This is a complex question as so it seems the rules have not been fully made up for settlement in 2018, but I come from a non-EU country and my wife is a British citizen with no other nationality.
We have applied for my visa under the spouse new rules (after July 2012) and have already done it twice (first leave to remain, followed by second leave to remain). I will complete 5 years under the new rules in 2018, where I'll be eligible for settlement. The new rules state that your sponsor (the British citizen) should earn £18,600 to successfully sponsor you (additional to other relationship requirements etc..) and once you are in the UK, both of your incomes can sum up together to complete the £18,600. We have already gone through this process and completed the first two steps using income from paid employment all the time.
The rules regarding settlement are a bit vague now and don't have concrete answer to what evidence is required to settle under the new rules (at least in the financial aspect), but it is very likely that they will require you to show the same £18,600 using the same criteria that it is needed for the Limited leave to remain rules.
This is our projected situation for the time we apply for settlement in 2018: My wife is doing a PhD and receives a stipend/grant every month. She will continue her PhD until about September 2018, but that's her only income and according to the rules for leave to remain, they will not accept evidence for grants if you can't prove that you are going to receive the grant for 12 months after application date (so if say we apply in February 2018, there will only be 7 months more of stipend income). I'm very sure even if we provide them evidence that she will get a postdoctorate that earns more than enough as soon as she finishes her degree that won't count either (they won't accept promises of future employment unless it's an entry clearance application and the offer is for the sponsor coming from abroad and within 3 months of visa date). So in this case we are a bit stuck and we can't use her income.
I'm self-employed and will probably earn more than enough each year until we apply, but if the rules are to be the same as the leave to remain rules,
I'm a bit confused to know what documents to show (and this is where my question goes):
Will it suffice to prove this requirement by only showing the following?:
- Accounts certified by your accountant for the previous tax year (which I suppose must be 2016/17 because the year 2017/18 will only finish in April 2018, correct?)
- Letter from HMRC with your UTR
- Tax return for that year (2016/17) which will show evidence of NIC payments and your income after taxes
I hope if someone had experience applying under the new rules (July 2012) for entry clearance and leave to remain, using self-employment income can confirm this is correct/enough?