Earlier this month, Labour MP Katy Clark called for the financial requirement for spouse visas to be re-evaluated. Ms Clark criticised the current threshold of £18,600 after being contacted by two families who are being forced to live apart after failing to meet the current financial threshold. According to the UK charity BritCits, an estimated 47% of people working in the UK do not meet the financial requirement.
MP Katy Clark calls for Financial Requirement for Spouses to be Re-evaluated
In July 2012, the UK government increased the salary requirement for a British person bringing a non-EU spouse into the UK to £18,600. If the couple have children, the amount rises to £22,400, with an extra £2,400 for every child thereafter.
Ms Clark who is MP for North Ayrshire has taken her concerns to Parliament and asked for the current Immigration Rules to be reviewed. However, she has admitted to lacking confidence in her own beliefs due to the current anti-immigration climate and the Labour party opposing such changes when they debated the issue in Parliament back in 2012. Ms Clark is relying on the stories of two families from her local constituency in hope of strengthening her argument.
For example, one of the families are Phillip, a British national and Kyoto Malloy. The couple met in Mrs Malloy’s home country of Japan where Mr Malloy was teaching English. They fell in love, got married and returned to the UK. The couple welcomed their first child and Mrs Malloy’s visa expired in September 2013. She was forced to return to Japan with their young son, as the couple did not meet the financial requirement for a spouse visa. Mr Malloy is currently looking for a job in order to the satisfy the Immigration Rules and rarely sees his wife and son due to the expense of travelling.
Changes to the Immigration Rules relating to family and private life
There are minor changes and clarifications being made to the Immigration Rules relating to family and private life. In respect of the minimum income threshold requirement under Appendix FM and Appendix FM-SE, the changes are:
- Allowing funds to be transferred from a type of investment account which does not count under the rules as an eligible account for cash savings (e.g. because the funds cannot be accessed immediately) to an eligible bank account within the period of 6 months prior to application.
- Allowing an academic stipend or grant to be counted as income where it is paid for at least one full academic year, as well as for a 12-month period.
- Clarifying that a sponsor or applicant living in the UK can, in calculating their employment or self-employment income, include work undertaken overseas.
- Ensuring that where an application relies on the income from employment in the UK of the sponsor and applicant, this must be calculated on the same basis for both parties for the purpose of the income threshold rules.
- Allowing an equity partner, e.g. in a law firm, to evidence their partnership income through a letter from an accountant, solicitor or business manager acting for the partnership.
- Clarifying how cash savings can be used in meeting a requirement for ‘adequate’ maintenance, where the applicant is exempt from the income threshold requirement. This change also applies to applicants under Part 8 (excluding an applicant who is a family member of a Relevant Points Based System Migrant).
- Clarifying that the official documentation to be provided by a person in receipt of a specified disability-related benefit or Carer’s Allowance must relate to that person’s current entitlement to it.
Are you affected by the ‘Financial Requirement’?
The Home Office has responded to the judgment by publishing a statement and has stated that they have paused decision-making on some spouse/partner and child settlement visa and leave to remain applications to enable them to consider the implications of the judgment.
If you would like to discuss how the financial requirement may affect you, please call us today and our london immigration solicitor’s will be able to assist you by meeting with you and reviewing your case.