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Does Universal Credit Affect Spouse Visa?

The UK government recently announced an increase to the minimum income requirements from £18,600 to £29,000, with planned increases to £34,500 and eventually £38,700. This comes into effect in April 2024 and affects three-quarters of Brits. Get in touch with us now for advice and support.

There are a number of rules and restrictions that govern the use of benefits and public funds such as universal credit with the UK Spouse visa.

For more information about the Spouse visa, and to receive expert advice from an immigration lawyer, get in touch with us today on 0333 4149244, or contact us online.

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Overview of Universal Credit With Spouse Visa

Universal credit is a type of UK state-funded benefit to help certain people with their living costs.

It is usually paid in the form of a monthly or twice-a-month payment, and is mostly intended for those who are on a low income, are out of work, or cannot work.

If you enter the UK on a Spouse visa (or Partner visa), the immigration rules are fairly strict on what you can and can’t do, including whether or not you’ll have recourse to public funds and claim benefits such as universal credit.

There are also some additional factors that may influence your UK Spouse visa conditions, such as if your sponsor claims benefits themselves, and what type of benefits these are.

Can I Claim Universal Credit on a Spouse Visa?

As a Spouse visa applicant coming to the UK, you will not be able to claim Universal Credit.

This is because one of the conditions of your visa is not having recourse to public funds while in the UK. This means not claiming benefits or other state-funded financial support.

The Spouse visa requirements have been written specifically to ensure that you will not need to claim benefits in order to get by in the UK when you arrive.

For example, there are strict financial requirements that you and your sponsor must meet, as well as rules stating that your accommodation in the UK must be safe, adequate and not overcrowded.

All of these requirements should mean that you are financially stable enough to not have to rely on the state welfare system while you’re in the UK.

It is possible to apply to change the conditions of your visa so you can claim public funds, but this is only in certain exceptional circumstances.

How Can I Claim Public Funds on a Spouse Visa?

There is a way for you to change the conditions of your Spouse visa so you will be eligible to claim public funds while in the UK.

However, this can only be done in the case of certain very exceptional circumstances.

You may be able to change the conditions of your Spouse visa if:

  • You don’t have any adequate accommodation or means of obtaining it
  • You have adequate accommodation but you can’t meet essential living needs
  • There are compelling reasons related to your child’s welfare as a result of your low income
  • There are other exceptional circumstances relating to your financial situation

If any of these apply to you, you will have to give a detailed package of evidence to the Home Office that gives a full overview of your financial situation and living arrangements. These may include (but not be limited to):

  • Bank statements of all people living in your household
  • Breakdowns of monthly income and expenditures
  • Tenancy agreements or mortgage statements
  • A recent P45/P60 and a letter with details of employment
  • Letters outlining the support being received from Local Authorities, charities, organisations, friends, or family members

Note also that changing the conditions of your visa will mean that you will likely be placed on the 10 year route to indefinite leave to remain if you’ve been on the 5-year route.

When Will I Be Able to Claim Universal Credit?

You will not be entitled to claim benefits such as Universal Credit when you’re in the UK on a Spouse visa, unless you’re in exceptional circumstances.

However, this condition will change once you progress onto a more permanent immigration status in the UK, such as indefinite leave to remain (ILR).

For most Spouse visa holders, it takes 5 years to become eligible for indefinite leave to remain from a Spouse visa. After you successfully apply for ILR, you will then have recourse to public funds and be able to claim benefits such as Universal Credit.

You will also be able to claim benefits if you can successfully apply for settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme.

Note that one condition of claiming benefits with ILR is that you must be habitually resident in the UK. This means that you’ll be planning on living in the UK for the foreseeable future.

Contact us today if you require assistance with your Spouse visa application.

Can My Spouse or Partner Claim Universal Credit?

Your UK-based spouse or partner will be able to claim Universal Credit without affecting the eligibility of your Spouse visa application.

Note, however, that your application for a Spouse visa may have some effects on the way in which your spouse applies for Universal Credit, and how it is paid.

For example, your spouse will not be able to claim any additional benefits as a result of you or your children joining the household. In addition, your spouse must claim the benefits in their name only, but also take into account your additional income when factoring in how much they may be entitled to.

It is also possible for your partner to earn other kinds of benefits without it affecting your eligibility for the Spouse visa, such as Child Tax Credit and Employment and Support Allowance, among others.

However, there are certain benefits that may change some of the criteria for your Spouse visa application, particularly in regards to the financial requirement.

Which Benefits Affect the Financial Requirements for a Spouse Visa?

If your UK-based partner is in receipt of certain state benefits, it will affect the way in which the financial requirement for the Spouse visa is judged.

The normal minimum income requirement for a Spouse visa is £18,600. This raises by £3,800 if you wish to add a dependent child to your application, and then by £2,400 for each additional dependent child.

However, you will not be required to meet the minimum income requirement if your UK-based sponsor receives any of the following benefits:

  • Carer’s Allowance
  • Disability Living Allowance
  • Severe Disablement Allowance
  • Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit
  • Attendance Allowance
  • Personal Independence Payment
  • Armed Forces Independence Payment or Guaranteed Income Payment under the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme
  • Constant Attendance Allowance, Mobility Supplement or War Disablement Pension under the War Pensions Scheme
  • Police Injury Pension

If your sponsor receives any of these benefits, you may instead meet the financial requirement by proving that you meet the “adequate maintenance” threshold as opposed to the minimum income threshold.

Can I Access the NHS on a Spouse Visa?

You will be able to use the NHS when on a Spouse visa in the UK, but only after paying the immigration health surcharge.

The immigration health surcharge is an additional fee that all Spouse visa applicants must pay when applying for a Spouse visa.

It costs £624 for every year you’ll be staying in the UK.

For example, if you’re on the 5-year route to indefinite leave to remain, you will have to pay a total of £3,120.

You will be able to access the NHS for free once you successfully apply for indefinite leave to remain.

How Can IAS Help?

The Spouse visa is notorious for having reasonably strict restrictions both in the application process and after you come to the UK.

If you’re having difficulty with some of the conditions of the Spouse visa, or you require more information and expert guidance in regards to your immigration situation, IAS can help.

We are expert immigration lawyers with years’ worth of experience working in the UK immigration sector. We have helped thousands of people successfully obtain Spouse visas to come to the UK, and are dedicated to making sure that we provide the highest quality of service possible for all of our clients.

We can help if you need additional advice with your Spouse visa application, determining your eligibility for it, or putting together a folder of documentary proof and evidence for the Home Office to consider when processing your application.

We can also assist in ensuring that you fully understand the rights and requirements of the Spouse visa, so you’re not caught out if you’re unsure about what your entitlements are in the UK.

For more information about the services we offer, and what we can do for you, reach out to us on 0333 4149244, or contact us online.

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