When Does The Spouse Visa Financial Requirement Have to be Met?
The appeal case of Mrs Begum and her spouse visa application is potentially of assistance to spouse visa applicants whose financial circumstances have changed since the date of their Home Office application.
Spouse visa applicants know that their sponsor needs to earn sufficient income (or needs to have sufficient savings) to enable them to meet the financial requirement as part of the UK spouse visa eligibility criteria. However, immigration solicitors say there is a recent interesting case on when a sponsor needs to meet the financial requirement or, in other words, whether the financial requirement has to be met at the date of the spouse visa application or on the date of the Home Office determination of the spouse visa application or on both dates.
This case offers a bit of hope to spouse visa applicants whose sponsors have had to change their employment after submission of the spouse visa application.
UK Immigration and Spouse Visa Solicitors
If you need help and expert advice with your spouse visa application or appealing the refusal of a family visa, the immigration law team at OTS Solicitors specialise in all types of family visas including spouse visas , partner visas and fiancé visas. For expert immigration advice call us on 0203 959 9123 or contact us online. Appointments are available by phone or video call.
When do you have to meet the financial requirement for a family visa?
The case of Begum (employment income; Rules/Article 8)  UKUT 115 (IAC), decided in the upper tribunal on the 14 April 2021, clarifies that a spouse visa applicant has to meet the financial requirement for a family visa at the date of application for the visa and not at the date of determination of the family visa application by the Home Office. The decision has been widely welcomed by immigration solicitors.
The background to the case of Mrs Begum is that she is a Bangladeshi citizen married to a British citizen. She applied for a UK spouse visa on the basis that she met all the eligibility criteria, including the financial requirement. At the time of her spouse visa application her husband was in paid employment on a salary of £30,000 gross per year and had been employed by his employer for over six months. This salary was considerably in excess of the immigration rules financial requirement of £18,600 income per year and so most people would assume that Mrs Begum would meet the financial requirement.
The Home Office refused Mrs Begum’s spouse visa application on the basis of what the Home Office official thought were discrepancies in financial information and documents . For example, there were slightly differing amounts between salary stated in payslips and monies received in disclosed bank statements. A full read of the decision emphasises the importance of careful preparation of a spouse visa application and how it is best to provide an explanation for any discrepancies rather than risk a Home Office refusal of a spouse visa application.
Mrs Begum appealed the refusal of her spouse visa application to the first-tier tribunal. Her family visa application had been refused not only because of perceived financial evidential issues but also because at the date the spouse visa application was decided her husband was no longer in his £30,000 a year employment and was instead self-employed.
The first tier refused Mrs Begum’s appeal against the refusal of her spouse visa and went so far as to say that it was ‘glaringly obvious’ that the appeal would fail when her sponsor husband did not meet the financial requirement at the date of the hearing. The judge at the first-tier tribunal did however find that at the date of her spouse visa application Mrs Begum had met the financial requirement. That finding was of no help to Mrs Begum as the judge also ruled Mrs Begum also had to meet the financial requirement at the date of the hearing. Mrs Begum appealed, this time to the upper tribunal.
Mrs Begum’s perseverance paid off and the upper tribunal found in her favour. Why the difference in approach between the Home Office and the first tribunal on the one hand and the upper tribunal? The upper tribunal judges said that they had studied the immigration rules and the immigration rules refer to the financial requirement needing to be met at the date of application for the family visa.
Whilst it may seem obvious to a Home Office official that a visa applicant should also meet the financial requirement rules at the date of determination of her visa application this isn’t actually what the immigration rules say.
The upper tribunal held that in an application for entry clearance as the partner of a person present and settled in the UK the financial requirements in appendix FM to the immigration rules regarding income from employment relate to the period of six months prior to the date of the visa application. There is therefore no requirement for a sponsor to continue in the relevant employment (or some at least equally remunerative employment) after submission of the visa application.
The decision is welcome news to spouse visa applicants whose sponsor meets the financial requirement at the date of the family visa application but who then, for example, subsequently lose their job or, as in the case of Mrs Begum’s husband , become self-employed.
Immigration solicitors say the case of Mrs Begum demonstrates the importance of looking at the minutia of a spouse visa application, and explaining any discrepancies, as well as the importance of not being afraid to pursue the spouse visa appeal process.
However, immigration solicitors also caution that if a spouse visa applicant needs to apply to renew their family visa, they and their sponsor need to meet the financial requirement at the date of the renewal application. It isn’t sufficient to say that the financial requirement was met when the first spouse visa was granted by the Home Office. As the financial requirement rules are complex its best to get some expert immigration law advice on spouse visas before submitting your family visa application.
UK Immigration and Spouse Visa Solicitors
If you need advice about your spouse visa application or family visa application or an appeal call the immigration team at OTS Solicitors for expert immigration law advice that you can trust. Call us on 0203 959 9123 or contact us online. Appointments are available by phone or video call.