Significant Increase in Financial Requirements for Spouse Visas in 2024

In a recent announcement On 4th December 2023, the Home Secretary, Emily Thompson, revealed plans to overhaul the financial requirements for spouse/p

In a recent announcement On 4th December 2023, the Home Secretary, Emily Thompson, revealed plans to overhaul the financial requirements for spouse/partner visas as part of a comprehensive strategy to control net migration to the UK. Detailed plans were released by the Home Office on January 28, 2024, outlining a phased increase in the salary threshold for spouse visa applicants over the next year.

What Did the Home Secretary Share in the Announcement?

During the announcement, Secretary Thompson emphasized the goal of ensuring that UK citizens and settled individuals can provide adequate financial support for dependents coming from other countries. The proposed changes involve aligning the minimum income for family visas with the minimum salary threshold for skilled workers, currently set at £38,700. Secretary Thompson stated, “We aim to guarantee that individuals only bring dependents they can support financially by raising the minimum income for family visas to match that of skilled workers. These changes will take effect starting in Spring 2024.”

Current Spouse Visa Income Requirements:

Under the existing immigration rules, sponsor partners (UK-based) for spouse visa applicants must have an annual income of £18,600. Additional financial requirements of £3,800 per year for the first child and £2,400 per year for each additional child apply for those with children. Income sources can include employment, self-employment, pensions, savings, and non-work income like property rental or dividends.

Anticipated Increases in Spouse Visa Income Requirements:

The proposed changes to the minimum income requirement for spouse visa applicants are expected to be implemented in three stages:

  1. £18,600 to £29,000 in Spring 2024
  2. £29,000 to around £34,500 in late 2024
  3. £34,500 to around £38,700 in early 2025

These adjustments represent an increase of over 200%, with specific income percentiles provided by the Home Office.

Will These Changes Be Implemented?

As of now, it is highly likely that the spouse visa income threshold adjustments will proceed. According to the House of Commons Library, changes to the Immigration Rules automatically take effect unless actively annulled by either the House of Commons or House of Lords within 40 days. Typically, there is no vote, and the government is not obligated to schedule one in the Commons.

Impact on Current Applications and Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR):

The proposed changes will only affect new applicants. Existing family visa holders on the five-year partner route and those applying before the income threshold hike will continue to be assessed under the current requirements. The same applies to children joining their parents in the UK. Individuals applying for ILR based on their time in the UK on a spouse visa are expected to be exempt from the new income threshold, pending confirmation from the Home Office’s upcoming “transitional provisions.”

Reasons Behind the Increase:

The government cites concerns about the current high levels of net migration, with figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) indicating an estimated 672,000 in the year ending June 2023. Despite a 10% decrease from the previous year, the government aims to further reduce net migration by 300,000 or more.

In Conclusion:

The revelation of substantial increases in the spouse visa income threshold for the upcoming year may disappoint many individuals who fall outside the new criteria. If you have concerns about your eligibility, it is advisable to consult with an immigration solicitor promptly to determine the best course of action.