In 2017 the Supreme Court gave judgement in the case of MM (Lebanon) where several families challenged the legality of the Home Office approach to require a sponsor to have an income of £18,600. The Supreme Court ruled that the £18,600 requirement was lawful, but the Home Office was overly restrictive when considering the sources of income of which a family might rely, for example, third party support from extended family should not be excluded. The earning threshold remains the major obstacles to many who seek to enter the UK, despite this decision.
Our clients who are in employment need to earn £18.600 and the length of time you are in employment will determine whether you require specified evidence over six months or 12 months. If you are self-employed, £18,600 must be your net income from your activities. When representing a self-employed person there is a need to provide more evidence than someone in employment. It is best to get in touch with your accountant to obtain at least one full tax year’s evidence of income required and the relevant evidence by the date of the application, such as Bank statements, invoices etc. For those who work for their own company or a family business further evidence is needed, such as proof of wages, pay slips, etc. Where the rules cannot be satisfied, we can advise our clients about several options. Some forms of income can be combined together to meet the £18,600 requirements. Most recently the Court of Appeal considered two appeals in the Secretary of State for the Home Department v MS (Pakistan) . In both of these appeals those seeking entry to the UK have been unable to meet the minimum income requirements at the point they made the application. Despite this, the First and Upper Tier Tribunals felt that the applicants would in reality have enough money to maintain themselves and their family upon arrival in the UK and it was decided that the entry clearance officer was wrong and a visa should be granted. But the Supreme Court held that the minimum income requirement was justified by the need to ensure that families would not be in a position where they would need to access Welfare Benefits. What it means in practice to our clients is that when making an entry clearance application to the UK as a spouse, or leave to remain, it is very important to consider the timing of the application and it is better to wait until specific requirements of the Rules are met.