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Getting your head around the financial requirement for spouse visas: workers and the self-employed.

It is highly likely that as an OISC advisor you will, at some point in your career, advise on the financial requirement for partner visas. This blog doesn’t give detail of all of the requirements for spouse visas but concentrates on the financial requirement, as a requirement that is incredibly easy to get wrong. This blog is further limited to Sponsor’s working or self-employed. Savings and ‘other income’ will be dealt with in another post.

The basics:

The basic rule for spouse visas is that the Sponsor must be earning at least £18,600 per annum in order to meet the financial requirement. This is the requirement for a partner only, where there are non-British children of the relationship, this figure increases.

Worker sponsors for spouse visas:

If the Sponsor has been employed for more than six months and is receiving a salary, the documentation requirements are relatively simple. Six months of payslips, six months of bank statements showing those income funds entering the account and a letter from the employer, confirming the employment details and salary, are all that is needed.

Where things get a little more complicated is when the employee started work with that employer within the last six months or when the employee receives a variable income, so a different amount of money with each payment. In these circumstances, you need to demonstrate earnings over a 12-month period so will need to submit 12 months of bank statements and 12 months of payslips.

Self-employed sponsors for spouse visas:

A bit more complicated again, is where the Sponsor is self-employed. It’s worth mentioning here that how the Home Office define self-employment is different to how HMRC defines self-employment. Since we’re working with the Home Office here, we’ll use their definitions. Self-employed is where a person is working for themselves, is registered with HMRC and receives turnover, either into a personal or business bank account. If a person is a director of a limited company they are not considered self-employed by the Home Office, but a director of a limited company. The distinction is important as there are different documentary requirements for each income stream.

For a self-employed person, the Sponsor will need to provide their tax return for the last tax year and evidence of submission of this to HMRC in the form of an SA300 or an SA302. Paragraph FM-SE, the part of the Immigration Rules which details the specific evidence that must be submitted to the Home Office as part of an application under Appendix FM, also stipulates a requirement to provide proof of registration with HMRC and a Unique Tax Reference (UTR) for the Sponsor. In reality this information would be contained within the SA300 or SA302, so you are unlikely to require further documentation to evidence this. The Sponsor must provide all personal bank statements and business bank statements (if they have a business account) for the relevant tax year and something up to date to show that the Sponsor remains self-employed, this could be a recent business bank statement for example. The self-employed person is also required to submit one more document for a list provided in FM-SE. By far the most commonly submitted document from this list are unaudited accounts certified by an accountant.

For a Director of a Limited Company receiving income from employment as a director and from dividends, the Sponsor would have to submit: The CT600 for the last financial year, Evidence of registration with Companies House, audited or unaudited accounts signed by an accountant, Corporate bank statements for the same year as the CT600, a Current Appointment Report from Companies House and either: A certificate of VAT registration, proof of ownership or lease of business premise or proof of roof of registration with HMRC as an employer. In order to evidence the income received from employment the Sponsor must submit: payslips, their P60 and personal bank statements for the relevant financial year. In order to evidence income from dividends: dividend vouchers and bank statements must be provided. As with self-employment, evidence of ongoing business activity must be provided.

Crucial information for OISC advisors:

It is crucial that any OISC advisor working on Partner applications under Appendix FM and Appendix FM-SE reviews these Rules and the separate financial guidance issued by the Home Office and available at Appendix FM Guidance 1.7 Financial Requirement.

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