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For family members wishing to join a loved one already present in the UK, the thought of having to complete the family visa application process for yourself and your children can seem daunting. This is not least because the UK Home Office place strict eligibility criteria on the granting of family visas, including the minimum income requirements. For most applicants, the minimum income requirement is met and their visa is granted with relative ease, but it pays never to be complacent. By ensuring you understand how the rules will be interpreted and the necessary proof required when submitting your application, you will have the best chance of success.
The government guidance for family visas states that you can apply for a family visa to live with your spouse or partner, fiancé, fiancée or proposed civil partner, child, parent, or relative who'll provide long-term care for you. The family visa is only required if you are planning to stay for more than six months, otherwise, you only need apply for a standard visitor visa (or marriage visitor visa if you are planning to get married to your partner in the UK).
If you are applying to join your partner, you will need to provide evidence that between you, you have a combined income of £18,600 or more per year. This income may be from the applicant or the applicant's partner (sponsor) (which can include a contribution from the applicant).
If you have children, you will need an additional £3,800 for the first child, and £2,400 for each additional child after the first. If you have children who are automatically entitled to remain in the UK, i.e. if they are British Citizens, EEA nationals, or already permanently settled, you will not need evidence of additional income.
Where appropriate, different forms of income can be combined, including your income from salaried and non-salaried employment, pension income, and non-employment income.
Yes, cash savings over £16,000 count towards your annual income. The minimum income requirement (as outlined above) can be lowered or even eliminated if the applicant (or their partner) has savings.
The Home Office uses a formula to work out how much cash savings can contribute towards the income requirement, as follows:
This amount can then be counted towards your annual income. For example, if you have savings of £20,000, your minimum income requirement will reduce by £1,600. The higher the amount of cash savings, the less annual income you will require.
This depends on the type of income you will be declaring in your application. If you or your partner are employed, you will need to provide the following evidence:
If you are relying on cash savings as part of your income, you will need to provide full bank statements proving that the funds have been in your (or your partner's) bank account for six months or more prior to the application being submitted.
If you (or your partner) are self-employed, you will need to provide details of income for the last full financial year (or an average of the previous two financial years). Sole-traders, partnerships, and franchises, need to provide evidence of tax payable, annual self-assessment to HMRC, and SA300 or SA302's. Limited company Directors will be asked to provide a Company Tax Return CT600, evidence of company registration, and annual financial accounts, in addition to other evidence.
The landmark Supreme Court case of MMand others v Secretary of State fir the Home Department  UKSC 10 led to changes to the rules and policies used by the Home Office. In addition to ensuring proper account is taken when assessing the minimum income of the impact on any children, Home Office case officers must consider whether the minimum income requirements can be met by using other sources (as defined in paragraph 21A of Appendix FM-SE). Home Office guidance states explicitly, "the decision maker must consider whether refusal of the application could breach ECHR Article 8 because it could result in unjustifiably harsh consequences for the applicant, their partner or a relevant child". It also states, "the decision maker must take into account, as a primary consideration, the best interests of any relevant child".
Additional income sources may include:
"(a) a credible guarantee of sustainable financial support to the applicant or their partner from a third party;
(b) credible prospective earnings from the sustainable employment or self-employment of the applicant or their partner; or
(c) any other credible and reliable source of income or funds for the applicant or their partner, which is available to them at the date of application or which will become available to them during the period of limited leave applied for."
The changes also mean that if other sources of income are used, the applicant, their partner, and any children, will be granted leave on a 10-year route to settlement. Furthermore, recourse to public funds will be permitted in certain circumstances (i.e. if there are compelling reasons which may affect the welfare of a child of a parent in receipt of a very low income".
Beyond the headline minimum income requirement of £18,600, the rules which must be met in order to be successful in being granted a family visa can be complicated. Even if your case is relatively straightforward, before submitting your application form and any documentary evidence of your eligibility, take the time to ensure that you have 'dotted the I's and crossed the t's'. Even a minor oversight can lead to outright rejection, or at the very least, a delay in your application. If you are in any doubt or you have specific concerns regarding your application, engage the services of an immigration law specialist who will navigate any complications and provide the best chance of success. When it comes to being reunited with your loved ones, do not take any chances.
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