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Minimum income requirement for spouse visa will initially rise to £29,000 in Spring 2024 and will be incrementally increased to £38,700


Important new information suggests change of mind by Government on plan to increase the minimum income requirement

Date of Publication:

Some important new information emerged this afternoon regarding the large increase in the minimum income requirement (MIR) for a spouse or partner visa from £18,600 to £38,700 that was announced by the Home Secretary on 4 December.

ImmigrationImage credit: UK GovernmentLord Sharpe of Epsom, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Home Office, said today that the increase will be phased in and the MIR will initially be increased to £29,000 in Spring 2024 rather than £38,700.

In response to a question tabled in the House of Lords, Lord Sharpe said today: "The MIR will be increased in incremental stages to give predictability. In Spring 2024, we will raise the threshold to £29,000, that is the 25th percentile of earnings for jobs which are eligible for Skilled Worker visas, moving to the 40th percentile (currently £34,500) and finally the 50th percentile (currently £38,700 and the level at which the general skilled worker threshold is set) in the final stage of implementation."

More details are available in a Home Office policy paper on reducing legal migration published this afternoon, which states: "A decision was taken to increase the family Minimum Income Requirement (MIR) in line with the standard Skilled Worker general threshold. This would see the MIR increase to median earnings for jobs at the skill level of RQF3 [on the Regulated Qualifications Framework], currently £38,700. As part of a staged implementation, an initial increase to the 25th percentile of RQF3 jobs of £29,000 will be enacted initially and this initial implementation level is assessed in this paper."

Further significant information was then released this evening by the Home Office stating that the current additional income requirements for children will be scrapped as part of the changes. The Home Office said in a factsheet: "There will no longer be a separate child element to the minimum income requirement, to ensure that British nationals are not treated less favourably than migrants who are required to meet the General Skilled Worker threshold as a flat rate, regardless of any children being sponsored."

The factsheet also importantly clarifies that people in the UK with an existing visa will not be subject to the increased threshold. The factsheet says:

  • Those who already have a family visa within the five-year partner route, or who apply before the minimum income threshold is raised, will continue to have their applications assessed against the current income requirement and will not be required to meet the increased threshold. This will also be the case for children seeking to join or accompany parents.
  • Anyone granted a fianc(é)e visa before the minimum income threshold is raised will also be assessed against the current income requirement when they apply for a family visa within the five-year partner route.

However, the Home Office added: "Those already in the UK on a different route who apply to switch into the five-year partner route, after the minimum income requirement has been increased, will be subject to the new income requirement."

Matt Dathan, the home affairs editor at The Times, said on X that today's news represented a 'big climb down' by the Home Office following a major backlash to the decision to more than double the MIR. Dathan added: "At no point did the government suggest this policy would be introduced in stages. It said it would be introduced in the spring. And the change was slipped out at 5pm today!"

Responding to the change, Zoe Bantleman, the legal director at the Immigration Law Practitioners' Association (ILPA), said on X: "It is still absolutely ridiculous to link requirements for 'settled' people's family members to percentiles of salaries for jobs eligible for the Skilled Worker route, as if the two have any correlation. The Home Office should just fully resile from its previous statement."

The NGO Migrant Voice noted that an increase to £29,000 is still more than £10,000 above the current MIR and families will still be ripped apart as a result. Reunite Families UK agreed, stating: "£29k is not a climbdown. £38,700 was an outrageous amount that was plucked from the air. This new figure is just the beginning of an incremental increase and is still going to tear innocent families apart."

Yvette Cooper, Labour's shadow Home Secretary, was quoted by Sky News as saying that today's unexpected change was more evidence of Conservative chaos on immigration and the economy. Cooper said: "They failed to consult anyone on their new proposals and took no account of the impact of steep spousal visa changes on families next year, so it's no surprise they are now rowing back in a rush."

Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Alistair Carmichael told Sky News that the increase in the MIR was unworkable and "yet another half thought through idea" by the Government. "You have to wonder who is in charge at the Home Office, or if anyone is," Carmichael added in response to the apparent change of plan.

The Home Secretary had initially announced on 4 December that the minimum income requirement would be raised to £38,700 as part of a package of measures that would take effect from next spring. The Home Office later said on 8 December that specifics of the policy are being established and more details will be announced in due course. Tom Pursglove, the Minister for Legal Migration and Delivery, then said on 14 December that any transitional provisions associated with the increase would be announced by the Government in January.

[Update, 22 December 2023: In the latest development, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said this afternoon that the minimum income requirement will be increased to the full amount of £38,700 in "early 2025". BBC News quoted the Prime Minister as saying: "We're doing exactly as we said we would. We're just doing it in two stages. So it will go up in a few months time and then it will go up again the full amount in early 2025."]