It is now nearly 12 months since comprehensive changes were introduced by the UK government to the criteria for spouses and partners of UK citizens and of those settled in the UK.
These changes introduced on 9 July 2012 affect husbands, wives, unmarried partners, civil partners and fiancés.
As well as extending the probationary period for settlement from 2 to 5 years, the new rules introduced stringent new financial maintenance requirements.
12 months on, and many applicants are struggling to meet the requirements and many families have been separated as a result. A recent report by the UK All-Party Parliamentary Group on Migration condemned the “anguish” caused by the new rules.
However, the new rules seem set to remain in one shape or another. An immediate reduction in family visas of 16% is the first indication that these rules will help the government to meets its target of reducing net migration.
So, how does one meet the financial requirement? Currently, this can be met through income or savings (or a combination of the two).
In short – an annual income of GBP 18,600 is needed by the UK sponsor or total savings of GBP 62,500 (held either by the UK sponsor or applicant). These amounts are increased if children are to be included.
But the new rules are incredibly complicated and the documentary evidence to support an application needs to be almost perfect – case officers are rejecting applications without asking for clarification.
Income can be met through employment, self-employment, pension, investment, property rental.
Savings can be met through “cash funds” held in a bank account or similar.
The following are some of the main issues that arise;
* What sources of income and savings can be combined together? For instance employment and pension income can be combined but self-employment and savings cannot be combined.
* The rules have introduced a new formula for using savings to top up an income shortfall.
* The rules differ greatly depending on whether the applicant and / or sponsor are in the UK or outside the UK
* Applicants outside the UK can only rely on the employed income of the UK sponsor but pension income can be from either party.
* Applicants employed outside the UK must have an offer of employment in the UK. Self-employed applicants must show an intention to continue self-employment.
* Only savings held in cash funds can be counted – property equity, shares and stocks are all irrelevant. Savings must be held for 6 months.
* The specified evidence for self-employment and employment is very difficult to meet and many applicants (especially outside the UK) struggle to satisfy the requirements.
We are seeing many applicants coming to us who have been refused and are trying to submit an appeal. The reality is that an appeal is difficult unless you can show that the case officer made a basic error (which does happen of course).
It really is vital to prepare an application thoroughly and well in advance. We advise applicants to contact us early in their plans to move to the UK.
These new rules are complex and applications need to fit in exactly with one of the permitted categories for financial maintenance. The new approach is very different from the previous more flexible system that was in place before July 2012.
If you need assistance on any aspect of UK migration, then please feel free to contact us through our website;