How to Apply for a UK Spouse Visa from Nigeria

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    How to Apply for a UK Spouse Visa from Nigeria

    Moving to the UK to be with your spouse can be an exciting opportunity, but navigating the visa application process from Nigeria comes with unique challenges.

    In this comprehensive guide, we will break down each step of applying for a UK spouse visa from Nigeria in a clear, informative way to help you submit a successful application.

    Requirements for UK Spouse Visa

    The first step is understanding the core eligibility requirements set by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) for spouse visas. To qualify, you must:

    • Be married to or in a civil partnership with a British citizen or someone settled in the UK. Same-sex marriages are recognized.
    • Intend to live together permanently in the UK (not just visit).
    • Meet the English language requirement at level A1 or above of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR).
    • Meet the financial requirement by showing you and your spouse have a minimum gross annual income of £18,600.
    • Not be subject to any exclusion criteria like criminal convictions that could prevent a visa grant.

    It’s crucial to thoroughly research and understand these core requirements before proceeding with an application, as failure to meet any one could result in a rejection.

    Gathering Supporting Documents

    With the eligibility criteria in mind, the next phase involves gathering documentation to prove your relationship and finances are genuine. Some key documents include:

    • Marriage certificate or civil partnership registration papers
    • Passport biodata pages for you and your spouse
    • Bank statements and pay slips covering at least 6 months
    • Proof of employment/business (letter from employer)
    • Accommodation (deeds, tenancy agreement, council tax bills)
    • Communication records like emails, letters, photos
    • Travel documents showing time spent together

    It’s important documents are certified copies with certified translations if not in English. Originals should not be sent. Leave sufficient time for document preparation to avoid rushing at a late stage.

    Meeting the English Language Requirement

    One of the toughest requirements for Nigerian applicants is the need to prove English language ability at CEFR level A1 or above. Accepted tests include:

    Tests must be no more than 2 years old at time of application. Free online practice exams and study materials are available. Consider taking the test early to allow for re-takes if needed.

    Compiling Your Application Pack

    Once documentation is prepared, it’s time to compile the application pack. Use the UKVI online application form and guidance to include:

    • A signed application form (remember all sections!)
    • A colour passport photograph meeting specifications
    • The applicable application fee (currently £1,033 for online applications)
    • All supporting documents arranged in the specified sections with cover sheet
    • Copies of documents not in English with certified translations attached
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    Cross check the pack against the UKVI guidance checklist. Have a trusted friend review it as well to catch any final issues.

    Submitting Your Application From Nigeria

    UK spouse visa applications from Nigeria must be submitted by post to the UK Visa Application Centre in Abuja. Here are the submission steps:

    • Book an appointment online for visa packaging/submission
    • Attend the Visa Application Centre on appointment date with completed application pack
    • Staff will review pack, enter details digitally, capture biometrics
    • You’ll receive a printed confirmation receipt and tracking slip
    • Application will then be shipped to the UK Home Office for processing

    Retain copies of all documents and tracking details. Average processing times are 12 weeks but can be longer for Nigeria. Monitor for requests for additional information from UKVI.

    What Happens During Visa Processing?

    During the 12+ week processing window, your application will undergo several stages of review by UKVI caseworkers based on the documentation provided:

    • Administrative compliance check against requirements and application form
    • Verification of relationship documentation and history
    • Financial evidence assessment against the £18,600 threshold
    • Pre-decision credibility interview by video call if selected for additional checks
    • Final decision making based on all information gathered

    UKVI can request more evidence if gaps are identified. If approved, you’ll receive a visa approval email with collection details for your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) card.

    Collecting Your Biometric Residence Permit

    Once approved, you’ll receive an email with instructions on collecting your BRP card. This physical document proves your immigration status in the UK and must be carried at all times.

    To collect the BRP in Nigeria, you must:

    • Book another appointment date at the Visa Application Centre
    • Present approval email, valid passport and fee (currently £193)
    • Have biometrics re-captured
    • Receive your BRP card to take away

    Inspect the card carefully to ensure details match your passport. The BRP acts as your entry clearance to travel to the UK within 3 months of issue date.

    Entering the UK on Your Spouse Visa

    With your approved visa and BRP card in hand, you’re ready to travel to join your spouse in the UK. Here are the key steps for entry:

    • Plan your travel arrangements carefully in advance
    • Pack only essential luggage and retain all immigration documents plus return/onward tickets
    • Go through e-Gates or manual immigration checks at airport on arrival
    • Border Force will scan your passport and confirm you hold a valid visa
    • Once through, you can settle permanently in the UK with your spouse!
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    Congratulations – you’ve navigated the challenging spouse visa process from Nigeria to reach your new life together in the UK. Let me know if you need any other guidance along the way.

    Next Steps After Arriving in the UK

    Entering the UK is just the beginning. Within certain timeframes, you’ll need to take steps to maintain your immigration status:

    • Register with a GP surgery and apply for a National Insurance Number within a month of arrival to access healthcare and work
    • Submit your Biometric Residence Permit Maintenance Application online or by post within 2 weeks before your 30-month expiry date to extend your leave
    • If your relationship breaks down, you must take action under domestic violence rules or leave the UK (unless you transition to another visa route)
    • Consider applying for further leave such as Indefinite Leave to Remain once you’ve lived with your spouse for 5 years

    Seek assistance if unsure about timeframes or processes so you don’t jeopardize your status through lack of action or delays. Overall, be sure to keep meticulous records at all stages.

    Common Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

    While most applications are straightforward, mistakes do happen and can result in delays or rejections. Here are some frequent pitfalls to watch out for:

    • Incomplete application form: Double check every section and response against requirements.
    • Insufficient financial evidence: Provide at least 6 months of documents clearly showing income over £18,600.
    • Weak relationship evidence: Establish your credibility with multiple means of correspondence from emails to photos spanning your relationship history.
    • Out of date English test: Language exams are only valid for 2 years, so factor re-taking into planning if needed.
    • No certified translations: Non-English documents like birth certificates require certified word-for-word translations attached.
    • Incorrect payment: Ensure the right fee is paid as listed online and on recent guidance materials.

    Being extra careful to avoid these common errors will significantly boost your chances of a smooth application journey. As always, feel free to ask if any steps need clarification.

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    Conclusion and Final Tips

    Applying for a UK spouse visa from Nigeria presents more hoops to jump through than from nearby countries, but taking the time to understand requirements and plan thoroughly can help compensate.

    My final words of advice is that you should start planning and preparing documents at least 6 months before submitting to avoid potential issues or delays. You can also seek assistance from a UK migration expert to double-check documentation if needed.

    If approved, be sure to follow the steps outlined earlier to collect your BRP card in Nigeria before traveling to the UK. Once settled, don’t forget your next steps like registering with public services and applying to extend your visa before it expires.

    Consider attending English language classes to improve your skills further if needed for future applications. Maintain clear records of rent, bills and any employment for evidence of your life in the UK with your spouse.

    Common Questions

    What if my relationship is long distance right now?

    Provide extensive proof of your relationship through messages, calls, photos and financial ties like joint bank accounts. Meet the minimum income requirements on your own through employment. Be prepared for more scrutiny of your application.

    How long will my application take?

    Standard processing is 12 weeks but can extend to 24 weeks or longer depending on application volumes. Priority and super priority services are available for an additional fee if exceptional circumstances require faster processing.

    What happens if my application is refused?

    You’ll receive a refusal letter stating the reason(s). Consider reapplying with additional evidence or seeking legal advice. Only one administrative review is permitted unless you can demonstrate human rights or legal barriers to leaving the UK.

    How do I extend my 30-month visa period?

    Before it expires, apply online or by post using form SET(O) and pay the extension application fee. Provide evidence your relationship is ongoing through documents like bills and rent booked beyond the current expiry date.

    What next after I become a permanent resident?

    After 5 years legally living together in the UK as spouses, you can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain for permanent settlement status without time restrictions. Consider applying for citizenship if you meet the broader qualifying criteria.

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