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05 August 2020
On 17 July 2020 the Home Office updated its policy guidance to confirm a surprisingly limited concession to the usual minimum income requirements that most applicants for partner and child visas must meet.
The concession appears on the final page of the Home Office's policy guidance on meeting the financial requirement for entry clearance, limited leave to remain or indefinite leave to remain applications under the Immigration Rules for the partners and children of British citizens and settled persons.
The guidance is intended to ensure that applicants are not disadvantaged as a result of circumstances beyond their control because of COVID-19.
The guidance confirms that income received via the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme or the Coronavirus Self-Employment Income Support Scheme can count as employment or self-employment income for the purposes of meeting the minimum income requirement, but only where there is evidence of a temporary loss of income due to COVID-19 between 1 March 2020 and 31 July 2020.
More specifically, it states the following:
The published policy guidance is concerning for two reasons.
First, unless swiftly revised, it signals that the Home Office is not intending to make allowances where an applicant has a temporary loss of income beyond 31 July 2020. This could be disastrous for people:
Second, the policy guidance is more restrictive than the concession for family route applicants published on GOV.UK, which:
Although an individual's application may not necessarily be refused if they cannot meet the minimum income or adequate maintenance requirement, if approved, they are likely to be placed on a 10-year path to settlement rather than a five-year one.
Clarification is awaited from the Home Office regarding the inconsistencies between the two sets of guidance. Many of the COVID-19 concessions were updated on 29 July 2020 and 30 July 2020 as they covered the situation only until 31 July 2020, however the concessions for family and private life applicants were not. This is presumably an oversight and further amendments will likely be published in the near future.
For further information on this topic please contact Andrew Osborne or Kathryn Denyer at Lewis Silkin by telephone (+44 20 7074 8000) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com). The Lewis Silkin website can be accessed at www.lewissilkin.com.
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