Contrary to popular belief, as the spouse or partner of a British national or settled person in the UK, you do not have the automatic right to live in the UK.
To join your spouse or partner, you will need to apply for a visa and show that you meet several requirements, as specified by the Home Office. One of these requirements is that your spouse or partner meets a monetary threshold known as the ‘financial requirement’ or the ‘minimum income requirement’ (MIR).
The financial requirement is used by the UK Government to ensure that spouses and partners of British citizens and settled persons will not need to depend on public funds or benefits in the UK.
For spouse visa applicants, the minimum salary requirement rules can quickly become confusing. There are many different ways that the requirement can be satisfied and evidenced, and exemptions and exclusions may also apply.
With so much at stake for your visa application, it will be important to ensure the requirement is met and that you provide the relevant documentation to support your case.
What is Appendix FM?
Appendix FM is the section of the Immigration Rules concerning entry clearance to the UK based on family life. It applies to individuals who are the family members of British citizens, settled persons in the UK, and those who possess refugee status or humanitarian protection in the UK. The Appendix FM is frequently updated, so it is important to keep up-to-date with the requirements included in this vast document.
As related to spouse and partner visa applications, the Appendix FM is relevant to the following categories of applicants:
You are legally married to a British citizen, a settled person in the UK, or an individual who possesses refugee status or humanitarian protection in the UK.
You are in a valid civil partnership with a British citizen, a settled person in the UK, or an individual who possesses refugee status or humanitarian protection in the UK.
You have been legally living with a British citizen, a settled person in the UK, or an individual who possesses refugee status or humanitarian protection in the UK for at least 2 years in a relationship similar to a marriage or civil partnership.
Fiancé(e)s or proposed civil partner
You are engaged to be married to or to form a civil partnership with a British citizen, a settled person in the UK, or an individual who possesses refugee status or humanitarian protection in the UK. You must get married within 6 months of arriving in the UK.
In general, these visas can be applied for out-of-country if you do not have a pre-existing visa or can be applied for through an in-country switching process if you have a pre-existing visa. You and/or your spouse or partner will be required to meet the financial requirement in both scenarios.
What is the financial requirement for spouses?
The financial requirement specifies that you and your British spouse or partner must earn a minimum combined amount of at least £18,600 per year. You must have existing permission to work in the UK to be permitted to combine your sources of income. Otherwise, the financial requirement will be calculated solely from the income of your British spouse or partner.
You will need to have earned over £18,600 for at least 6 months.
If you have not worked for your employer for a minimum of 6 months but have earned a total of over £18,600 within the past 12 months and currently make over £18,600 from your employer, you can apply by including relevant information dating back 12 months from the date of application. You can include income from more than one job to meet the financial requirement.
This amount increases if you have children who are not British or Irish citizens, do not have pre-settled status, and are not permanent residents of the UK. You will need to earn at least £18,600 per year, plus:
- £3,800 for your first child
- £2,400 for each child you have after your first child
What can be classed as income?
There is a broad range of specific income sources permitted by the Home Office under Appendix FM. You can generally rely on several categories to meet the financial requirement. These categories include:
- Income from employment before all taxes and National Insurance contributions. This employment income can either be from salaried or non-salaried work.
- Income from self-employment as a Sole Trader or as a Director of a Limited Company
- Non-employment income such as property rental, maternity allowance, or a university maintenance grant.
- Adequate maintenance income from the receipt of benefits or allowances
- Savings over the amount of £16,000 held in a bank account for at least 6 months
- State, occupational, or private pension funds
Can savings or pensions be used to meet the requirement?
There are some alternatives available for those who cannot or do not want to use employment or self-employment income to meet the financial requirement. Savings or pensions can often be used to meet the requirement if you meet some important conditions.
To use savings to meet the financial requirement, your savings must be over the amount of £16,000 and be held by either yourself, your spouse or partner, or a combination of your savings. You must be able to access these funds from a current, deposit or investment account in a regulated bank in your country. These funds must be easily accessible and have been in your or your spouse or partner’s account for at least 6 months from the date of application. You may be able to combine savings over £16,000 with income from different sources such as employment to supplement the total amount if your annual gross income does not meet the minimum amount of £18,600 per year. There is a calculation outlined in Appendix-FM that you must use to combine income and savings. You will need to provide thorough documentation from your bank to use your savings to meet the financial requirement, so be sure to read over the supporting documentation requirements well in advance of submitting your Spouse/Partner Visa application. These will vary depending on your specific savings situation.
To use pensions to meet the financial requirement, your gross annual income from a State, occupational, or private pension can contribute towards the minimum requirement and be held by either yourself, your spouse or partner, or a combination of your pensions. You must have been receiving a pension at least 28 days before submitting your application. You may be able to combine your pension from the past 12 months with income from different sources such as employment to supplement the total amount if your annual gross income does not meet the minimum amount of £18,600 per year. You will need to provide thorough documentation to use your pension income to meet the financial requirement, so be sure to read over the supporting documentation requirements well in advance of submitting your Spouse/Partner Visa application. These will vary depending on your specific pension arrangements.
Can benefits be used to meet the requirement?
Certain benefits can be used to meet the financial requirement of Spouse/Partner Visa applications and are sometimes referred to as ‘adequate maintenance’ in reference to the minimum income requirement. It is important to note that only your British spouse or partner will be eligible to provide this category of evidence to meet the financial requirement, as a key condition of a Spouse/Partner Visa is that non-British citizen may not access public funds – this is known as the ‘No Recourse to Public Funds’ provision.
The following categories of benefits are permitted to meet the income threshold:
- Carer’s Allowance
- Disability Living Allowance
- Severe Disablement Allowance
- Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit
- Attendance Allowance
- Personal Independence Payment
- Armed Forces Independence Payment or Guaranteed Income Payment under the Armed Forces
- Compensation Scheme
- Constant Attendance Allowance, Mobility Supplement or War Disablement Pension under the War
- Pensions Scheme
- Police Injury Pension
You will need to provide thorough documentation to use your benefits income to meet the financial requirement in the form of adequate maintenance, so be sure to read over the supporting documentation requirements well in advance of submitting your Spouse/Partner Visa application. These will vary depending on your specific benefits arrangements. At a minimum, you will need to provide documentation from the Department for Work and Pensions, Veterans Agency, or Police Pension Authority confirming your benefits entitlement.
How can I provide evidence that I meet the financial requirement?
The specific supporting documents you will need to provide to demonstrate that you meet the financial requirement will primarily depend upon the type of income you are relying upon to meet the financial requirement. In most cases, you will need to provide the following documents at a minimum:
Bank statements – you will need to provide official bank statements for the period upon which you are demonstrating that you meet the financial requirement. This will normally be either 6 or 12 months. These bank statements must be original, official documents from your bank and must reflect that you have been paid by your employer into the relevant account(s). Your most recent bank statement must be dated within 28 days of your date of application.
Payslips – you will need to provide official payslips for the period upon which you are demonstrating that you meet the financial requirement. This will normally be either 6 or 12 months. These payslips must be original, official documents from your employer(s) and must reflect that you have been paid the correct amount by your employer(s) as stated in a letter from your employer(s). These payslips may be issued daily, weekly, fortnightly, or monthly. Your most recent payslip must be dated within 28 days of your date of application. If you are not using employment income, you may not need to provide payslips.
Letter from your employer(s) – you will need to provide a letter from your employer on headed stationery. If you have more than one employer, you will need to include a letter from each employer with your visa application. This letter must be written by a ‘senior official’ within your company or organisation, which can broadly be understood to include Human Resources staff and managerial staff. The ‘senior official’ must sign and date the letter, and include their contact information in case the Home Office seeks to get in touch with them regarding your employment. The letter must confirm the following information about your employment status:
- Employment at the company or organisation
- Job title or position
- Length of time employed at the company or organisation
- Type of contract (permanent, fixed-term, agency)
- Income before taxes and National Insurance
- Status as a salaried or non-salaried employee
- Length of time paid current income
- Genuity of payslips
You will likely need to provide additional documentation based on your unique employment situation, such as providing letters from accountants and P60 documentation, so be certain to carefully read through the requirements. You must ensure all bank statements, payslips, and employer letter(s) are in your possession before submitting your Spouse/Partner Visa application. Applications can be refused if you do not include these documents. Additionally, you must ensure that the most recent bank statement and payslip, as well as the employer letter(s), are dated no more than 28 days before submitting your visa application.
What situations count as exceptional circumstances?
In some situations, the Home Office will take into account exceptional circumstances to decrease or even eliminate the financial requirement. These decisions are taken by the British government via international law obligations stemming from Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. These obligations require that the government take into account circumstances where the refusal of a spouse/partner visa could have unjustifiably harsh consequences for family life and family stability. Examples of situations potentially falling under this category include breakdown of government and security in the country of nationality of the applicant and major cultural or linguistic barriers to relocation overseas.
If you seek to be granted a spouse/partner visa without meeting the financial requirement due to situations of an exceptional circumstance, you must be able to clearly demonstrate the following:
- Credible guarantee of long-term financial support to the applicant or their partner from a third party
- Credible potential earnings from long-term employment or self-employment by the applicant or their partner
- Other credible sources of income or funds
any other credible and reliable source of income or funds for the applicant or their partner, which is available to them at the date of application or which will become available to them during the period of limited leave applied for
It is important to recognise that your situation must indeed be considered exceptional in the eyes of the Home Office. The government notes that exceptions have a high threshold of eligibility. This route should not be considered an alternative to the financial requirement as your application would likely be rejected by the Home Office decision-maker assigned to your case due to ineligibility.
If you are granted your spouse/partner visa under exceptional circumstances regarding the financial requirement, you will likely be placed on a 10-year settlement route rather than the traditional 5-year settlement route. This means that you would not be eligible to apply for permanent residence in the UK, known as ‘Indefinite Leave to Remain’, on the standard timescale but would not be required to meet the minimum income requirement again until the end of the 10-year period. If you are later able to meet the financial requirement, you can apply through the in-country process to be switched to the faster settlement route.
Appendix FM financial requirements FAQs
What are the financial requirements for a UK spouse/partner visa?
The financial requirement, or minimum income requirement, is the amount of money a spouse or partner visa applicant must prove they earn or have in order to meet the visa eligibility criteria.
What is Appendix FM?
Appendix FM is the section of the UK Immigration Rules that outlines visa entry requirements for family members of British citizens, settled persons in the UK, and those who possess refugee status or humanitarian protection in the UK. For the purposes of spouse/partner visas, the categories of family members that apply are spouses, civil partners, and unmarried partners of 2 years or more.
What is the financial requirement for a spouse/partner visa?
In most cases, you will need to earn at least £18,600 per year to sponsor a spouse or partner to live in the UK. You may be able to use funds through employment income (through an employer or self-employment), savings, or pensions, depending upon your specific situation. You may additionally be able to combine categories to satisfy the financial requirement.
The matters contained in this article are intended to be for general information purposes only. This article does not constitute legal advice, nor is it a complete or authoritative statement of the law, and should not be treated as such. Whilst every effort is made to ensure that the information is correct, no warranty, express or implied, is given as to its accuracy and no liability is accepted for any error or omission. Before acting on any of the information contained herein, expert legal advice should be sought.