Spouse Visa UK, Fiancé and un-married partner visa applications made under Appendix-FM of the Immigration Rules are made more complex by the Financial Requirement. The spousal route can be either ‘switched’ into from within the UK from another long-term route i.e. under Tier 2 sponsorship, or more commonly from our experience, from the applicant’s country of residence.
Applicants and their sponsor (a person present and settled in the UK or to be settled at the same time as the applicant) under this route must meet various suitability and eligibility criteria requirements in order for Entry Clearance, Further Leave to Remain and Indefinite Leave to Remain to be approved, as set out by the UK Immigration Rules.
The financial requirement (minimal Income)that was introduced in July 2012 and which stipulates that you must earn at least £18,600.00 (more if dependent children are applying too) before tax per annum is in our experience the criteria which causes the most confusion amongst clients, trying to discern whether they are eligible for this route or not. It is for this reason that I now endeavour to shed some illumination on what can prove to be a somewhat shady area.
Permissible income – Financial Requirement.
This refers to funds which may be used as specified in Appendix FM-SE of the Immigration Rules. In summary there are five acceptable sources from which income may be derived:
- Income from salaried or non-salaried (let us call this pay-by-the-hour for the purpose of clarity) of the sponsor and/or the applicant, if they have permission to work in the UK i.e. they are already applying for further leave having switched into the spousal/partner category.
- Non-employment income i.e. income from property rental or dividends from shares.
- Any cash savings above £16,000.00 held by the sponsor and/or applicant for more than six months (£16,000.00 is the figure beyond which you are ineligible to receive state benefits).
- Pensions, either state or private.
- Income from self-employment of the sponsor or applicant (please refer to point 1).
With a couple of exceptions the above sources of income can be combined to meet the minimum financial requirement; as long as the disclaimed amounts are corroborated by the specified evidence as set out in Appendix FM-SE, then there should not be too much uncertainty leading to finance-based refusals.
Most confusion emanates from the first source of income, salary, and I will reason that this is mainly due to the fact that within it there exist two categories and furthermore, each category contains additional sub-categories:
– Category A: eligibility can be met by those who have been with their current employer for more than 6 months: sub-category A (1) incorporates employment within the UK and A (2) those who are employed abroad at the point of application but are returning to start a new job in the UK within 3 months of arrival
– Category B: is conversely for those who have been employed for less than 6 months either in the UK B (1) or abroad but who are returning to the UK to take up a firm offer of employment within three months B (2).
Interestingly, there is no set minimum limit so that even if you have only been employed for a week in the UK you may apply on the basis of this income; in addition for those returning and applying in category B there is no requirement to be in employment at the point of application
NB it is permissible for both salaried and non-salaried income to be topped up with either non-employment income, cash savings, personal and/or state pension or a combination of any of these; all sources must be thoroughly supported using hard copies of evidence.
The main tangible benefit between category A and B is that due to the relative longevity of your employment and the financial viability that accompanies it, specified evidence covering the period of six months prior to the date of application must be provided for Category A as opposed to twelve months for Category B.
I regard the above merely as a guide for the purpose of helping to facilitate the initial consideration of whether the financial foundations, upon which any solid application should be built, exist. Once these first steps have been taken the applicant may start to proceed further with some degree of confidence.