Changes to the Spouse visa and what they mean for you

What are the changes?

The new spouse visa income requirement is part of Home Secretary James Cleverly’s ‘5 Point Plan’ to reduce net migration figures in the UK.

On 14 March, the Home Office laid out a Statement of Changes before Parliament. The Minister of State at the Home Office, Tom Pursglove MP, reaffirmed the government’s commitment to reducing net migration. This is to be achieved by tightening up visa requirements and encouraging businesses to invest in the resident workforce rather than ‘over-relying on migration.’  

Under the new changes, the minimum income normally required to sponsor someone for a spouse/partner visa will increase from £18,000 per year to £38,700 per year.

When will the changes come into effect?

Changes laid out under under the 5 Point Plan will come into effect on 11 April 2024.

This increase will happen over a 2 year period reaching £38,700 by early 2025. The new minimum income requirement applies to sponsors who are British citizens or who are settled in the United Kingdom (indefinite leave to remain or equivalent).

Who falls under the Family visa?

You can apply for a Family visa to live with your:

  • spouse or partner (including civil partner and unmarried partner)
  • fiancé, fiancée or proposed civil partner
  • child
  • parent (under limited circumstances)
  • relative who requires long term care

How will this affect you?

Families

Changes to the Family visa financial requirements have drawn much criticism. Many argue that it will needlessly and cruelly divide families and separate children from their parents or carers. ‘Family migration accounts for a small share of overall net migration estimates’ in the UK.

The number of Family visas issued in relation to total entry visas issued has steadily decreased since 2006 to 2023. In fact, in 2023, family visas represented just 5% of the total number of entry visas issued in the UK.

Spouse

Another major blow comes to those wishing to bring their spouses into the country. This is the predominant use of this visa.

The steep increase, described as ‘tax on love’ will primarily impact those on lower incomes. It will also impact those whose income falls just below the new £38,700 threshold. This means that many Britons will no longer be able to sponsor their spouses and civil partners to enter the UK. This also applies to settled individuals and other qualified individuals.

Transitional Arrangements

From 11 April 2024, Transitional Arrangements will apply to the following people:

  • Someone whose fiancé, fiancée, partner or spouse applies for a visa before 11 April 2024.
  • Someone who has been granted a Spouse Visa before 11 April 2024.

Applicants will continue to meet the minimum income requirement applicable to their visa application, until such time settlement on the route, provided the applicant is applying to stay with the same partner. This will also be the case for children seeking to join or accompany a parent.

This means that someone whose partner applies for a visa before 11 April 2024 will only need to demonstrate a minimum income of £18,600 per year. This transitional exemption will apply to their initial visa application, future visa extension applications, and future applications for settlement.

The number of people affected by the financial amendment may be small ‘in the context of overall UK immigration’, but the impacts on affected families will be very significant and negative. Like the amendments made to the Health and Care visa, this has the capability to divide families.

Written by Mya Alghali

How we can help you

Thomas Chase Immigration offer immigration assistance to individuals and families.

If you have questions or concerns or you would like straightforward immigration advice, or help with applying for a visa, feel free to contact us.

Our processes are tried and tested and have proven successful. Yet, we know that each person’s circumstances are different and requires that individual touch when assisting you and when presenting the matter to UKVI.

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