Personal Immigration

New Maintenance Requirements for Points Based System Migrants and their Dependants

On 13 March 2014 the Home Office announced new minimum maintenance requirements for Points Based System (PBS) applications. The new requirements apply to all new applications made by Points Based System migrants and their dependants submitted on or after 1 July 2014, with the exception of Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) migrants, Tier 1 (Investor) migrants and their dependants (as they are not required to meet any maintenance requirements).

Whilst many of the increases may appear to be relatively modest, it is important to be aware that the Rules are specifically designed to make it harder to migrate to or remain in the UK. Careful attention must be given to ensuring that the application meets all the requirements. For example, with student applications and /or applications involving several people calculating the correct minimum figure can be complex.

The maintenance requirements form a standalone element of each application. If a migrant fails to provide specified documentary evidence that the minimum maintenance requirements are met, then the application will be refused, irrespective of the other merits of the application. Where several applications are linked (for example a main applicant with dependants or team applications with or without dependants) all of the applications will be refused, even if the maintenance requirements are not met in just one of the applications.

It is therefore imperative that all applications submitted from 1 July 2014 demonstrate, with specified evidence, that the new maintenance requirements are met. It will be of no assistance for a refused migrant to claim that they were unaware of the new requirements – which are set out below, with the previous figures in (brackets):

• £3,310 (£3,100) for Tier 1 Entrepreneur Entry Clearance applications

• £1,890 (£1,800) for Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Entry Clearance applications

• £945 (£900) for all Tier 1 Leave to Remain applications

• £945 (£900) for all Tier 2 Entry Clearance applications

• £945 (£900) for all Tier 2 Leave to Remain applications

• £1,890 (£1,800) for Tier 5 Youth Mobility applications

• £945 (£900) for Tier 5 Temporary Worker applications

• £1,020 (£1,000) per month of study (up to a maximum of 9 months*) for Tier 4 Adult Student applications where the migrant is studying in inner London (plus relevant course fees)

• £820 (£800) per month of study (up to a maximum of 9 months*) for Tier 4 Adult Student applications where the migrant is studying outer London or elsewhere in the UK (plus relevant course fees)

• £560 (£550) per month of study (up to a maximum of 9 months*) for Tier 4 Child Student applications where the migrant is studying at a non-residential independent school and is in a private foster arrangement or staying with close relatives (plus relevant school fees)

• £1,535 (£1,500) per month (up to a maximum of 9 months*) for a Tier 4 Child Student application where the migrant is studying at a non-residential school, is under the age of 12, and is accompanied by a parent (plus a further £615 (£600) per month (up to a maximum of 9 months*) for each additional child accompanying the applicant and parent) (plus relevant school fees)

• £920 (£900) per month (up to a maximum of 9 months*) for Tier 4 Child Student applications where the migrant is 16 or 17 years old, living independently and studying in inner London (plus relevant school fees)

• £715 (£700) per month (up to a maximum of 9 months*) for Tier 4 Child Student applications where the migrant 16 or 17 years old, is living independently and studying in outer London or elsewhere in the UK (plus relevant school fees)

• £1,260 (£1,200) for each dependant of a Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) Migrant

• £1,890 (£1,800) for each dependant of all other Tier 1 Migrants where the Tier 1 Migrant is outside the UK or has been in the UK for less than 12 months

• £630 (£600) for each dependant of a Tier 1 Migrant who is in the UK and has been in the UK for a period of 12 months or more

• £615 (£600) per month up to a maximum of £5,535 (£5,400) for each dependent of a Tier 4 (General) Student where the Tier 4 Migrant is studying in inner London

• £460 (£450) per month up to a maximum of £4,140 (£4,050) for each dependent of a Tier 4 (General) Student where the Tier 4 Migrant is not studying in inner London.

All PBS applicants who have to meet the maintenance requirements and any relevant dependents must show that they have held the required level of funds for the minimum period relevant to their applications. The minimum periods remain unchanged so for the Tier 5 (Youth Mobility Scheme) route the minimum period is 1 day; for the Tier 4 (General) Student route the minimum period is 28 days; for the Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 5 (Temporary Worker) routes the minimum period is 90 days. For dependant applicants the minimum period is the period which applies to the main applicant.

The minimum period is deemed to end on the date of the closing balance of the most recent bank statement (or other relevant specified document) submitted in support of the application. The Immigration Rules permit that date to be up to 31 days earlier than the date of the application. Thus the 90 day minimum period may be up to 121 days before the date of application.

The new maintenance requirements were announced on 13 March 2014 – 110 days before the changes came into effect. Transitional arrangements mean that applications submitted before 1 July 2014 will be decided under the previous, lower, minimum threshold; however there may be some Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 5 (Temporary Worker) migrants submitting their applications in the first 12 days of July who need to demonstrate that they held the new, higher, figures for a period of time before the announcement was made, depending on the closing date of the relevant statements.

This is further complicated for migrants relying on funds held in overseas currency as their funds are subject to fluctuations in exchange rates. The funds are converted to sterling according to the exchange rate on the date of application.

So, for example, a Tier 1 Entrepreneur migrant submitting an application on 30 June 2014 for entry clearance with a spouse and two children as dependants would be required to have held minimum maintenance funds of £8,500 for 90 days. The migrant's bank statements are issued on the 3rd of every month and show a lowest balance of £8,600 between 3 March 2014 and 2 June 2014, according to the exchange rate on 30 June 2014. The applications would be successful (subject to the other criteria being met). The same family submitting the same applications on 1 July 2014 would (subject to any favourable currency fluctuations) have their applications refused, irrespective of the other merits of their application. They would be permitted to rely on the same bank statements (from 3 March 2014 to 2 June 2014) as the closing date is within 31 days of the date of application; however the same funds are now below the new minimum threshold.

It is important to remember that, if sufficient funds are not demonstrated, ALL linked applications are refused, not just (some or all of) the dependant applications. Such a family would, if they have not already submitted their applications, therefore need to give careful consideration to their response to the new maintenance requirements. Options are likely to include: providing bank statements for a different period which shows the minimum threshold having been met throughout a consecutive 90 day period; delaying the applications to (hopefully) benefit from a more favourable exchange rate (subject to potential implications for other aspects of the application such as the time limit for relying on investments already made); and separating the family by reducing the number of people applying (which may have particularly harsh consequences for the family).

* Where a Tier 4 student has an established presence studying in the UK the minimum maintenance requirement is a maximum of two months of the monthly fee plus the relevant course / school fees.

If you are affected by the increased maintenance requirements, or otherwise require immigration advice, please contact Richmond Chambers Immigration Barristers.

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