before I tell you of my days under the sunshine or anything else…
Congratulations on your recent wedding! Now, I know you guys want to jump on a horse-drawn carriage to happily ever after. Unfortunately, you will have to hold off until you’ve settled the rest of the below. I know I’m being a huge buzz kill, but as I have mentioned on my post about UK partner visas, it is not easy but it is definitely worth it to do things right.
A year into married life and i can definitely say the trouble was worth it! Andrew and I feel far more settled and happy now that all the paperwork is out of the way. I’ve now been working for 6 months, as well. This really gives my life a sense of normalcy, and that definitely helped in planting my roots. Don’t worry, you’ll get there too!
As promised, albeit long overdue, this is my post on the UK FLR (M) visa application. I’ve broken it down into a post with FAQ format, as I have done before, to focus on the questions which I feel are more important.
Do I need a Spouse Visa?
- This post is for people who took the UK fiance visa track, like me, meaning – they applied for a 6 month fiance visa from outside of the UK with the intention to marry within said timeframe and convert their visa to a 2 year spouse visa in order to remain and reside in the UK after the wedding. If this does not sound like you. Read my guide on UK partner visas here: http://upraisedliving.com/travel/expat-life/uk-partner-visas/.
What form do I need to fill up?
- Here you go: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/application-to-extend-stay-in-the-uk-as-a-partner-form-flrm
Is this when I need to pay the IHS?
- Yes, you’re right. Since you are applying to reside in the UK ona 2-year visa, you will be required to set up and pay for your IHS fee. You DO NOT need to pay for the IHS fee if you are on a fiance visa, as you are only allowed to stay in the UK for 6 months on a UK fiance visa. Read more about it here: https://www.gov.uk/healthcare-immigration-application/overview
Should I Change My Name on my Passport before applying for a UK Spouse Visa?
- While it is not required, my suggestion is to allow enough time to get your name changed before applying for your UK visa. This registers your marriage in your home country and allows you to have an easier time with travel, since you will have your married name in your visa card and passport. Otherwise, your BRP will contain your maiden name which is in the passport that you submit with the application. This is purely based on my experience, so may be different for other nationalities. For more information, get in touch with your local embassy. If you are Filipino like me, read more about it here: http://londonpe.dfa.gov.ph/consular-matters/passport
My visa will expire if I decide to change my name!
- It is a bit tricky. You have to time it so that you are able to get your name changed and then get your application into the UKIE system at least 2 weeks before the visa expires. They will extend your fiance visa while your application is still with UKIE. The problem is that if they decide, for any reason, to deny your application – they will immediately send you home. Therefore, having a buffer for any unexpected hiccups will be a smart move.
How much is a UK Spouse Visa?
- It is £811 plus the IHS fee of £500. If you would like to apply in person, you may do so by using a Premium Service Centre and paying a £500 service fee.
Should I use Premium Service?
- If you are running out of time or want to get an urgent decision, using the premium service is an option for you. Just understand that using it does not give you any guarantee that you will get the visa. Read more about the visa premium service here: https://www.gov.uk/ukvi-premium-service-centres/overview
Can I work now?
- Nope! You will need to wait for your spouse visa before you go into any form of employment. You can, however, start looking for work during this period so that you are ready to send applications when you are granted residence status. I’ll be writing about applying for your first job in the UK soon! So stay tuned for that!
This application form is so confusing! Any tips in filling up the FLR M form?
- I found that a good trick around this is to google “FLR-M question (number)” and a lot of threads will come up with explanation to that specific question.
What is a BRP or a Biometric Residence Permit?
- If you are applying for the first spouse visa phase (2-year), you will NOT have a BRP. Your BRP is your visa card. It is granted as your residence permit.
What documents does applying for a UK Spouse Visa require?
The FLR-M form has an appendix outlining required documents. For the specific case of my first time FLR-M spouse visa application, this is what I sent through:
- Current Valid Passport
- Birth certificates of both parties
- Two identical passport-size photographs of yourself with your full name written on the back of each one
- One passport-size photograph of your sponsor with his or her full name written on the back of it
- Passports, all pages (both parties)
- Marriage or civil partnership certificate
- Registration of marriage in home country
- Proof of Meeting English Requirement
- Specified evidence of meeting the financial requirement, or if not required to meet the income threshold element, evidence of your finances including; Bank statements, building society savings books, pay slips or other formal documents as evidence of you and your sponsor’s ability to maintain and accommodate yourselves and any dependents without recourse to public funds.
- Evidence of accommodation – property documents / council registration etc.
- BONUS TIP: Correspondence to you (and your partner) under the same address (Please read bonus tip at the bottom of this page) and YOUR proof of finances
Any bonus tips?
- THIS IS AN IMPORTANT TIP! I’m not sure if this is confusion in part of my visa officer but a few weeks into waiting for my application, I received a letter from the immigration office to submit additional documents. The strange thing is that it seemed like the requested documents were more for a second phase (5-year) application for leave to remain than for a first phase (2-year) application. It asked for my proof of income and proof of address/cohabitation since I got to the UK. This is odd because in the months that I was on a fiance visa, I was not allowed to seek employment, so I had no income and no proof of address.
- WHAT WE DID: In our best effort to satisfy the immigration officer’s request, we wrote a covering letter explaining these circumstances. Luckily, Andrew felt it was important that he registered me in our council as soon as we got married. The council registry and our marriage certificate allowed us to request my name to be included on our utility bills. I also printed out any form of invoice with my name and our house on it – from personal online shopping invoices to wedding supplier quotations since I came to the UK. It was important to show that I lived with him in the same address for the 6 month duration of my visa, although these were not official documents.
- FOR PROOF OF INCOME: I didn’t have any income as I wasn’t employed. I stated this very clearly on my cover letter. But since they requested a proof of finances, I printed whatever I can from my online personal account and sent it back with all the proof of cohabitation.
- SHOULD I INCLUDE THESE TWO THINGS ON MY APPLICATION? This is up to you. I’d say I would include them anyway to be safe. The immigration officer would send you a letter asking for more documents if it is needed, if you plan to just stick to the main requirements. If I learned anything from this experience, it is to be organised and diligent. As soon as you get your marriage certificate, make copies of everything, including your passport, and start collecting proof of address. Ask your partner to help you get registered on the council and ask for proof stating this. Then look for other ways to show that you reside in that address with your husband/wife – utility bills, library card, gym membership, etc. Once you have these, make sure you file them on a monthly basis. All these documents are important to your future applications.
If you have a GENUINELY loving relationship, think through the application timelines and guidelines thoroughly, and if you do not violate any of the terms of your current UK Fiance visa – you shouldn’t have anything to worry about. Have optimism and patience. This is the big hurdle that you have to get over, and then the next is planting your roots in the UK as a family. You can finally get a job, start a family, and live a normal day to day life!
For any questions, I will try my best to answer them – but please bear in mind that this is just me sharing my experience and that this is NOT official immigration advice. I am not an official UK immigration advisor. For official advice visit: https://www.gov.uk/find-an-immigration-adviser/search-for-an-adviser
I wish you all the best in your UK Spouse visa application and a wonderful life ahead! Let me know about your UK Spouse visa experience in the comments, I love hearing your stories!
Read about fiance visas here: