Latest News on Coronavirus and UK Spouse Visas
Through much of 2020 and 2021, COVID-19 has wrought considerable damage to the lives, health, and financial wellbeing of many in the UK. It is not just those who live in the UK who have been affected, migrants who wish to come to live here have also had their plans turned upside down, including family members in other countries hoping to join their loved ones. Some have simply been unable to travel to the UK, and others have had job offers revoked. It is important to note, however, that the Home Office has been quite flexible when it comes to visa applicants who have been impacted by COVID-19. In this article, we will explain what spouse visa applicants can do if families have been financially impacted by COVID-19 and no longer meet the minimum income requirement.
What is the minimum income requirement for a Spouse visa in the UK?
As part of the application process for a Spouse visa in the UK, applicants have to provide evidence that they (i.e., the applicant and their UK-based partner) have enough money to live on in the UK. The minimum income requirement depends on whether the couple has children who are not British or Irish, do not have EU Pre-Settled or Settled Status, and are not permanent residents in the UK; if so, an additional amount is needed for each child.
The minimum income requirement for a Spouse visa is currently £18,600 per year plus £3,800 for a first child and £2,400 for each subsequent child. This requirement is valid when applying for a spouse visa and later for indefinite leave to remain (ILR).
It is possible to reduce the annual income requirement by using savings. Essentially, cash savings above £16,000 are divided by 2.5 (this is the number of years the spouse visa is initially granted for); this amount can then be used to reduce the amount needed. For example, savings of £21,000 reduces the annual income requirement by £2,000. It is, therefore, possible with savings of £62,250 to reduce the annual income requirement to zero.
Forms of income that can be used include:
- income from employment before tax and National Insurance
- the income you earn from self-employment or as a director of a limited company in the UK
- cash savings above £16,000
- money from a pension
- non-work income, for example, from property rentals or dividends
To prove that you meet the minimum income requirement, you may be asked to submit any of the following documents:
- recent bank statements clearly showing you and/or your partner’s income
- Six months of payslips
- A letter from your or your partner’s employer; the employer’s letter should show the following information:
- you or your partner are employed there
- the job title or position you or your partner hold
- how long you or your partner have worked there
- the type of employment contract (for example, permanent, fixed-term)
- what you or your partner earn before tax and National Insurance
- how long you or your partner have been paid your current salary
- the payslips are genuine
When applying for a spouse visa, you will be advised which documents to provide with your application. It is important that all documents are included in the required format.
What should I do if my income fell below the required amount due to COVID-19?
Since last year, we have heard of numerous cases whereby spouse visa applicants were about to apply only for their income (or that of their UK partner) to fall or be lost due to COVID-19. Thankfully, there is still a concession in place which means that if an applicant and/or their UK partner has lost some or all of their income, they may still be able to apply for a spouse visa.
The Home Office’s guidance, ‘Coronavirus (COVID-19): advice for UK visa applicants and temporary UK residents’ States,
“Changes to the minimum income and adequate maintenance requirement
If you’ve experienced a loss of income due to coronavirus up to 31st October 2021, we will consider employment income for the period immediately before the loss of income, provided the minimum income requirement was met for at least six months immediately before the date the income was lost.
If your salary has been reduced because you’re furloughed, we will take account of your income as though you’re earning 100% of your salary.
If you’re self-employed, a loss of annual income due to coronavirus between 1st March 2020 and 31st October 2021 will usually be disregarded, along with the impact on employment income from the same period for future applications”.
The above guidance makes the following points:
- As long as you can show that you and your partner met the minimum income requirement for at least six months before experiencing a loss of income (and the loss of income resulted from COVID-19 before the end of October 2021), you will meet the minimum income threshold
- If you or your partner were furloughed and hence received less salary than normal, the Home Office will disregard this lower amount and will use your full salary for their calculations.
- Loss of self-employed income between 1st March 2020 and the end of 31st October 2020 will not count negatively against your application.
Applying for a spouse visa can be a worrying and stressful experience, especially if you are unsure of the process and whether you have provided all the information necessary. We regularly see cases of spouse visa refusal due to minor mistakes, meaning a loss of the application fee and considerable uncertainty. If you or your UK-based spouse have been impacted financially by COVID-19, and this lowered your income below the required threshold, we recommend speaking to Immigration Solicitors in London before applying. While it may be a simple case that the Home Office will disregard the loss of income, they will still want to see plenty of evidence that the loss of income was related to COVID-19. Providing the correct evidence will be essential in ensuring a successful outcome of your spouse visa.