UK immigration announces family migration route changes

On 11 June 2012 the UK government announced major changes to the Immigration Rules for non-European Economic Area (non-EEA) nationals applying to enter or remain in the UK under the family migration route.

Most of these changes will apply to new applicants from 9 July 2012.

The changes, part of the Government's response to recommendations made by the Migration Advisory Committee, 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.
  • from October 2013, requiring all applicants for settlement to pass the Life in the UK Test and present an English language speaking and listening qualification at B1 level or above of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages unless they are exempt. Previously only those apply for citizenship had to meet these requirements.
  • 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.
However not everyone agrees with the new immigration changes. Senior Labour MP, Keith Vaz, said: "I am shocked at the Government's new proposal. They will dramatically affect my constituents, settled British Asians, not illegal immigrants, tax payers who contribute to our country. A British Home Secretary has no place dictating who British citizens should choose as their spouses based on an artificial financial limit. This is unfair, unjust and unnecessary."

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