You can’t put a price on love, but the Home Office can!

Background

Before 9 July 2012, it was relatively straightforward to sponsor a loved one to come to the UK to live. Generally speaking, the settled sponsor (i.e. British citizen or individual with indefinite leave to remain in the UK) only had to be earning at least £105.95 net per week (£5,500 net per annum).

If the sponsor and sponsored partner had been married or in a relationship for at least 4 years, the sponsored partner could apply for settlement straightaway. Otherwise, the sponsored partner only had to live in the UK for 2 years to be eligible to apply for settlement.

The changes

On 9 July 2012, Appendix FM and Appendix FM-SE of the Immigration Rules came into force, changing the way a loved one was sponsored.

A key change is the minimum income threshold. Broadly speaking, the British citizen or non-EEA national with indefinite leave to remain in the UK, is required to show that they earn a minimum of £18,600 gross per annum or hold cash savings of at least £62,500. Both figures increase proportionately for each additional NON-British/EEA child who is also being sponsored, so the threshold which needs to be met is:

  • £18,600 – partner only; or
  • £22,400 – partner PLUS one child; and
  • £2,400 – for each additional child

The financial requirement needs to be met at the initial visa stage, extension stage(s), and settlement stage. In most cases, the couples’ joint income can only be considered at the extension stage(s), and settlement stage.

While the minimum income threshold might affect particular groups of people such as students/ graduates/ high net worth individuals (as the value of an asset itself CANNOT be used to meet the financial requirement) the Supreme Court in R (on the application of MM (Lebanon) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2017] UKSC 10 found that the threshold is acceptable.

In most cases, the income source can be made up from the below list, and it may be possible to combine the sources with each other. However, there are exceptions to this such as NOT being able to combine cash savings with self-employment.

  • Salaried/ non-salaried employment
  • Non-employment such as property rental, dividends and other investment income, maintenance grant or stipend
  • Cash savings
  • Pension
  • Self-employment/ director or employee of a specified limited company

The financial requirements extend to those who are applying for a:

  • Fiancé(e) visa – DIFFERENT from a Marriage Visitor visa
  • Spouse visa
  • Proposed civil partner visa
  • Civil partner visa
  • Unmarried partner visa

Another key change is that settlement can normally only be applied for after living in the UK for 5 years, regardless of the length of the relationship prior to coming to the UK.

Working out which income sources are acceptable, what evidence can demonstrate this, whether the document is time sensitive or not, and how to submit the application can be quite complicated. We can assist with the above visa category, from giving initial advice, to reviewing your application and documents, to submitting the application with detailed representations. If you have any questions or require assistance with any personal UK immigration matter, please do not hesitate to contact Vincent Chung: vincent.chung@dixcartlegal.com.