Spouse Visa ILR – Spouse to Indefinite Leave to Remain

As the spouse of a British national (or a person who has settled status), you may eventually be seeking to live in the UK permanently. In the first instance, you will be required to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR). But who can apply for a spouse visa ILR, and what is required for this application to be successful?

When can you apply for a spouse visa ILR?

If you have had a spouse or civil partnership visa in the UK for five years, you are permitted to apply for a spouse visa ILR. This will only apply if you are on the five-year route to settlement. If you are on the ten-year route, you will need to wait longer. Should you be unsure of when you can apply, your settlement route should be stated on your letters from the Home Office.

Requirements for the spouse ILR application

To apply for this, you must fulfil certain criteria. These requirements are different based on which route you are on (five or ten years). Here, we will examine the more common, five-year route to settlement. For this, you will need to meet both personal and financial requirements, as well as requirements pertaining directly to your relationship. These requirements are the same as the ones you had to meet for your initial spouse visa application and your extensions.

When you apply, you will also be assessed for how suitable you are, and if you have a clean criminal record or any NHS debt. 

Proof of relationship

You must prove that you have a genuine and subsisting relationship. You will need to update the evidence that you provided during your initial application and subsequent extensions. The previously provided evidence must be updated to reflect your continued cohabiting status, and that you are still in an existing relationship.


Unlike with other visa categories, there are no hard and fast restrictions around absences when you are applying via a spouse visa ILR. However, general guidance says that absences should be a good reason and that the intention to live with your spouse within the UK permanently must remain. A good reason for an absence covers such occurrences as working overseas or your partner working overseas, undergoing training or study overseas, and holidays.

If there are multiple absences, this may add doubt to your intentions to live together permanently at your UK base. Each application is unique, though, so the circumstances of, length of, and reasons for your absences will be assessed by the Home Office. Should this be an area of particular concern for you, you should ensure that you consult with an immigration lawyer ahead of time.

Financial Requirement

During your original application, you will have needed to fulfil financial requirements. When applying for the spouse visa ILR, you will again need to prove that you can satisfy the financial requirement of earning at least £18,600 per annum, and an additional £3800 for a dependent child (under eighteen). Every child after the first child will require an extra £2400.

These can be fulfilled through the earnings of the British spouse or the applicant themselves. There are some exceptions for those who have a certain amount of savings.

The general rule is that you will not have to meet the earning requirement if you have £16,000 in savings, and earn (or can add to the savings) the amount of shortfall between the required earnings amount (£18,600) and the savings amount if it is lower.


Another exception to the financial requirement is if the partner of the applicant receives certain benefits. These include Carer’s Allowance, Severe Disablement Allowance, Personal Independence Payment (PIP), Armed Forces Compensation Scheme, Police Injury Pension, Disability Living Allowance, and more. If your partner receives any one of these benefits or any other, it is important to talk to a legal professional about where you stand with the financial requirements of the spouse visa ILR.

This can be one of the most complex areas in your application, especially if your circumstances have changed since your initial application or since your subsequent extensions.


There is an accommodation requirement that is very similar to the requirement in your original application. You will need to prove that you have suitable accommodation for the applicant, the British spouse, and any dependent children. You will need to show that your accommodation is not overcrowded, and meets all public health requirements.

English language proficiency

For the spouse visa ILR application, not only is there an English language requirement but this will be increased to B1 CEFR. You will meet this requirement if you have a degree (or the equivalent in your own country) that was taught in English and which you researched in English. You will also satisfy the requirement by passing the Level B1 English language test, if you are from an English speaking country, or if you are exempt based on disability or mental health grounds.

Life in the UK

It is necessary to pass the Life in the UK test. This will prove your understanding of British life and is a vital requirement with nearly all ILR applications. However, if you have a disability or mental illness, or you are over the age of sixty-five, you may not need to pass this test. If you think you may be eligible for an exemption, it is best to seek legal advice before applying.

What will this cost?

A spouse visa ILR application currently costs £2389. You may wish to speed up the process by applying with their super-priority service. Although this will cost an extra £800, it means that you will get a decision back within twenty-four hours.

Need Immigration Advice? Call Fusco Browne Today

At Fusco Browne, we are skilled in all areas of asylum and immigration law. We understand that spouse visa ILR applications can be complex and difficult, and our skilled specialists are on hand to guide you through every step of the process, from assessing your eligibility to supporting you with your cover letter. We will ensure that you are providing the correct documents, and can help you with filling in your application forms and submitting your application so you have the best chances of receiving a positive decision. Our team is here to help you, so get in touch now to see how we can best support you.

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