Today, a Norfolk couple have expressed their relief after being granted leave to stay in the UK as a spouse of a settled person. Arlene Watty, a Filipino national entered the UK in 2009 with Tier 4 Student visa, studying health and social care. She met and fell in love with her neighbor Stephen Watty in 2010, the couple got married 2 years later. When Arlene’s student visa expired she applied for leave to remain, which was subsequently refused due to Mr Watty not earning the ‘minimum income’ threshold – £18,600.
Stephen Watty: the Immigration Rules need to Change
Mr and Mrs Watty appealed the Home Office’s refusal, which was dismissed as officials explained that the couple’s separation would not be “disproportionate or unjustifiably harsh”. Mrs Watty who was sacked from her full time job at a care home in Hemsby 3 months ago because of the uncertainty of her visa status, explains the two year battle with the Home Office:
“[I] lost hope. My feet were almost on the plane”
Mrs Watty explained that she had started working for her husband’s fencing and patio business and on her way home she received a missed call from her solicitor.
“I saw we’d had a missed call from the solicitor. We’d just finished a delivery. I saw my mobile phone and my heart was jumping. I pulled over, put it on loud speaker and called back. Because we have been given so much bad news in the past, our first thought was that it was going to be more bad news. And then he said congratulations. We both broke down and just started hugging each other. It feels like a lead weight has been lifted off our shoulders.”
Mr Watty added that he believes Home Office’s minimum income rule needs to change:
“I find it unfair that you can’t be in love with someone outside the EU if you’re poor. I thought you had the right to fall in love with anyone, from any country, of any race. The rules need to change.”
Migrants’ Rights Network: Half of British nationals do not meet Financial Requirements
The Migrants’ Rights Network revealed that almost half of British nationals who want bring their spouses to the UK to do not meet the visas maintenance requirements. Findings revealed that those earning less than £18,600 were much higher for those who live outside of London.
A UK Marriage Visa or a Spouse visa allows foreign nationals who are married (or in a civil partnership) to a British citizen, or a person who has settlement status in the UK to enter or remain in the UK. If you are based outside of the UK you will need to apply for Entry Clearance in order to join your spouse/civil partner in the UK. Under the immigration rules introduced by Theresa May in 2012, the British or EU national working in the UK must make at least £18,600 a year, in order to apply for a Spouse visa or family visa.
The study carried out by the Migrants’ Rights Network, showed that 47% of working British nationals do not earn the required amount to bring a spouse into the UK.
The group’s policy director Ruth Grove-White, questioned the kind of society we are portraying;
“This is not just a problem in the immigration rules, it raises questions about the kind of society we want to be – one that respects the right of British citizens to live with their family or one that deems some too poor to have equal rights?”
A Home Office impact assessment found up to 17,800 family visas would be affected every year due to the financial requirement. As it was found that the financial threshold of £18,600 is notably higher than the national minimum wage, which is currently around £13,200 a year.
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.