On 22nd February 2017, the Supreme Court ruled that the £18,600 minimum income threshold for UK citizen sponsors of non-EEA partners is lawful. This is despite acknowledging the hardship that this rule causes to thousands of couples who are unable to meet the figure.
However, the Court found that the current 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. This is contained in section 55 of the Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009.
In the wake of the ruling, the Home Office appears to have put applications involving a non-EEA partner and non-EEA child which do not meet the minimum income threshold on hold.
Information posted on a number of different country pages on UKVI’s official partner visa websites states that:
“Following a Supreme Court judgment, the Home Office has paused decision-making on some applications – in particular, those failing to meet the minimum income threshold for British citizens sponsoring a non-EEA partner and non-EEA children. The reason for this pause is to enable the Home Office to consider the implications of the judgment. All other applications will continue to be processed and decided as normal”.
See for example: https://www.vfsglobal.co.uk/bangladesh/
However the GOV.UK website makes no mention of this at all.
Nor for some other visa application centre websites.
See for example: https://uk.tlscontact.com/ng/los/index.php
What Happens Next
At the moment, guidance as to the Home Office’s future approach to such applications remains unclear. Even where information has been provided, no estimate for how long such applications will be paused for has been included.
We hope that there will be more clarity soon, but for the moment anyone seeking advice on applications for non-EEA partners and children should watch this space and seek advice on how the MM judgment may affect their case.
If you require advice on your immigration matter, please contact our Immigration Department on 0191 243 8164.