Increased Minimum Income Requirement for UK Spouse Visa Applications: 2024

Personal Immigration, 28 February 2024

As we reported in our earlier post, on 4 December 2023, a series of measures were announced by the UK Government to take effect in Spring 2024 with the objective of reducing net migration to the UK.

One of those measures was an increase in the minimum income threshold for a UK spouse visa from £18,600 to £38,700, which allows a British citizen or settled individual to bring a family member to the UK.  This increased financial requirement will apply to all British and settled sponsors bringing a family member to the UK under the five-year partner route.

When will the increased minimum income threshold take effect?

The Home Office has since December 2023, announced a more sensible and pragmatic way of implementing the increased minimum income threshold through staged increases commencing on 11 April 2024 and into early 2025.  The minimum income requirement will initially increase from £18,600 to £29,000 on 11 April 2024 before being raised to £34,500 and finally £38,700 by early 2025.  

The incremental changes are intended to give predictability to families and to strike the right balance between the immediate perceived need to start reducing net migration and giving those affected adequate time to prepare for the upcoming changes.

Removal of the separate child element to the minimum income requirement

In a further development, it has also been announced that the separate child element to the minimum income requirement for a spouse visa will be removed, to ensure that British nationals and their family members are not treated less favourably than migrants in other UK immigration routes who only have to meet a general minimum income requirement, regardless of any children being sponsored.

Currently, for a spouse visa, where an application includes sponsorship of a child at the same time, or where the sponsor is already sponsoring a child, the minimum income requirement increases and there is a higher financial requirement to be met.  An additional gross annual income of £3,800 is required for the first child sponsored in addition to the partner and an additional £2,400 for each further child.   

Why has the minimum income threshold been increased?

The minimum income requirement of £18,600 has not been increased for over a decade since 2012 and it is considered that £18,600 no longer reflects the level of income required by a family in the UK to ensure that they are self-sufficient and do not need to rely on public funds.  This consideration may well have been amplified by Brexit fuelling Britain’s current cost of living crisis.

The UK Government has made it clear that family life in the UK must not be established at the taxpayer’s expense and family migrants must be able to integrate in the UK if they are to play a part in British life.   One of the conditions of the spouse visa is that the family must be able to maintain and accommodate themselves adequately in the UK without recourse to public funds.

How can the minimum income requirement be met?

The UK’s Immigration Rules allow the minimum income requirement to be met in various ways including through employment and self-employment (including of the applicant if they are in the UK with permission to work), cash savings, property rental income, dividends or other income from investments, stocks and shares, bonds or trust funds, interest from savings and pension income.  These sources can be used alone or in combination with each other in certain circumstances.

Any subsidy or financial support from a third party (other than child maintenance or alimony payments, academic maintenance grants/stipends or gifts of cash savings), loans and credit facilities, income-related benefits and certain contributory benefits cannot be counted towards the financial requirement.

Implications for UK Immigration

Until the Immigration Rules are amended, the current income thresholds and policies remain in place until 11 April 2024.  Based on an official Home Office Fact Sheet:

  • Those who already have a spouse visa within the five-year partner route, or who apply before the minimum income threshold is raised on 11 April 2024, will continue to have their applications assessed against the current £18,600 income requirement and will not be required to meet the increased threshold. This will also be the case for children seeking to join or accompany parents.
  • Anyone granted a fiancé(e) visa before the minimum income threshold is raised on 11 April 2024 will also be assessed against the current £18,600 income requirement when they apply for a spouse visa within the five-year partner route.
  • If you do not already have a spouse visa on the five-year partner route and you wish to apply after the minimum income requirement has been increased on 11 April 2024, you will be subject to the new £29,000 minimum income requirement, increasing to £38,700 by early 2025.
  • Those already in the UK on a different route who apply to switch into the five-year partner route after the minimum income requirement has been increased on 11 April 2024, will also be subject to the new £29,000 income requirement, increasing to £38,700 by early 2025.

It is worth noting that the next UK general election has to be held no later than 28 January 2025, so whether the proposed increase to £38,700 will ever come into effect remains to be seen.

How can we help?

We can provide comprehensive advice to individuals globally seeking to apply for a Spouse visa or Fiancé(e) visa for the UK, each of which the increased minimum income threshold will apply to.

If the new £29,000 financial requirement will apply to you and you are concerned as to being able to evidence this once it is introduced on 11 April 2024, you may wish to apply for a Spouse visa or Fiancé(e) visa now in which case we can advise you on how the changes will affect you and assist further.

For more detailed UK immigration advice and for any other questions on this and other UK immigration developments, please contact us at info@viajeukimmigration.com