Spouse Visa Extension - My Sponsoring Spouse Lost Their Job and Is on Benefits
The year 1706 is how far back in time researchers have to look to reference a period when the UK economy shrunk to the extent it has done in the last quarter. Queen Anne was on the throne and the Industrial Revolution was decades away. The Treaty of Union provided the roadmap for England and Scotland to create a union the following year. And the Twining’s Teashop in London opened (you can still visit it today).
However, that year, the economy contracted by 15%. Then in 1709, the Great Frost saw a further 14% drop-in commercial activity. The Bank of England warned on 7 May 2020 that the Coronavirus pandemic would see a 14% shrinkage in the economy and unemployment will likely double.
For people who hold a UK Spouse Visa, having their sponsoring partner lose their job is especially stressful. This is because, when it comes time to apply for a UK Spouse Visa extension, the minimum income threshold still must be met. However, given the latest figures released for April, many will need to prepare for such a scenario. Last month, the number of people claiming unemployment benefits increased by the most since records began in April to reach almost 2.1 million. The only factor which kept this figure from being worse was the government’s furlough scheme.
Tej Parikh, the chief economist at the Institute of Directors, told The Guardian:
“While furloughing is holding off some job losses, for now, it’s not yet clear how firms will react as the scheme changes in August and as social distancing continues.”
“Many companies will still be in the middle of a cashflow crisis and will struggle with any cost increases. The government faces an onerous task in winding down the scheme without causing too much pain.”
The Guardian also stated:
The Institute for Employment Studies warned unemployment was rising fastest in parts of Britain that were already worst off. It said one in nine residents in Blackpool (11%) are claiming unemployment benefits, up from 7% in March. The number of claims increased most in the north of England and Northern Ireland and rose the least in the South-east and the east of England.
Tony Wilson, director of the think tank, said the snapshot probably understated the severity of the crisis as it counted claims up until 9 April. “In reality, unemployment today is likely to already be close to 3 million,” he added.
There are many questions about claiming Universal Credit if you sponsor a Spouse Visa migrant or are a Spouse Visa migrant yourself. For example, can the sponsoring spouse claim the benefit? The answer is generally yes because to sponsor a person coming to the UK on a Spouse Visa; you must be a British Citizen or have Indefinite Leave to Remain.
If you are in the UK on a Spouse Visa, you cannot claim Universal Credit or any other benefits on your own. Your partner is expected to financially support you for the first five years you are in the UK until you obtain Settlement. If you are a victim of domestic abuse, you can claim benefits. Speak to an immigration lawyer or contact Refuge for more information.
Meeting the minimum income requirement on a Spouse Visa Extension
If you wish to stay in the UK after your Spouse Visa expires, you can apply for a Spouse Visa extension.
To be granted an extension, you need to prove:
- Your spouse/civil partner is a British Citizen or has Indefinite Leave to Remain
- You have met each other and are legally married
- You live with your spouse and have adequate accommodation
- Your sponsoring spouse meets the financial requirements of £18,600 per year (this increases if you have children)
- You fulfill the English language requirements
Most people can fulfill all the criteria easily as they would have been required to show evidence that these requirements could be met when they applied for their original spouse visa. However, if the sponsoring spouse has been made redundant and therefore is no longer earning the salary required to meet the minimum income requirement.
If this has happened, there are several options available to you.
Use your savings
You can use savings to make up the amount required to meet the minimum income requirement. This may be especially applicable to couples where the sponsoring partner has been made redundant from a job that earned £18,600 or above and now has a position that pays under the required threshold.
Calculating how much cash savings can contribute to the minimum income requirement requires using the following formula - work out the lowest amount of cash savings you have held in the past six months, then minus £16,000 from that amount and divide the answer by 2.5.
For example, if you have savings of £30,000, £5,600 of those savings can be contributed to the minimum income requirement. Therefore, you will need a salary of at least £13,600 and this can be topped up with the £5,600.
If you are receiving no income, you will need savings of £65,000 to contribute £19,600, which is over the threshold.
Other sources of income
You can use other sources of income to meet the minimum income requirement. Examples include:
- income from salaried or non-salaried employment of the applicant if they are in the UK and have permission to work
- income from investments such as shares or rental income
- The UK or foreign occupational or private pension of the applicant’s partner and/or the applicant
- income from self-employment
To find out if any of these options are available to you it is imperative to speak to our experienced immigration solicitors. They will advise you on your particular situation. For example, some benefits can be used to contribute towards the minimum income requirement; however, others are not acceptable (Universal Credit being one of them). Receiving advice from an expert who understands the complexity of the Immigration Rules can make a considerable difference in whether or not your application is successful