Appendix FM is an extensive document setting out the rules and requirements for individuals to be able to come to the UK by reason of their family life.
In this guide, we explain the key requirements for making an application to enter or remain in the UK under Appendix FM.
What is Appendix FM?
To join your close family member in the UK, you will need to apply for a visa and show that you meet the relevant eligibility requirements. One of these requirements is that your family member meets a monetary threshold known as the ‘financial requirement’ or the ‘minimum income requirement’ (MIR), as specified in Appendix FM.
Appendix FM is the section of the Immigration Rules concerning entry clearance to the UK based on family life.
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.
Appendix FM also acts as guidance for the Home Office to ensure a balance between the right to respect for private and family life under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and the following four factors:
- The legitimate aims of protecting national security, public safety and the economic wellbeing of the UK
- The prevention of crime and disorder
- The protection of health or morals
- The protection of the rights and freedoms of others.
For 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.
The Appendix FM is frequently updated, so it is important to keep up-to-date with the requirements included in this vast document.
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.
Who does Appendix FM apply to?
Appendix FM 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 applying to enter or remain in the UK on the basis of their family life.
You can only apply for a family-based visa under Appendix FM if you are related to or in a relationship with either:
- A British citizen, or
- A person settled in the UK, or
- A person in the UK with limited leave as a refugee or someone granted humanitarian protection.
The specific rules relating to eligibility vary depending on the nature of your relationship to the family member in the UK. Typically, you can only apply on the basis of family life and your relationship with a qualifying person as either their:
- Partner (spouse, civil partner or unmarried partner)
- Child of a person with limited leave
- Adult dependent relative
- Victim of domestic violence
Appendix FM rules for Partners
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.
If you are applying for a family visa as the partner of a person living in the UK, you must satisfy the following requirements:
- You and your partner must both be aged over 18
- Your relationship must be genuine and subsisting
- Any previous relationship of you or your partner must have broken down permanently
- If you are married, or in a civil partnership, it must be a valid marriage or civil partnership
- If you are a fiancé(e) or proposed civil partner, you must be seeking entry to the UK to enable your marriage or civil partnership to take place
- You must intend to live together permanently in the UK.
For the purposes of Appendix FM, “partner” means:
- The applicant’s spouse or civil partner
- The applicant’s fiancé(e) or proposed civil partner, or
- A person who has been living together with the applicant in a relationship akin to a marriage or civil partnership for at least two years prior to the date of the visa application.
As such, this includes unmarried partners, subject to the two-year requirement, as well as same-sex partners.
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.
Appendix FM rules for Parents
If you are applying for a family visa as the parent of a child living in the UK, you must satisfy the following requirements:
- You must be aged 18 years or over
- Your child must be under the age of 18 years at the date of application
- Your child must be living in the UK
- Your child must be either a British Citizen or settled in the UK, or, where you are applying for leave to remain, the child has lived in the UK for at least seven years immediately preceding the date of application.
You must either have sole parental responsibility for the child or the child normally lives with you, or, alternatively, you have access rights to the child and you are taking an active role in the child’s upbringing.
Appendix FM rules for Children
Children applying for a family visa as the child of someone living in the UK must satisfy the following requirements:
- They must be under the age of 18 at the date of application.
- They must not be married or in a civil partnership.
- They must not have formed an independent family unit.
- They must not be leading an independent life.
Further, one of their parents must be in the UK with limited leave to enter or remain, or be being granted, or have been granted, entry clearance, as a partner or a parent under a family visa.
Appendix FM rules for adult dependant relatives
If you are applying for a family visa as an adult dependent relative, the person living in the UK must be over 18 and you must be either:
- A parent aged 18 years or over
- A grandparent
- A brother or sister aged 18 years or over
- A son or daughter aged 18 years or over.
Further, as a result of age, illness or disability, you must require long-term personal care to perform everyday tasks. You must also be unable to obtain the required level of care in the country where you live, either because there isn’t anyone who can reasonably provide it to you, or it isn’t affordable.
Appendix FM financial requirement
In addition to satisfying the specific requirements for you as an applicant based on your relationship with the family member in the UK, you will also need to show that you can financially support yourself, as well as any dependent children where applicable, or that you will be adequately supported and accommodated in the UK by your “sponsor”, without recourse to public funds.
Where applying as a partner, you will need to meet a minimum income threshold from specified sources, although this can be based on a combined income. As a single applicant, this is set at £18,600, with an increase of £3,800 where you are applying with one dependant child, and an extra £2,400 for each additional child.
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.
Appendix FM makes provision for “exceptional circumstances”, such that if a strict application of the rules will result in unjustifiably harsh consequences, and thereby render refusal of entry clearance or leave to remain a breach of Article 8, UKVI can take into account other sources of funds.
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.
What is the English language requirement?
When applying as a partner or parent of a UK family member, you may also need to satisfy the English language requirement.
The ability to speak and understand English is fundamental to successful integration into British society. It gives migrants the means to participate in British life, helping them to find work, allowing them to support their children’s education and enabling them to fulfil their potential.
Where applicable, you will need to provide evidence of one of the following:
- You are a national of a majority English speaking country
- You have an academic qualification taught in English and is recognised as being equivalent to a UK bachelors degree, masters degree or PhD
- You have passed an approved English language test in speaking and listening.
However, under Appendix FM, you will be exempt from the English language requirement if at the date of application:
- You are aged 65 or over
- You have a physical or mental disability which prevents you from meeting the requirement, or
- There are exceptional circumstances that prevent you from being able to meet the requirement prior to entry to the UK.
What is the KoLL requirement?
In the event that you have lived in the UK for a number of years and decide to apply for indefinite leave to remain, as a partner or a parent of a family member in the UK you may also be required to demonstrate a commitment to respect the laws, values and traditions of the UK.
The ability to communicate in English and have knowledge of life in the UK forms an integral part of this commitment. This is known as the KoLL requirement.
Unless you are exempt by reason of age or otherwise, you can satisfy these requirements by proving your knowledge of English, as above, and by passing a ‘Life in the UK’ test at an approved test centre.
Please note, if you are the victim of domestic abuse you may also be able to apply under Appendix FM, as well as where there are exceptional circumstances, such as insurmountable obstacles to family life. Take advice to understand your options.
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.