If you are a partner of a British citizen (whether married to them or not), you need to meet a number of immigration requirements in order to live with your partner in the UK.
Three Parts of a Successful Application
All successful applications consist of 3 parts:
1. Meeting the Suitability Requirements
2. Meeting the Eligibility Requirements
3. Complying with the prescribed procedure.
The Eligibility Requirements consist of 4 elements:
1. The Relationship Requirement
2. The Financial Requirement
3. The Accommodation Requirement
4. English language Requirement
If the parties are already in the UK and would like to either extend their British partner visa or switch to this immigration category, they will need to meet one more requirement:
5. The Immigration Requirement.
However, in particularly challenging circumstances, the Home Office may allow the couples to disregard the financial, accommodation and/or English language requirements. However, if they do, they’ll switch this family to a 120-month route to settlement. It means that the non-British citizen partner will need to be in the UK for 10-years (120 months) instead of 5 years (60 months) before they can settle in the UK. Getting settled status means obtaining Indefinite leave to remain in the UK. It is ‘a final visa’, which has no conditions attached to. In many terms, this visa gives a person similar rights to that of a British citizen. The only difference is that the person may lose their ILR if they are away from the UK for more than two years (5 years if they got their ILR under the EU Settlement Scheme). Also, they may be deported from the country if they committed a serious offence. Their right to remain in the UK indefinitely may also become under threat if a person acts in a way, which the Home Office may classify as being ‘ not conducive to the public good’. This means that the presence of this individual in the UK is damaging to the UK public.
The Financial Requirement
The Home Office introduced the financial requirement in July 2012. From this date all couples, if one of the partners is not a British citizen and another one is, if they want to reside in the UK, will need to show that they meet the financial requirement in one of the following three ways:
1. They can demonstrate that the British citizen spouse has enough income to meet the ‘Minimum Income Requirement’. The amount is £18,600 gross per year. There are only five sources of income, which the Home Office allows.
2. The couples can also meet the financial requirement by way of showing that they have enough savings. There is a special formula, which the Home Office uses to establish this: £16,000+ (a shortfall x 2.5). For example, if the Sponsor (a British citizen partner) has not income at all, then the shortfall will be £18,600 – £0.00 (partner’s income) = £18,600. If the Sponsor earns £4,000, the shortfall will be: £18,600 – £4,000 = £14,600.
3. And finally, the parties can prove that they meet the financial income requirement by way of showing that they receive some disability-related benefits:
Coronavirus and the Minimum Income Requirement
Coronavirus affected many couple’s abilities to have sufficient income. Their loss of earnings may mean that the family will be unable to meet the financial requirements.
The Home Office has taken steps to protect couples who found themselves in this situation. Here is what they say in their Guidance:
‘There are temporary concessions in place if you’re unable to meet the requirements of the family Immigration Rules to enter or remain in the UK due to coronavirus. If you’re unable to travel back to the UK due to coronavirus travel restrictions and your leave has expired, a short break in continuous residence will be overlooked. You are expected to make your next application as soon as possible.’
If You are an Employee
‘If you have experienced a loss of income due to coronavirus, we will consider employment income for the period immediately before the loss of income due to coronavirus, provided the requirement was met for at least 6 months up to March 2020. If your salary has reduced because you’re furloughed, we will take account of your income as though you’re earning 100% of your salary.’
If You Are Self-Employed
The Home Office has also provided a general concession for self-employed. Here is what they said in their guidance:
‘If you’re self-employed, a loss of annual income due to coronavirus between 1 March 2020 and 31 July 2020 will generally be disregarded, along with the impact on employment income from the same period for future applications.’
The Document in Support of Your Application
The Home Office recognises the fact that in some circumstance, you may find it challenging to provide certain documents in support of your application. They said:
‘In some cases, we will be able to decide your application without seeing certain specified documents if you cannot get them due to coronavirus. Otherwise, you may be asked to submit the specified documents after the date of application.’
The English Language Requirement
And finally, the Home Office has made some adjustments to the English Language Requirement. They allowed the application to apply for an exemption if the test centre was closed or if you could not travel to it due to coronavirus when you applied.