This article seeks to clarify the level of financial support required to bring a family to the UK permanently.
Spouse and Dependants Visa
For a British citizen or a person settled in the UK (e.g. with Indefinite Leave to Remain, Settled Status or EU nationals with Pre-Settled Status) who has a foreign national Spouse or Children looking to relocate or stay in the UK permanently, the correct visa to look at is a Spouse Visa / Dependant Visa.
These are both settlement visas i.e. a visa route that eventually leads to permanent residence in the UK. The Spouse/Unmarried Partner visa is suitable for sponsoring a Spouse/Partner (see the previous post here) while the Dependant Visa is suitable for sponsoring children under the age of 18 years.
One of the key changes and obstacles, introduced by the British government 10 years ago ( since 9th July 2022) is a very strict financial threshold, which is applicable to all persons seeking to sponsor a foreign spouse or child to come to the UK. This requires an income of at least £18,600 per year, with incremental increases for each child the sponsor seeks to support – see the calculator below.
The income threshold represents a level of earnings that the government decided would be sufficient to support a family without needing the taxpayer to foot any bills.
The income threshold does not apply in certain cases where the government felt that it would be unfair to impose it; this tends to apply mostly to persons receiving some form of disability benefits, either for themselves or to enable them to care for a disabled person.
Unfortunately, just because one is exempted from the normal income threshold it does not mean there is no income requirement; instead a different criteria is used, with each case weighted against what a normal family receiving benefits would be expected to live on. In this situation the applicant must meet what is called Adequate Maintenance – see this article for further details.
Additionally, following a long court battle that ended up in the UK Supreme court challenging the unilateral income threshold, the government did introduce some concessions for those who can show their case has very exceptional circumstances and can meet the threshold by other means, or where it would otherwise be a gross violation of their human rights to not be allowed to bring their family to the UK.
Unfortunately, the Exceptional Circumstances has a very high threshold, especially for a visa from abroad as opposed to a person applying for an extension from the UK who can use 10 Year Route options; only a handful of cases would meet the government’s definition of exceptional circumstances. However, if you are able to meet this threshold you may be able to use other avenues to prove the ability to maintain your family that would otherwise not be allowed.
Calculator for Spouse Visa Income Threshold required
We have designed a calculator to help you work out what the income threshold may be for your specific circumstances. Please note that this calculator is for illustrative purposes only and is based on the following assumptions:
- That the normal income threshold applies – no exemptions
- Any children are not British and are themselves applying for visa(s) as dependant(s)
- The figure on the calculator is based on current law at the time of publishing
- The calculator aims to give a general idea and is not a substitute for full financial advice
What you CAN rely on to meet UK Spouse Visa Income Requirements
There are various ways of meeting the income threshold and these include:
- UK Employment
- A combination of Employment abroad and a UK job offer – as a Returning Resident
- UK Self-Employment
- Rental income
- Pension income
- Cash savings
NB: although cash savings can be held in the migrant’s name all the other options refer to the sponsor (the British national or settled person sponsoring the visa), hence it is the British national who needs to meet the income threshold and show his/her employment details, not the applicant, unless they are already in the UK with independent rights to work.
What you CANNOT rely on to meet UK Spouse Visa Income Requirements
As mentioned above, this requirement is very strict and doesn’t allow many of the previously acceptable ways of proving that the sponsor could support themselves and the applicant(s). Hence, the following are not an acceptable ways of meeting the income threshold:
- Third-Party Support e.g. from parents – unless it is in the form of an outright gift that the applicant/sponsor have held as cash in a bank account for at least 6 months
- Value of House – unless it has been sold and the money is in the bank
- Value of Other Assets e.g. car or gold – unless sold and money held for six months
- Applicant’s employment abroad – they would be expected to leave their job upon relocation
- Applicant’s job offer – until the visa is granted the applicant would not be able to work in the UK
- Financial Support Undertaking– no longer acceptable as it was deemed unenforceable
- Loans and credit facilities – e.g the applicant or their partner cannot take a loan from bank to rely on savings
- Income-related benefits – housing benefit or working tax credits
Get help and Navigate your options carefull…there is still hope!
Although meeting the spouse visa income threshold requirement remains one of the biggest stumbling block for thousands of families, 10 years on there are several ways to meet this requirement or rely on exemptions; we advise that you seek legal assistance from a UK Immigration solicitor for guidance on how to best navigate this minefield.
Our specialist immigration solicitor will offer you an honest general preliminary appraisal of your options for free. There is no obligation to instruct us, but if you would like our assistance, we charge a reasonable fixed fee, which you are informed of upfront and can be paid in installments to suit your circumstances.
Please feel free to share and comment to raise awareness of these issues. Also, if you have been affected by any of these immigration rule changes and need a quick chat with a UK Immigration Solicitor, do not hesitate to contact Tito Mbariti for a free one-off, no-obligation general immigration advice consultation via either phone, WeChat, WhatsApp, Facetime or Skype.
You may contact us by filling in our Quick Enquiry form any time you need professional support or have any questions. Alternatively, you can call us during office hours on 07544669131 / 0116 3800 744
Cross Border Legal Ltd is a UK Solicitor law firm regulated by the under the Solicitor Regulations Authority and is Headed by Mr Tito Mbariti, a UK Immigration and Human Rights Solicitor who is a practising lawyer and member of the Law Society of England and Wales.