Let’s delve into the intricate world of spouse visa mortgages. For those new to this topic, we’ll begin by clarifying what a spouse visa entails. We’ll then explore various scenarios and answer frequently asked questions related to spouse visa mortgages.
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Understanding Spouse Visas – what is a spouse visa?
A spouse visa is a type of family visa. Family visas are not limited to spouses; civil partners and unmarried partners of UK citizens could also apply for one.
Therefore, if you’re on another type of family visa (civil partnership or unmarried partner), the information this guide will apply to you too.
When applying for a spouse visa, you must meet specific criteria, including financial requirements and the need to demonstrate adequate accommodation and also that you do not intend to rely on public funds. These visas are typically issued for two and a half or three years, depending on whether you apply from within or outside the UK.
After residing in the UK for five years on a spouse visa, you can normally apply for indefinite leave to remain, which can be expedited if you’ve held other qualifying visas before your spouse visa.
Obtaining a spouse visa can be a complex and often confusing process. The documentation requirements are extensive, which I can attest to personally since I’ve assisted my wife, a US citizen, through this challenging process. Once you’ve successfully secured a spouse visa, you’re likely eager to settle into your new home and, perhaps, explore the possibility of homeownership.
Can you get a mortgage on a spouse visa?
It’s often said that every lender has different criteria, and this holds especially true for spouse visa mortgages. The stance towards applicants on spouse visas vary massively between lenders.
Many lenders do not accept applications from borrowers who do not have indefinite leave to remain. If you hold a spouse visa, you do not have indefinite leave to remain. Therefore your lender choice is restricted to only spouse visa friendly mortgage lenders only.
Each one of these spouse visa mortgage lenders has slightly different criteria. So let’s look firstly at the most spouse visa friendly mortgage lenders.
First Choice Spouse Visa Friendly Lenders
This cohort of lenders include some big banks. They will consider your case as a standard mortgage application if you’re applying for a mortgage with someone else who has indefinite leave to remain in the UK (or is a UK resident). This means, as long as you are applying with your UK spouse, civil partner or unmarried partner, you will also be treated as if you’re a UK citizen by the lender with no restrictions and no further questions asked! What’s more, you’re likely to get market beating rates and top service too!
Second Choice Spouse Visa Friendly Lenders
If something about your case means you cannot apply based on the above criteria, you’re likely to be faced with having to establish at least one of the following:
- That you’ve been living and working in the UK for an amount of time in excess of the lenders minimum requirement. In many cases – this is 2 years.
- That you have at least a given amount of time left on your visa – say 2 years remaining on your current spouse visa. This can be tricky if your visa is issued for two years and six months since you can only apply for a mortgage within the first six months.
How to choose the right lender for your spouse visa mortgage application
The lender you choose depends on your unique circumstances. If your first choice lenders criteria don’t align with your situation, you might need to explore second choice lenders. In some cases, such as if you’ve only recently arrived in the UK, it might be impossible to obtain a mortgage due to these restrictions.
As brokers, our role is to identify lenders who accept your application and secure the best possible rate for you. While lender a first choice lender might be acceptable, a second choice lender might actually offer better rates if you meet their requirements, making it essential to consider all available options.
What types of mortgages are available to spouse visa holders?
In many cases, you can qualify for a wide range of mortgages as a spouse visa holder. So interest only mortgages, repayment, self employed mortgage and more could be available. However, your lender choices are limited to those lenders that are spouse visa-friendly. High-street lenders, some of the largest in the UK, are among the options.
That being said, in the event you’re looking for something a little more niche – let’s say a 95% mortgage with a history of CCJs or bankruptcy – you’re going to struggle!
Who are the spouse visa mortgage lenders?
Although many high street lenders do require permanent leave to remain, there are a number who are spouse visa friendly, so there’s no need to venture far and wide to find a lender. However, since criteria change frequently, it’s advisable to consult a broker for the most up-to-date advice.
How much deposit do I need for a spouse visa mortgage?
With a very spouse visa-friendly lender, you might secure a mortgage with as little as a 5% deposit. However, if your situation is more complex, your deposit may be capped at a maximum loan-to-value ratio – say 75% – meaning you’d need a 25% deposit.
How can I improve my chances of getting a spouse visa mortgage?
Before applying for your spouse visa mortgage, we recommend you do the following:
- Do what you can to improve your credit score. You may struggle to take out credit cards or loans – especially if you’ve just moved to the UK. You may even struggle to open a bank account! Take advantage of joint accounts on your partners credit accounts and if possible apply for an overdraft.
- Ensure you leave footprints showing your address history. You’ll need to keep hold of official documents for your next visa application anyway. But you should consider putting your name on all household bills. Although you cannot vote – you can apply to be on the electoral register.
- Collate and collect documents relating to your visa and address history as you go and understand how long you have left on your visa at all times.
Common mistakes when applying for a spouse visa mortgage
- Failing to Check Lender Criteria: Applying without knowing a lender’s specific criteria can lead to rejection and potential damage to your credit score – this is something you cannot afford as a spouse visa holder.
- Planning in Advance: Spouse visa holders can have a limited window for mortgage applications – especially where they need to apply with a lender who requires x amount of time left on the existing visa. Ensure you have all documents prepared well in advance, and understand what type of visa you have, and how long remains on it.
- Misconceptions about Credit Score Building: Building credit on a spouse visa can be challenging, but it’s not impossible. If you cannot get a credit card yet, don’t worry, it’s not the end of the world. Get on joint accounts with your spouse and register on the electoral roll etc. Do what you can, and your credit score will improve. This is imperative to boost your mortgage chances.
- Resigning that getting a mortgage isn’t possible: While challenges exist, it is possible to obtain a mortgage on a spouse visa without waiting for indefinite leave to remain. Do not sell yourself short as waiting years before buying a house could cost you a fortune in the long run.
The Mortgage Application Process for Spouse Visa Holders
The mortgage application process for spouse visa holders closely mirrors standard applications. Lenders issue a decision in principle and then assess your case. This process generally takes around four weeks. Some additional documents may be required for spouse visa mortgages, but spouse visa-friendly lenders understand your unique situation, making the process smoother. It’s crucial to determine which lender is the best fit for your circumstances.
What documents are needed for a spouse visa mortgage?
As a spouse visa holder, you’ll be expected to produce the same documents as anyone else – so proof of income, bank statements and proof of ID.
You ID proof could be a UK driving licence or your foreign passport. Make sure you can also show proof of address – such as a utility bill.
You’ll need to show proof of your leave to remain – that would typically be by showing a copy of your BRP (Biometrics Residence Permit). You might also have visa stamps in your passport. Keep this information to hand along with any letters you’ve received from the Home Office just in case.
If you’ve only recently moved to the UK, it may also help for you to have a copy of your credit report from your previous country of residence.
Income or deposits from abroad
If you intend to rely on foreign income within your application, or a deposit sourced from abroad, your application immediately becomes more complex. Discussion of mortgage applications of this type are really beyond the scope of what we can talk about on this blog. Let’s just say – it is possible, but requires a fair bit of thought. If you have a scenario like this, we don’t think it’s appropriate to apply without either:
a) doing a lot of research, or
b) speaking to a mortgage professional.
Can you get a mortgage in your sole name when your spouse holds a spouse visa?
If you’re applying with a lender that requires you to meet specific time criteria, it may be possible for a UK resident to obtain a mortgage in their name only. However, this isn’t straightforward, and a thorough explanation will be necessary. It’s advisable to consult with experts to explore your best options.
Can I apply for a mortgage when my spouse visa application is being processed?
You may be able to apply for a mortgage at any time if you have an existing spouse visa or other visa and are residing in the UK. However, you should consider responsibly, whether it is wise to take out a mortgage when in theory your ability to remain in the UK over the short term is not guaranteed.
In summary, obtaining a mortgage on a spouse visa depends on various factors, including the lender’s criteria, the time you’ve spent in the UK, and the time remaining on your visa. It’s essential to plan ahead, build your credit history, and explore all available lender options to secure the best rate. While challenges exist, it’s entirely possible to become a homeowner while on a spouse visa, and this can be a significant step toward your long-term financial goals.
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