The UK Home Office has announced sweeping reforms to the Immigration Rules for non-European Economic Area (non-EEA) nationals applying to enter or remain in the UK on the family migration route.
The new Immigration Rules will also unify consideration under the rules and Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, by defining the basis on which a person can enter or remain in the UK on the basis of their family or private life.
Most of these changes will apply to new applicants from 9 July 2012.
The changes are part of the Government’s programme of reform of the immigration routes and follow wide consultation and expert advice from the Migration Advisory Committee. The changes include:
- introducing a new minimum income threshold of £18,600 for sponsoring the settlement in the UK of a spouse or partner, fiancé(e) or proposed civil partner, of non-European Economic Area (EEA) nationality, with a higher threshold for any children also sponsored; £22,400 for one child and an additional £2,400 for each further child;
- publishing, in casework guidance, a list of factors associated with genuine and non-genuine relationships, to help UK Border Agency caseworkers to focus on these issues;
- extending the minimum probationary period for settlement for non-EEA spouses and partners from two years to five years, to test the genuineness of the relationship;
- abolishing immediate settlement for migrant spouses and partners where a couple have been living together overseas for at least four years;
- from October 2013, requiring all applicants for settlement to pass the Life in the UK Test and present an English language speaking and listening qualification at B1 level or above of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages unless they are exempt;
- allowing adult and elderly dependants to settle in the UK only where they can demonstrate that, as a result of age, illness or disability, they require a level of long-term personal care that can only be provided by a relative in the UK, and requiring them to apply from overseas rather than switch in the UK from another category, for example as a visitor; and
- restricting family visit visa appeals, initially by narrowing the current definitions of family and sponsor for appeal purposes, and then, subject to the passage of the Crime and Courts Bill, which was published on 11 May 2012, removing the full right of appeal against refusal of a family visit visa.
For more information about the changes that are being introduced and details of transitional arrangements, please see the full Statement of Intent on the UK Border Agency website. Source UK Border Agency.
Cynthia Barker, of Immigration Advisers Bison Management, has dealt with thousands of dependant visa applications and appeals and feels the new rules will mostly exclude first generation migrant workers who usually earn lower wages than similarly qualified native workers.
‘The rules will particularly hit Senior Carers and some Nurses earning less than £9.00 per hour who want their partners and children to join them in the UK.
‘Traditionally, one family member will emigrate to the UK on a work permit and get established with a secure job and housing before applying for their dependants to join them.
‘But after years of working and paying taxes without ever claiming benefits they could find that they can no longer sponsor dependants because of this new rule.’
Cynthia’s advice to those who wish to sponsor their dependants is to ‘act sooner rather than later’.
If you need any immigration advice on applying for or renewing visas, sponsoring dependants, or have been served with a removal or deportation order, or need advice on an appeal against a refusal please email: