New Financial Requirements and Transition Rules for UK Spouse and Partner Visas

The UK government has embarked on a significant policy shift by increasing the Minimum Income Requirement (MIR) for spouse visas under Appendix FM. The original threshold of £18,600 has been raised to £29,000, marking a substantial change to the immigration landscape. This adjustment is part of a broader strategy unveiled by the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary on the 4th of December 2023, aimed at reducing net migration and addressing immigration abuse.

The revision of the MIR is unfolding in three stages, aligning it with the minimum general salary threshold for skilled worker visas, which stood at £38,700 at the time of the announcement. By early 2025, the MIR is expected to match this figure. The initial increase, effective from the 11th of April 2024, sets the threshold at £29,000, corresponding to the 25th percentile of the minimum general salary threshold. The subsequent increment will elevate the threshold to the 40th percentile, which is currently £34,500.

The changes apply to the 5-year partner, fiancé or fiancée or proposed civil partner visas. Here’s a breakdown of the changes and who qualifies for transitional arrangements:

Income Threshold Amounts

  • Before the 11th of April 2024: The minimum income threshold was £18,600 per year, with additional amounts required for dependent children.
  • Effective April 11, 2024, the minimum income threshold increased to £29,000 per year and now applies regardless of the number of dependent children.
  • Future: Further increases are planned, with the threshold expected to reach around £38,700 by early 2025.

It’s important to note that this new minimum income only applies to new applicants and doesn’t affect those who already have been granted a spouse / partner / fiancé visa under the previous rules – see the transitional arrangements below .

Additional income for dependant child/children requirement removed

Previously, the minimum income requirement depended on the number of dependent children. There was a base threshold, and then an additional amount required for each non British dependant child. Now, the minimum income of £29,000 applies regardless of whether you have dependent children or not. This change simplifies the application process but also means that meeting the income requirements might be more challenging for some.

Transitional Arrangements for UK Family Visas

The UK legal system generally adheres to the principle of non-retrospectivity. This means that new laws typically don’t apply to situations that arose before the law took effect.

The recent changes to the UK spouse minimum income threshold follow this principle. The new, higher threshold of £29,000 only applies to new applicants, not those who do not already have a spouse visa. Applying the new rule retrospectively could unfairly disadvantage existing visa holders.

Here’s a breakdown of how it works:

  • Before April 11, 2024, the minimum income threshold was £18,600. Someone whose spouse applied for a visa before this date will only need to meet this lower threshold for their initial application, extensions, and even settlement (indefinite leave to remain).
  • On or after April 11, 2024: The new minimum income threshold is £29,000. This applies only to new applicants, not those with a spouse visa under the previous rules.

This approach ensures that the new regulations don’t penalise existing visa holders. It aligns with the traditional concept of non-retrospectivity in UK law.

NB:These transtional arrangements only apply to applications for further leave to remain with the same partner. Those applying for the first time with a new partner or who are on the 10-year settlement route are not eligible for transitional arrangements.

Minimum Income Requirement for Armed Forces Personnel Spouse Visa

  • The minimum income requirement for armed forces personnel sponsoring a partner or child is £23,496.
  • Similar transitional arrangements are available for those who applied before the 11th of April 2024.

Meeting the Income Requirement

The Income Requirement can be met in several ways. Income from employment, self-employment, pensions, savings and rental can all be used to demonstrate that an applicant meets the requirements. The rules are fairly complex, though, so it is best to consult with a UK Immigration Solicitor if you are unsure whether you meet the requirements or not.

Calculating Income with Cash Savings

To determine if the cash savings are sufficient for visa applications, the following method is applied by the Home Office at both the entry clearance and the further permission to stay stages:

The cash savings exceeding £16,000 are divided by the 2.5-year period, which corresponds to the duration until the next required application. This is done by subtracting £16,000 from the total savings and then dividing the result by 2.5. The formula is as follows:


Where X is the total amount of savings and Y is the amount that can be counted towards the application per year.

Under the old regulations, cash savings of £62,500 would be sufficient to meet the income requirement, as the calculation would be:


According to the new regulations, cash savings of £88,500 are sufficient to meet the income requirement if relying purely on savings, as the calculation is:


Under the new rules, the savings requirement is the same regardless of whether an applicant has non-British dependent children.

Exemptions from The Income Threshold Requirement

Certain circumstances do not require the minimum income threshold to be met. For example, if the UK sponsor is receiving certain benefits or allowances, they may be exempt from meeting the financial requirement for the spouse visa. They can provide evidence of “adequate maintenance” instead in such cases.

The benefits and allowances that may qualify for an exemption include:

  • Disability Living Allowance
  • Severe Disablement Allowance
  • Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit
  • Attendance Allowance
  • Carer’s Allowance
  • Personal Independence Payment
  • Armed Forces Independence Payment or Guaranteed Income Payment under the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme
  • Constant Attendance Allowance, Mobility Supplement or War Disablement Pension under the War Pensions Scheme
  • Police Injury Pension
  • Child Disability Payment
  • Adult Disability Payment

These exemptions are designed to ensure that individuals receiving support due to disabilities or other qualifying circumstances are not unduly affected by the income threshold requirements. Applicants need to review the latest guidance or seek professional legal advice from a UK Immigration Lawyer to understand how these exemptions may apply to their specific situation. Read more about this exemption here

Likely Impact

The new Minimum Income Requirement (MIR) for UK spouse visas is likely to have various impacts, some touted by the government to be positive and some negative. Here’s a breakdown of the potential effects:

Potential Benefits: The government claims that increasing the MIR will result in the following effects, which they describe as benefits.

  • Reduced Net Migration: This is the main goal behind the policy change. The government hopes a higher income threshold will deter some applications and ultimately bring down net migration numbers.
  • Focus on Skilled Workers: By aligning the MIR with skilled worker salary levels, the government aims to ensure sponsored spouses have the potential to contribute to the economy.
  • Reduced Strain on Public Services: With potentially fewer spouses entering the UK, the government claims there will be less strain on public services like healthcare and education.

Negative Impacts: Changes to the Minimum Income Requirement (MIR) for spouse visas under Appendix FM is likely to have negative impacts on families and individuals seeking to reunite or establish their lives together in the UK. Some of these negative impacts include:

  • Separation of Families: If sponsors fail to meet the new MIR, genuine couples or families will likely be separated or unable to reunite in the UK. This would have emotional and practical consequences, particularly for children who are separated from one of their parents.
  • Disadvantage for Lower Earners: Some UK citizens, particularly those in younger age groups or certain professions, might struggle to meet the income threshold. This will include those in professions such as nursing or carers, who are essential to society.
  • Financial Hardship: Increasing the income threshold may significantly strain families. Sponsors may struggle to meet the new financial criteria, disproportionately affecting certain groups, including younger couples, individuals in non-traditional employment (such as freelancers or self-employed individuals), and those living in regions with lower-than-average incomes.
  • Economic Impact: Businesses reliant on foreign spouses (e.g., healthcare) might face staffing challenges.
  • Increased Complexity and Uncertainty: Changes to immigration rules and requirements create additional complexity and uncertainty for applicants and sponsors. This can lead to confusion about eligibility criteria and requirements, causing delays and additional stress during the application process.
  • Legal Challenges and Appeals: Changes to the MIR may result in increased legal challenges and appeals as individuals and families seek to challenge decisions that prevent them from reuniting or settling in the UK based on the new requirements.

Overall, the Minimum Income Requirement changes could have profound and negative effects on families, individuals, and couples, impacting their ability to live together and build stable lives in the UK. These changes reflect the current government’s attitude towards migration, a politically hot topic ahead of the election. The possible negative effects on British citizens and their families highlight the importance of carefully considering the humanitarian and social consequences of immigration policy changes.

If you are worried about the changes to the Minimum Income Requirement or any other immigration matter, you can contact us for a free initial conversation about your situation and options. We understand how daunting the process can be and have helped many families and couples achieve their aim of living together in the UK.

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 Solicitors Ltd is a UK law firm regulated under the Solicitor Regulations Authority. It 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.