Non-EEA foreign nationals who want to join their British spouse (or a spouse with Indefinite Leave to Remain; ‘ILR’) in the UK must meet the minimum income requirement in Appendix FM to the Immigration Rules. The earnings requirement is £18,600 per annum for an adult applicant (there are additional amounts required for dependent child applicants). The minimum income requirement applies with only limited exceptions.
Successful spouse visa applicants are granted 30 months’ leave to remain in the UK, with the possibility of an additional 30 months’ extension at that point. After completing 60 months’ residence applicants are eligible to apply for ILR.
The financial requirement must therefore be met at three stages:
- at the initial entry clearance stage
- at the 30 months’ extension (leave to remain) stage
- at the 60 months’ stage when applying for ILR
At the entry clearance stage the financial requirement will usually be met by the applicant’s UK spouse because only the spouse will be in the UK. At the extension and ILR stages the applicant’s own income may count towards the requirement because the applicant will also be in the UK, usually with the right to work.
The complex part of the Rules is Appendix FM-SE. This sets out detailed requirements for proving the stated income. Appendix FM-SE is poorly written: the structure is not easy to follow, and the precise meaning of many paragraphs is not clear unless read in conjunction with separate Home Office policy documents; the rules for self-employed persons are particularly complex. It is not easy to navigate these Rules without the help of an immigration lawyer.
Our immigration law barristers routinely help clients with spouse visa entry clearance, extension, and ILR applications. We can help clients to avoid common mistakes that result in applications being rejected by the Home office. For clients whose application has already been rejected and who want to challenge the decision, we can submit an appeal to the Immigration Tribunal (also known as the First-tier Tribunal), manage the appeal throughout the appeal process, and represent them at the final Tribunal hearing before an immigration judge.