Spouse Visa Requirements: Meeting the Accommodation Criteria

Smiling female solicitor from Axis Solicitors explaining UK spouse visa accommodation requirements.

The impending changes to the financial requirements for Family Visas have garnered significant attention. Hence, many individuals applying for a Spouse Visa only focus on meeting the minimum income threshold, often overlooking the critical accommodation requirement. In this blog post, we will provide a few legal insights and explain why this is an important aspect to consider when applying for a Spouse Visa.

Accommodation Requirement for Family Visas

When someone is applying for a UK Family Visa, such as a Spouse Visa, Unmarried Partner Visa, or Civil Partner Visa, seeking an extension or Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) after entering the country on a UK Family Visa, they must meet the accommodation requirement. This aspect of the application process is meant to ensure that there are suitable living arrangements in place for the applicant’s stay in the UK.

Accommodation Requirement in Appendix FM

According to our experience, applicants and their sponsors typically focus on demonstrating that their relationship is genuine and subsisting (particularly in cases of unmarried couples or arranged marriages) and on meeting the financial requirements for Family Visas. However, as we mentioned, it is crucial for applicants to ensure they adequately address each criterion to enhance their chances of a successful application.

Under the immigration rules, Family Visa applicants must demonstrate that there will be “adequate” accommodation available for them. It is specified that this requirement must be met without resorting to public funds. The accommodation should be within a property that the family either owns or has “exclusive occupation” of.

Non-Compliance with the Accommodation Requirement

According to immigration regulations, the accommodation requirement is not satisfied if the property is considered overcrowded as per UK overcrowding standards or fails to comply with public health regulations and is not deemed fit for human habitation. Applicants must ensure that their living arrangements meet these standards to avoid jeopardising their visa applications.

Property Ownership and Exclusive Occupation

At Axis Solicitors, our Immigration Solicitors understand the challenges of acquiring a property, be it in London, Birmingham, Manchester or elsewhere in the UK. Many sponsors worry about meeting the accommodation requirement, particularly if they do not own a home and see little prospect of buying property in the near future. This concern is often compounded by the financial burden of visa application fees and the increased immigration health surcharge. Our experienced solicitors are here to guide you through these complexities and help you meet the requirements for a successful visa application.

The immigration rules do not stipulate that either the visa applicant or their sponsoring partner needs to own a home or rent a property solely in their name. This flexibility is important to understand as it broadens the scope of acceptable living arrangements to meet the prerequisites for the Spouse Visa.

While demonstrating property ownership or presenting a tenancy agreement for a rented house or flat is beneficial, it is not the only way to satisfy the conditions for a family visa. Applicants can also meet this requirement if they are living with extended family (such as parents or siblings) or in a house in multiple occupation (HMO), as long as they can prove that they have, alternatively will have, legal and exclusive occupation of the property. These options are important to consider for many of the applicants who are not yet able or willing to purchase a property. 

Therefore, the immigration rules actually do accommodate varied living situations for applicants. Exclusive occupation of a property does not preclude sharing the property with others. For those living with family or in shared accommodation, exclusive use can be satisfied by having a designated part of the property, such as a bedroom, for your sole use. 

Nevertheless, as we mentioned, it is important to ensure that the property is not overcrowded because that affects compliance with the exclusive occupation rule. For applicants who need advice, our Spouse Visa Solicitors are experienced in the nuances of navigating these accommodation requirements and everything else related to your application.

Evidence for the Spouse Visa Accommodation Requirement

For a Spouse Visa application, it is essential to provide evidence exhibiting your adherence to the accommodation requirement. Providing proof remains compulsory, regardless of whether it appears obvious from the sponsoring partner’s employment and salary that they can afford to purchase a property in any city they want. Not providing adequate evidence will introduce complications.

Documenting Compliance

To demonstrate that the accommodation requirement is met, applicants should provide comprehensive evidence such as:

  1. Office copy entries of the land registry title, along with a letter from the mortgage company, if applicable.
  2. A copy of a tenancy agreement in the name of the visa applicant or sponsoring partner, accompanied by a letter from the landlord or letting agent confirming timely payment of rent.
  3. Confirmation from the local authority or housing association that the sponsoring partner is listed as a tenant.
  4. A letter from a family member who owns or legally rents the property stating that the visa applicant and sponsoring partner have accommodation at their property, which fulfils the exclusive occupation requirement, and confirming their legal ownership or rental status.

Documentation is essential, regardless of any apparent financial capabilities of the sponsoring partner, to ensure the success of the visa application process.

Overcrowding

When evaluating whether the accommodation requirement for a Spouse Visa is met, Home Office officials will assess the potential for overcrowding once the visa applicant and sponsoring partner reside in the property. Moreover, this consideration becomes particularly vital if the visa applicant plans to live with their extended family, the extended family of their sponsoring partner, in shared accommodation or in modest-sized housing while also bringing one or more children to the UK. 

Overcrowding Standards Under the Housing Act 1985

The Housing Act 1985 outlines specific standards for what is legally considered to be overcrowding. According to the Act, a couple may share a bedroom, but each couple, as well as children over the age of 10, should have their own bedroom. Children under 10 years old are permitted to share bedrooms, and infants under the age of one are not considered in overcrowding assessments. While an additional living room may be counted as a bedroom, kitchens and other non-suitable rooms cannot. 

Furthermore, the Act specifies that only rooms of 50 square feet or larger qualify as bedrooms. Spouse Visa applicants need to ensure their proposed accommodation meets these standards to comply with the accommodation requirements of the immigration rules.

Spouse Visa Solicitors in Manchester, Birmingham, and London

If you have any questions about the accommodation requirement for the Spouse Visa or any other Family Visa, we welcome you to a free consultation with our family law experts. Axis Solicitors has qualified specialists in Manchester, Birmingham and Ilford, London who specialise in Spouse Visa and other Family Visa applications. Therefore, you can be sure they possess in-depth knowledge of the Appendix FM immigration rules and the ability to support you throughout your Spouse Visa application. 

Whether you are considering initiating an application or seeking advice after a Spouse Visa refusal, we are eager to discuss the best strategy for you. Let us help you avoid complications and prepare your visa application for the best possible outcome.

Why Choose Axis Solicitors?

Top-Ranked Immigration Solicitors & Competitive Pricing

We are proud to be ranked as the #1 Immigration Solicitors in the UK out of 2023 firms on the trusted ReviewSolicitors platform. With a reputation backed by hundreds of glowing reviews from satisfied clients, you can trust that our top-rated immigration services are impressive.

Nonetheless, we remain steadfast in our commitment to making expert legal advice accessible to everyone. Our competitive and transparent pricing ensures that high-quality immigration guidance is within reach, no matter your budget.

Accessible: Choose Remote or In-Office Consultations

Because of our client focus, your convenience is a top priority. Hence, we offer flexible consultation options to accommodate clients from across the UK and around the world. Whether you prefer remote consultations via phone calls, video calls, emails, or in-person meetings at one of our offices in London, Manchester, or Birmingham, our Family Law specialists have got you covered.

For clients based in Ilford, and Greater London, Manchester, or Birmingham, you have the choice to visit our offices or take advantage of our fully remote legal services. With our remote options, you can access our immigration expertise from the comfort and convenience of your own home or office, without ever needing to step out.

We understand that life can be hectic, and flexibility is key. Accordingly, we have designed a remote option for our legal services to seamlessly fit your schedule and preferences. Take the first step and contact one of our client-focused, results-driven and affordable Spouse Visa Immigration Solicitors.

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