Hong Kong has seen a mass amount of relocation to the UK ever since 1997, with locals’ unique and privileged BNO statuses gifted by the UK government. But for those who didn’t retain their British overseas residents’ identities or were simply born after the handover, another popular option has been to apply for a UK Settlement or Spouse Visa – a gateway to British indefinite residence with easier requirements.
Apart from filling in an application form, there is, in fact, much more to do in order to obtain a UK Settlement Visa. Here is a complete guide with 7 insider tips
1. It’s not a must to apply outside of the UK
If you have already entered the country using other types of visa, you could simply switch to apply for a Settlement Visa within the UK upon 6 months of staying. For applicants within the country, you could start and check your UK visa application status by post or online.
2. Marriage is not the only way
There are 4 forms of relationships that are recognised by the British government when it comes to applying for a UK Settlement Visa:
- Registered Marriages: a marriage identified internationally by a government with a marriage certificate issued as proof
- Civil Partnership: same-sex couples can enjoy equal rights of a married couple
- Traditional Marriages: marriages that are not recognised legally and must be further registered at Home Affairs.
- Fiancé, fiancée or proposed civil partner: If you are planning to marry your partner 6 months upon your arrival in England, you can apply for a UK Settlement Visa using this route. Evidence showing an end of your previous relationships (if any) and the intent to get married should be submitted. Note that this type of Visa will expire after 6 months under the immigration rules for the UK.
3. Show the genuineness of your relationship
Another tricky part in Settlement Visa requirements is proving that your relationship is “genuine and subsisting”, in an official way. Bear in mind that all the evidence should be issued within 4 years.
Dig into joint-name official records that show cohabitation for at least 2 years, especially for unmarried couples. Ideally, proof should be provided from government, bank, landlord, medical professional or utility provider documents. These include statements, bills, letters, agreements or service statements that have both your and your partner’s name on them.
If you don’t have any of the aforementioned documents, you can still try your luck with student finance paperwork, one-off bills or letters of voting registrations. In short, evidence is considered more powerful coming from a trusted or public organisation. Tracking and tracing back personal communication is less likely to help with your UK Visa application.
4. There are many ways to prove your English language proficiency
Similar to other countries’ immigration rules, for the UK authority, the IELTS test is one of the options when it comes to proving your knowledge of English. However, there are other factors that exempt you from the hassle, such as:
- having an academic qualification researched in English and recognised by the authority
- falling into specific age ranges
- having special health or care-taking conditions
- extending the visa from a family visa
- coming from an English-speaking country
5. Various means to meet the minimum income requirement
Many fail to fulfil this, but the financial requirement is the most important (and stringent) procedure when you apply for a UK Settlement Visa. The couple should have a combined income of at least £18,600 per year. When submitting the necessary proof, make sure you include:
- salaries from employment and self-employment
- cash savings above £16,000
- pension money
- non-work income like property rentals or dividends
Supporting documents are needed for employees, such as bank statements, pay slips and a letter from your employer.
6. The process can take a long time
On average, the waiting period is around 12 weeks. However, extra time is required if any information needs to be verified, which could be an additional 6 months. Be mindful of the tuberculosis (TB) test – a must-have for all kinds of Visa applicants according to the immigration rules for the UK. The test result will expire after 6 months, so make sure you don’t do it too early or too late.
For urgent cases, you may opt for the priority services with additional costs. This will put your application at the front of the queue. Track your UK Visa application status in the upcoming 5 working days for confirmation.
7. Talk to the Experts
Should you face any difficulties in applying for a UK Settlement Visa, schedule an appointment with our UK government-trained consultants. We can walk you through the intricate processes and UK Immigration rules with our team’s prior experience working within the system.