Family Visa Renewals May Not Be Affected by New Salary Threshold

| December 19, 2023
Family Visa Renewals May Not Be Affected by New Salary Threshold

The United Kingdom (UK) government calmed fears of separating families amidst the increased salary threshold for family visa applications.

The new income threshold requirement for family visa applications is £38,700 yearly. It is more than double the current £18,700 income requirement.

However, it will not be applied retroactively. The UK Home Office is considering transitional arrangements for those renewing family visas.

These arrangements could also apply to those applying for permanent residence after holding a spouse/partner visa.

It is “right to look at transitional arrangements to ensure that they are fair,” UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said during the Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons on 13 December 2023.

“The Home Office is actively looking at this and will set out further information shortly,” the Prime Minister added.

The UK government will release any transitional provisions regarding the family visa renewals in January 2024, said Tom Pursglove, Minister for Legal Migration and Delivery, who replied in a Parliamentary answer on 14 December 2023.

The new policy will take effect in spring 2024. The government assures families they will not be separated due to the rule change.

The Family Immigration Rules allow for exceptional circumstances where a refusal would cause unjustifiably harsh outcomes for the applicant or their family.

When the family visa threshold was first introduced in 2012, families already in the UK were also exempt under transitional arrangements.

New policy for family visa applications

Early in December, UK Home Office Secretary James Cleverly announced significant changes to immigration policies to reduce net migration.

One of the new changes is to increase the salary threshold for family visas to the same amount for skilled workers. This is £38,700 yearly.

This ensures that people only bring the dependents they can support financially to the UK.

“We have a long-standing principle that anyone bringing dependants to the UK must be able to support them financially. We should not expect this to be done at the taxpayer’s expense,” Prime Minister Sunak said during the Prime Minister Questions.

The Minimum Income Requirement for family visas has remained the same for over a decade.

The government says the income a family requires to be self-sufficient and not rely on public funds has changed.

How the UK family visa works

When applying for a visa from outside the UK, only the sponsor’s income counts towards meeting the minimum income requirement.

The new policy means UK citizens who want to bring their partner to the country must earn at least £38,700 yearly.

To be eligible for extensions and permanent residence, partners must have a combined income equal to or more than £38,700.

Typically, couples must provide evidence of having earned the income threshold for the past six months to qualify.

Still, alternative options exist for those who do not meet the minimum income requirement.

Partners with a combined savings exceeding £16,000 may still be eligible for extensions or permanent residence. 

There has yet to be an announcement about raising the minimum savings required for family visa renewals.

UK’s high net migration numbers

Data released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) in November 2023 shows that the UK’s net migration number is 672,000.

The ONS recorded 1,180,000 individuals who have arrived in the UK and intended to stay for at least a year, while only 508,000 left the country as of June 2023.

The 2022 net migration numbers also saw more visas for families and dependants coming to the country.

While the number of migrants still increased from the previous year in June 2022, it appears to be slowing down. 

However, the government is determined to bring the numbers down further and put less strain on public services.

Aside from raising the salary threshold, the UK government has outlined more policy changes to reduce net migration.

These include raising immigration health surcharge fees and eliminating the 20 percent discount on salary requirements for roles listed in the Shortage Occupation list.

The Shortage Occupation list will also undergo an overhaul. The Graduate Visa route will be reviewed to check if it benefits the country.

Like some student visa holders, health and social care workers will also no longer be able to bring dependents to the country.

Care firms that plan to sponsor migrants under the Health and Care route will now be regulated by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).