Does Universal Credit Affect Spouse Visas?


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Does Universal Credit Affect Spouse Visa?

If you are a UK spouse visa holder you might be sceptical about applying for some form of UK government benefits. Considering the ‘no recourse to public funds (NRFP)’ clause in the visa application, spouse visa applicants and sponsors should be well informed about the decisions they make about the use of public funds or benefits, including universal credit. 


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What is Universal Credit? 

Universal credit is a form of public benefit offered by the British government to assist the low-income and unemployed UK citizens who live in the UK regularly. 

The benefit, which is offered in the form of a monthly or bi-monthly payment, is meant to assist with the living costs of the unemployed or low-income earning population. You can use the payment to offset living costs such as housing costs, school fees, food, medical bills, home care service costs for the disabled and utility bill expenses. 

Am I Eligible for Universal Credit? 

You can claim universal credit if you: 

  • Are unemployed, within the low-income bracket or can’t work
  • At least 18 years old 
  • The sum of your savings and your partner’s/spouse’s is below £16,000
  • Are a British citizen who regularly lives in the UK

What Happens to My Other Benefits If I claim Universal Credit? 

If you apply for the universal credit and your application is successful, the payment will replace some of the public benefits and funds you’ve been receiving including: 

  • Child tax credit
  • Working tax credit
  • Income support
  • Income-based jobseeker’s allowance
  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)

Spouse Visa Rights and Restrictions

The UK spouse visa/ family application gives foreign nationals in relationships with British or UK settled spouses or long-term partners the right to join and live with them in the UK for up to 30 months. With the visa, you can live, work and study in the UK, just like a British citizen or UK settled persons 

However, unlike British citizens or UK settled persons, or individuals with indefinite right to remain, a spouse visa holder cannot claim most of the state benefits including universal credit, tax credits, housing allowance and public funds. The visa holder should have’ No recourse to public funds in the UK.

That explains why one of the requirements for the spouse visa application is the proof of the applicant’s and the sponsor’s ability to support the prospective visa holder (and any dependents) sufficiently without claiming public funds by earning kings of at least £18600 gores per annum. If there are foreign children involved as well the gross income requirements is increased. 

Can My Sponsor Claim Universal Credit?

As long as they have British citizenship or UK settled status, your UK spouse visa sponsor can claim universal credit. However, remember that you, the visa holder, aren’t eligible for the state payment. Therefore, your sponsor should apply for the payment independently, as a single person. However, since you are their legally recognized partner with possible significant influence on their financial status, your income and capital are likely to be considered in the claim application. Furthermore, The Sponsor’s claim for Universal Credit can also be affected if both individuals are listed on the tenancy agreement for example. If this is the case, it would be useful to speak with an immigration lawyer in London to understand how this can affect your application.

Can I Apply for a Spouse Visa if My British or Settled Spouse is Not Working and is on Universal Credit?

Yes, according to the official policy guidance from the UK Home Office, it can be the case that an Applicant can successfully apply for a spouse visa if they are able to show “adequate maintenance” instead of the ability to meet the minimum income threshold of £18600 gross per annum. For more info, contact us.

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Which Benefits Can I Claim on a UK spouse?

You can’t claim most of the public benefits and funds offered by the UK government if you are relying on a spouse visa. For instance, you are not allowed to apply for Universal Credit. You can refer to Paragraph 6 of the Immigration Rules to see the comprehensive list of the services that a spouse visa holder cannot claim in the UK.

However, you can claim benefits resulting from National Insurance contributions. Such benefits include contribution-based jobseeker’s allowance, incapacity benefit, guardians’ allowance, statutory maternity sick pay, statutory sickness pay, contribution-based employment and support allowance as well as widow’s benefit and bereavement benefit.

What Effect will Universal Credit Have on My Spouse Visa? 

One of the most common questions that Gulbenkian Antonian’s UK immigration solicitors get from visa holders is, “does universal credit affect spouse visa?”

Well, the correct answer to this question depends on who is applying for the benefit payment. 

If it’s your sponsor who is applying, then the claim should not have any effect on your spouse visa. 

Otherwise, if, for some reason, you want to apply for the benefit while on a spouse visa, you should reconsider your intention. Remember that when you are applying for the visa, you’re supposed to prove that your partner will be able to give you ample financial support throughout the entire period of the validity of the visa. So, the UK government doesn’t allow you to make such a claim.  

Additionally, your sponsor can’t join you in their application for the benefit payment. They are supposed to make the application as a single person. 

Applying for the Universal Credit while on a spouse visa can jeopardise some of the rights you enjoy through the visa. Even worse, the application may have an adverse impact on your future UK immigration applications, including spouse visa extension applications. 

Can I be Exempted from “No Recourse to Public Funds”?

Yes, the Home Office is normally lenient enough to lift some restrictions in extreme circumstances. For instance, if your sponsor is not supporting you for some compelling reasons, the Home Office can reconsider your restriction to public benefits such as Universal Credit.

However, you need to make an application to the Home Office for your circumstance to be reconsidered for possible permission to access the government intervention and maybe further help. Nevertheless, it is worth noting that the exemption application should highlight significant reasons for it to be successful. 

Additionally, it is important to note that, if accepted, the exemption might result in significant changes in your visa rights. You might lose some rights, including your ability to continue living in the UK for the remaining period of the validity of your visa.

Therefore, it is advisable that you consult reputable UK immigration experts like Gulbenkian Andonian’s Solicitors before applying for the exemption. From the consultation, you’ll get to identify the possible effects of the exemption on your visa. Besides, if you are okay with the effects, the legal experts can help you apply for exemption from ‘No Recourse to Public Funds’ to access Universal Credit from the UK government. 

Final Words 

Universal Credit affects a UK spouse visa if the visa holder applies for the government benefit payment. However, the payment doesn’t have any effect on the visa if it’s only the sponsor who is making the application. Reach out to our friendly and highly experienced solicitors if you need any help with UK Spouse Visa, including a new visa application, visa extension or “No Recourse to Public Funds” exemption.

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    Neither Gulbenkian Andonian Solicitors ltd, nor their employees, agents, consultants or assignees, accept any liability based on the contents of written articles which are meant for guidance only and not as legal advice. We advise all readers to take professional advice before acting. If you would like to consult with a professional lawyer or solicitor to discuss your case, please do not hesitate to contact us directly.