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Minimum income threshold for partner visas news - Immigration Solicitors London |RLegal

On 21 December 2023, the Home Office in a response to a question tabled in Parliament by the Marquis of Lothian decided to ‘row back’ on its intention to raise the minimum income requirement threshold for a partner visa to £38700 from the Spring, back to £29,000 and subsequently increase it in a further two stages to £34,500 and then £38700, through Lord Sharpe of Epsom – the current requirement income threshold for a partner visa is of course £18600.

The Home Office also, also published further information relating to this which further stated:

  • for applicants who apply before the new rules come into force will continue to have their cases assessed for all future applications in line with the rules now - this at least provides some clarity and follows previous practice
  • the above will also apply to those granted fianc(e)e visas
  • anyone currently in the UK who applies to switch into this route following the new rules will have to meet the rules then in force.

Although the announcement to the partner visa income threshold is welcomed, it still leaves questions answered:

  • what will be the savings requirement?
  • can combined earnings of partners be used?
  • when precisely will this be implemented?

Such questions will continue to raise anxieties for families who are seeking to apply for a partner visa and has an element of unreasonableness. We have placed individuals into categories to illustrate the types of issues they may face:

I.        those currently abroad – assuming they need to work for at least six months in a job, will mean they are likely to need to find employment at £29,000 and a job offer in the UK at that rate, which will be challenging for some

II.        those on their way to the UK or already here and are looking for work – they may have to consider only jobs paying at least £29,000 assuming this is possible

III.        those currently in the UK and are earning above £18600, but below £29,000 – for these people who fall into this category and the one above, this will be a challenging – think of those in lower skilled jobs or people at the start of their careers

IV.        what about those in self-employment (working as sole traders and through limited companies) – depending on their financial year end it may be too late to earn £29,000 in time and could mean having to wait another twelve months to meet the financial requirements – this just seems punitive to the extreme

V.        individuals who currently meet the requirement through savings and intend to apply at a later point when they meet the current partner income requirements for holding savings for six months – they will simply not know if they have enough savings until this is all fleshed out and may find their savings are insufficient.

It is very disappointing to see a lack of clarity at this point – people need to plan ahead and hence why the manner in which this has been managed is disappointing.

Putting the earnings requirement up to £29,000 for partner visas is still going to exclude a lot of people, let alone when the income requirement increases to £34,600 and £38700 – bringing a family member to the UK through a partner visa should not amount to becoming an unrealistic burden and we expect legal challenges.

The initial announcement created a significant amount of publicity, and it is interesting to see that within just two weeks or so the government’s position on this has altered – no doubt MP’s inboxes were filled with queries.

One should not forget that 2024 is an election year, and of course a different administration may well have a different view on this.

We would urge individuals who can apply for a partner visa through the £18600 current income requirement to do so at the earliest, if eligible – as a reminder the Immigration Health Surcharge fee is due to increase on 16 January 2024.

For those who will not be able to meet the current or indeed future minimum income requirements for a partner visa, they can still apply and have their cases considered on an individual discretionary basis – it will be important to set out cases in full and detail all funding and perhaps seek legal advice – for those whose cases are rejected, it may still be possible to challenge this by way of an appeal and depending on the circumstances succeed.

We have set out below the full response by Lord Sharpe of Epsom given the consternation this has all caused and as it is the only information available – we will of course update this section when we received further information in the New Year on partner visas:

Lord Sharpe of Epson

21 December 2023

At the current Minimum Income Requirement (MIR) level of £18,600, 75% of the UK working population (based on ASHE earnings data) meet the MIR level. At the higher MIR of £38,700 – the median salary level for those on the skilled worker route, and all else being constant, around 30% of the UK working population could meet the threshold based on earnings alone. The MIR will be increased in incremental stages to give predictability. In Spring 2024, we will raise the threshold to £29,000, that is the 25th percentile of earnings for jobs which are eligible for Skilled Worker visas, moving to the 40th percentile (currently £34,500) and finally the 50th percentile (currently £38,700 and the level at which the general skilled worker threshold is set) in the final stage of implementation.

Family life must not be established here at the taxpayer’s expense and family migrants must be able to integrate if they are to play a full part in British life. The MIR has not been increased for over a decade and no longer reflects the level of income required by a family to ensure they are self-sufficient and do not need to rely on public funds. It is intended that this change will contribute to reducing net migration when it is introduced in spring 2024.

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