Identify the correct income required
The minimum income required varies depending on the facts of the case and in particular on whether or not a couple has any children. Normally, the minimum income is £18,600 a year to sponsor a partner but this increases when the application involves bringing a non British child to the UK.
A common area of confusion is the impact of British children on the financial requirement so it is important to remember that a British child does not increase the £18,600 threshold. If a child is not already a British citizen it may be worth considering if they can register to become one before submitting an application for a spouse visa since this will reduce the financial requirement.
Know what income counts
Appendix FM, which governs these applications, sets out a number of requirements in order for income to count towards a spouse visa application so it is not as straightforward as showing that you are employed at the correct salary level.
The financial requirement can be met using income from employment, self employment, property rental, dividends and investment, trust funds, maintenance grants, pensions and cash savings. Each of these sources has different rules attached to it and, particularly when combining income from different sources, care needs to be taken to meet these.
For example, we recently assisted with a case where the income requirement was met by combining income from the client's limited company and pension income. However, as the client's company fell into a special category we had to provide evidence for the last full financial year rather than evidence of their current income and this meant that we could only rely on pension income from the same period. This is not made clear on the Home Office website and anyone applying for a spouse visa should read the Home Office guidance carefully.
Provide the correct evidence
In our experience, the majority of applications which are refused are not refused because the person does not meet the financial requirement but because they have not provided the evidence in the correct form to show that they meet it. The Home Office imposes strict requirements for what documents must be provided with an application to demonstrate a person's income. In most cases two or more documents are required for each source of income and if one is not provided then the application will be refused. The Home Office has limited discretion to accept alternative evidence but in our experience this is rarely exercised and it is vital to get the application right first time.
In summary, applications for spouse visas are not always straightforward but with careful planning the prospects for success are high. If you have any questions or would like assistance with a spouse visa application please contact us for a fixed fee quote.