The Supreme Court has today handed down its judgement on a key series of linked appeals. These will affect the lives of thousands of British citizens wishing to bring their overseas partner to join them in the UK. (Non-EEA spouses)
The appeal cases, known as MM & Ors, concerned the current Immigration Rules requiring the UK sponsor to earn a minimum gross income of £18,600 before being allowed to bring their partner to settle with them in the UK.
The minimum gross income required rises to £22,400 for a couple with a non-British child, with an extra £2,400 added for each further child.
The Court has dismissed the appeals, ruling that the Secretary of State’s decision to impose this income threshold is lawful.
The threshold of £18,600 annual earnings had been heavily criticised by advocacy organisations as being unduly high. It is estimated that in 2015, 41% of UK nationals who were in work would not meet the £18,600 income threshold. This rises to a higher percentage in areas of the country where pay is lower such as the North East.
However, while upholding the overall proportionality of the minimum income requirement, the Supreme Court judges did find that the current Family Migration Rules and Home Office Guidance fail to meet the Government’s legal duty to consider a child’s best interests as a primary factor in immigration decisions, as contained in section 55 of the Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009.
Today’s ruling declares the current rules to be unlawful in this respect.
The minimum income requirement has led to the creation of thousands of so-called “Skype kids” who are effectively living in single parent families in the UK, while being parented online by their foreign-born mother or father, who is stuck overseas.
For families with children who are seeking to settle together in the UK, today’s ruling provides some hope that the Immigration Rules and Guidance may be changed in the future. This opens the door to the possibility of being able to enjoy family life together in the UK.
How we can help
For further advice on your immigration matter, please contact June Holmes in our Immigration Department on 0191 243 8164.