What is the “Appendix FM financial requirement?”
The Appendix FM financial requirement is a requirement which normally applies to the following UK family visas:
- UK spouse visas;
- UK unmarried partner visas;
- UK fiancé(e) visas;
- Child visas; and
- Parent visas.
The Appendix FM financial requirement will be met if:
#1 The application satisfies the minimum income threshold or the adequate maintenance test.
It is first important to identify whether the minimum income threshold or the adequate maintenance test will apply to your application as this will change the requirements, calculation and required documentation.
Adequate maintenance test
If the sponsor (the UK partner) receives one of a list of permitted benefits in the UK, the adequate maintenance test applies.
The permitted benefits are:
- Adult Disability Payment;
- Carer’s allowance;
- Child Disability Payment;
- Disability living allowance;
- Personal independence payment;
- Attendance allowance;
- Industrial injury disablement benefit;
- Armed Forces Independence Payment or Guaranteed Income Payment under the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme;
- Mobility Supplement;
- Severe disablement allowance;
- Constant Attendance Allowance;
- Police Injury Pension; and
- War Disablement Pension under the War Pensions Scheme.
Fortunately, for those that receive one of the above benefits, the adequate maintenance test requires much less income than would otherwise be required.
We elaborate more on the adequate maintenance test in our “Adequate Maintenance Guidance for UK visas [2024 requirements]” article.
Minimum income threshold (£18,600+)
For those that do not receive one of the above permitted benefits, the minimum income threshold will apply.
The starting point is that the minimum income threshold will be £18,600 (gross) for applications:
- applications submitted before Spring 2024; and
- where the applicant is already in the UK on a partner visa before the minimum income threshold increase.
However, there are now numerous other factors to consider – as we discuss in our Spouse Visa UK Financial Requirements 2024 Guidance.
#2 The documents submitted must satisfy the document-specific Immigration Rules
Unfortunately, having an income which satisfies the financial requirement is not enough.
This is because each document you submit must also satisfy Immigration Rules.
For example, those relying on Category F or G income (self-employed sole traders, partners or employment and/or dividend income from specified limited companies) are asked to provide ‘an accountant’s certificate of confirmation’.
Appendix FM-SE states that this document must be “from 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”.
Therefore, if you are required to provide an accountant’s certificate of confirmation and the one you provide is not from an accountant who is a member of one of the above, the Home Office caseworker would be able to refuse your application because of this alone.
Where can I find the guidance related to the Appendix FM financial requirement?
There are important sources of information – all available online – that discuss:
i) the documentation you must submit with your application; and
ii) the Immigration Rules that apply specifically to certain documents.
The primary sources of information relating to the Appendix FM financial requirement are:
Appendix FM – this is the main body of Immigration Rules governing family-based applications. It also includes the financial requirement rules.
Appendix FM-SE – “SE” stands for specified evidence. These rules outline some specific documents you must provide in support of your family visa application. They also cover some of the Immigration Rules as they apply to certain documents.
This is the most important source of information on what you must evidence to satisfy the financial requirement.
Please also note it is often more up-to-date than Appendix FM 1.7 Financial Requirement, discussed below.
Appendix FM 1.7 Financial Requirement – this is the official Home Office guidance which sets out how the financial requirement rules are applied to family visa applications, including practical examples of how the Immigration Rules work.
Helpfully, Appendix FM 1.7 is much more reader-friendly than Appendix FM-SE and is easier to understand.
So, it would be best for you to read this document before reading Appendix FM-SE.
This document will help you identify the documents you must submit with your application, as well as help you ensure that you do not fall foul of the strict rules regarding financial documentation.
Please also remember that where information in Appendix FM 1.7 is different from that in Appendix FM-SE, Appendix FM-SE technically applies rather than Appendix FM 1.7.
Appendix FM 1.7A Adequate Maintenance – This official Home Office guidance sets out how partner applications can meet the adequate maintenance requirement. It also includes practical examples of how the rules work.
This guidance, where it discusses the adequate maintenance application, only applies to sponsors (partners) who receive permitted benefits mentioned above (e.g., Disability Living Allowance, Carer’s allowance and Personal Independence Payment (PIP)).
Receiving a permitted benefit means you do not have to meet the minimum income threshold of £18,600+ but instead must satisfy the adequate maintenance requirement.
When does the Appendix FM financial requirement have to be met?
The financial requirements must be met on the date of application.
The date of application is when you submit the online application by paying the Home Office fees.
You do not have to satisfy the financial requirement when the applicant later attends the visa centre appointment to provide your biometric information.
Jeff (the “applicant”) is living in the UK.
As he has a Student visa which gives him the right to work, Jeff has a job which he would like to include towards the financial requirement.
Jeff lost his job two days after the date of application.
However, since he was legally employed on the date of application (i.e., when he submitted the online application), this should not affect his ability to include his income towards the financial requirement in any way.
Please also note
In several cases, the financial documents you are required to provide must be dated within 28 days before the date the online application is submitted.
Just so you know, this 28-day period does not relate to the date the applicant attends the visa centre appointment.
For example, the applicant may attend the visa centre appointment several weeks after submitting the online application) but the documentation only needs to meet the time requirements on the date the application was submitted.
What are the different Categories of permissible income?
It is essential to know precisely which “Category” the income(s) you want to include falls under.
This will affect the requirements that apply to that source of income.
|Property rental income
|Other sources of income
You must first establish whether the employing company is a specified limited company. This is because employment income from a specified limited company is included under Category F or G, whilst employment income from a non-specified limited company is included under Category A or B.
A company will be a specified limited company if it falls within the definition provided in paragraph 9(a) of Appendix FM-SE, which states:
(a) The specified type of limited company is one in which:
(i) the person whose income you are relying on is either a director or employee of the company, or both, or of another company within the same group; AND
(ii) shares are held (directly or indirectly) by the person, 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
(iii) any remaining shares are held (directly or indirectly) by fewer than five other persons.
I’ve highlighted the words ‘and’ above as it’s important to note that all the above must be satisfied to strictly fall within the definition provided above.
For a step-by-step guide on identifying whether a company is a specified limited company, feel free to read our Specified Limited Company Guidance [Sole Directors, Owners and Employees] article.
“What is the difference between Categories A and B?”
As previously mentioned, Categories A and B are for non-specified limited company employment income. Therefore, if you are unsure of this point, please identify whether the company is a specified limited company or not, as discussed above.
The second thing to note is that Category A requires employment to have been held with the current employer for six months or longer when the online application is submitted.
Therefore, if when the online application is submitted, employment will have been held for fewer than six months, then the employment income must be included under Category B.
If the financial requirement is met by how Category A employment income is calculated, you can ignore Category B completely.
If you would like more information about Category A and B (& how they are calculated), please feel free to read our Spouse Visa UK Financial Requirements 2024 Guidance.
“What is the difference between Categories F and G?”
Regarding employment income under Category F and G (employment income from a specified limited company), the main difference is the relevant period.
Under Category F, the relevant period will be the specified limited company’s most recent 12-month full financial year that passed (as stated in the company’s CT600 Company Tax Return document).
Under Category G, the relevant period will be the specified limited company’s two most recent 12-month full financial years that passed (as stated in the company’s CT600 Company Tax Return document).
As discussed in more detail in this article, this may require the specified limited company to file their accounts much earlier than they usually would.
It is important to note that, contrary to what partners may initially think, business owners who receive employment and/or dividend income are not classed as “self-employed” in the Immigration Rules.
Instead, the Immigration Rules specifically define self-employed persons to be self-employed “sole traders”, “partners”, or those who are self-employed as a “franchise”.
Like specified limited company income, however, self-employment income is also included under Category F or G (although somewhat confusingly for some, the requirements that apply will differ from the requirements that apply to specified limited company income).
“How is Category F different to Category G for self-employed sole traders, partners and those who earn income from a franchise?”
The relevant financial year under Category F for self-employed persons in the UK will be the most recent 6 April – 5 April period that passed (i.e. the personal tax self-assessment return period).
The relevant financial year under Category G for self-employed persons in the UK will be the two most recent 6 April – 5 April periods that passed.
If the dividend income was from a specified limited company, it would be included under either Category F or G.
If the dividend income was included from a non-specified limited company, it would be included under Category C.
In short, it should be noted that if the dividend income is from purchasing equity from a company in the public markets, it will be income from a non-specified limited company and is therefore includable under Category C.
If you are still trying to decide whether the income will be from a specified limited company or not, feel free to read this article which will help you identify this.
Income from property rental is included under Category C.
If you would like more information about Category C (such as the relevant period and how much can be included in the financial requirements), feel free to read this article.
Cash savings are always included under Category D.
For more information about this, you can read our Cash Savings Guidance for 16000 – 62500+ Spouse & UK Partner visas in 2024 article.
Category E is specifically for those relying on income from a pension.
As we discuss in our spouse visa financial requirements article, this can be either the applicant or sponsor’s pension income.
There are numerous other permitted sources of income which all fall under Category C.
They are as follows:
- Dividend income from non-specified limited companies.
- 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.
- Ongoing insurance payments.
- Ongoing royalty payments.
- Ongoing payments from a structured legal settlement.
- A maintenance grant or stipend (not a loan) associated with undergraduate study or postgraduate study or research.
- Payments under the War Pensions Scheme, the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme and the Armed Forces Attributable Benefits Scheme.
What are the sources of income which are not permitted in Appendix FM?
#1 Benefit income is only includable if the adequate maintenance test applies.
We discuss the adequate maintenance test here.
If the adequate maintenance test does not apply, this means that you will not be able to include any of the following towards the financial requirement:
- Jobseeker’s Allowance;
- Employment and Support Allowance;
- Incapacity benefit;
- Housing benefit;
- Child benefit;
- Council Tax Benefit or support;
- Pension Credit;
- & other benefit income.
#2 Loans and credit facilities cannot be included in the financial requirement.
This is why cash savings that were a result of mortgaging property will not technically be includable towards the financial requirement.
#3 The Immigration Rules do not generally permit third party sponsorship.
For example, the application cannot rely on the applicant or sponsor’s parent’s employment income to satisfy the financial requirement.
There are, however, a few exceptions to this which are specifically addressed in the guidance.
- Exception #1 Maintenance and/or alimony payments;
- Exception #2 Academic maintenance grants/stipends; and
- Exception #3 Where there are ‘exceptional circumstances’.
It should be noted that “Exceptional circumstances” require truly exceptional circumstances – so much so that it’s “clear that there would be a breach of Article 8 because it could result in unjustifiably harsh consequences for the applicant, their partner or a relevant child”.
It must be stressed here that this will only be applicable to a tiny minority of partners. The law regarding this can be rather convoluted and this would be an instance where it would be advisable to speak with a qualified and experienced immigration lawyer if the standard financial requirement is not met and you believe that there may be such exceptional circumstances.
Finally, although it is not technically an exception, it is open for a family member to gift (but not loan) cash savings to satisfy the financial requirement. The cash savings will then need to be held for 6 months by the applicant and/or sponsor.
“I am in the UK on a partner or parent visa. Is there a requirement to continually satisfy the Appendix FM financial requirement throughout the visa?”
No. There is no requirement to continually satisfy the financial requirement throughout the duration of the parent or partner visas.
Rather, you will need to ensure that the financial requirement will be met at each of the times that you submit the online applications.
Cash savings UK fiancé visa example
1 July 2023 – Cash savings gift
On 1 July 2023, Preston was gifted £65,000 in cash savings by his mother to satisfy the financial requirement for his partner’s fiancé visa application.
1 January 2024 – Fiancé visa application submission
Preston was able to submit the fiancé visa application on 1 January 2024 since he held the required amount of cash savings for 6 months.
1 April 2024 – Fiancé visa grant
After 2 months, the fiancé visa was granted for 6 months.
The fiancé visa’s start date, in this instance, was 1 April 2024.
The visa’s expiry date is listed as 1 October 2024.
1 September 2024 – FLR(M) application submission
Preston has married the applicant and as the fiancé visa’s expiry date is nearing, Preston and his partner decided to submit the FLR(M) application on 1 September 2024.
Since Preston knew that he would have to make an FLR(M) application around this time, he did not let the cash savings dip below the £62,500 figure in the 6 months prior.
Whilst Preston can technically let the cash savings dip a day after submitting the online application, he decided to keep the cash savings figure above £62,500 until the FLR(M) visa was granted.
1 November 2022 – FLR(M) visa grant
The FLR(M) visa has just been granted for 30 months (which is standard).
Since the next time that he will have to satisfy the financial requirement will be the date that he must submit the next FLR(M) visa application (which will be within 28 days of the FLR(M) visa’s expiry date), Preston will now be able to let the cash savings dip below the required amount of £62,500.
Preston would be advised to familiarise himself with the relevant financial period(s) for the permitted source of income that he will use to satisfy the financial requirement for the next FLR(M) visa application.
For example. if he decides to rely on his cash savings again, he will need to ensure that the required amount of cash savings will have been held for 6 months before the next FLR(M) visa application’s submission date.
On the other hand, if he decides to invest all of his cash savings to set up his own specified limited company, he would be well advised to familiarise himself with the relevant financial period for that early on in the process (which will be the specified limited company’s most recent full 12-month financial year which passed). He should also read about the amount of income that can be included from a specified limited company early on in the process.
We discuss the relevant financial periods for all of the permitted sources of income here.
Appendix FM Financial Requirement Frequently Asked Questions
Can applicants’ cash savings be used to satisfy the Appendix FM financial requirement?
Yes. Applicants’ cash savings can be used to satisfy the financial requirement alone or in combination with other sources of permitted income.
Is the financial requirement the biggest cause for family and partner visa refusals?
The financial requirement is indeed the biggest cause for family and partner visa refusals. Therefore, if you are going to process your own application, you should ensure that you give yourself enough time to familiarise yourself with the relevant financial requirements.
Can my or my partner’s house be used to satisfy the financial requirement?
Owning a home can only be used to satisfy the financial requirement if that home is sold within 6 months before submitting the online application (if that property was in the name of the applicant and/or sponsor in the 6 months before submitting the online application before its sale & the other requirements are met).
Can applicants’ property rental income be used to satisfy the Appendix FM financial requirement?
Yes. The Immigration Rules do not prohibit including applicants’ property rental income towards the financial requirement.
As a UK-based immigration law firm that specialises in partner visas, we primarily help our clients via two services.
Our main service is our full legal representation service, which is where Ed Lowe, Wendy Foy & Matthew French (all of whom worked in the Home Office for many years) can process your application from start to finish.
On the other hand, if you would like to process your application yourselves but would like additional assistance, you may be interested in our £435 DIY Application Pack Service.