The number of people granted UK spouse visas has dropped dramatically since major changes to the requirements necessary to obtain the visas were introduced in June last year.
UK Border Agency (UKBA) figures for the 12 months to June 2013 showed that just 313 spouse visa applications were approved out of a total 5,401 made from within the UK during the period. The Government is currently looking to remove the right of appeal for leave to remain from people who have made unsuccessful applications.
Last year, the regulations governing spouse visa requirements were changed both for people who are already in the UK and want to change their status, and those applying to enter the UK from abroad. The spouse or partner based in the UK must now earn at least £18,600 annually and the earnings of the partner based outside of the UK cannot be taken into account.
The situation is theoretically more favourable for migrants already in the UK on long term work permit visas who want to change their status because they have married a UK citizen or are the partner of a settled person. In these cases, both partners’ UK earnings can be counted towards the £18,600 minimum income figure. They can also remain in the UK while their application is dealt with and during an appeal if their application is rejected. In practice, such appeals can take more than six months.
Married and unmarried partners of UK nationals and people who have indefinite leave to remain the country, who are currently living abroad, need a spouse visa in order to join their partner in Britain.