Meeting the income threshold using an investment account

Background

There are different routes to meet the income threshold, and each have their own rules that need to be followed in order to be successful with a visa application. It is common knowledge that we can use cash savings to meet the income threshold, which typically involves cash savings held either in the form of a current account or a savings account e.g. an ISA account.

The rules also allow you to liquidate your assets to convert them into cash savings. But it is good to know that it is possible to use a certain investment account to meet the requirements, without the need to liquidate the investment. We note that this may suit some people better, as it might not be the best time to liquidate an investment account due to the market being down, or because early selling penalties may apply.

This article aims to highlight that using an investment account towards meeting the income threshold is possible, but it is not as straightforward as using the normal cash savings route, and there are normally certain very strict rules that must be met.

General rules

Generally, when it comes to savings, you need to hold them for at least six months prior to the submission of your application, and the amount of savings cannot be less than £16,000, as amounts less than this are disregarded. Additionally, the following rules must be met:

  • The bank/savings account is a current, deposit or investment account

In this particular article we focus on an investment account, but please note that not all investment accounts would meet the strict immigration rules. Often you might find that a government bond meets the strict immigration rules, however, for example, only if you are able to withdraw the money at any time.

Shares of individual companies probably will not meet the immigration rules, as the value usually is unclear, however a stocks and shares’ Individual Savings Account (ISA) can often meet these requirements. Another example of an account that generally does not meet all of these requirements is a brokerage account in which funds are used by stockbrokers to purchase shares for the account holder.  

  • The account is held is a financial institution regulated by the appropriate regulatory body for the country in which that institution is operating

While investing your money, you should also make sure that the institution in which your money is being held is regulated by the appropriate regulatory body, for example in in the UK it could be regulated by the Prudential Regulation Authority, or by the Financial Conduct Authority. Hence, having an investment account with a major bank would usually meet this particular criterion.

  • The financial institution is not on the list of excluded institutions under the Immigration Rules

Before the submission of an application you should always make sure that your investment account is with a financial institution that has not been excluded under the immigration rules. You can find the current list here, however please note that the list can change at any time.

  • Regular bank statements are provided

It is necessary that you have regular bank statements for your investment account, as otherwise you will not be able to meet the immigration rules. But it is also worth mentioning that regular bank statements does not necessarily means monthly; generally quarterly or yearly bank statements could also meet the immigration rules.

  • The statements cover the necessary time period required in the Immigration Rules

Usually, the relevant period means at least six months prior to the submission of the application.

  • The savings are held in cash (or their cash value is clear)

When it comes to using the savings account, a clear value is required by the immigration rules, and this often could be the biggest issue, especially when trying to rely on an investment account, as in this kind of account the value usually goes up and down, which means that you will not be able to meet the income threshold.  Hence, at this stage it is necessary to be extra careful and also bear in mind that, even if the value is clear, there are still other rules that need to be met, as even if you tick all the boxes except one the visa application might be refused.

  • The savings can be immediately withdrawn (with or without penalty)

It is important that while relying on savings you must prove that you can withdraw your money at any time. As per the immigration rules, it is not important whether you will be required to pay a penalty for any withdrawal, but simply that you have direct access to your money. This can be proven by a letter from the bank.

  • The funds are under the control of the person and/or their partner for the necessary time period required in the Immigration Rules

While using savings towards meeting the income threshold, it is necessary to prove that you have held the funds at for at least six months. The money can be held either by you, your partner or jointly, however, please note that it will not be possible for you to rely on accounts that have been held by you and your parents jointly, for example, as money cannot be held by any other family members. 

  • The source of the funds is legal

Whilst relying on savings it is always necessary to show that the money comes from a legal source; the rules generally allow any legal source, for example long term savings or a gift.

  • The source of the funds has been declared

It is always necessary that the source of savings is declared; usually this requirement can be met by submitting a letter confirming how you obtained the funds with your application.

Overall

Using an investment account towards meeting the financial requirement might be extra complex, but using a UK qualified Immigration Solicitor would help greatly in reducing the chance of falling into the pitfalls presented by this route.

In the majority of cases which are refused, it is usually not because someone could not meet the income threshold, but rather due to confusing the different options available while relying on savings i.e. cash savings, the liquidation of investment or sale of property. Although all of these options are allowed by the immigration rules, each has different requirements that need to be met.

E.g. One cannot rely on the value of a property, but can rely on the sale process.  Also, one cannot generally rely on a share in a public company but probably the share could be liquidated, as usually the value would not be clearly identifiable.

For these reasons, it is very important to check with a Qualified UK Immigration lawyer before the submission of your visa application. An immigration solicitor will be able to guide you through the available routes and can help you to choose the best option, he/she will also be able to advise you on the specific evidence required by the immigration rules.  In the long-term you may save lots of money!

If you have been affected by any UK immigration matter, please contact Solicitor Tito, a UK immigration and human rights solicitor, for a free initial consultation about your legal options. Call 07544 669131/01163800744 or on Skype: tito.mbariti.