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How to apply for a UK spouse/partner/fiancé(e) visa from India

19 February 2020 Amna Ashraf Blog

If you are an Indian national and looking to move to the UK to reside with your British partner, then you’ll need an appropriate visa for your initial entry in order to reside here long term. For a general overview as to visa types, evidence required and application procedures, feel free to watch our short webinars. If a fiancé(e), partner or spouse visa is what is you want to apply for, our guide below to getting a UK visa for Indian citizens will help you understand the process.

Submission

The first stage is to visit the gov.uk website on which you will have to complete a lengthy application form which asks detailed questions about your background and current circumstances. Take your time completing this part as it is important for the application to be factually correct and consistent with the evidence you will provide for assessment. Once the form is completed and confirmed, you’ll be directed to pay the application fee and the Immigration Health Surcharge (compulsory charge for access to NHS in the UK for the duration of the visa). The date both payments are paid is the official application submission date. 

Biometrics

You’ll then be directed to visit another website, VFS Global, in order to arrange an appointment for your biometrics enrolment (facial image and fingerprints). An account with VFS Global is created at the point you are redirected. Follow the online prompts and you’ll soon be able to pick an appointment slot at one of the 19 available locations. If the usual working hours of your chosen location are unsuitable, you can pay an extra INR 4500 to get a ‘prime time’ appointment outside of normal hours.  Some locations charge an additional ‘user pay’ fee in order to even arrange a normal appointment with them; if this applies, you’ll be asked to pay before your Indian citizen UK visa appointment is confirmed.

Evidence

Once the appointment is made you’ll have to think about how to submit your evidence. We run through all four options to help you decide which is the most suitable:

  1. Self-upload supporting documents to the VFS Global website (no additional charge)

This self-service method requires you to scan all evidence onto VFS Global’s online portal yourself ahead of the appointment. You’ll need to follow their procedural guidance when doing so in order to ensure everything is correctly uploaded. For those that like a hand-on approach, this is the best method as you are able to see exactly what will be submitted to the decision maker.

  1. Document Scanning Assistance Service at the Visa Application Centre (additional fee INR 750)

For those without the facilities or will power to scan, you can purchase a document scanning service and have VFS Global scan for you. All originals are taken to the appointment and then returned to you with the exception of your passport. If you wish to retain your passport back, you need to pay an additional INR 5000 for the passport retention service.

  1. Walk-in UK settlement scanning service (additional fee GBP 75)

All documents are taken to one of seven VFS Global centres in the UK. This is obviously only ideal where all documents are in the UK. A checklist and declaration has to be downloaded, completed and brought to the appointment> All the documents also have to be organised in a specific form.

  1. UK settlement scanning service – postal, for an additional GBP 100 fee (with GBP 25 extra for secure return)

Under this, all documents also have to be in the UK but sent to VFS Global by post rather than in person. There are specific steps that need to be followed if availing this option.

Document reduction

Delays with decision making on UK visa for Indian citizens are not unheard of. In a bid to deliver quicker decisions, UK Visas and Immigration have introduced a mandatory new pilot scheme in India which is designed to ensure that less documents are submitted with applications. Basically, instructions were provided to the applicant and the visa centres not the scan the following items:

  • WhatsApp and other social media chat history
  • Money Transfers
  • Greeting Cards
  • Phone Cards
  • Letters from friends
  • Call Logs
  • Wedding Receipts/Invitations
  • USB/DVD’s
  • Newspaper Clippings
  • More than 10 photographs

Their reasoning being: “These are the documents that customers most commonly send us.  It is not compulsory for you to provide any of these documents. If we need any further information, in relation to your application in order to make a decision, we will contact you direct by telephone or email.”

As of 26 January 2020, an auto-email detailing similar instructions will be sent to all applicants who are applying for a temporary partner visa. From 4 February 2020, the same guidance will be extended to those using VFS Scanning services in the UK.

Being mindful of the above, it is important to remember that the duty to prove your relationship as genuine and subsisting will remain with you as an applicant. You’ll therefore need to ensure that the remaining evidence, when excluding the above items, is still strong enough to support your relationship position.

Decision

The standard service timescale for a decision on a UK spouse visa application from India is 60 working days. This can be reduced to 30 working days if a priority service is purchased and the criteria is met. At a further cost of INR 54,971.00 (paid in additional to the application fee), the shorter timescale is only their “aim” and not a guarantee. 

Whenever made, the making of a decision is conveyed through a cryptic email which informs you that a decision has been made (this email doesn’t bother to confirm the actual decision). You’ll be asked to attend the same location where you enrolled your biometrics in order to collect your passport and decision letter. If you want to avoid that journey, buy the courier return service from VFS Global before you attend the biometrics appointment. This means that once the decision is made, they will just tell you that the courier is on its way over to you bypassing the need for physical attendance a second time.  

If the UK visa for Indian citizens is granted, you will receive your passport back with an entry-clearance vignette stamp which will enable you to enter the UK. For spouse / partner visas this will be valid for 30 days.  After arrival in the UK you will then collect a card (it looks like an ID card) called a Biometric Residence Permit which sets out your full visa details and duration. This is normally collected from a post office closest to your residence in the UK or a different location, if you selected an alternative place when completing the online application form. Those granted fiancé(e) visas will not collect a Biometric Residence Permit, rather, their whole 6 months will be endorsed on the vignette in the passport.

Help required

If you are struggling or feeling overwhelmed with this process, you may need help from a partner visa lawyer. Our family migration team has years of experience dealing with this type of work and will take as much of the stress and uncertainty out of the process as possible. Our team regularly works remotely with clients abroad so geographical distance is never an issue. To contact us, please complete our online contact form  or call one of our offices. We’d love to hear from you.

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