UK Family Settlement changes go into effect 9 July 2012

As of 9 July 2012, a number of changes to the UK Immigration Rules came into effect. These changes affect all non-European Economic Area (non-EEA) nationals applying to enter or remain in the UK under the family migration route.

The changes include:
  • Introducing a new minimum income threshold of £18,600 for sponsoring settlement in the UK of a non-EEA spouse or partner, fiancé(e) or proposed civil partner. If you wish to sponsor a child you will have to meet the higher threshold of £22,400 instead of £18,600. Each additional child will cost £2,400 to sponsor.
  • Publishing a list of factors associated with genuine and non-genuine relationships, to help UK Border Agency officers make accurate decisions.
  • Extending the minimum probationary period for settlement for non-EEA spouses and partners from two years to five years, to test the genuineness of the relationship.
  • Abolishing immediate settlement for migrant spouses and partners where a couple have been living together overseas for at least four years.
  • Allowing adult and elderly dependants to settle in the UK only where they can demonstrate that, as a result of age, illness or disability, they require a level of long-term personal care that can only be provided by a relative in the UK. Also requiring them to apply from overseas rather than switch in the UK from another category.
  • Restricting family visit visa appeals, initially by narrowing the current definitions of family and sponsor for appeal purposes, and then, subject to the passage of the Crime and Courts Bill, removing the full right of appeal against refusal of a family visit visa.
Please note, if you already have leave to enter or remain in the UK, on the basis of being the spouse or partner of a settled person, you will need to meet the rules which were in force before 9 July 2012 if you apply for settlement. The requirements before 9 July 2012 are much more straightforward and you only need to wait two years to gain indefinite leave to remain in the UK as a spouse or partner.

On 11 June 2012, The UK Government announced these changes as part of their plans to reform the UK's immigration rules. The changes are the government's response to recommendations made by the Migration Advisory Committee.

Guy Taylor, of the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI), claims the changes are highly discriminatory. JCWI is currently lobbying parliament to have the laws relaxed.

"Young people, women, disabled and older people are going to be disproportionately affected by this rule," Taylor said, citing the fact that adult and elderly dependants can settle in the UK only where they can demonstrate that, as a result of age, illness or disability, they require a level of long term personal care that can only be provided by a relative in the UK.

Also, from October 2013, the UKBA will require all applicants for settlement to pass the Life in the UK Test and an intermediate level English language test at B1 level or above, unless they are exempt. Previously only those applying for citizenship had to meet these requirements.

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