The financial requirement rule that applies to spouse visa applications can be complex. This is especially so if the couple are relocating back to the UK following time spent overseas.
We have recently assisted a number of couples who have spent time overseas and who wish to relocate back to the UK to meet this requirement. We have set out some tips below.
The requirements that an applicant must meet in order to obtain a spouse visa are set out in Appendix FM of the Immigration Rules. These rules contain an income requirement of least £18,600 or a cash savings requirement of at least £62,500. The cash savings must have been held for at least six months. Income and cash savings can be relied on together in certain circumstances.
The income rule – returning to employment in the UK
Generally in a spouse visa application, if the applicant is relying on income from employment, this must usually have been earned from work in the UK. The income must have been paid over a six month period and must have been earned by the British spouse. This is unless the foreign spouse has been lawfully entitled to work in the UK, in which case, their income can be relied on.
Where the British spouse has been working overseas, the good news is that it is possible to rely on the income they have earned from that employment. This is providing they have secured the offer of a job in the UK and as long as the following two conditions are met:
- they must have received an annual income of at least £18,600 in the 12 months prior to the spouse visa application being filed; and
- there must be a guaranteed UK job offer and the work must commence within three months of returning to the UK. The guaranteed salary for the role must be at least £18,600 a year.
Unfortunately income or potential future income of the foreign spouse cannot be relied upon in these circumstances.
Cash savings – the sale of property
If the applicant cannot rely on income, or would prefer to rely on cash savings, evidence must be provided to show that the couple (jointly or individually) have held savings of at least £62,500 for the six months prior to submitting the application.
Many couples planning to relocate to the UK may not have cash savings in a bank account but may have sold a property which has released at least £62,500. This is acceptable, even if the funds have been held for less than six months.
In order to rely on funds held in savings from the sale of a property, the couple must show that:
- The property was in the form of a dwelling, other building or land.
- The property (or relevant share of the property) was owned by the applicant, their partner or both jointly at the beginning of the six month period prior to the date of application.
- The funds deposited as cash savings are the net proceeds of the sale, once any mortgage or loan secured on the property (or relevant share of the property) has been repaid and once any taxes and professional fees associated with the sale have been paid.
- If the ownership of the property was shared with a third party, only the proceeds of the sale of the share of the property owned by the applicant, their partner or both jointly may be counted.
Those who are no longer working due to retirement can, in the majority of cases, rely upon any pension received in order to demonstrate that they meet the financial requirement.
The gross annual income received from a state pension (UK or foreign), occupational pension or private pension received by the applicant or their partner can be counted as income. This is providing the pension has been a source of income for at least 28 days prior to the application date.
If an applicant can rely on pension income to meet the financial requirement, the evidence required in support of this is minimal and it is therefore one of the simpler methods of meeting the financial requirement.
Maintenance grant or stipend
If either of the couple are, or will be, studying then any maintenance grant or stipend they will receive can be counted as an income in order to meet the financial requirement.
The person must be:
- currently in receipt of the grant or stipend; or
- will be within three months of the date of application.
- the grant or stipend must be payable for a period of at least 12 months; or
- for at least one full academic year, from the date of application or from the date on which payment of the grant or stipend will commence.
There are some other methods of meeting the financial requirement and some of the options can be combined. All the options are covered in Appendix FM.
In our experience, the above represent the most common methods of meeting the financial requirement for couples seeking to relocate to the UK.
How we can assist
If you require legal advice regarding this or any other aspect of a UK spouse visa application, our immigration specialists are always happy to have an initial discussion and can be contacted here.