Switching from Spouse Visa to ILR

If you’re looking to obtain UK-settled status and are already under a UK Spouse Visa, you’d have to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR). Let’s go over the most common concerns regarding the transition from Spouse Visa to ILR.

How Can I Switch to Indefinite Leave to Remain from a Spouse Visa?

When you apply for a Spouse Visa, UK’s Home Office will ask for proof that your spouse or partner is living in the UK at the time either as a British citizen, a UK-settled person, or a person with refugee leave under humanitarian protection. Furthermore, you must additionally take a Genuine Relationship test and attest your knowledge of the English language.

Once you’re a UK Spouse or Partner Visa holder, you’d need to remain in the UK for a period of at least five years to attain ILR status. Since the Spouse Visa is granted for an initial stay period of 30 months, you would only need to have the visa renewed once.

UK IRL is a permanent residence permit, meaning that you can live, work, and travel to and from the UK without the restrictions usually found with any other permit. Moreover, it opens the path towards naturalization and full-fledged British citizenship, which should give you the same rights as any other UK national.

Nevertheless, your eligibility for ILR as a Spouse Visa holder does not guarantee approval, for many circumstances could thwart your application. These circumstances include:

– Unspent convictions or spent convictions for serious crimes.

– Applications fraught with fake supporting documents or false representations, as well as failure to disclose material facts about your application.

– Debts owed to the NHS amounting to £500 or more.

– There is a deportation order against you.

It’s also crucial that you have all your documentation in order because your application could easily get rejected due to missing documents and/or incomplete information. To ensure that the process goes smoothly and without any blunders, the timely advice of a competent immigration specialist is key.

Requirements for Switching from Spouse Visa to Indefinite Leave to Remain

UK’s eligibility criteria for settled status from a Spouse/Partner Visa can be classified as follows:

– Residence requirement

– Financial requirement

– Accommodation

– KoLL

Let’s quickly go over each one of these categories:

Residence Requirement

To opt for Indefinite Leave to Remain as a spouse or partner, you must have lived in the country for a period of five years (or 60 months, to be more precise). The Home Office will only consider your stay duration as a spouse or partner exclusively, meaning that if you entered the UK under fiancée/fiancé or proposed partner status, the period you spent under those leaves will not be accrued in the calculation.

Moreover, the time spent with a previous partner will also be discarded from your five-year settlement route. This means that you must have remained with the same partner for a full five years, regardless if you initially came to the UK to reunite with a different partner or spouse.

While there is no limit on the time spent outside the UK during the 60-month allowance (as is the case with other visa types) long absences can be easily construed as unwillingness to live together permanently with your partner or spouse, which is a necessary prerequisite for benefitting from a Spouse Visa or a prospective ILR. You could justify long absences alleging, for example, reasons linked with your profession or work.

Financial requirements

You’d have to show financial information evidencing that you and your spouse have a combined income of £18,600 per year. If you have children, the required yearly amount will increase by £3,800 for the first child and £2,400 for each subsequent child. In addition, you’ll need to add all dependent children under 18 for the purposes of the calculation even if they’re not included in your application.

For the record, this income should not proceed from public funds.


Apart from the financial threshold, you likewise ought to show proof that you have proper accommodation for yourself and your dependents, including those not included in the petition. The place must be owned and occupied exclusively by your family without relying on public funds and mustn’t be overcrowded or fraught with threats to public health.

KoLL (Knowledge of English and “Life in the UK” Test)

Unless you’re from a majorly English-speaking country, you’re obliged to show sufficient knowledge of the English Language via degrees or academic qualifications taught in English (equivalent to UK bachelor’s degree at least), or by showing an approved English Test certificate.

Furthermore, you must pass the “Life in the UK” text, consisting of a series of questions touching upon British history, traditions, and culture. You would be exempted from undergoing this test if you’re under 18 or over 65.

Indefinite Leave to Remain Application Process and Fees

The application Form SET (M) must be filled out online, along with the supporting documentation and application fee.

The ILR application fee is £2404, with surcharges for each dependent added to the application. Additionally, you have the option of asking for a quicker response by paying either £500 for priority processing (which takes five days) or £800 for super-priority processing (which takes 24 hours).

On another note, the documents you must submit include:

– Passports or travel documents, including expired passports that were valid during your five-year stay

– Documents to support your travels abroad

– Payslips or bank statements

– Certificate showing you passed both the English and “Life in the UK” tests (whenever applicable)

– Proof of cohabitation with spouse or partner.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I stay abroad after getting my Indefinite Leave to Remain?

You can stay abroad but for no more than 2 years or else you could lose your ILR status.

What happens if I separate from my spouse during my stay in the UK?

You’d have to inform the Home Office and either switch to a new visa type (work or parent visa) or apply for ILR if you already met the requirements. Otherwise, you’d have no other choice but to leave the country.

How long do I have to wait to apply for British citizenship through marriage?

Normally, once you obtain ILR status, you would have to wait 12 months. However, if you obtained ILR status from a Spouse Visa, you don’t have to wait in order to apply for British citizenship.

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