Foreign & Commonwealth soldiers must earn a specific amount of money before they can bring their family to the UK – families must then apply to remain here permanently. Understanding these requirements and ensuring money is available when required is vital. Our F&C team answer your frequently asked questions…

Before you come to the UK

What is the minimum income requirement?

  • £16,800 to bring a spouse
  • £22,400 to bring a spouse and one child
  • £24,800 to bring a spouse and two children
  • £2,400 for each additional child.

Has the recent pay increase helped?
Yes, if you don’t have children. On completion of Phase Two training a recruit will now earn enough to apply to bring their spouse to the UK. The Home Office has also now confirmed that soldiers can apply using their backdated pay once the lump sum is received, meaning they won’t have to wait until they’ve been receiving the new salary for six months, as per previous guidance.

Can we use savings to make up the income shortfall?
Yes, but you must have a minimum of £16,000 plus five times the shortfall. If your soldier earns £22,000 but they need to be earning £22,400 to bring their spouse and child to the UK, then you would need to have £18,000 in savings (£400 x 5 = £2,000, plus £16,000 = £18,000).

Are there any other options?
Soldiers can bring their spouse to the UK and leave their children with relatives. As a spouse, if you’re able to get a job you could combine your incomes to meet the threshold and bring your children over after six months. Alternatively, your soldier could also get an additional source of income (with permission) to top up their salary.

What is the cost of the visa if we meet the income requirement?
The current cost of a visa to bring a family member to the UK is £1,523 per person (including children). If your visa is refused, you won’t get a refund.

Why isn’t there a discretion for Armed Forces families?
AFF has raised this issue ever since the income threshold    was introduced in December 2013, and we continue to push for an exemption for Forces families.

Our F&C Specialist Katherine Houlston said: “It cannot be right that those who have signed up to defend our nation are doing so at the expense of their family life.

“In July 2018, a brief written on behalf of a number of Service charities was given to the Minister of State for Immigration. We await a response.”

Once you are in the UK

When can we apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)?
Under Armed Forces rules, families should be given a five-year visa. You can apply for ILR 28 days before your visa expires.

How much does ILR cost?
The current cost is £2,389 per person (including children) – this increases every April.

Can I get help with the cost?
No. Unless you’re on an overseas assignment when your visas are due to expire, then the cost will be paid for. 

I’m struggling with finances and debt, what can I do?
Check out It pays to talk for a range of useful options.

Case study

AS A result of the pay raise in April this year, serving soldier Jack (pictured above) is now able to bring his wife to the UK. However, he’s not earning enough to bring over his daughter as well.

Because he has an income shortfall of more than £3.5k per year, he would have to have savings in excess of £33k to bring them both over.

Jack has now managed to get a second job and is hoping that after six months he will have earned enough to bring his family to the UK.

He said: “I feel we should automatically be allowed to bring our family over once we’ve completed training.

“As Commonwealth candidates, it’s tough to go through training alone and even tougher with your family thousands of miles away. While a second job will give me an opportunity to bring the family over, it’s difficult because this job alone is very demanding.

“I think it’s extremely important that the requirements for Commonwealth soldiers are reconsidered.”

Related Posts