What is an Accountant’s Certificate of Confirmation? [for UK Partner Visas in 2021]

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We discuss this in detail in our Partner & Spouse visa Coronavirus (COVID-19) update article.

Like many aspects of the Immigration Rules, the Home Office really does not make it clear what an ‘accountant’s certificate of confirmation‘ is. 

Obviously, this is very important to know because your application will be refused if you fail to submit an accountant’s certificate of confirmation when required. 

In this article, we are going to discuss…

What is an accountant’s certificate of confirmation in 2021?

What are the accountant’s certificate of confirmation requirements?

Who NEEDS to include an accountant’s certificate of confirmation?

Who does NOT need to include accountant’s certificate of confirmation?

Spouse visa DIY Application Pack

“What type of visas does this article apply to?”

This information is mainly aimed for individuals applying under the 5 year route to settlement in the UK, including:

  • Spouse visa UK (spouse visa applications submitted from outside of the UK)
  • Fiancé(e) visa UK & proposed civil partnership visa applications submitted from outside of the UK
  • FLR M visa (those who switch into the partner visa category from another visa or those who are extending their current partner visa application from inside the UK)
  • Unmarried partner visa
  • A child whose parent is applying for, or has been granted, entry clearance or leave to remain as a partner and the parent’s partner ( ie the UK sponsor) receives a specified benefit
  • A child whose parent is applying for, or has been granted, entry clearance or leave to remain as a parent
  • Parent of a child in the UK visa
  • Adult dependent relative applying for Indefinite Leave to Enter or Remain
  • Indefinite leave to remain in one of the above categories

part 1

What is an accountant’s certificate of confirmation in 2021?

An accountant’s certificate of confirmation in 2021 is a letter from an accountant saying that they handled the person’s business or business’ accounts

We know this because:

  • We have asked among our network of qualified and OISC regulated immigration lawyers;
  • We also asked several Home Office caseworkers;
  • Our Head of Immigration, Ed Lowe, worked in the Home Office for 20+ years, with many of those years being a Senior Home Office Executive; and
  • Our accountant’s certificate of confirmation template has been used hundreds of times without any issues

We feel that we should clarify this because: 

  • The Home Office do not provide a definition; and
  • We have asked over 100 accountants whether there was an agreed definition among accountants as to what constitutes an accountant’s certificate of confirmation and none have provided us with a clear answer.

So where can I get an accountant’s certificate of confirmation?

Only an accountant who is a member of one of the following can provide you with this document:

  • a UK Recognised Supervisory Body (as defined in the Companies Act 2006); or
  • the Institute of Financial Accountants;
  • The Association of Authorised Public Accountants;
  • The Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy;
  • The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants;
  • the Association of International Accountants; and
  • The Association of Accounting Technicians.

How much would it cost to get an accountant’s certificate of confirmation?

We have seen prices range from £200-£1,500 to obtain this certificate so this all depends on your accountant.  

Remember that, if required, this is a mandatory document and not including one when required would most likely result in a refusal.

Can you provide me with an accountant’s certificate of confirmation template?

An accountant’s certificate of confirmation template is included as standard in our DIY Application Pack for self-employed persons and directors or employees of ‘specified limited companies

Spouse visa DIY Application Pack

 

step 2

What are the accountant’s certificate of confirmation requirements?

An accountant’s certificate of confirmation must be provided by an accountant who is a member of a UK Recognised Supervisory Body (as defined in the Companies Act 2006) or who is a member of the Institute of Financial Accountants, The Association of Authorised Public Accountants, The Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy, The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants, the Association of International Accountants or The Association of Accounting Technicians.

If it is not clear from your accountant’s website, your accountant will be the best person to ask regarding this. 


“What if my accountant is not a member of one of the above bodies?”

If you submit a partner or parent visa application and your accountant is not a member of one of the above regulatory bodies, then there are three outcomes that your application may encounter.  

These possible outcomes are as follows: 

Possible outcome #1 – Your application is refused.

The Immigration Rules provides an exclusive list of bodies which suffice.

If the accountant is not in one of the above listed bodies, this technically gives the Home Office caseworker grounds to refuse the application.  

Possible outcome #2 – You will receive a letter from your Home Office decision maker requesting you submit an accountant’s certificate of confirmation from a qualified accountant.

They will normally grant you between 7-14 days to provide this document.

This, however, is at the discretion of the decision maker as the Immigration Rules are quite clear that applications that do not meet this requirement fall to be refused.   

Possible outcome #3 -Your application will be granted despite the fact that the accountant is not a member of one of the above regulatory bodies.

With this being said, in light of the significance of a successful visa for both you and your partner, not submitting an accountant’s certificate of confirmation which complies with the Immigration Rules is not a risk that we would ever recommend taking. 


Does the accountant’s certificate of confirmation need to be original?

The accountant’s certificate of confirmation that you submit will not need to be original – a copy will be fine.

This is the case ever since the Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules: HC 1534, 11 October 2018

 

part 3

Who needs to include an accountant’s certificate of confirmation?

For applications that are including income from being self-employed as a sole trader, a partner or as a franchise, an accountant’s certificate of confirmation will not be required if:

  1. the business is required to produce ‘annual audited accounts‘; or
  2. You are able to provide a certificate of VAT registration and the VAT return for the last full financial year (a copy or print-out) confirming the VAT registration number, if the turnover is in excess of £85,000 or was in excess of the threshold which applied during the last full financial year; OR
  3. You are able to provide evidence that appropriate planning permission or local planning authority consent is held to operate the type/class of business at the trading address (where this is a local authority requirement); OR
  4. You are able to provide a franchise agreement signed by both parties.

For applications that are including income from a specified limited company, an accountant’s certificate of confirmation is required if the business is not required to produce ‘annual audited accounts’. 

“What limited companies are not required to produce annual audited accounts?”

The type of businesses that are not required to produce annual audited accounts can be found by reading the information contained in this gov.uk link, which answers this question comprehensively. 

In summary – businesses that are not required to produce annual audited accounts must meet at least 2 of the following criteria:

  • have an annual turnover of no more than £10.2 million;
  • have assets worth no more than £5.1 million; and
  • have 50 or fewer employees on average.

If you are unsure, ask your accountant.

“What limited companies are required to produce annual audited accounts?”

According to this gov.uk page, if two or three of the below points are met, annual audited accounts will be required:

  • An annual turnover of more than £10.2 million;
  • Assets worth more than £5.1 million; and
  • At least 50 employees (on average).

For those who are self-employed, guidance as to whether their business is required to produce annual audited accounts should be sought with an accountant. 

 part 4Which categories of income will not require you so submit an accountant’s certificate of confirmation?

We will now discuss the different categories that will not need to include an accountant’s certificate of confirmation. 

If you are unfamiliar with the different categories, it is absolutely important that you familiarise yourself with them prior to submitting your application. 

In our spouse visa UK financial requirements for 2021 article, we discuss this in detail. 

Category A#1 Partners who are including non-specified employment income under Category A. 

Category A is for employment income earned from a non-specified limited companies only.  

This includes both salaried and non-salaried employment.  

This category is generally designed for individuals who have been employed with their current employer for longer than 6 months at time of application.   

“What is a non-specified limited company?”

A non-specified limited company is technically one where any of the following do not apply:

  • The company is a UK limited company registered in the UK;
  • The person is a director or employee of the company, or both, or of another company within the same group;
  • Shares are held (directly or indirectly) by the applicant, their partner or the following family members of the person or their partner: parent, grandparent, child, stepchild, grandchild, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, nephew, niece or first cousin; and
  • Any remaining shares are held either directly or indirectly by fewer than five other persons.

With the above being said, we have seen that limited companies registered outside the UK are sometimes erroneously treated as specified limited companies. 

Category B

#2 Partners who are including non-specified employment income under  Category B.

Like Category A, Category B is for employment income earned from a non-specified limited companies only and includes salaried and non-salaried employment.

Category B is designed for individuals who:

i) have been employed with their current employer for fewer than 6 months on the date of application 

OR

ii) Have been employed with their current employer for longer than 6 months on the date of application but do not meet the financial requirement due to the way that Category A is calculated.

More information on this can be found in this article.

Category C

#3 Partners who are including non-employment income under Category C.

Other sources of income fall under Category C.

These include non- employment income such as:

  • Dividend income or other income from investments, stocks and shares, bonds or trust funds (only if this is not from a ‘specified limited company’).
  • Interest from savings.
  • Maintenance payments from a former partner of the applicant in relation to the applicant or any children of the applicant and their former partner. Also, maintenance payments from a former partner of the applicant’s partner in relation to that partner.
  • UK Maternity Allowance, Bereavement Allowance, Bereavement Payment and Widowed Parent’s Allowance.
  • Payments under the War Pensions Scheme, the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme and the Armed Forces Attributable Benefits Scheme.
  • A maintenance grant or stipend (not a loan) associated with undergraduate study or postgraduate study or research.
  • Ongoing insurance payments.
  • Ongoing payments from a structured legal settlement.
  • Ongoing royalty payments.

Category D

#4 Partners who are including cash savings under Category D.

Cash savings come under Category D and will generally only be accepted if they have been held for at least 6 months and meet these specifications: 

  • The bank or savings account that holds the cash funds must be a current, deposit or an investment account
  • The financial institution that holds the cash funds must be regulated by an appropriate regulatory body
  • The financial institution must not feature on the list of excluded institutions under the Immigration Rules
  • Regular bank account statements must be provided
  • The statements must cover the necessary time period required in the Immigration Rules 
  • The savings are held in cash
  • The savings can be immediately withdrawn
  • The funds must be under the control of the applicant and/or partner  
  • The source of the funds must be legal
  • The source of the funds must be declared.

For more information on meeting the financial requirement via cash savings, check out our post “Cash Savings Guidance for 16000 – 62500+ Spouse & UK Partner visas in 2021“. This post will also discuss the two exceptions regarding the 6 month cash savings requirement

Category E

#5 Partners who are including pension income under Category E. 

Gross annual income from a pension currently being received may be used under Category E.  

Category F

#6 Partners who are including self-employment or specified limited company income under Category F or G who are required to produce ‘annual audited accounts’.

As we discussed above, an accountant’s certificate of confirmation is only required where a company is not required to produce annual audited accounts. 

Category F and Category G are usually seen as the most complicated and confusing categories since they relate not only to the person’s personal income but also income relating to a company (limited company or otherwise). 

It is important that all partners familiarise themselves with Categories F and G because you need to know exactly what category (or categories) that your income falls under. 

Unfortunately, many partners wrongly assume that their income falls under Category A, B or C when in fact it falls under Category F/G.

This is why I’d strongly recommend reading this article here which provides an overview of the different categories. 

Summary

Hopefully this article has provided some clarity regarding the accountant’s certificate of confirmation. 

Like many areas of the Home Office guidance, this is something that is rather ambiguous which can be easily overlooked.

However, since the Immigration Rules state that you must include this document in certain circumstances, including an accountant’s certificate of confirmation is a requirement that you cannot afford to overlook. 

If you would like us to help you with your application from start to finish, our Head of Immigration, Ed Lowe, offers full legal representation for a fixed fee of £1,850. Ed has worked in the Home Office for 20+ years, with many of those years being a Senior Home Office Executive. 

If you would like further help with your visa application, feel free to check out our DIY Application Pack service., which will provide you with: 

  • A tailored document checklist (or checklists);
  • Tailored letter templates; and 
  • General email support

Spouse visa DIY Application Pack

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