The income requirements for a spouse visa

If you are living apart from your husband or wife, in different countries, it can be very stressful. Alongside a raft of conditions that you must satisfy to be able to apply for a spouse visa to come to the UK, you will also have to satisfy the income requirements to obtain this form of visa. Whether you’re a British citizen or settled in the UK and wondering how to help your partner with their spouse visa application, or you are ‘the spouse’ – living apart from your partner and hoping to obtain a spouse visa to come to the UK, our team of some of the best immigration lawyers can guide you through the process.

Why are there minimum income requirements to obtain a spouse visa?

The minimum income requirements to obtain a spouse visa were introduced in July 2012 by Theresa May when she was Home Secretary. Previously, people applying for Spouse Visas had to satisfy a more general requirement that they would have ‘no recourse to public funds’. The stated intention of bringing in the minimum income requirements was to encourage integration and prevent a burden being placed on the British tax payer. However, as immigration solicitors in London, we often see the harsh results of the spouse visa income requirement – it can present a significant, and in many cases insurmountable hurdle for couples. As the Guardian newspaper recently reported, around 40% of working people in the UK do not earn enough to satisfy the minimum income requirement. It can be even harder if the spouse already settled in the UK is caring for a child or children from the relationship – yet ironically, this is a situation when it is even more important for the parents to be able to live together, to provide a family life for their children. The Children’s Commissioner for England has reported that around 15,000 British children are growing up in ‘Skype’ families because one of their parents has been unable to obtain a visa to come to the UK. Not all of these parents will be married – but many will be.

What are the minimum income requirements for a spouse visa?

The partner settled in the UK must be able to ‘sponsor’ their spouse by showing they meet the minimum income requirements for a spouse visa. These are:

- £18,600 if you are sponsoring your spouse

- £22,400 if you are sponsoring your spouse and a dependant child

- An additional £2,400 for other dependant children

The spouse visa income requirements are tough enough given the level at which they are set – there are also specific requirements about where the money can come from. You can meet the minimum income requirements with money from the following sources:

- income from employment or self-employment - if you’re in the UK with permission to work

- a pension

- maternity, paternity, adoption or sick pay

- other income such as from rent or shares

- cash savings of atleast £16,000, and which have been in your name for at least 6 months

Article 8 grounds to assist with the spouse visa income requirements

Although the Supreme Court has confirmed that the minimum income requirements are acceptable in principle, the court also indicated that the Government had a duty to have regard to the need to safeguard and promote the welfare of children and should also consider other possible sources of income or support from third parties. As a result, there has been a change to the immigration rules and associated policy guidance, so that if the minimum income requirements are not met, it is possible to consider other sources of income and financial support. A spouse visa may also be granted on the basis that to refuse would result in a breach of Article 8 ECHR, even if the minimum income requirements are not met.

Before the decision maker can consider other source of income, he or she must first decide whether refusing the spouse visa could breach Article 8 ECHR (family life) because it could result in ‘unjustifiably harsh consequences’ for the person applying for the spouse visa, their partner or a child under the age of 18 years who would be affected by the decision. The immigration case law on Article 8 is extensive, and it’s worth taking advice from a lawyer experienced in spouse visa applications and article 8 immigration cases to put together the best spouse visa application possible.

If you or your sponsor are unable to meet the minimum income requirements and can build a case for a spouse visa under Article 8, the decision maker can consider other sources of funding, including

- a credible guarantee of sustainable financial support from a third party; 

- credible prospective earnings from the sustainable employment or self-employment of the applicant or their partner; 

- any other credible and reliable source of income or funds available to the couple.

If you are still unable to meet the spouse visa income requirements, taking into account these additional sources or financial support, but the refusal to grant a spouse visa would breach Article 8, the visa should be granted.

OTS Solicitors is respected as one of the best immigration law firms in London, with a team of some of the top immigration solicitors in the UK on hand to advise you on all aspects of Immigration Law, Spouse Visas and Article 8 matters. Telephone 0203 959 9123 today to book an appointment with one of our Immigration Law specialists, and be assured that you will be receiving some of the best Immigration Law advice in London.

 

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