Since July 2012, when the current rules regarding UK spouse visas came in to effect, the number one issues that many face when sponsoring their family for a UK settlement visa have been relating to the Income Threshold. This issue has been hotly contested in court but calumniated with the UK Supreme court confirming that the new rules were legal, although it did suggest certain exceptional circumstances where alternative incomes source should be considered by the UK Home Office ( see here).
Basic UK Spouse Visa Income Threshold:
Under the current Immigration Rules, in order to qualify for any family settlement visa (spouse, fiance, family dependent etc.) you must meet the financial requirements – by earning above what is referred to as the ‘Income Threshold’. Normally, you can do this in two ways:
- By earning a minimum of £18,600 annually
- By having a minimum of £62,500 in cash savings.
Please note: this figure increases with each additional non-British dependent in the family, such as a child who is not British, but the figure remains unaffected by additional British family members, such as British children.
Additionally: this article mainly addresses those people required to meet the normal income threshold and not those receiving disability related benefit, who may be exempted from the normal rules, but need to show Adequate Maintenance and for whom the savings requirements are a bit more generous.See article about relying on Adequate maintenance here!.
Using Savings to Meet the Income Threshold
What some may not at first realise is that you do not have to rely on only one method to meet the financial requirements. So, for example, if you do not meet the £18,600 annual income benchmark, you may rely on cash savings to make up for the remainder; you are allowed to combine your income with cash savings.
This rule allowing you to combine was introduced to help those who do not meet the income threshold requirement but still have some cash savings.
How are cash savings requirements calculated?
If you choose to combine your income with cash savings then you must show minimum savings of £16,000. The amount of income you need to meet to cover up the remainder is calculated via the following method:
(Amount of savings – 16,000) ÷ 2.5 = X
X – 18,600 = amount if income needed to cover the remainder
Example: £25,000 cash savings
(25000 – 16000) ÷ 2.5 = £3,600
£18,600 – £3,600 = £15,000
In short, the amount of savings you need to have will differ according to the amount of salary you earn per year.
Don’t panic! let our Free Calculator do the Math for you
I appreciate this formula is not straight forward, nor logical as one might expect, but to save you some hassle we have compiled a Free Calculator for those who want a shortcut to knowing how much they need in savings if they are working but not yet meeting the income threshold:
Here is the link below –Free Savings CalculatorPlease note that while this aims to give you a rough idea of savings required, you should engage the services of a UK immigration lawyer to ensure the actual figures in your case are accurate.
Caution: the rule allowing you to combine cash and income savings does not apply if you are self-employed, or if you are the Director of a limited company in the UK.
How to meet the income threshold using cash savings
1. General cash savings: Money in a Bank Account
You may rely on general savings: This money must have been held in your bank account for a period of 6 months prior to the date of your application. The money can be money which you have saved over the years or can even be a gift. It can be in any bank account in the UK or abroad.
However this money must be received legally!!
This means you cannot rely on money earned while you or your spouse did not have a valid visa, or for example earning cash in hand, which is illegal.
2. It Cannot Be A Loan!
While an outright gift from a friend or family is allowed, the money must be an outright gift and not a loan. There is actually a requirement for the source of the savings to be declared, to confirm that they are under the applicant/their partner’s control.
3. Six Months Minimum
The general rule for cash savings is that you must have had the money in your account for a period of 6 months. There are a few exceptions to these rules; see below:
4. Investment Accounts
If you are relying on cash savings via an investment account, you must show that:
- You have owned the shares for a period of 6 months prior to the date of your application.
- The value of your investment is equivalent to the necessary cash savings required (the value must be easily ascertainable, ruling out certain stocks and shares, whose price may fracture with the stock market).
- The investment can be in the form of stocks, shares, trust funds or a bond.
5. Income from property sales! – By-Passing the 6 Months Rules – Legally!
In order to surpass the six month rule, you may rely on cash savings from property sales or investment.
- If you have recently sold your property and would like to rely on the income received from said property to meet the income threshold requirements you can do this! The income counted is that left after you have paid off all your mortgage/loan. The remaining money is taken into account. In order to do this, you must provide:
- Proof that the property was owned by yourself or jointly with your partner for a minimum period of six months..
- Land Registry documents – or equivalent documents if your property is outside the UK.
- Letter from your solicitor or the agent responsible for carrying out the sale of the property.
- Evidence to show tax payment from the sale of your property.
Although the cash saving options may only be a viable option for a fortunate few, a lot of expatriates returning to the UK with their family may be looking to sell their home before relocating, thus this may be the way to meet that income threshold.
It is unfortunate that some UK immigration applicants may not have been advised on this option, leading to the applicant being separated unnecessarily from their spouse, so that he/she can come to the UK to work for 6 months to sponsor them, only for them to sell their house shortly after making the application.
Please note: you don’t have to keep the money in the bank for the full duration of the Spouse visa…You are still able to use the money when you get to the UK e.g. to buy a new home;
Just make sure you meet the income threshold by other means e.g. salaried employment, as you still need to show this when you make the visa extension application – it is worth noting that in the next application it should in theory be easier to meet the income threshold, as both the applicant and the sponsor’s income in the UK could be combined.
What documents should you provide?
Generally, an applicant may need some of the documents below, however, there may be more specific documents needed dependant on the specifics of the case, especially the country from which the applicant is coming from, so for a specific list that applies to you, make sure you run all the facts by your UK immigration lawyer and let them tailor make a list for you. These are some of the common requirements:
- Bank statements to show that cash is held in a personal bank account in your name or jointly with your partner.
- Bank statements for a period of 6 months if you are relying on general cash savings.
- If savings are a gift you must declare the source.
- Proof that savings are held in cash and able to be immediately withdrawn if required.
- Proof that the applicant and/or their partner are in control of the account.
- Proof that the source of income is legal and the money has not been received illegally.
- Proof that the money has been declared to the relevant government authority for taxation purpose.
- Letter from your conveyance lawyer detailing source/validity of the savings.
Please note: that all bank accounts must be in yours or jointly in yours and your partner’s name!
Also, all bank statements must be from a regulated financial institution for the country you live in and cannot be from any prohibited institution.
Play it safe – Get Help!
Although being able to rely on cash savings, either alone or combined with other income, may come as a relief to some, this option can be a bit confusing, especially if the savings you wish to rely on are abroad or if your current income is variable.
The documentation requirements may also slightly differ from one case to another. I therefore advise that if you are going to be relying on cash savings, you do not take any chances and hire a solicitor to ensure that you are providing the relevant documents and can show that you meet the financial requirement.
Caution: note that the above advice is just general and is given with the purpose of raising awareness of possible options, with the understanding that one will explore these option with a UK immigration Lawyer, who is aware of the details of the specific case.
It is notable that the government has over time become more stringent with assessing applications; it is now absolutely essential that you get your application right the first time round, as having a history of rejected applications dents your immigration history, costs a lot of money to remedy and, if you are in the UK, you may not be provided with an in country right of appeal.
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.