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Increased Income requirements for Sponsors for UK Partner visas from 11 th April 2024

UK Spouse Visa Changes 2024! New income requirements, unmarried partner rules, and application fees explained. Get expert advice!

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April 8, 2024

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From 11 th April 2024 the UK government is increasing the minimum income threshold from £18,600 to £29,000. Further increases to around £34,500 and finally around £38,700 will occur at unspecified times in 2024 and early 2025, respectively.

There is no evidence yet that indicates that the cash savings route will also change. At present if you wish to show cash savings only then the minimum amount to hold for 6 months in a bank account is £62,500.

There is welcome news with the new changes in that there will be no additional income amounts needed to sponsor children under the partner visa category for applications made after 11 th April 2024.

We do not yet know the exact detail of how Applicants will need to show they meet the income requirement form different sources of income e.g. cash savings or pension or how the income can be combined with other applicable sources where there are shortfalls.

The new rules will not apply to people who already have a family visa in the 5-year partner route to settlement or those who apply before the financial requirement goes up.

They will also apply to those already in the UK in a different immigration category such as student or skilled workers who apply to switch into the 5-year partner route after the minimum income requirement has been increased.

An exception to this minimum income threshold applies if your UK Sponsor is receiving certain benefits, including disability living allowance, carer’s allowance and personal independence payments.

In addition, you will need to show that you will have adequate accommodation in the UK that will not be statutorily overcrowded and that you meet the English language requirement.

For all these options, you will need to prove that you are in a genuine and subsisting relationship with your partner and that you meet certain other requirements, such as your intention to live together in the UK.

It is expected that various legal challenges to the UK Courts will be made in the coming months and years as many consider these increases to be highly unfair and disproportionate. We will need to wait and watch as to how the courts will deal with what is considered a harsh and unjustified income increase.

Planning to apply as a Spouse or Civil Partner?

If you are currently in a valid marriage or civil partnership (with a UK based partner whose immigration status means they can sponsor someone under Appendix FM rules) and want to live permanently in the UK, the applicable partner visa would be a spouse visa.

This also means that, if you are currently unmarried, an option could be that you enter a valid marriage and then apply to enter the UK as a spouse. The spouse/civil partner route does not require that you have been in a relationship for two years.

If you the UK Visa applicant, are currently outside the UK and applying for a spouse visa to enter the UK, the visa would be valid for 33 months initially.

If you are applying from inside the UK, the visa will be valid for 30 months. You can then apply to extend a UK spouse visa for a further 30 months.

If you meet all the requirements for leave to remain as a partner under Appendix FM, after a continuous period of 60 months ( 5 YEARS) with leave as a spouse or civil partner, you would be eligible to apply for settlement.

The current Home Office fee for making an application as a partner from outside the UK is £1,846. If you are currently in the UK on a visa that allows you to switch to the partner route (it is generally not possible to apply from inside the UK if you are in the UK as a visitor or without any valid leave and the Home Office will make attempts to make you leave the UK) then the Home Office Application fee is currently £1,048.

You would also need to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge. The Immigration Health Surcharge has increased significantly this year and the new fees have come into force from 6th February 2024.

New Unmarried Partners definition

From 31st January 2024, the definition of unmarried partners has changed to become more flexible. Previously, the rules required unmarried partners to have lived together in a relationship for at least two years before the date of the unmarried partner visa application.

The new definition of partner no longer requires this 2-year period of cohabitation.

As with the spouse/civil partner route, an unmarried partner visa is initially valid for 33 months when applying from outside the UK, and for 30 months if you are applying from inside the UK.

After 60 months of legal residency as a partner you will be eligible to apply for settlement in the UK which is often known as Indefinite Leave to Remain / Permanent residency.

The Home Office fees for an unmarried partner visa are the same as those for a UK spouse/civil partner visa. You would also need to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge.

Applying as a Fiancé or Proposed Civil Partner

If you are currently outside the UK and want to come to the UK to get married or form a civil partnership then you should apply for a fiancé visa or proposed civil partnership visa.

The route does not require showing that you have been in a relationship for two years.

An initial grant of entry clearance as a fiancé / proposed civil partner is for six months only and you are expected to marry/form a civil partnership in the UK within this time.

You would then need to make an application to stay in the UK as a spouse/civil partner. It is recommended that this application is made immediately after your ceremony has taken place. You do not have to apply within 28 days of your initial 6 months entry clearance expiry date unless unavoidable factors apply to your situation or your ceremony date is inside this period.

This also means the fiancé route is more expensive than the unmarried partner or spouse visa route, however many couples prefer to marry in the UK due to the stability and uncomplicated nature of making a marriage booking here.

The initial application for a fiancé visa currently costs £1,846. This visa is valid for six months. You do not pay the Immigration Health Surcharge at this point.

Once you have entered the UK and married/formed a civil partnership, you can apply for leave to remain as a spouse/civil partner. This process is considered to be an in country visa conversion. This converted spouse visa is valid for 30 months. This application for leave as a spouse/civil partner costs £1,048 (as you would be applying from inside the UK). In this application, you would also pay the Immigration Health Surcharge and if applicable a biometric appointment fee. Be aware that even though you have provided your biometrics at an overseas Visa centre for your fiancée visa application , you will be required to provide them again when converting your fiancée visa to a spouse visa.

You would then be able to apply to extend the visa for a further 30 months, again paying the application fee and Immigration Health Surcharge. You may be eligible to apply for settlement visa after a continuous period of at least 60 months with leave as a partner. This 60 months does not include the time you spent in the UK with leave to remain as a fiancé or proposed civil partner.

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