High Court Judicially Reviews UKBA’s ‘Financial Requirement’ For Spousal Maintenance

The High Court has now ruled that the financial requirement for spouse visa applications in the Immigration Rules are ‘unjustified and disproportionate’ in cases where the sponsor is a refugee, settled in the UK or a British citizen. In the case of MM & Ors v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2013] EWHC 1900 (Admin), Mr. Justice Blake has ruled that the financial requirement causes difficulties for many individuals as most are unable to meet the specified amount of £18,600 to demonstrate that they will be able to maintain their spouse in the UK.

What is the current UKBA 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.   

Impact of the Judicial Review on UK Visas’ Financial Requirements

Although the rule has not been changed, the ruling has  wide implications and has made some commentators hopeful that this hugely unpopular and controversial requirement will be changed in the near future.

The court criticised the requirement and stated:

“…to set the figure significantly higher than even the £13,400 gross annual wage effectively denies young people and many thousands of low-wage earners in full time employment the ability to be joined by their non-EEA spouses from abroad unless they happen to have wealthy relatives or to have won the lottery. This frustrates the right of refugees and British citizens to live with their chosen partner and found a family unless such modest earnings could be supplemented by any reasonably substantial savings, third party support or the future earnings or the spouse seeking admission. The executive can hardly be heard to say that the minimum adult wage is a manifestly inadequate sum to provide a basic standard of living over the subsistence threshold for a household without dependent children.”

The court has also reiterated that British citizens have ‘a fundamental right of constitutional significance recognised by the common law to live in their home country but that for many applicants (estimated at around half the British population, in fact) if they wish to marry and live with a foreigner the rules require them to leave their own country’.

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.

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