Is a UK Spouse Visa Overpriced?

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There is no price on happiness and if happiness means living with your partner in the UK, that must be it. You might still need a spouse visa to the UK if you or your partner is not British.

The Cost Depends on Your Date of Application

Before 16 January 2024, you will pay £1846 for the visa and £1872 as the Immigration Health Surcharge. After 16 January, the visa fee will remain the same, but the Immigration Health Surcharge will be £3105. Your visa will be valid for 33 months and will require an extension before it expires. You will have to extend your permission to remain in the UK at least once before you can apply for indefinite leave to remain in the UK.

How Does This Compare With Other Visa Options?

Kadmos immigration lawyers suggest a few alternatives for you to review.

UK Ancestry Visa

If you are a citizen of the Commonwealth and have a British-born grandparent, you may be entitled to apply for a UK ancestry visa. The fee for this visa is £637, and the Immigration Health Surcharge is currently £3120 but will go up to £5175 on 16 January.  The visa will be valid for 5 years and you will be eligible to apply for indefinite leave to remain at the end of the 5 years.

The only disadvantage of a UK ancestry visa if compared with the spouse visa is that prolonged absences from the UK may delay your eligibility for indefinite leave to remain. If you are planning to travel a lot and spend more than six months in any one year outside the UK, a spouse visa may still turn out to be a more reliable solution.

Sponsored Employment

Another option is sponsored employment, such as a skilled worker or a scale-up worker visa. In terms of the visa fees, it will be less expensive than the spouse visa, particularly if your job is on the Shortage Occupation List. 

Skilled Worker

As a skilled worker, you may be sponsored for five years, leading to eligibility for indefinite leave to remain at the end. A factor to bear in mind is that a skilled worker visa is tied to the employer who acts as your sponsor. Although the employer may pay for your visa and even the Immigration Health Surcharge, one of the conditions of your visa will be that you continue working for this employer. If you decide to change employment, you will need another visa.

Scale-Up Worker Visa 

Scale-up worker visa is also a more cost-effective solution than the spouse visa and much more flexible than the Skilled Worker route. You will pay £822 visa application fee and the Immigration Health Surcharge of £1248, or £2070 after 16 January, and get a visa for two years. It will then have to be extended for another three years before you are eligible to apply for ILR.

The downside is that it is not easy to find a sponsor in this route as very few companies have a Scale-up Sponsor license. You will only need sponsorship for the first six months of your visa. After that, you will be able to do your own thing, but to extend the visa and be eligible for ILR at the end of the five years you have to receive a salary of not less than £34,600 for at least 24 months of the qualifying 5 years.

Again, absences from the UK of more than six months in any 12-month period will break the continuity of your residence and you may have to extend your visa before you qualify for ILR. 

These work-related routes cost less in visa fees than the spouse visa but all have their conditions and pitfalls. You may also want to consider the availability of jobs in the area you are planning to move to in the UK. 

Weighing in all these factors, it is for you to decide if the UK spouse visa is overpriced.

The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of The World Financial Review.