KNOWLEDGE

Moving to the UK with an overseas spouse

MortonFraser_Stuart McWilliams
Author
Stuart McWilliams
Partner
PUBLISHED:
17 August 2020
Audience:
Individuals and Families
category:
Article

Since the start of pandemic, I've seen an increase in the number of enquiries from British nationals living abroad who are looking to move back to the UK with their family. There can be a number of reasons for this, for some it's to be closer to family and sadly for others it's due to the loss of a job overseas. Regardless of the reason, it can be a difficult move to make when the British national is married to someone from outside the EU. 

This is something I've written about before, and sadly many of the same immigration issues continue to make moving back to the UK harder for couples. Moving back is a difficult process, as you need to find somewhere to live and arrange for your possessions to be shipped but the financial requirement for visas can make the process even more difficult.

When someone is moving back to the UK, and wants to bring a non EU national partner with them, they need to meet the requirement to be earning £18,600 before tax; in the same way as someone based in the UK would need to, if they wanted to bring their partner to the UK. However, there are some aspects of the Rules that make this more difficult in particular circumstances, for example:

  • If the British national is relying on employment income, they must show that they meet the £18,600 threshold abroad and that they have a job offer starting within three months of their return to the UK. This means the British national may need to travel back to the UK to find a job before the family move, and rules out the possibility of moving and then looking for work.
  • This requirement has been criticised as it only considers the earnings of the British national. This can be an issue where the British national has not been working abroad, for example because they provide childcare, or where the main earner is the non UK national.
  • Where someone tries to rely on income from property rental, they are unable to use that property to meet the accommodation requirement. I have had cases where people have rented out their UK properties whilst living abroad, and earned a substantial income from them, but have not been able to use this income to apply for a visa as they intend to move back into the property.

There are a number of ways to meet the financial requirement, but each requires its own detailed evidence so the Rules can be complicated to navigate. In the past we've helped British nationals bring family members to the UK based on:

  • Previous earnings and job offers in the UK;
  • Earnings from investments; and
  • Cash savings, including cash recently raised from property or asset sales.

There are also arguments that can be made where a couple cannot meet the usual requirements but has a British child, and in many cases a couple living abroad may not realise their child is already British.

If you are thinking about moving back to the UK with your family it is important not to forget about visa considerations. The visa process can take a significant time so the earlier the process is started the better, and expert advice can make the difference between success and an application being refused. Please get in touch if you would like to discuss how we can help with the process. 

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The content of this webpage is for information only and is not intended to be construed as legal advice and should not be treated as a substitute for specific advice. Morton Fraser LLP accepts no responsibility for the content of any third party website to which this webpage refers.  Morton Fraser LLP is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.