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14 March 2024

Partner visa financial increase moves closer with immigration law change

3 mins

Legal provisions published today confirm 11 April 2024 start date for rise in income levels for UK partner visa applications.

An unwelcome hike to the minimum income requirement for couples applying for a UK partner visa will take effect on 11 April 2024 under proposed Immigration Rules published today.

The changes, which have been looming since late last year, will see the amount of annual income couples need to show increase from £18,600 to £29,000.

This is the first of three increases, under which the threshold will rise to £34,500 later this year and finally to £38,700 by early 2025. The exact dates of these further changes are not yet known.

The government originally planned to introduce the full increase in a single go but was forced to back down after widespread outcry.

Who will these changes affect?

This first set of changes will only affect applications made on or after 11 April 2024, in cases where the couple needs to meet the minimum income requirement (MIR).

It will also affect couples relying on cash savings to meet the MIR.

In cases where they have no other income to combine with those savings, they will now need to show they have a whopping £88,500 in cash, up from the current level of £62,500. This threshold will increase further in line with the MIR hikes later this year and next year.

The only small positive is that the government has abolished a differentiated rate for couples whose children also need a visa. At present, couples need to show an additional £3,600 for the first child plus another £2,400 for every additional child. There will now be a flat rate of £29,000 (later £34,500 or £38,700) regardless of the size of the family.

Who will not be affected?

Any new partner visa applications made up to and including 10 April 2024 will benefit from the current levels of £18,600 (or £62,500), even if the application is not approved until after that date.

The current levels will also continue to apply to people who already hold a partner visa at the point of renewal or applying for indefinite leave to remain.

The government has not yet expressly confirmed whether it will adopt the same approach with the later increases – in other words, allowing people to rely on the same ‘entry level’ financial threshold throughout their 5-year visa journey – but it seems very likely.

Couples who are exempt from the MIR, because the UK partner receives a certain benefit such as Universal Credit, should not be impacted by the 11 April changes. This is because the government adopts a more complicated, personalised calculation to assess funds in such cases.

Although announced back in December, the provisions published today are the first time the government has published the text of the new ‘Appendix FM’, the section of the Immigration Rules that deals with partner visas.

The impact of these changes will inevitably impact certain groups more than others – for example, couples where the UK partner is female – and is part of the government’s stated aim to try reduce immigration levels. Once the final increase takes force next year, just 30% of the UK working population could afford to sponsor their partner, according to the government’s own calculations.

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