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The minimum income threshold required by the UK spouse visa is difficult to meet. After thousands of heart-wrenching stories of families being torn apart the Supreme Court acknowledged that the rules need amending. It has just been announced that these changes will come into effect on 10 August 2017. Find out what this means for you and your family.

mother and daughter

The consequences of the minimum income threshold

In 2012, Theresa May introduced the minimum income threshold for the UK spouse visa, which stands at £18,600 for partners from outside the European Economic Area (EEA), £22,400 if they have one child, and an additional £2,400 for each additional child.  

According to a statement released by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI), an estimated 15,000 children, most of whom are British citizens, are currently separated from one parent as a result of this punitive threshold.

For five years, the JCWI have been working tirelessly with affected families to challenge the rules, claiming that they breach the human right to a family life. In the case of MM et Ors. in February 2017, the Supreme Court ruled that the threshold does not breach any human rights, but that the implementation of the rules require review and amendment.

See also: Supreme court rules to uphold minimum income threshold for foreign spouses

In this case, the Supreme Court highlighted that the best interest of affected children need to be given primary consideration in decisions made. It was also suggested that alternative sources of income should be taken into account to make up the financial requirement.

The JCQI reported that 5,000 family migration applications have been put on hold in the five months since the Supreme Court case in February. 

The good news: The rules have finally been changed

Here’s the good news: The Home Office has announced that the rules have been amended and will come into effect on 10 August 2017.

The rules have been amended as follows: 

  • When an application does not meet the minimum income threshold, the primary consideration needs to be the best interest of the child (under the age of 18) involved
  • The child included in a successful application will be granted the same route to settlement as their parent
  • If the applicant does not meet the minimum income threshold, and there are circumstances that could lead to harsh consequences for any of the parties involved, the Home Office should consider alternative incomes of the applicants to make up the income threshold
  • Alternative sources of income will include:
    • Credible guarantee of sustainable financial support from a third party
    • Credible prospective earnings from the sustainable employment or self-employment of the applicant or partner
    • Any other credible and reliable source of income available
  • If the applicant cannot meet the threshold, the caseworker should consider whether the refusal of the application would breach Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights
  • Should an application be successful based on new considerations, it will put the applicants on a ten-year route to settlement. If the applicant is able to meet the income threshold at a later stage, they can apply for the five-year route to settlement

Find out what this means for your family

More good news: These rules affect appeals

In cases where your application has been refused and an appeal is submitted, the First-Tier Tribunal will consider whether the Home Office failed to consider the best interest of the child involved. This means that immigration judges will now have more power to scrutinise application refusals based on the financial requirement.

Don’t delay, review your situation today

These new rules mean that your application is now heavily based on how your case is presented to the Home Office. It is vital that an application shows that it is in the best interest of the child involved to be with both parents.

You may also need to show alternative sources of income, which means that more documentary evidence will be needed. Every part of your application will be heavily scrutinised, so you need to ensure that every part of your application is correct.

In this kind of situation you need to be sure all your documents are 100% in order. In complex cases involving children it is strongly advised that you seek out experienced and professional immigration advice.

The right immigration adviser can make the difference between a successful application and a refusal. 


Not sure what this means for your family? Give us a call on +44 (0) 20 7759 7580, send us an email on immigration@sableinternational.com or leave a comment below. 

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