Many British passport holders find themselves in a position where the required financial household income, for the UK Settlement visa, is out of reach.
For those that don’t know, the UK Settlement visa makes provision for South African family members to claim family dependency on their partner/parent’s British nationality.
The complication in the UK Settlement visa, is a set of rules known as “the financial requirement“. This financial requirement is the most frequent reason as to why UK Settlement visas get refused.
This article therefore serves to create awareness of solutions that are available to cases where the British passport holder is not able to directly qualify (based on their current household income in South Africa). It is important to note that applicants are not alone when facing this complication. This aspect of UK visa requirements is continually being contended in court and is often referred to as an “unfair” policy.
Fortunately Move Up has four solutions that we can present to help tackle this hurdle.
From hereafter, the British passport holder is referred to as “BPH”.
Solution 1 of 4: BPH Work in the UK for 6 months
Solution 2 of 4: Cash in Assets
Solution 3 of 4: Surinder Singh Route
Solution 4 of 4: Renounce British citizenship and claim ancestry working rights
Solution 1 of 4: BPH needs to work in UK for 6 months.
To consider if this option is feasible, the BPH needs to first conduct market related salary research.
What do I mean by “market related salary research” you might ask?
By Google searching the BPH skill set, followed by the words “jobs in London”, the results detail two aspects of consideration. The first is the demand for the skill set (many different positions = high demand) and second aspect of consideration is the average salary (reveals the going rate).
We have seen many families take this first solution as their best option and the BPH packs up, leaves family in SA and looks for work in the UK. The job offers they secure in the UK however, tend to be lower than the required relevant threshold.
Had the BPH conducted research of market related wage, before packing up, they would have realized what the feasibility of getting a sufficient job offer is.
Conducting market related research empowers the BPH with understanding of whether or not they are being offered too much or too little. It is a good negotiating tool to prospective UK job seekers. If the BPH can offer their services at a lower rate, it will make their skill set more appealing.
The other side of the coin is that it doesn’t make sense for UK employers to pay a “foreign” BPH a higher rate than what they would usually pay locals at.
Pro’s of solution 1 of 4:
This is the easiest way to meet the financial requirement (Subject to feasibility and demand results).
Con’s of solution 1 of 4:
Either it separates families for 6 months or it’s expensive for families to visit the BPH (with knowledge that they can only apply for Settlement Visa in SA).
Further to this, this option only applies to those BPH who are not retired and have a highly demanded skill set.
Solution 2 of 4: Cash in assets
This option only applies to cases where either the BPH or the applicant have assets that they can sell.
This approach is used often by retired BPH.
Unfortunately the value of assets is not considered. Therefore valuations won’t help.
The British government insist upon seeing funds in cash format (money market account accepted).
How much cash you might ask?
The formula to calculate cash savings required is:
(Deficit in income* x 2.5) plus £16000 = cash savings required.
*Deficit in income = relevant financial requirement threshold
Pro’s of solution 2 of 4:
No UK job offer required when using cash savings alone.
Families can travel together (and don’t need to be separated for 6 months).
Cheaper and easier than solution 1 of 4.
Con’s of solution 2 of 4:
Only applicable to families that have access to investments that they can cash in.
Solution 3 of 4: Surinder Singh Route
This is a legal loophole in the immigration industry that the British government openly discuss. This demonstrates that they acknowledge and accept the terms of the loophole.
In SA layman terms, this is simply a long way around the Settlement visas financial requirement. It applies to BPH that do not have the skill set or investments needed to meet the financial requirement.
How does it work you might ask?
The EU treaty plays a factor here. The rules at the moment allow BPH to bring Non EU (ie. South African) partners into the EU for free. Therefore free Schengen visas for South Africans married to British nationals.
Part of the freedom of movement agreement drawn up.
In exchange for this, EU nationals (other than British) can bring their non EU dependents in the UK for free.
The Surinder Singh Route plays on this freedom of movement agreement.
The British government lost a court case against two applicants Mr Surinder and Mr Singh. This loophole is based on the court ruling.
How the loophole works is that there is now provision in cases where South Africans who are given rights to live and work in the EU can claim the same free benefit as South Africans married to EU nationals.
The key though is that South Africans have to be granted working rights in the EU (and not just visiting rights).
To qualify for EU working rights, the BPH has to proved evidence of their EU payslips and bank statements. Which means that the BPH has to live and work in the EU for the applicant to qualify.
Pro’s of solution 3 of 4:
It’s cheap. No visa fees are paid for this transaction.
It gives the family a chance to experience a new culture. Ireland is quite popular because of this.
Con’s of solution 3 of 4:
It’s administratively challenging. Lots of separate visa submissions.
It is a long way around and could take 12 months of EU residence before being able get permissions to enter the UK.
Brexit proposes to close this route (March 2019).
Solution 4 of 4: Renounce British citizenship
BPH have worked hard to become British. It’s an international status to be proud of.
My question to any BPH that wants to relocate to the UK (to help their family), and can’t meet the financial requirement, is this:
Why not give up the status and help your family?
This option only applies if the BPH has a UK born grandparent.
If the BPH does not have a UK born grandparent, this solution does not apply to you.
Giving up British nationality will entitle the family members to join the BPH as dependents (without financial requirement).
Read the following article as a helpful explanation as to “why the Ancestry visa is better than the Settlement visa“.
Pro’s of solution 4 of 4:
Quick. Easy. Cheaper (Short term and long term).
Con’s of solution 4 of 4:
Temporary sacrifice of British citizenship. BPH will need to spend 6 years as a South African with their South African family in the UK (until such time as the family qualifies for British citizenship).
This hopefully introduces solutions that the applicant hasn’t considered. Please be encouraged to contact us for further information.