Positive news for families affected by financial requirement increase for sponsoring non-UK nationals

Written by: Hannah Wilkinson

19/01/2024

In December, the Government announced their 5-point plan with the aim of cutting net migration. This plan included measures to increase the minimum income required to sponsor someone for a partner visa. While this may be causing anxiety to many people affected by this change, this piece will provide some much-needed information and reassurance to families in and outside the UK who are sponsoring non-UK nationals.

What is happening to the financial requirements for families coming to the UK?

By now, everyone will have heard that the government is planning to increase the financial threshold that UK sponsors must earn to bring their family members to the UK. The news was splashed everywhere, with the promise of cutting migration and in doing so, crushing the hopes of thousands of families who were looking to apply to come to the UK.

What most may not have heard is that subsequently, the Home Office have now quietly confirmed that this increase will not actually leap from £18,600 straight to £38,700 as they would have liked. Rather, they intend to incrementally increase the salary to give ‘predictability to families’. The first figure they will raise to is a gross annual salary of £29,000 to sponsor a family member.

When do these changes come into effect?

We still do not have a definite date of when they will make this first increase, with Spring 2024 still being quoted. In case anyone did not know (like me), Spring begins on the first of March and ends on the 31st of May according to the meteorological calendar.

What about sponsoring children?

Another positive is that they are finally going to end the raised financial threshold if you are sponsoring a child as well as a partner. This previously led to having to earn an additional £3,800 for the first child and an additional £2,400 for each additional child on top of the £18,600 minimum.

Does this affect me if I’m already waiting for a decision?

As we expected at Seraphus, these increases, as incremental as they may be, will not affect those already on their family route or those who await a decision on an application they made before any increase is written into the rules.

However, as usual, the Home Office cannot manage to do anything slightly positive without a negative. This will not apply to fiancé visas. For those applying for a fiancé visa, they instead must receive a decision on their application before any increase to be able to take advantage of the current financial threshold.

This means that fiancés must rush through their applications to allow 60 working days to pass before an ambiguous ‘Spring 2024’ deadline so that they can receive the decision before any increase, or to pay around £500 extra to have a decision hopefully within 30 working days.

This approach to fiancés contradicts the current approach which is that after marriage, the financial requirements can be met based on the UK sponsor’s finances at the time of the fiancé application.

These changes are going to lead to discrimination, with women earning less and therefore unable to sponsor partners at a similar rate to men. It also means that people who don’t have English as a first language and have lower rates of employment are going to be discriminated against as they won’t be able to meet the threshold as easily.

Overall, while the Government has quietly given some clarity on how it will make implementation of its policy more appropriate, the policy still fails to make provisions for the most vulnerable people affected by the change, and leaves many in a sudden stressful and rushed position.

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