The main (and hidden) costs of applying for a partner visa

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In this post we consider the fees to make a UK partner visa application. This is a sub post of our full guide on How to apply for a partner visa.

In addition to the main application fees, we also consider the 'hidden' fees associated with the process, and for which you may need to budget.

This post is intended to provide general background on the relevant issues. These processes can be complex, and the requirements of the route will vary from application to application.

Whilst we have done our best to ensure that the information here is accurate at the time of writing, the UK immigration rules change frequently, so you should always check the position at the time you make your application. You can double-check the list of fees provided by the Home Office which is here.

This post was written by Nick Nason, director of Edgewater Legal. Book in a free initial call with Nick if you want to discuss getting help with your application, or would like to explore what getting help looks like.

Main fees

The main fees to make the application include the application fee and the Immigration Health Surcharge.

Application fee

When applying from outside of the UK, the main fee is £1846. If you are applying from within the UK the main fee for a partner application is £1048.

You pay this at the time the online application form is submitted. You can’t submit the application without paying this fee.

If your application is refused you don’t get this back. See our post on dealing with a refusal for more information on this.

Immigration Health Surcharge

The Immigration Health Surcharge went up on 6 February 2024 to a quite insane £1,035 per year of the visa granted.

For an overseas partner application you get 2 years 9 months permission (if granted). When you pay the IHS, this is rounded up to 3 years, meaning that you pay 3 x £1035 (£3,105).

For applications from within the UK, you will pay for 2.5 years permission to stay, meaning that the fee works out as £2,587.50.

This fee is paid at the time the application is submitted. If you make the application without paying the fee – which is difficult, but not impossible – or you pay the wrong fee, the Home Office will usually be in touch to ask you to pay whatever balance is required.

If your application is refused, you will usually get this fee back.

'Hidden' fees

In addition to the main fees, there are a bunch of additional fees which you should also factor in, some of which you literally won't know about until you check your bank statement to see how much has left your account.

Some of these fees are optional (e.g. payment for priority), and others that are not (e.g. the exchange rate used in overseas applications will regularly add on 4-5% to the ‘sticker price’ quoted above). Some of them won't apply in every case,

Let's start with the less optional ones.

Exchange Rate fees

If applying outside the UK, the fees you pay as listed above will be subject to the Home Office policy on exchange rates, which is set to 4% above OANDA live bid rates.

What this means in practice is that you pay quite a lot more than advertised.

Taking a recent example, we filed a partner visa application for a client (sticker price £1846), but they actually had to pay £1964.74 (more than £115 more than the published fee).

The same applies to the Immigration Health Surcharge: a recent applicant was required to pay £1872 in health surcharge fees (under the pre-6 Feb 2024 IHS rates), and paid £1,992.56: over £120 more.

So across the IHS and application fee elements, our client paid an extra £235, or around 6.5%, more than the published visa price.

In-country applications are made in £GBP, so the exchange rate fee does not apply. In entry clearance applications where prices are quoted in currencies other than £GBP, you will always pay this additional fee.

User Pays Fee

The User Pays Fee is an additional charge of £76.50 charged for attending some Visa Application Centres outside the UK.

The visa application centres are run by VFS Global and TLScontact. The list of locations run by VFS Global which charge this fee are listed here, whilst those run by Teleperformance (TLScontact) are here (listed as “MUP” for Mandatory User Pays).

This fee is apparently charged to help with the commercial viability of some the visa application centre locations.

Biometrics appointment fee

After you have filed your application, you have to provide your biometric information (finger prints and photo) at a local visa application centre.

(If you need more information about the process itself, check out our How to apply for a visa post)

The appointments are booked via portals run outside of the country by either VFS Global, or TLScontact, and inside the UK by UKVCAS.

Free slots are usually available, but if you need an appointment urgently (i.e. within a week or two, sometimes within 4 weeks in busy periods and depending on location), you may have to pay a booking fee.

In the UK appointments range from £75-£250. Outside of the UK, the fees are usually less than this, but depending on location and availability.

English language documentation

You are required to meet an English language requirement in a partner visa application. You can do this in 3 ways:

  • Be from a country on the majority English speaking country list (which is free, obviously)
  • Have a degree (BA or above) awarded in the UK (or taught in English outside of the UK and approved by Ecctis)
  • Pass a specified English language test

Confirmation from Ecctis that your overseas qualification is equivalent to a UK degree and taught at a certain level costs roughly between £170-£250 including taxes. Expedition is available at an additional cost of around £140-£200 including taxes.

An English Language test can be measured at various different levels, depending on the application you are making, and attracts a fee of approximately £140-£200.

Further information about the English language requirement in partner applications is contained in our guide on this subject.

Tuberculosis (TB) Test

In certain situations you will be required to take a TB test before entering the UK.

The test must be undertaken at a clinic approved by the Home Office. The fee will depend on the location, but will generally be around £75-£150.

If there is no approved clinic near you, you may have to travel some distance at your own expense.

Translation Fees

If your documents are not in English or Welsh, you should provide the Home Office with certified translations in addition to the originals.

Any translation must comply with the guidance contained in Rule 39B(f) of the Immigration Rules.

Translation costs will vary.

Priority service

If you want to have your application dealt with quickly, you can pay for priority processing. This is optional.

When you pay for priority processing outside of the UK, there is no guaranteed timeframe in which an application is decided: but it is placed at the front of the queue of other applications where priority has not been purchased. This is £500.

When you pay for it in the UK, the £500 fee is the same, but at least there is a fairly reliable service standard of 5 working days for a decision.

Where super priority processing is available – often in out-of-country partner visa applications it isn’t, and sometimes in the UK it is patchy – the decision should usually be made within 1-2 working days of attendance at your biometrics appointment. The fee in either case is £1000.

In the event that your application is refused, these fees are non-refundable.

Fees in this article are correct at the time of writing. You should double-check the fees provided by the Home Office, the list of which is here