The 180-day absence rule doesn't apply to people with a spouse or partner visa - Free Movement (2023)

Page contents

  • Is there an absences limit for spouses?
  • Intention to live together permanently in the UK
  • Can you spend time abroad and still prove your intention to live together permanently?
  • Evidence, evidence, evidence
  • Don’t be tempted to submit false reasons

Many UK immigration categories impose a requirement that the visa holder must not be outside the UK for more than 180 days in any 12-month period — that is, if the person wants to apply for indefinite leave to remain. Joanna and Nath have explored the 180-day absence rule, and exceptions to it, before.

The good news is that this rule doesn’t apply to spouse and partner visa holders. But based on the volume of enquiries my firm receives from people worried they may have spent too much time outside the UK, many seem to be unaware of this.

Is there an absences limit for spouses?

In short, no. Within the Immigration Rules for spouses and partners — found in the notorious Appendix FM — you won’t find a rule that says a person holding a spouse or partner visa should not be absent from the UK for a certain number of days.

(Video) What is the 90/180 rule? How to work out how many days

But this doesn’t mean that those using this route can get a visa, rarely set foot in the UK but expect to be able to settle here.

Intention to live together permanently in the UK

When a person first obtains a spouse or partner visa, they will be granted an initial period of permission to stay in the UK. This will be for 33 months if applying from abroad, or 30 months following an in-country application.

This initial application will only be approved if the Home Office is satisfied that the applicant and their partner meet all the requirements, including intending to live together permanently in the UK — paragraphs E-ECP.2.10. and E-LTRP.1.10 of Appendix FM.

There are two paths to indefinite leave to remain (also known as settlement or ILR) from there: the standard five-year route and the longer ten-year route. The latter is for those meeting a tough “exceptional circumstances” threshold. Settlement after five years only requires one visa extension at the half-way point; the ten-year pathway involves three extensions.

When applying to extend the spouse or partner visa, or for ILR, the intention to live together in the UK is tested again. This time, officials will examine the couple’s domestic situation in the past as well as their future intentions. Paragraph E-LTRP.1.10 says:

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The applicant and their partner must intend to live together permanently in the UK and, in any application for further leave to remain as a partner (except where the applicant is in the UK as a fiancé(e) or proposed civil partner) and in any application for indefinite leave to remain as a partner, the applicant must provide evidence that, since entry clearance as a partner was granted under paragraph D-ECP1.1. or since the last grant of limited leave to remain as a partner, the applicant and their partner have lived together in the UK or there is good reason, consistent with a continuing intention to live together permanently in the UK, for any period in which they have not done so.

Emphasis added. “In the UK” does not apply if the sponsor is a permanent member of HM Diplomatic Service, or on a tour of duty with the British Council, Foreign Office or Home Office.

This test can be problematic for couples who have clocked up significant time apart since the initial visa was granted.

Can you spend time abroad and still prove your intention to live together permanently?

Yes, but…

While typical trips abroad — holidays, visiting family, work trips, etc — won’t pose a problem, the Home Office’s policy on family life states that spending huge amounts of time away from the UK may be problematic:

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If the applicant, their partner or both have spent the majority of the period overseas, there may be reason to doubt that the couple intend to live together permanently in the UK.

This does not categorically prevent someone who has spent lots of time abroad — even the majority of their time — from qualifying for an extension or ILR.

The policy goes on to explain that “each case must be judged on its merits, taking into account reasons for travel, length of absence and whether the applicant and partner travelled and lived together during the time spent outside the UK”.

Evidence, evidence, evidence

Applicants should therefore keep track of their absences from the UK. If there is a risk that a caseworker could conclude that the couple do not intend to live permanently in the UK, evidence should also be kept to, to be filed with the next application, to show why this is not the case.

This could be evidence relating to the reasons for the time spent outside the UK and also evidence that the couple’s life, earnings, home, friends, hobbies, etc are in the UK.

(Video) Can you lose your ILR? | Indefinite leave to remain | UK Immigration

The reasons and evidence do need to be decent.

If the applicant just fancied spending 28 of their 30-month spouse visa in St. Tropez because UK sun isn’t guaranteed and their partner is tied to a computer screen in London every day, that’s unlikely to cut it. No matter how many pictures of sunsets and cocktails are submitted, a caseworker is unlikely to conclude that the couple intend to live together permanently in the UK.

On the other hand, if they are lucky enough to be able to spend three summer months in Ibiza, every Easter in Monaco, every Christmas in Aspen and frequent a spa in Switzerland every third week — with or without their desk-bound partner — that’s unlikely to be problematic so long as they keep returning to their partner and home in the UK.

Likewise, if the desk-bound sponsor is sent overseas on a work assignment and the visa holder goes too, that won’t be fatal to the next application so long as they don’t move out of the UK lock, stock and barrel.

One of my clients had spent many months continuously at her seriously unwell father’s bedside. He and my client, who was two years into her spouse visa, had always had a unique bond — his eyes literally lit up when she was with him. The doctor described in a letter the positive effect that seeing his daughter had on her father in those final months. We also submitted evidence to show that my client’s husband and children were still in the UK, working and attending school, and waiting for her to return home.

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Thankfully, as hideous as our immigration system can be at times, I am always confident that real life situations such as these won’t cause families to be split apart as long as the case is prepared and presented carefully.

Don’t be tempted to submit false reasons

As always with UK immigration law, making something up is never a good idea. The application forms contain specific questions about absences. An application that contains false information/fake evidence risks being refused.

This article was originally published in June 2020 and has been lightly updated; it is accurate as of the new date of publication shown.


How many days can you leave the UK on a spouse visa? ›

The absence rule for most UK visas is that in order to qualify for ILR after 5 years you must not have spend more than 180 days outside the UK in any 12 months during the qualifying period. However, there is no absence limit for Spouse Visa holders.

Can I apply for benefits if my partner is on spouse visa? ›

Their ability to claim welfare benefits is not affected by your Spouse Visa. Though you must take this into account that your circumstances will affect your ability to claim.

What happens if you break up on a partner visa? ›

If the relationship breaks down within the first two years of lodging the Partner Visa application, the applicant is required to notify the Department in writing. In such circumstances, the Department may (likely) contact the applicant's spouse and ask him or her to formally withdraw their sponsorship.

Why does spouse visa get rejected? ›

Insufficient Evidence of Relationship

If you are trying to secure a spouse visa, the most common reason for denial is insufficient evidence of your relationship. You must prove to the Home Office that your relationship is genuine and subsisting.

What happens if you break up on a spouse visa UK? ›

You must tell the Home Office when you divorce or separate from your partner if your visa is based on your relationship. You must then either apply to stay in the UK or leave. Your visa is based on your relationship if you have permission to stay in the UK for a limited time as: a dependant on your partner's UK visa.

Is UK 180 day rule per visit or per year? ›

Visit visas allow stays of no longer than 6 months (or 180 days) per visit. Visit visas can be valid for long term periods (1 year or more), facilitating multiple visits.

What is the difference between partner and spouse visa? ›

Spouse Visa, Partner Visa, De Facto Visa — they are all the same Partner Visa essentially! There is no de facto visa, there is no spouse visa, there is no partner visa. They are all one visa. The difference is actually if you are applying for an offshore partner visa or an onshore partner visa.

What happens if you don't meet financial requirements for spouse visa? ›

If you do not meet the financial requirement for spouse visas, you may still be able to apply for a visa or extend your permission to stay if: You have a child in the UK who is a British citizen or has lived in the UK for 7 years and it would be unreasonable for them to leave the UK.

Is it easier to get a partner visa if you are married? ›

However, they registered their relationship nonetheless. Marriage will not affect your immigration status directly, although it may be very useful in proving to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection that you and your partner are in a genuine and continuing relationship.

Can my wife cancel my spouse visa? ›

Can the Home Office cancel my spouse visa? Although your husband or spouse can't cancel your spouse visa, the Home Office does have the power to do so.

How many times can you apply for partner visa? ›

You can only have sponsored two approved spouses, de facto partners or fiancés? Further to this, you cannot have another sponsorship (whether you were sponsor or are sponsoring) approved under any of the Partner of Prospective Marriage visas for 5 years after the first visa application was made.

Can a partner visa be Cancelled? ›

The only person that can cancel or refuse your visa, is a case officer or so called “Delegate” of the Minister for Immigration. Your ex partner cannot cancel your visa themselves.

What percentage of spousal visas are approved? ›

This relates to both the CR1 visa interview and the USCIS adjudication. According to the USCIS Reports, statistically, 90% of the I-130 petitions are approved, but this number includes more than just spouses. Or, as the same statistics show, about 75% of the I-129F are approved.

Can I apply for partner visa again after rejection? ›

If your partner visa application has been refused, you often need to decide whether to appeal, or to apply again. It's usually possible to have a refusal decision reviewed by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT). An AAT Tribunal member will look at your partner visa application again.

How much savings do you need for spouse visa? ›

The requirements that an applicant must meet in order to obtain a spouse visa are set out in Appendix FM of the Immigration Rules. These rules contain a minimum income requirement of at least £18,600 or a cash savings requirement of at least £62,500 (or a combination of both).

Will I lose my spouse visa if I get divorced? ›

In most cases, after notifying the Home Office of the separation, your spouse visa will be curtailed to 60 days. You should use this time to apply for leave to remain or to leave the country.

Can I get my husband deported from UK? ›

On the other hand, if the foreign spouse/partner/ civil partner has been convicted of a criminal offence of more than 12 months, the likelihood is that a deportation order will be made, and they will be detained under the immigration laws after serving a sentence pending deportation.

What is the success rate of spouse visa UK? ›

Therefore, the UK family (spouse) visa success rate 2019 is 79.78%.
UK Spouse Visa Refusal Rate by Country 2019.
NationalityFamily Visa UK Refusal Rate by Country 2019
Other nationalities22.31%
Family Visa UK Refusal Rate 201919.61%
20 more rows
23 Nov 2018

How does the 180 day rule work? ›

What does it mean? The 90/180-day rule states that any foreign national who enters the Schengen zone (any country within the area) can stay for up to 90 days within any 180 days. At first glance, it seems a very simple rule, but it's often misunderstood, and many people overstay it, resulting in them facing penalties.

Can I leave the UK after 6 months and come back? ›

One of the most common UK immigration myths is that there is a maximum permitted stay of 180 days in a year (or six months in 12 months) for UK visit visa holders. This myth has been propagated not just by migrants but also by advisers and even UK Border Force staff. In reality, there is no such rule.

What is the 180 day rule UK? ›

You do not need a visa for short trips to EU countries, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein if both of the following apply: you're staying for 90 days or less in a 180-day period. you're visiting as a tourist or for certain other reasons.

Which visa is faster fiance or spouse? ›

Application Process and Timeline for Fiancé(e) and Spousal Visa. If your main goal is to get to the U.S. as quickly as possible, then the K-1 fiancé(e) visa is likely the fastest option. But if your goal is to get an actual green card as soon as possible, then a marriage-based visa will be quicker.

Which is better fiance visa or spousal visa? ›

Marriage visas make it possible to be married outside of the United States, whereas fiance visas make it possible for the ceremony to take place within the United States. Some couples prefer having the ceremony abroad to be together with family (or for other reasons).

How long is a spousal visa good for? ›

An immigrant visa is generally valid for six months from the issuance date.

How long does a 2022 spousal visa take? ›

Spousal Sponsorship I-130 Processing Time 2022

It will usually take anywhere from 7 to 24 months for USCIS to process and approve a spousal sponsorship visa. It can take an additional 6 to 10 months to get an immigrant visa to the US. Learn more about US Spousal Sponsorship.

What happens if your spouse doesn't show up for immigration interview? ›

The unfortunate consequence will be a denial of a immigrant visa in your green card case. You can either try to buy time or explain the reason why your spouse did not show.

How often do fiancé visas get denied? ›

Having Your Fiancé(e) Visa Denied is Common

More than 15% of all K-1 category visa applicants had their applications rejected in 2021. This amounts to over 4,000 rejected visas. However, this K-1 visa denial rate is not surprising. This is because it is a visa category that is at high risk of fraud.

What proof do you need for partner visa? ›

Applicant document Checklist for a Partner visa

a birth certificate showing the names of both parents: identification pages of a family book showing the names of both parents. identification pages of an identification document issued by the government.

Which country give spouse visa easily? ›

The countries such as Canada, the UK, Australia, Denmark, the Netherlands, Finland, and New Zealand allow spouses and partners to work, whereas the countries such as Hong Kong and the USA allow only married spouses to work.

Do spousal visas get denied? ›

Unfortunately, this is not the case, a portion of individuals who apply for United States immigration status based on their marriage to a United States citizen are denied.

Can you deport your spouse? ›

Can Green Card Marriage Citizens be Deported? Can you be deported if you are married to an American citizen? The answer is yes, you can. About 10% of all the people who get deported from the U.S. every year are lawful permanent residents.

Can I lose my residency if I get divorced? ›

If you already have a green card and are a permanent resident at the time of the divorce, the divorce should not change your status. However, the divorce may force you to wait longer to apply for naturalization.

Can I cancel my wife's green card? ›

How to Cancel Green Card of Spouse. You can easily cancel the green card of a spouse before it is approved by reversing the I-130 with a signed, notarized letter. If the green card has been approved, then the petitioner must contact the National Visa Center.

How long do you have to be in a relationship to apply for partner visa? ›

To be granted a Partner visa as a de facto partner, you and your sponsor must show that you have been in a committed de facto relationship for the entire 12 months immediately prior to lodging your application.

How many months can I stay outside of UAE partner visa holder? ›

If you spend more than 6 months outside the UAE, your residence visa will be automatically cancelled. It is required to pass at least once every 183 days by the immigration services.

Can you extend spouse visa after 5 years? ›

Can I apply ILR after five years? Yes, if you have spent 5 years in the UK as a spouse / partner of a British or Settled person, you can apply for ILR.

Can I add my partner after my visa is already granted? ›

If you are eligible, you can add your partner onto your visa before and after lodgement. It is better if you can add your partner before you lodge your visa, as there is an extra fee to add them after your visa is lodged. However, you can add them onto your visa at any stage in the process.

What happens if you break up on 801 visa? ›

What Happens if You Break Up on a Partner Visa 801? If you have an 801 (Permanent) Visa, and you break up, you will likely still be able to still stay in Australia.

Can I cancel my visa without my sponsor? ›

You have to initiate a labour case to get your visa cancelled. An employee or an employer can file a case in the court for employment-related matters within a period of ONE YEAR of the claim in accordance with Article 6 of the Labour Law.

Why do spousal visas get denied? ›

The number one reason for spousal visa denials is failing to meet the income requirement for the affidavit of support.

Why would a partner visa be refused? ›

Lack of evidence to prove a genuine and committed relationship is the most common reason for the refusal of partner visas. Applicants and their partner/spouse sponsor need to provide evidence in the following four aspects, namely, financial, social, nature of household and nature of commitment to one another.

How many spouse visas are rejected UK? ›

Know all about UK Spouse visa, explained in detail by our immigration lawyers. According to latest statistics released by the Home Office, 1 in 4 Spouse visa applications are refused.

What happens if you break up after partner visa? ›

If the relationship breaks down within the first two years of lodging the Partner Visa application, the applicant is required to notify the Department in writing. In such circumstances, the Department may (likely) contact the applicant's spouse and ask him or her to formally withdraw their sponsorship.

What happens if you lie on your visa application? ›

Lying to an immigration officer can have extreme consequences including permanent inadmissibility, deportability, and not being allowed to apply for U.S. citizenship. Any person seeking a benefit under U.S. immigration law—a visa, permanent residency (a "green card"), or citizenship—must submit a written application.

Can we apply again if it was rejected once? ›

You can definitely reapply to a company that rejected you, as long as learn from your previous mistakes and make corrections. So, if the perfect role has become available in a company that has previously turned you down, don't stress. Keep the following five tips in mind when you reapply.

How many payslips do I need for spouse visa? ›

If you or your partner are employed, you could include: bank statements showing you or your partner's income. 6 months of payslips. a letter from an employer, dated and on headed paper.

How long does UK spouse visa take 2022? ›

You should get a decision within 24 weeks once you attend your appointment at the visa application centre, if you are applying to settle in the UK as the spouse, partner or family member of someone who has British citizenship or is settled in the UK.

How much money is required for a good marriage? ›

The cost of hiring a wedding planner could range between Rs 2 lakhs and Rs 6 lakhs, or even higher. Therefore, it is quite evident that the budget for a wedding could range anywhere between Rs 40 lakhs to Rs 1 crore (or more) depending on the destination of the wedding as well as multiple factors.

How many days can you be out of UK leave to remain? ›

If you've spent time outside the UK

You must have spent no more than 180 days outside the UK in any 12 months.

What are the rules for spouse visa in UK? ›

To apply as a partner, you and your partner both need to be 18 or over. Your partner must also either: be a British or Irish citizen. have settled in the UK - for example, they have indefinite leave to remain, settled status or proof of permanent residence.

Can you leave the UK for more than 3 months? ›

You may be able to extend your stay as long as the total time you spend in the UK is no more than 6 months. You must meet the eligibility requirements and pay the £1000 fee. For example, if you have been in the UK for 3 months, you can apply to extend your stay for 3 more months.

What does a UK spouse visa allow you to do? ›

The UK Spouse Visa, otherwise known as the 'UK Marriage Visa', grants all foreign nationals to come and live in the UK with their British or settled partner for 30 months. Get in touch with our client care team to see how we can help you with your Spouse Visa application on 0121 667 6530.

How do immigration know if you overstay your visa? ›

If your departure date is missing or does not match up with your I-94 form, the US government will know that you have overstayed your visa. Another way that the United States can find out if you have overstayed your visa is through random checks.

What happens if I leave the UK for more than 6 months? ›

Periods spent abroad which exceed 6 months do not automatically disqualify you from acquiring Permanent Residence. The Home Office has some discretion when deciding what constitutes an actual departure from, and thus genuine interruption of, your continuous stay in the UK.

What are the requirements for UK spouse visa 2022? ›

You and your partner must have a combined income of at least £18,600 a year if: you're applying as a partner. you want to settle in the UK (get 'indefinite leave to remain') within 5 years.
Give proof of your income
  • are not British or Irish citizens.
  • do not have pre-settled status.
  • are not permanently settled in the UK.

What is the 28 day rule UK spouse visa? ›

You - or your partner or child - will need to have had the money available for at least 28 days in a row. Day 28 must be within 31 days of you or them applying for this visa. You'll usually need to show proof of this when they apply, unless either: you have all been in the UK with a valid visa for at least 12 months.

How does immigration know when I leave UK? ›

The coalition government committed in 2010 to reintroducing exit checks. From 8 April 2015, we will collect information on passengers leaving the UK as we do for those entering. Exit checks will provide us with vital information that confirms a person's exit from the UK.

Can you lose indefinite leave to remain? ›

You lose your indefinite leave to remain if you've been outside the UK for 2 or more continuous years. You may be able to re-enter the UK and get indefinite leave to remain by applying for a Returning Resident visa.

Can I visit the UK twice in one year? ›

There is no limit on the frequency of visits or specified maximum period visitors are allowed to spend in the UK in any 12-month period. However, if you spend more time in the UK than in your country of residence the Immigration Officer may have grounds to believe that you live in the UK.

Can UK spouse visa be rejected? ›

Spouse Visa Refusals

The Spouse Visa has a number of strict requirements and the Home Office may deny applications if the applicant is unable to prove that they meet these requirements.

What is the difference between spouse visa and partner visa UK? ›

Partner visa applications tend to be more complicated than spouse visa applications because proving that you have lived together for at least two years can be hard. Also, if your partner is self-employed, it can be hard to prove that you meet the financial requirement.

How much bank balance is required for UK spouse visa? ›

These rules contain a minimum income requirement of at least £18,600 or a cash savings requirement of at least £62,500 (or a combination of both).


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