Access to state benefits for those on a spouse visa

One has to keep an eye constantly on the changes to the UK immigration law rules and procedures brought on by the Coronavirus Pandemic. Spouses who need to support an application for leave to enter or remain for non-EU nationals have come under particular pressure during the Coronavirus crisis because loss of earnings has meant that the sponsor might not be able to meet the financial requirements. Until 8th June there were no published concessions for people in this situation but now there is a new section in  the guidance on the changes to the minimum income and adequate maintenance requirements.

This states  that for those who have experienced loss of income due to the Coronavirus up to 1st January 2021the Home Office will consider employment income for the period immediately before the loss of the income provided that the minimum income requirement was met for at least six months immediately before the date that the income was lost. If the salary was reduced because the sponsor was furloughed, the Home Office will take account of the income as though the person was earning 100% of the salary. For those who are self-employed, a loss of annual income due to Coronavirus between 1st March 2020 and 1st January 2021 will usually be disregarded along with the impact of employment income for the same period for future applications. There has also been an amendment to Appendix FM Section 17 at page 69.

However, it seems that the Government has still to make the necessary changes to the policy of the hostile environment in light of the Covid crisis. At a time when the economy is crashing and work is scarce, those who are here on a spouse visa might not have access to state benefits. It may be time for the Government to re-think the no recourse to public funds for all migrants policy , regardless of status.

Image: UK Border cc by Danny Howard on Flickr.