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.” The purpose of Appendix FM is 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Child Visa: This category applies to children under the age of 18 who wish to join their parents or guardians in the UK.
Appendix FM outlines the eligibility requirements, financial thresholds, and supporting documentation needed for these family visa applications. It also provides guidance on the English language requirements, accommodation, and other relevant factors. For the purposes of this guide, we’re going to solely focus on the financial requirement. 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 intention of the new approach was to prevent any possible unfair burdens on the UK taxpayer and to 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 needing to meet the financial requirement, the minimum income requirement stands at £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 set in Appendix FM, some applicants are exempt from this rule. These exemptions are based on if the UK sponsor receives any of the benefits listed below. If they receive one or more of the benefits, they are exempt from the minimum income threshold. 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 both 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 partners income is considered. It is also important to note that there are other different requirements that must be met based on whether your income is from within the UK or from overseas. For example, if you’re using income from overseas, you need to meet the earnings requirement and have a job offer starting within 3 months of your return date. As there are significant practical challenges with obtaining a job offer from overseas, 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 you’ve calculated the minimum income you need to show, then you need to assess whether you can meet this threshold. There are 5 different income types that are accepted under Appendix FM:
- Income from salaried employment/non-salaried employment: This includes fixed salaried employment as well as variable non-salaried employment
- Non-employment income: This can include income from property rental, dividends, and other lawful sources
- Cash savings: Cash savings over £16,000 can be used to satisfy some or all of the financial requirement
- Pensions: State, occupational or private pensions can be used
- 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 clearly prove and evidence that you have met the financial requirement. The evidence varies by income type, so you’re individual circumstances will dictate what information needs to be supplied. In the paragraph’s below, we look at what documentation is required for each of the 5 main income types. You can provide income from one source or you can 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, which is paid at regular intervals and as detailed in your employment contract. In contrast, non-salaried income is income that is paid at an hourly or other rate (and the number and/or pattern of hours required to be worked may vary) or paid an amount which varies according to the work undertaken. The calculation and the documents required will vary based on the country of income as well as 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:
- Letter from employer
- P60 or equivalent personal tax document(s)
- Bank statements
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 or postgraduate study or research
- Ongoing insurance payments
- Ongoing payments from a structured legal settlement
- Ongoing royalty payments
Income from each of these sources will need to be evidence through official correspondence and bank statements showing receipt of the payment(s).
If you or your partner have cash savings, you can use these to meet the financial requirement. You must have a minimum of £16,000 in savings, and then 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 onlt rely on savings to satisfy the financial requirement in Appendix FM, you will require a minimum of £62,500. This number in 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 clearly evidence these savings.
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 prior to the application. Pension income will need to be proven by supplying official correspondence from the pension provider as well as 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) as well as audited or unaudited accounts for the relevant period. Both personal and business bank statements should also be included as supplementary evidence.