UK Immigration: Home Office keep Family Apart after Failing to meet Immigration Criteria

It has been reported today that a family from Pembrokeshire have been forced to live apart due to the refusal of a Spouse visa application. Mark Rummery, a British national is married to Malaysian born Jan (Koi Leng Chi), whose initial visa application has been refused due her inability to meet the financial requirement. Since July 2012, the Home Office has introduced a stringent criteria for applicants who must show that they are in a genuine and subsisting relationship, can maintain themselves without recourse to public funds and will have ample accommodation upon arrival in the UK. In order to meet the maintenance requirement, an applicant must demonstrate that their partner earns the amount of £18,600 per annum and provide the specified documents listed in the Home Office guidance. 

Home Office Refuse Spouse Visa Application

Mark and Jan have been married for 21 years and have two sons together aged 17 and 11 years old. The couple decided to invest in a business based in Pembrokeshire, where Mark’s father lives. They bought the ‘Ivy Bridge Guest House and Spa’, with the intention of making Jan the chef and serve Asian cuisine at the establishment.

After applying to come to the UK last year in January 2013, the family have been forced to travel to the UK separately due to a number of problems with immigration. The couple’s eldest son Trystan, arrived in the UK in June last year in time for him start his A-levels at  Pembrokeshire College. Trystan was joined by his dad 7 months later, arriving in the UK this year in January, followed by the youngest son in March. Jan applied for a Spouse visa in January 2013, which was refused in June on the basis that Mark did not meet the threshold of £18,600.

Mark commented on the disappointment of his family being forced to live thousand of miles apart:

“The reality remains nothing is going to move unless we get a slot in a court house and a judge that understands the importance of family unity.  There’s an article 8 which states you can’t separate mothers from their children. Both of our children are under age and British passport holders. They have every right to be here, and I have every right to be here. But my wife can’t be here because I can’t fit the immigration criteria.”

What is the current Financial Requirement?

The Immigration Rules were amended on 9 July 2012 to introduce a financial requirement to be met by a person applying for leave to enter, leave to remain and indefinite leave to remain in the UK on the basis of their family life with a person who is:

1.     British Citizen; or

2.     present and settled in the UK; or

3.     in the UK with refugee leave or humanitarian protection.

The rules specify that a sponsor must be earning £18,600 per annum before they can sponsor their spouse, unmarried partner or same sex partner to enter or remain in the UK. Although there are provisions for combining the earnings of the sponsor and the applicant; this has proved to be problematic for many individuals.  In R (on the application of MM) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2013] EWHC 1900 (Admin), Immigration Judge Blake J carefully considered the UK’s immigration rules requiring a minimum income of at least £18,600 for spouse visa applications and stated that they could constitute an unjustified and disproportionate interference with the ability of spouses to live together. He suggested that an appropriate figure may be around £13,400 and highlighted the position of young people and low wage earners caught by the higher figure in the rules. This case is currently being considered by the Court of Appeal, our Immigration Team will provide an update once a judgement has been determined.

Are you affected by the ‘Financial Requirement’?

The Home Office’s rules on financial requirements affect non-European Economic Area (non-EEA) nationals applying to enter or remain in the UK under the family migration route. The rules define the basis on which a person can enter or remain in the UK on the basis of their family or private life. If you intend to make an application as the spouse, partner, fiance(e) or proposed civil partner of a British citizen, you and your sponsor will need to meet the financial requirements.

If you would like to discuss how the financial requirement may affect you, please contact us today and our London immigration solicitor’s will be able to assist you by meeting with you and reviewing your case. If you have had a spouse visa refused on the grounds that you did not meet with the financial requirements, contact us so we can review your case.

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