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UK Family Visa Financial Requirement: State Benefits

This post explores the requirements for a Sponsor who wishes to sponsor family members to join them or remain with them in the UK, but relies on income from certain entitlements or benefits received due to disability, illness, injury or caring responsibilities.  

It is important to understand which benefits or entitlements the Sponsor can rely upon to meet the financial requirements for sponsorship, and which cannot. 

What are the financial requirements to sponsor a family member to come to or remain in the UK?

The specific financial requirements – or financial income thresholds – which a Sponsor must provide for an application under Appendix FM to sponsor family members  (at E-LTRP.3.1.)  from permitted sources of income are as follows:-

(a) a specified gross annual income of at least-

(i) £18,600;

(ii) an additional £3,800 for the first child; and

(iii) an additional £2,400 for each additional child; alone or in combination with

(b) specified savings of-

(i) £16,000; and

(ii) additional savings of an amount equivalent to 2.5 times the amount which is the difference between the gross annual income from the sources listed in paragraph E-LTRP.3.2.(a)-(f) and the total amount required under paragraph E-LTRP.3.1.(a); or

(c) the requirements in paragraph E-LTRP.3.3.being met, unless paragraph EX.1. applies. (my emphasis)

Paragraph (c) highlighted above is the paragraph which relates to income from benefits, and is discussed below.

Note here that permitted sources of income include not only the various salaried and self-employment incomes, but also statutory or contractual maternity pay, paternity or adoption pay, and statutory or contractual sick pay.  Other regular income, such as dividends from investments and income from “any State (UK Basic State Pension and Additional or Second State Pension, HM Forces Pension or foreign), occupational or private pension received by the applicant’s partner or the applicant” (from the Appendix FM guidance) may also be relied upon, see also the specific evidential requirements in Appendix FM-SE.

Which benefits or entitlements can be used by a Sponsor to meet the financial requirements?

The specific financial requirements for Appendix FM applications, which are (briefly) set out above, requires that a Sponsor provides evidence of earning a set annual income figure or has a specific amount of savings.  This is not the case if a Sponsor receives certain benefits or entitlements (known as ‘specified’ benefits) – the requirement is that the Sponsor can ‘adequately maintain and accommodate’ the family members being sponsored to enter or remain in the UK.

The ‘specified’ benefits or entitlements which can be used by a Sponsor to meet the ‘adequate maintenance and accommodation’ requirements are as follows (again from Appendix FM):-

E-LTRP. 3.3…

(a) the applicant’s partner must be receiving one or more of the following –

(i) disability living allowance;

(ii) severe disablement allowance;

(iii) industrial injury disablement benefit;

(iv) attendance allowance;

(v) carer’s allowance;

(vi) personal independence payment;

(vii) Armed Forces Independence Payment or Guaranteed Income Payment under the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme;

(viii) Constant Attendance Allowance, Mobility Supplement or War Disablement Pension under the War Pensions Scheme; or

(ix) Police Injury Pension; and

(b) the applicant must provide evidence that their partner is able to maintain and accommodate themselves, the applicant and any dependants adequately in the UK without recourse to public funds. (my emphasis, see below)

E-LTRP.3.4. The applicant must provide evidence that there will be adequate accommodation, without recourse to public funds, for the family, including other family members who are not included in the application but who live in the same household, which the family own or occupy exclusively, unless paragraph EX.1. applies (see below, ‘Exceptional Circumstances’): accommodation will not be regarded as adequate if-

(a) it is, or will be, overcrowded; or

(b) it contravenes public health regulations.

What is ‘adequate maintenance and accommodation’?

Maintenance

Before the advent of Appendix FM, all family member applications involved calculations to establish whether the Sponsor had sufficient income to support their family members after meeting their housing costs.  These calculations were further clarified by case law, see KA and Others (Adequacy of maintenance) Pakistan [2006] UKAIT 00065 This calculation has been preserved for those who are receiving the entitlements or benefits set out above.  There is guidance relating to these calculations which can be found here.  

Briefly, the calculation works as follows:- 

Firstly, the total net weekly income must be calculated (after tax and national insurance is deducted).  

Total weekly housing costs must then be calculated (rent or mortgage payments, plus council tax).  

The total weekly housing costs must then be subtracted from the total weekly income.  

The figure arrived at after the above calculation must be equal to or greater than the total of the weekly amounts which would be received by the Sponsor and his family members if they were receiving income support.  The weekly income support levels can be found here.

The benefits or entitlements received in the categories listed above can be used to find the net weekly income, which is the figure to be used to begin the above calculation.  The fact that this can be difficult – because some benefits are paid weekly, some are paid fortnightly, some monthly etc. – has been recognised by the Tribunal, see Ahmed (benefits: proof of receipt; evidence) [2013] UKUT 84(IAC).  Therefore all ‘workings out’ should be demonstrated when seeking to rely on these sources of income to arrive at the ‘adequate maintenance’ figures.

Accommodation

The Sponsor must provide evidence that ‘adequate’ accommodation will be provided for the family member.  Proof of ownership of and/or permission to occupy the proposed accommodation should be provided, along with proof that the accommodation is in good repair and does not contravene housing and public health regulations.. Whether the presence of the family member will amount to overcrowding is assessed in accordance with the Housing Act 1985, and involves a calculation of the number of people who will be occupying the accommodation and the number of rooms available for sleeping (rooms smaller than 50 square feet are not counted).  Children under a year old are not counted, and children aged between one and 10 are counted as half a person.  Age, gender and whether two people are a couple is taken into account.  A table for this calculation appears at pages 24/25 of the Guidance.

What sources of income are not permitted?

The following sources of income are not permitted to meet the financial requirements to sponsor a family member (from the Guidance):-

Income from the following sources will not be counted towards the financial requirement: 

  • any subsidy or financial support from a third party (other than child maintenance or alimony payments, academic maintenance grants/stipends or gifts of cash savings that meet the requirements specified in paragraph 1(b) of Appendix FM-SE), except where paragraph GEN.3.1. of Appendix FM and paragraph 21A of Appendix FM-SE apply 
  • income from others who live in the same household (except any dependent child of the applicant who has turned 18 and continues to be counted towards the higher income threshold the applicant has to meet until they qualify for settlement) 
  • loans and credit facilities 
  • income-related benefits: Income Support, income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Pension Credit, Housing Benefit, Council Tax Benefit or Support (or any equivalent) and income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance 
  • the following contributory benefits: contribution-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, contribution-based Employment and Support Allowance and Incapacity Benefit 
  • Child Benefit 
  • Working Tax Credit 
  • Child Tax Credit 
  • Universal Credit 
  • Unemployability Allowance, Allowance for a Lowered Standard of Occupation and Invalidity Allowance under the War Pensions Scheme 
  • any other source of income not specified in Appendix FM-SE as counting towards the financial requirement …

Broadly, the above sources of income are regarded as ‘public funds’, and the rationale is that a family member making an application to join or remain in the UK with a Sponsor should not involve reliance on funds or support provided by the State, and therefore cannot be relied upon to meet the financial requirements for sponsorship.

Exceptional circumstances

Paragraph EX.1. of Appendix FM is indicated above as a category of applicants (and their Sponsors) who may have ‘exceptional’ reasons as to why they may not be able to meet the requirements of the Immigration Rules, including the financial requirements.  The relevant guidance gives an indication of the scope of this provision as follows:-

“Where an applicant in the UK does not fall to be granted on a 5-year route as a partner or parent because certain eligibility – financial, accommodation, English language or immigration status – requirements are not met, they may still fall for a grant of leave on a 10-year route if EX.1. applies.” 

The above extract from the guidance demonstrates that, for reasons relating to their vulnerability or the best interests of a child, Sponsors and family members may be permitted to rely on certain benefits – such as assistance from public funds with housing costs, or the need to rely on ‘Third Party’ support, see a previous post here – to meet the adequate maintenance and accommodation requirements. Applications relying on ‘exceptional circumstances’ are complex, and may require expert evidence and assistance from legal professionals to make the representations necessary for a successful application.

Contact our Immigration Barristers

For expert advice and assistance with seeking to meet the financial requirements to sponsor a family member to enter or remain in the UK, contact our immigration barristers on 0203 617 9173 or complete our enquiry form below.

SEE HOW OUR IMMIGRATION BARRISTERS CAN HELP YOU

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