UPDATE #1: Read updates on our petition dated 18/05/16 here.
The petition to introduce Joint Sponsorship for UK Visas can be found on the official government website – click here to sign. To find out more about why we are petitioning for this, please carry on reading.
Since we started writing about our own UK visa journey almost a year ago, we have met many couples going through a similar process. We have tried, as much as possible, to provide advice and guidance on our blog to those in similar situations. We have also written extensively on the various aspects of the Partner (Fiancé & Spouse) visas, because of how poorly explained the process is on the official government website.
However, despite our best efforts – there is one aspect of the visa requirement we are often unable to help with: The Financial Requirement. According to the official guidance in Appendix FM1.7, there are nine ways to meet the financial requirement, but none of these are easy. The two most common ways of meeting the requirement are through (1) permanent employment and (2) cash savings.
If you’re applying via cash savings, the chances are you won’t meet the £62,500 in instantly accessible assets that you are required to have. And if you opt for the permanent employment route, you need to earn over £18,600 per year. Remember, it’s your UK based sponsoring partner alone that must meet these requirements. Neither you nor friends and family can help.
The terrible and heartbreaking truth that we have to tell many couples is that if you aren’t fortunate enough to be in this position, you will either have to wait until you are, or give up on the dream of living together in the UK. We believe this is wrong. No couple should be denied the right to a life together, because one partner does not earn enough.
In many cases, the applicant earns more than enough to meet the requirement. In other cases, friends and family are willing to provide support. But according to the government, this doesn’t matter. If you’re partner alone does not meet the requirement – tough luck.
Why Are The Requirements So Strict?
The main argument for why Partner visa financial requirements are so strict is that it prevents applicants from entering the UK and living on benefits – A.K.A taxpayer money. This is, to some extent, a valid concern. No-one wants their tax money being used to support migrants looking for a free ride.
But, in our experience – this is rarely ever the case. The couples we talk to aren’t scroungers looking to game our welfare system. They are hardworking, determined individuals willing to do whatever they can to close the distance between them.
Chelsea and I are even examples of this. When we first met, I was starting my second year of university. Beside my studies, I was working two part time jobs and running my own business to afford trips to the US – though making nowhere near the financial requirement. Chelsea worked at a doggie day care facility and taught training classes to support her trips to the UK. She was making over the requirement financial limit. But because she was the applicant and I was the sponsor, we had to wait not only until I had finished university but had been in a full-time job paying over £18,600 for 6 months before we could even think about applying.
Fortunately, in our case, we were able to put ourselves in a position to apply. But many are not. Data from HMRC in 2013 suggested there were at least 9 million individuals (though more likely around 12 million) in the UK earning less than the 18,600 needed to apply. Out of the approximate 38 million working aged adults in the UK – that’s a staggering 23% that can’t apply to live with their partner if they happen to be outside of the EU.
Please note – these figures are estimates. However, they serve to illustrate the magnitude of this issue.
How Would Joint Sponsorship Help?
Joint sponsorship, as it is applied in other countries (notably the USA), allows a second individual to take unlimited financial responsibility for a visa applicant should their main sponsor not be able to support them. This means that if your UK based sponsor does not meet the financial requirement, they could ask a close friend or family member to co-sign the paperwork with them. That second individual would then share the responsibility of meeting the financial requirement and supporting the applicant for the duration of their visa.
A joint sponsorship system would offer a vital lifeline to couples where the sponsor is unable to meet the financial requirement alone. More importantly to many, there is no additional risk to the UK taxpayer. Previous attempts to lower the financial requirement have been rejected on the basis of additional risk to taxpayers. However, by assigning responsibility to a second individual, who is more financially stable, the risk is transferred to them – rather than the UK working population at large.
Of course, it is still down to the couple to find a friend or family member who is willing to take on this responsibility. There is no guarantee that they will be able to. But it is far better than the alternative. It gives couples who are currently unable to apply a much needed second option. Rather than give up on the idea of building a life together in the UK, these couples would have the chance to – something the current system cruelly takes from many.
How You Can Help!
If joint sponsorship sounds like a good idea to you, then we need your support! We want to bring this to the government’s attention. We want to make it known that there is a way they can create a system which looks out for the interests of visa applicants and taxpayers alike.
We have created a petition, outlining the concept of joint sponsorship for Partner visas and how it would so many families torn apart by an unfair sponsorship system. But we need to get it noticed before any action can be taken. So, if you want to help us change the immigration system and give more couples the chance at a much deserved life together in the UK – please sign the petition here.
At 10,000 signatures the government must respond, and if the petition reaches 100,000 then it will be debated in parliament. Unfortunately, only British citizens and UK residents may sign petitions. So even if this is an issues that directly affects you, you may still be unable to sign.
But don’t worry, you can still help! We need to spread the word. So please: share this post, share our petition, or even write about it yourself. The more people we can get to stop and take notice, the more chance we have at making a real, lasting change.