Important Update 4th December 2023

A statement made this evening by James Cleverley, the UK Home Secretary, will have a massive impact on family visas in 2024 and beyond. In the statement, a series of amendments to the UK immigration system were announced. Amongst these changes was a proposal to increase the minimum income threshold for family visas (including spouse, civil partner, unmarried partner, and fiance visas) from £18,600 to £38,700, an increase of over 100%. This change will align it with the new minimum income band proposed for Skilled Worker Visas.

The proposed changes have been met with a huge public outcry and could be subject to change or legal challenges. There are very few specific details at the moment, including whether this will impact renewals or when the changes will go live. Our own expectations (and previous precedents) are that the changes will go live in 2024 and will not impact visa renewals for anyone on a family visa prior to this date. However, we stress this cannot be confirmed at this point.

We appreciate these changes are concerning developments and may have far-reaching implications for many families. If you plan on applying for a spouse visa in the next 12 months, we recommend contacting us at your earliest convenience to discuss your circumstances and how you should proceed.

21st December Update

Further information has now been released on the proposed changes to Family Visas and how this will impact new and existing visa holders. The key updates are:

  • The minimum income requirement will now be increased to only £29,000 in April 2024 before being increased on as yet unspecified dates to £34,500 and then £38.700.
  • Those already on an existing Family Visa (including a Fiance Visa) before the changes go live will be assessed on the previous £18,600 criteria for any subsequent extension or application.
  • The additional child element for the minimum income requirement will be scrapped under the new minimum income criteria.
  • The changes will become effective in April 2024

We will continue to update these pages as and when further information becomes available.

Appendix FM and the Financial Requirement for UK Family Visas

Appendix FM refers to a specific section of the UK Immigration Rules that governs the requirements for family members who wish to join or remain with their settled or British family members in the UK. The term “FM” stands for “Family Members.” Appendix FM aims to establish the criteria and procedures for different types of family visa applications.

Under Appendix FM, individuals can apply for various types of family visas, including:

  1. Spouse or Civil Partner Visa: This category allows married partners or civil partners of UK citizens or settled persons to join them in the UK.
  2. Unmarried Partner Visa: This category enables unmarried partners, including same-sex partners, who have been living together in a relationship akin to marriage or civil partnership for at least two years to join their settled or British partners in the UK.
  3. Fiancé(e) or Proposed Civil Partner Visa: This visa category allows individuals who are engaged to be married or to enter into a civil partnership with a UK citizen or settled person to come to the UK for that purpose.
  4. Child Visa: This category applies to children under 18 who wish to join their parents or guardians in the UK.

Appendix FM outlines the eligibility requirements, financial thresholds, and supporting documentation for these family visa applications. It also provides guidance on the English language requirements, accommodation, and other relevant factors. In this guide, we’re going to focus solely on the financial requirements. Below, we’ll examine what it is, who it applies to, and how you can satisfy it.

What is the Financial Requirement in Appendix FM for UK Family Visas?

The financial requirement for family visas was introduced in 2012. For the first time, it set a minimum income requirement for family migration that needed to be met by all applicants unless they met one of the exemption criteria. The new approach is intended to prevent unfair burdens on the UK taxpayer and promote better social integration. The new approach was controversial and challenged legally, but the High Court ruled in 2017 that the new approach was indeed lawful. It also ruled that the rules didn’t violate Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), the right to respect for private and family life.

How Much is the Financial Requirement for Family Visas?

Unless you’re exempt from meeting the financial requirement, the minimum income required is £18,600. This figure is for Partners without any dependent children. However, if the application includes the sponsorship of a child or if the sponsor is already sponsoring a child, the minimum income requirement increases, necessitating a higher minimum income threshold. For the first child sponsored, an extra gross annual income of £3,800 is required on top of the partner’s income, and then an additional £2,400 for each subsequent child. Consequently, the financial requirement is as follows:

  • Partner with no children or children exempt from the income requirement: £18,600
  • 1 child in addition to the partner: £22,400
  • 2 children in addition to the partner: £24,800
  • 3 children in addition to the partner: £27,200

Who Does the Financial Requirement Apply to?

The financial requirement applies to all applicants for a UK visa as the partner or dependent child of someone who is either a British Citizen, present and settled in the UK, or in the UK with refugee leave or humanitarian protection. The requirement applies to all application types, including entry clearance (from overseas), leave to remain (from within the UK), and indefinite leave to remain (to obtain permanent residency).

On a practical level, the financial requirement will impact all applications for:

Are there any Exemptions to the Financial Requirement in Appendix FM?

While most applicants must meet the financial requirements in Appendix FM, some are exempt from this rule. These exemptions are based on whether the UK sponsor receives any of the benefits listed below. They are exempt from the minimum income threshold if they receive one or more benefits. Instead, they must satisfy a lower threshold by demonstrating that they can provide adequate maintenance and accommodation without relying on public funds.

  • Disability Living Allowance
  • Severe Disablement Allowance
  • Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit
  • Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
  • Attendance Allowance
  • Carer’s Allowance
  • 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

Who’s Income Can Be Considered to Satisfy the Financial Requirement Under Appendix FM?

The income of the applicant and the partner (the UK sponsor) can be used to satisfy the financial requirement, providing the income is earned in the UK. Somewhat perversely, where the income is earned overseas, only the British/Settled partner’s income is considered. It is also important to note that other different requirements must be met based on whether your income is from within the UK or overseas. For example, if you’re using income from overseas, you must meet the earnings requirement and have a job offer starting within 3 months of your return date. There are significant practical challenges with obtaining a job offer from overseas, so it might not always be feasible to return together. So, while it’s possible to use income from both the UK and overseas, it’s considerably easier if the income has been earned within the UK.

Acceptable Sources of Income

Once you’ve ascertained whether you need to satisfy the financial requirement and calculated the minimum income you need to show, you need to assess whether you can meet this threshold. Five different income types are accepted under Appendix FM:

  1. Income from salaried employment/non-salaried employment: This includes fixed salaried employment as well as variable non-salaried employment
  2. Non-employment income: This can include income from property rental, dividends, and other lawful sources
  3. Cash savings: Cash savings over £16,000 can be used to satisfy some or all of the financial requirement
  4. Pensions: State, occupational or private pensions can be used
  5. Self-employed income / Company director income: Income from self-employment and income as a director or employee of a specified limited company in the UK owned by the partner

Proving Your Income Under Appendix FM

As part of the application process for your UK family visa, you will need to prove and evidence that you have met the financial requirement. The evidence varies by income type, so your circumstances will dictate what information needs to be supplied. In the paragraphs below, we look at what documentation is required for each of the 5 main income types. You can provide income from one source or use a combination of the different sources to meet the financial requirement, provided you can supply the required evidence for each source. It’s also possible to use income earned from within the UK or overseas, although there are additional requirements for overseas earned income.

Income from Salaried Employment / Non-Salaried Employment

Income from salaried or non-salaried employment in the UK can be used to satisfy the financial requirement. Salaried income is considered consistent income, paid at regular intervals and as detailed in your employment contract. In contrast, non-salaried income is paid at an hourly or other rate (and the number and/or pattern of hours required to be worked may vary) or an amount that varies according to the work undertaken. The calculation and the documents required will vary based on the country of income and your length of time with the employer. It’s a very complex area and one we’re happy to discuss with you by phone if you need assistance. Alternatively, you can access the information on Appendix FM using this link.

Most applications that include income from salaried or non-salaried employment will require the following documents to be supplied:

  • Payslips
  • Letter from employer
  • P60 or equivalent personal tax document(s)
  • Bank statements

Non-Employment Income

There’s a fairly exhaustive list of different types of income that can contribute towards your income specified in Appendix FM. These income types are:

  • rental property income
  • Income derived from dividends, investments, stocks and shares, bonds, or trust funds
  • Interest from savings
  • Maintenance payments from a former partner of the applicant in relation to the applicant or any children of the applicant and their former partner (any
    documents issued by the family court must have permission to be disclosed). Also, maintenance payments from a former partner of the applicant’s partner in
    relation to that partner
  • Some UK benefits including Maternity Allowance, Bereavement Allowance, Bereavement Payment and Widowed Parent’s Allowance
  • Payments under the War Pensions Scheme, the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme, and the Armed Forces Attributable Benefits Scheme
  • A maintenance grant or stipend (not a loan) associated with undergraduate study, postgraduate study, or research
  • Ongoing insurance payments
  • Ongoing payments from a structured legal settlement
  • Ongoing royalty payments

Income from each source must be evidenced through official correspondence and bank statements showing receipt of the payment(s).

 

Cash Savings

If you or your partner have cash savings, you can use these to meet the financial requirements. You must have a minimum of £16,000 in savings, and any amount above this can be used to make up any shortfall in your income. To calculate the usable amount of savings, you should subtract £16,000 from your total savings, then divide the result by 2.5 (the duration of the initial Spouse Visa in years). The result of this calculation can be added to your annual income to meet the financial requirement. To be clear, if you want to rely only on savings to satisfy the financial requirement in Appendix FM, you will require a minimum of £62,500. This number increases depending on the number of applicants (e.g., £72,000 for one adult and one child applying).

To be eligible for consideration, savings must have been held in your account for at least 6 months. You’ll need to provide bank statements for the entire period to evidence these savings.

 

Pensions

If you or your partner receive a pension, you can use the annual pension amount to meet the financial requirement in full or in part. The annual pension income may be counted where the pension has become a source of income at least 28 days before the application. Pension income must be proven by supplying official correspondence from the pension provider and bank statements showing receipt of the pension payment.

 

Self-Employed Income / Company Director Income

Where income is being claimed from self-employment, or the applicant or sponsor is either the director or employee (or both) of a specified limited company in the UK, at the date of application, they can use income from the last full financial year to meet the financial requirement. Alternatively, it is also possible to use an average of the last 2 full financial years to meet the financial requirement. Evidence will need to be in the form of personal self-assessment tax returns, company tax returns (CT600), and audited or unaudited accounts for the relevant period. Both personal and business bank statements should also be included as supplementary evidence.