The UK government recently announced changes to the minimum income threshold required to sponsor a spouse/partner for a family migration visa. The government has now provided much-needed clarification on how the new rules will be implemented and announced that the rise will happen in stages, perhaps in response to an outcry in the media.
Minimum income threshold rise for spouse visas to be incremental.
According to the House of Commons Library, the minimum income currently required to sponsor someone for a spouse/partner visa will rise in stages from £18,600 to £29,000 in spring 2024 to around £34,500 at an unspecified time (likely later in 2024), and finally to around £38,700 in early 2025.
Clarification – Transitional Provisions for Minimum Income Threshold for Spouse Visas
According to the Home Office Fact Sheet (Net migration measures – further detail) published on the government website on the 21st of December 2023, the following transitional provisions will be used in the implementation of the new changes to Family migration minimum income:
- The new rule will only apply to new applicants; those who already have a family visa within the five-year partner route (as a Spouse or Unmarried partner) or who apply before the minimum income threshold is raised will continue to have their applications assessed against the current income requirement of £18,600 and will not be required to meet the increased income threshold of £29,000 starting in April 2024(or £38,700 in early 2025). This will also be the case for children seeking to join or accompany parents.
Example: Tom, an American, is married to a British national, Amy; Tom has a valid spouse visa due for renewal in December 2024. Under this transition arrangement, he can apply for the Spouse visa extension under the old Income Threshold even if the new income threshold has kicked in for new applicants.
- The transition will also apply to fiancé visas, and anyone granted a fiance visa before the minimum income threshold of £18,600 is raised in April 2024 to £29,000 will also be assessed against the current income requirement of £18,600 when they apply for a family visa within the five-year partner route.
Example: Andrew from Nigeria applies for and is granted a six-month Fiancé visa in January 2024 and comes to the UK to wed Nancy, a British national. The wedding is due on the 20th of April 2024, and he will then apply for a UK Spouse Visa. Andrew’s subsequent application will also be assessed against the current income requirement of £18,600, and he will not be required to meet the increased threshold of £29,000.
- There is no transition arrangement if you are not on a family visa before the start date. Thus, those already in the UK on a different route, e.g. work visa, 10-year Partner Route or UK student Visa, who apply to switch to the five-year partner route after the minimum income requirement has been increased in April 2024 will be subject to the new income requirement of £29,000 (or £38,700 later on).
Example: Sabina, an Indian national who came to the UK as an MBA Student, is currently in the UK on a UK Graduate Visa, which was issued in 2023 following the completion of her studies; this visa is valid up to 2025. She recently married Mr Brown, a British citizen who works as a Teaching Assistant with an annual salary of £22,000. Sabina would be best advised to switch the visa now and get a Family Visa on the five-year partner route before the minimum income requirement has increased in Spring 2024 and not wait for her current visa expiry in 2025 when she will be subject to the new £29,000 minimum income requirement.
Playing Politics with Immigration rules for election year
This announced increase to £38,700 has been a big worry for many migrant families. While the slight U-turn or any delay in implementing the shocking increase is welcome, one is left wondering if the government planned to announce a high figure and then appear to climb down to a lower one, which is seen as a more palatable increase. This way, it appeases all parties in the Conservative party, both those thinking the measures are too soft and those considering them too tough.
Unfortunately, while concerns were raised about how this would affect families, the government seems to be hellbent on reducing all UK immigration regardless of its impact on families, the economy, or even the cost-effectiveness of such a policy.
2024 is an election year, after all, and, once again, Immigration has become a hotly divisive topic, with migrants thrown under the bus and each party racing to the bottom to prove who is tougher on immigration. It is a shame that immigration is once again used as a distraction from debating other vital issues such as cost of living, NHS, and energy prices….all things that the public cares equally or even more about. Control of Immigration is not the is not the be-all and end-all!
Cross Border Legal Solicitors Ltd is a UK Solicitor law firm regulated by under the Solicitor Regulations Authority. It is Headed by Mr Tito Mbariti, a UK Immigration and Human Rights Solicitor practising lawyer and member of the Law Society of England and Wales.