Spouse Visa Applications With a UK Sponsoring Partner Receiving State Benefits

UK immigration solicitor handshake with spouse visa applicant couple

Obtaining a UK Spouse Visa or Family Visa can be a complex process, especially when your sponsoring partner in the UK receives state benefits. Immigration regulations surrounding financial requirements can add an extra layer of complexity to the application.

This guide explores the specific rules and processes involved in obtaining a UK Spouse Visa or Family Visa when your sponsoring partner relies on state benefits for income. Gain clarity on the financial requirements and learn the best way to proceed with your application from our Legal Insights Blog team in Ilford, London.

In general, most means-tested benefits, such as Income Support, Housing Benefit, or Universal Credit, are not considered as part of the income calculation for Spouse Visa applications. However, as you will learn in this article, there are exceptions, and certain non-means-tested benefits may be accepted as a form of income.

The Financial Requirement for Spouse Visas

As the United Kingdom prepared for a highly anticipated general election, the intricate relationship between immigration and state benefits has emerged as a key issue, collecting considerable attention from political parties, policymakers, and the general public alike.

In an effort to reduce net migration, the UK government has rolled out extensive reforms across various visa categories, including stringent adjustments to the Skilled Worker and Spouse Visa routes. A key focus has been the tightening of financial thresholds for Family Visas.

The minimum gross annual income requirement for sponsoring partners has been substantially raised from £18,600 to £29,000. Moreover, the government has unveiled plans to further escalate this threshold to £38,700 by early 2025, a move that underscores its determination to curtail net migration figures.

Amidst the UK government’s tightening of immigration policies, the regulations and criteria for meeting financial requirements when the UK-based sponsoring partner receives certain state benefits have remained unaltered. 

For Family Visa applications, including Spouse Visas, Unmarried Partner Visas, and Civil Partner Visas, the sponsoring partner’s receipt of state benefits may contribute towards fulfilling the mandatory financial requirement. 

Applicants may, therefore, have the opportunity to leverage eligible state benefits outlined in Appendix FM, as part of their financial evidence. Even if their partner’s annual gross income falls below the current £29,000 threshold, they may still be able to leverage those benefits to circumvent the income requirement.

Eligible State Benefits

If your UK sponsor receives certain “specified” benefits, they may not need to meet the usual income threshold for Family Visas. Instead, they need to demonstrate they can “adequately maintain and accommodate” their family without relying on public funds.

Under Appendix FM of the UK’s immigration rules, these eligible benefits include:

  • Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
  • Severe Disablement Allowance (SDA)
  • Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit (IIDB)
  • Attendance Allowance (AA)
  • Carer’s Allowance (CA)
  • Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
  • Armed Forces Independence Payment (AFIP)
  • Guaranteed Income Payment (GIP)
  • Constant Attendance Allowance (CAA)
  • Mobility Supplement
  • War Disablement Pension
  • Police Injury Pension
  • Child Disability Payment
  • Adult Disability Payment (Scotland)

Accommodation Requirements and State Benefits

Along with receiving an eligible state benefit, sponsors must demonstrate they can provide adequate accommodation for their family without recourse to public funds. The accommodation must comply with occupancy limits and public health regulations.

Furthermore, applicants relying on state benefits as financial evidence must also meet all other criteria and submit supporting documentation for their application. 

Ineligible Benefits

When sponsoring a Family Visa application, the following benefits are not considered ‘specified’ and cannot be used to satisfy the financial criteria:

  • Income Support
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Pension Credit
  • Housing Benefit or Council Tax Benefit
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Child Benefit
  • Working Tax Credit
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Universal Credit
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Unemployability Allowance
  • Allowance for a Lowered Standard of Occupation
  • Invalidity Allowance
  • Any other income source not specified as eligible in Appendix FM-SE

If the sponsoring partner solely receives one or more of these non-qualifying benefits, they will not meet the financial requirement based on their benefit income alone. In such cases, they must demonstrate sufficient income from other sources or have the required level of savings to sponsor a Family Visa.

Seeking professional guidance from experienced immigration solicitors is highly recommended if you remain at all unsure of the Family Visa financial requirements, especially when relying on state benefits as part of the application process.

Demonstrating Financial Sufficiency

To be eligible for a Family Visa, an applicant must provide proof that their sponsoring partner is capable of:

  • Maintaining them financially
  • Providing suitable accommodation in accordance with the Family Visa accommodation requirement

Both criteria must be fulfilled ‘without recourse to public funds’.

To demonstrate that a sponsoring partner can assist a Family Visa applicant in meeting the financial requirement, the Home Office requires the visa applicant to perform a calculation.

The calculation to determine if a Family Visa applicant meets the financial requirement through their sponsoring partner’s qualifying benefit does not rely on actual expenses incurred in supporting a spouse or partner. 

Instead, a standardised formula is used:

  1. Sum the net weekly income of the sponsoring partner who receives the qualifying benefit.
  2. Subtract the sponsoring partner’s weekly housing costs (rent, mortgage, and Council Tax).
  3. Compare the resultant figure to the total weekly amount that the sponsoring partner, the Family Visa applicant, and any dependent children would receive if they were all eligible for and receiving Income Support.

If the calculated amount is equal to or greater than the Income Support threshold, the Family Visa applicant satisfies the financial requirement through their sponsoring partner’s qualifying benefit. The calculation may appear unnecessarily complex, given that neither the Family Visa applicant nor any children requiring Dependant Visas are eligible for Income Support. 

The immigration regulations specify which benefits must be excluded from the calculation, such as income Support payments and Housing Benefits because the requirement needs to be met without recourse to public funds.

UK Accommodation Requirement for Spouse & Family Visas

In addition to meeting the financial criteria, Family Visa applicants must demonstrate that their sponsoring partner can provide suitable accommodation that complies with the UK’s accommodation requirement.

Crucially, the sponsoring partner need not directly own or rent the property. Residing with extended family in a rented or owned property can satisfy the accommodation requirement, provided all other conditions are met.

Regardless of the living arrangement, applications must include evidence that the accommodation meets the following standards:

  • Fit for human habitation
  • Complies with UK overcrowding regulations

By addressing both the financial and accommodation requirements proactively, applicants can increase their chances of a positive outcome and smooth family reunification in the UK.

Spouse Visa Solicitors in Ilford, London

At Legal Pathway Solicitors in Ilford, London, we offer free initial consultations to help clients prepare a plan and discuss our competitive and fixed prices for legal services to ensure their application succeeds on the first attempt. Likewise, we are here to support you if your Spouse Visa application has been refused, if you need to extend your Spouse Visa, or if you wish to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain after entering via a Spouse Visa. 

Remote Services Available

Providing convenience to our clients is a key priority for Legal Pathway Solicitors, which is why we offer remote legal services alongside the opportunity to visit our London office. Whether you prefer virtual legal consultations or in-person meetings, our solicitors are dedicated to providing guidance at every step of your visa application process.

Trust Legal Pathway Solicitors to secure the best possible outcome for your Spouse Visa case. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and take the move towards reuniting with your loved ones in the UK.

Legal Pathway Solicitors

Ilford, Greater London