Campaigns Keeping Families Together COVID-19 and Spouse/Partner visas I’m concerned about meeting the Minimum Income Requirement to renew my / my partner’s visa At the moment, people still have to meet the Minimum Income Requirement (MIR) when applying to stay in the UK as a spouse or partner. However, the Home Office on 9 June 2020 announced some small concessions. If you already met the MIR in the six months before March 2020, you can apply to renew when you need to - any drop in income since March 2020 will be disregarded. Similarly, if you previously earned enough to meet the requirement but your salary has dropped because you have been furloughed, you can still apply as if you were earning 100% of your income. There is full detail regarding this on the Home Office coronavirus advice page. If you are coming up to apply for a second spouse visa or for ILR as a partner, and are still worried about meeting the MIR, please contact us on [email protected]. We will make sure you get free and confidential advice about your situation, including about how to ensure your rights are protected when you come to reapply, no matter what your income is. We're asking the Government to suspend the MIR for extension applications. Click here to write to your MP asking them to raise this issue with the Home Secretary as soon as possible. If you are personally affected by this, please do make this clear by personalising the message to your MP, explaining in as much detail as you can your situation and why the MIR must be urgently lifted. You can email [email protected] if you'd like guidance on how to do this. I’m concerned about me / my partner not being able to leave the UK when a temporary visa expires The Home Office has announced an extension scheme for people in the UK on temporary leave who are worried they will not be able to leave the UK when their visa runs out because of COVID-19. The extension scheme could also be relevant to you if, for example, you are in the UK on a fiance visa but will not now be able to get married due to the lockdown. The Home Office confirmed on 22 May that this extension would last until 31 July, and would be applicable to anyone whose leave expired after 24 January. There is further information about this here. Anyone who thinks this might apply to them or has questions about how to access the extension scheme is encouraged to call JCWI's helpline for free and confidential legal advice. The helpline number is 020 7553 7470. It is open on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays between 10am and 1pm. I'm concerned about me / my partner accessing Statutory Sick Pay If you are self-isolating because of coronavirus, according to government advice, you can get Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) as long as you fall into certain eligible categories. SSP is available for people who are employed (including if you are employed on a zero-hours contract) and earned on average £118 or more per week, before tax. SSP is not classed as a public fund, so if you are here on a spouse visa and have No Recourse to Public Funds you can claim it. I’m concerned about myself / my partner being laid off, and this having an impact on our income People who are employed are eligible for support under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. This is a government scheme that helps employers pay 80% of the wages of employees who would otherwise have been laid off due to COVID-19. There is more information about how employers can access this support here. Money distributed under this scheme is not classed as a public fund, so people who are here on a spouse/partner visa can claim it. Support is now also being made available for self-employed people whose income has been affected by the pandemic. You can claim 80% of your average income from self-employment, as long as you submitted a tax return for the financial year 2018/19. The scheme is not open yet, but more information is available here. Money distributed under this scheme is not classed as a public fund, so people who are here on a spouse/partner visa can claim it. I’m concerned about NRPF restrictions meaning that I / my partner cannot claim enough benefits If you're in a couple where one partner has No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) as a condition of their visa, you won't usually be able to claim Universal Credit to cover both of you (there are exceptions for couples in which the partner with NRPF is a Turkish national). If you can access benefits but your partner cannot, you can still apply for benefits including Universal Credit as an individual, without this impacting on your partner's status. However, any income brought to the household by your partner will be taken into account when the DWP assesses how much financial support you can get. There is more information about this here. These restrictions risk causing huge financial hardship - couples in which one or both partners have lost income or work will need adequate financial support to get them through. That's why we're calling on the Government to lift NRPF restrictions during the pandemic. I / my partner have been working to earn the MIR, and we are concerned about not meeting the threshold because of the impact of COVID-19 At the moment, people still have to meet the Minimum Income Requirement (MIR) when applying to be joined in the UK by a spouse or partner. However, the Home Office on 9 June 2020 announced some small concessions. If you already met the MIR in the six months before March 2020, but have not yet applied and have since experienced a drop in your income, you can still apply - any drop in income since March 2020 will be disregarded. Similarly, if you previously earned enough to meet the requirement but your salary has dropped because you have been furloughed, you can still apply as if you were earning 100% of your income. There is full detail regarding this on the Home Office coronavirus advice page. We know that this is far from enough, and that there are still many people who will be extremely worried about being able to apply. If you are affected, and would like some free and confidential legal advice, please get in touch with us by emailing [email protected]. If you have already submitted and paid for your application, but have not been able to enrol your biometrics because the relevant Visa Application Centre is shut due to the pandemic, your application is kept live for 240 days from the point of application. You should save a PDF of your application for your records. You should also make sure that you have registered online for an account with UKVCAS, so that you can be contacted with a date to enrol your biometrics once your Visa Application Centre has reopened. Current guidance from the Home Office suggests that, if your Visa Application Centre has not reopened within 240 days from the date on which you applied, you will be contacted by Sopra Steria, the company in charge of this part of the application process. If you have not heard anything about your biometrics enrollment within this time, please get in touch with JCWI. I / my partner have just applied for a visa from outside the UK, but are worried about the impact of travel restrictions If you are already in the UK and are separated from your partner while you gather 6 months' worth of payslips to meet the MIR, please contact us at [email protected]. At this early stage, we are monitoring the situation for people who are in this position, and hope to be able to provide updates when the situation becomes clearer. If you've already been granted an entry clearance visa to join family in the UK and been issued with a 30-day visa for your travel to the UK (also known as a 'vignette'), but it has expired or will expire due to travel restrictions, you can now order a replacement for free. This does not cover visit visas. To get a replacement vignette, email [email protected] with 'REPLACEMENT 30 DAY VISA' as the subject line. The body of your email should include: Your name Your nationality Your date of birth Your GWF reference number As at 28 April 2020, the Home Office was advising that this process would be in place until the end of 2020. Full information on this can be found here. I'm here on a fiance(e) visa but can't now get married within 6 months as required If you're worried about fulfilling the requirements of a fiance(e) visa because weddings are not taking place, please contact JCWI by emailing [email protected]. We will be able to provide you with free and confidential legal advice about how to navigate this situation. I want advice on supporting people with precarious immigration status during the pandemic People in your community who have precarious immigration status may be particularly at risk during the pandemic. Many may fear accessing the healthcare they need, and may struggle to access information and daily necessities. You can find suggestions on how to support people with precarious immigration status, and links to further resources, here. We are aware that the current situation could impact in a wide range of ways on people who are applying for or have applied for spouse / partner visas. We will do our best to keep this page up-to-date as the situation changes. Please contact us on [email protected] if you have other concerns relating to your situation that you would like to discuss. And of course, click below to write to your MP and help keep families together, where they belong - now, and always. Write to your MP now!