NOTE: Information highlighted in yellow will become obsolete on 9 July 2012.
Further Leave to Remain is explained in paragraph 285 of the rules...
285. An extension of stay as the spouse or civil partner of a person present and settled in the United Kingdom may be granted for a period of 2 years in the first instance, provided the Secretary of State is satisfied that each of the requirements of paragraph 284 is met.
Those who entered the UK with a Fiance visa (or Proposed Civil Partner visa) once married (or entering into a Civil Partnership) may apply to convert their status to Spouse (or Civil Partner)". Those who entered the UK as a Spouse, Civil Partner, or Unmarried Partner already have this status and in their case the visa runs for 27 months.
Upon your first arrival in the UK, you can ask the IO to adjust the dates of your entry clearance so that they coincide with your actual arrival. The IO is empowered to do this under paragraph 31A of the rules, but take careful note that it is not automatically granted, and in fact it can be quite difficult to provide the IO with a satisfactory explanation. The use of paragraph 31A is solely at the discretion of the IO and does not attract the right of appeal.
You may enter the UK any time between the valid from and valid to dates. In your case, this would be 3 MY 2008. However, a late arrival has further implications which are discussed in the next section.
This happens when the holder of a spouse visa enters the UK three or more months after it was issued. Consider the following case history...
Natalia received her spousal visa from the British consulate in Lima on 3 January 2006 and it will expire on 3 April 2008. But Natalia did not arrive in the UK until 15 May 2006. She will not complete her two year probationary period until 15 May 2008, and so her visa will expire.
Natalia will need to obtain an extension in order to avoid overstaying during the gap. This can be done from inside the UK using the FLR(M) form.
NOTE: Some people have successfully applied for ILR when the gap was a few weeks or less. This strategy is based upon the chance that by the time IND processes the application, the time needed to complete the probationary period will have accrued. It is somewhat risky, and we would not recommend it if the gap is more than several weeks.
If you are unable to meet the financial hurdles because of short-term difficulties, you may ask for an discretionary extension of up to one year. This would be done with the FLR(M) form which would necessarily include an explanation of why the difficulties are short-term and how they will be overcome.
The rules inform us that IND must examine evidence that confirms these two requirements...
(ii) the applicant is still the spouse or civil partner of the person he or she was admitted or granted an extension of stay to join and the marriage is subsisting; and
(iii) each of the parties intends to live permanently with the other as his or her spouse or civil partner; and
So the answer is yes. During the two year probationary period, the spouse should be collecting and saving high-quality evidence that demonstrate the marriage is subsisting. To establish this, the IND relies entirely on correspondence sent to the spouse's address. This can be difficult for some couples because the spouse's name needs to appear in correspondence almost from the beginning of the probationary period. The text below is taken from the SET(M) form...
We need 6 letters or other documents addressed to you jointly or in both your names. If you do not have enough items in your joint names, you may also provide items addressed to each of you individually if they show the same address for both of you. Examples of acceptable letters and documents are listed below. They must be originals.
The dates of the letters or documents should spread over the whole 2 years. They should be from at least 3 different sources. Please give an explanation on a separate sheet if you cannot provide 6 items; if the documents are not addressed to both of you; or if they do not cover the 2-year period. If you and your partner lived with relatives or friends for some or all of the 2-year period, please provide a letter from the relative(s) and/or friend(s) confirming this.
If you did not live together for any of the 2-year period, tell us the reasons for this and whether you stayed in contact with each other during this time, and provide any relevant supporting evidence.
To summarize, a total of 6 items are required and these must be spread evenly over the two year qualifying period..
Here are some additional tips:
In addition to gathering documentary evidence, you will also need to include a Life in the UK test certificate.
In order to successfully apply for permanent residence (ILR) at the end of your probationary period, you must also meet the Knowledge of Language and Life in the UK requirements. This is two parts: English language proficiency; and a multiple choice examination.
Notariety is, in itself, not generally grounds for refusal of ILR. A spouse on FLR is not entitled to access public funds, and the line is drawn there. If you are being abused, you are absolutely entitled to complain about it.
Getting a criminal record during your probationary period, however, is a show-stopper.
Yes. But we note that applicants who accrue more than 90 days outside of the UK during their probationary period are less likely to succeed without a plausible reason. Plausible reasons would include illness of a family member abroad, and travel required for one's career. Applicants whose time outside the UK exceeds 90 days during their probationary period are advised to document their travel carefully and to provide high-quality evidence that they are intending to settle in the UK.
Let's examine a case history...
Natalia entered the UK as a spouse, and shorty thereafter her marriage experienced difficulties and the couple decided to spend some time apart. Natalia returned to her home in Syzran and spent 5 months there before returning to the UK and reconciling her marriage. Based upon this history, Natalia will experience difficulties in applying for ILR because she did not successfully complete her two year probationary period.
...and another case history with different circumstances...
Irina entered the UK as a spouse, and shorty thereafter her mother became seriously ill. Irina returned to Kirov to care for her mother and spent 5 months doing so before returning to the UK. Irina was diligent in keeping meticulous records that showed her absence from the UK was caused by her mother's illness. She presented this evidence with her ILR application and her application was successful.
NOTE: the term of 90 days is a constructive rule, and it does not appear in the body of UK immigration law. Those wishing to read more about this are referred to the Immigration Directorates Instructions Ch 8, s1 paragraphs 4.5 and Ch8, s7, paragraph 5.2. The IDIs also contain a restricted-access annex (i.e., not published on the IND web site or otherwise made available) that gives further guidance to IND caseworkers on the subject of ILR applications.
No. If unmarried partners get married, the time spent in FLR as an unmarried partner is combined with that to be spent as a spouse. Getting married does not reset "the clock".
No. Three years of residence are required before an individual may enjoy local rates. However, time spent in the UK on other categories, such as HSMP or work permits may be combined to accumulate the three years.
To successfully apply for citizenship as a spouse, the applicant needs to have ILR and three years of residence. Therefore, you would apply for ILR in May 2008, and be eligible for citizenship in January 2009. You do not need to complete a full year in ILR status to successfully apply as a spouse (this requirement applies to other categories - such as work permits, but it is not relevant in the Family Formation Programme).
Let's examine a case history...
Svetlana entered the UK in January 2006 in the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme. In January 2007, she married a British citizen and spent the next two years as a spouse on FLR. In January 2009, Svetlana successfully applied for ILR. She is, therefore, eligible for naturalization the day after her ILR is issued. This is because her start date for naturalization purposes is January 2006, and she meets the other requirement of holding ILR at the time she applies.
Another case history shows a more familiar scenario...
Tatyana entered the UK in September 2006 as a fiance. She was married and successfully applied for FLR in December 2006. In December 2008, Tatyana completed her probationary period and successfully applied for ILR. She will be eligible for naturalization in September 2009 because she will have met both the residency and immigration status requirements at that time.
Yes, if the right conditions are met. There is a discussion about the single parent visa here. It is also possible to switch into a dependent relative status. Other switches are discussed below...
Non-visa nationals can switch into student, student nurse, and prospective student visas in-country if the other requirements for these visas are met.
(No longer available)
There are no provisions for switching from spouse to work permit or HSMP, but strong applications may be considered on a discretionary basis.
(No longer available)
If a switch cannot be successfully obtained, the spouse may be subject to removal. It is important to remember that before issuing a removal order that the IND will consider all the relevant circumstances. This would include such items as:
Each case is considered as unique and balanced against both policy and what is in the best interest of the public. Accordingly, there is no absolute formula for assuring that a strategy based upon close ties to the UK will succeed, and we suggest the applicant spend the time to document their circumstances completely.
This policy is solely discretionary and may change without notice. Please refer to Law and Policy for more information.
Please note that these strategies can be complex and require a thorough knowledge of the rules. Accordingly, we recommend that professional advice be sought without exception prior to attempting to switch from FLR to another status.
To follow up on this information, check our Internet Resources page...
Reviewed 30 June 2012