Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Home Office Wins Appeal On Spouse Visa Minimum Income Threshold

Cynthia Barker writes...Good morning from a hot and humid London. Bad news for British residents wishing to sponsor a non-EU partner or spouse for a UK visa, but earning less than £18,600 per year. As 4000 pending family visa applications can now expect a refusal decision, the Home Office has welcomed a Court of Appeal judgment, “upholding the lawfulness of the income threshold under the new family migration rules”.
The Home Office introduced the minimum income threshold for British citizens to sponsor a non-EEA spouse or partner or child to come and live in the UK in July 2012.

Home Office, London

The tough new immigration rules – widely criticized for tearing families apart - were subject to a successful legal challenge, which the Home Office appealed leaving thousands of spouse visa cases on hold while awaiting a judgment.

The UK government brought in the minimum income threshold to ensure that family migrants do not become reliant on the taxpayer for benefits and can integrate into British society.

Presumably the Home Office feels that migrants who have a partner earning more than £18,600 are more likely to integrate?

The controversial minimum income rule was set by the Home Office, based on advice from the independent Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), at £18,600 for sponsoring a non-EU spouse or partner, rising to £22,400 for also sponsoring a child and an additional £2,400 for each further child.

Family life in the UK, but not at taxpayer’s expense, says Home Office Minister.

Immigration and Security Minister James Brokenshire said:

“I am delighted that the Court of Appeal has comprehensively upheld the lawfulness of this important policy.

“We welcome those who wish to make a life in the UK with their family, work hard and make a contribution, but family life must not be established in the UK at the taxpayer’s expense and family migrants must be able to integrate.

“The minimum income threshold to sponsor family migrants is delivering these objectives and this judgment recognises the important public interest it serves.”

The Appeal Court judgment overturns an earlier High Court judgment from July 2013, which was supportive of the approach but found that the impact of the minimum income threshold on family life could be disproportionate.

Visa applications on hold will now receive a decision

The Home Office added that from the 28 July, the 4,000 individuals whose visa applications are currently on hold, pending this judgment, will now receive a decision:

“These are cases which met all the requirements apart from the minimum income threshold and now stand to be refused.”

The news will be devastating for those families who were hoping that the courts would overturn the minimum income rules, which are keeping them apart, but will now receive a visa refusal.

EEA family permit applications unaffected

Many British expats have also been hit by the rules when returning from a job overseas, obviously without a UK job, but unable to take their non-EU spouse or partner to join them in Britain.

The unfair thing about these rules, for British citizens living in the UK, is that European EEA nationals can ignore these 'minimum income' rules and walk through the UK border with their entire extended non-EU family under EU/EEA regulations. Many UK citizens are now taking up EU residence in order to beat the Home Office family visa restrictions. Want to know more - email me!

If you have been affected by changes or need advice on any immigration matter, including overstaying your visa, EU or UK immigration law, or want to appeal against a refusal, call Cynthia Barker on 07850 307687 or 0208 731 5972 or email her your details to Cynthia Barker is a qualified OISC Registered Immigration Adviser, with 15 years experience in immigration matters, with a team of Level 3 Immigration Law Practitioners, Concept Care Solutions, Middlesex House, 29-45 High Street, Edgware, HA8 7UU.

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