Spouse visa financial requirement for spouses returning to the UK - Part 1
For a British or settled individual who is relocating to the UK with their non-British or settled partner after spending time overseas, the financial requirement for a spouse visa can be trickier than for couples where the sponsor is already in the UK. In this blog post, we take a look at the specific rules concerning the financial requirement for couples preparing to return to the UK together. In a subsequent post we will take a more detailed look at how the requirement can be met through the Sponsor’s employment or self-employment.
If a UK spouse visa applicant (the partner who is not British or settled) has been working outside the UK for a non-UK company, their income from this work cannot usually be used to meet the financial requirement (while this is the general rule, it should be noted that the case may be different if the applicant has been working for a UK-based company overseas).
Income from a Sponsor (the British or settled partner), on the other hand, can be relied upon to meet the requirement even when it comes from work undertaken outside of the UK for a non-UK company. However, there are some additional requirements which the Sponsor must meet in order for a couple who wish to return to the UK to rely on this overseas income.
The requirements for a Sponsor returning to the UK are different from those for a Sponsor who is already in the UK and working. For a Sponsor already in the UK, the rules will only look backwards, generally to the monthly income during the 6-month period leading up to the date of application, provided that they are still employed on the date of application. However, for couples who are overseas and looking to come back to the UK, and who are relying on the Sponsor’s overseas employment in order to meet the financial requirement, the rules are both backward-looking and forward-looking.
We will cover how the financial requirement can be met through employment for couples returning to the UK in a subsequent post.
An amount of cash savings which has been held by the Applicant, the Sponsor or both jointly for at least the 6-month period prior to the date of application, and which is under the Applicant/Sponsor’s control, can count towards the financial requirement. This amount must be above the minimum level of £16,000. For a partner without dependent children, if relying only on cash savings, the required amount to be held in savings is £62,500 (although this amount will be calculated differently if cash savings are being combined with any other type of income, or if a partner has dependent children).
For a Sponsor who is in paid employment at the date of application who is returning to the UK, current cash savings can be used to make up any deficit in either the backward-looking requirement (which looks to income in the 6 months leading up to the application) or the forward-looking requirement (which looks to the employment to which the Sponsor is returning in the UK).
If money is held in a way which means it cannot be immediately withdrawn, such as in an investment account, stocks, shares, bonds or trust funds, it will not meet the requirements to be considered as cash savings. However, if a couple choose to liquidate their investments into cash savings in order to meet the financial requirement, then the 6-month period during which the cash savings must be held does not have to start from scratch at the moment of liquidation. The time period during which the cash savings were held as investments can be counted towards the 6-month period, as long as they were always in the ownership and under the control of the Applicant/Sponsor.
This principle also applies for the sale of property. If the Applicant/Sponsor owned property and has sold it prior to the application to produce cash savings, the time during which the property was held in ownership can count towards the 6-month period required.
The property sold can be in the UK or overseas. If a returning couple sell a property that they had owned overseas, the proceeds from this sale can go to meet the financial requirement and the previous period of ownership can count towards the 6-month time period.
Property rental income
A couple returning to the UK from overseas may also rely on income from property rental to meet the financial requirement. This will be based on the income received from the property during the 12 months leading up to the date of application.
As of the date of the application, the property must be held in the name of the Applicant, the Sponsor, or both jointly. Income from properties overseas, as well as in the UK, can be counted.
Property rental income can only be counted if it comes from a property that is not being used as the couple’s main residence. The property must also not become the couple’s main residence if the application is granted and they return to live in the UK.
As an exception to this rule, a couple returning to the UK are able to rely on income from a property that will become their main residence in the UK if it counts towards the backward-looking part of the requirement only. It can be combined with the Sponsor’s overseas employment in the months leading up to the application, in order to meet that part of the requirement. However, it cannot be combined with the forward-looking part of the requirement, which looks at income from the Sponsor’s job offer in the UK. This is because the property in the UK will no longer be a source of income once the couple return to live there as their main residence.
The annual income from any State, occupational or private pension which the Applicant or Sponsor receives may be counted towards the financial requirement. It can be counted as long as the pension has become a source of income at least 28 days prior to the application.
The State pension can be from the UK or from any foreign State, so couples returning to the UK are able to rely on the Applicant’s income from an overseas pension authority to meet the financial requirement.
Maintenance grant or stipend
The Applicant or Sponsor’s income in the form of an academic maintenance grant or stipend can be counted towards the financial requirement. Where this is paid on a tax-free basis, the amount of the gross equivalent can be counted towards the financial requirement. The rules do not stipulate that the maintenance grant or stipend should be from a UK-based institution.
Contact our Immigration Lawyers
For expert advice and assistance with an application for a spouse visa as a couple returning to the UK together, contact our immigration barristers on 0203 617 9173 or complete our enquiry form below.