New UK spouse immigration rules slammed by High Court

Published:  9 Jul at 6 PM
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The new rules under which UK citizens who wish to move back to Britain with their foreign spouses must comply with earnings thresholds have been condemned in the High Court.

Three claimants had challenged the new regulations regarding the sponsorship by UK nationals of their foreign spouses. Although the High Court did not strike down the measures, the judge recommended their adjustment, calling them onerous and unjustified.

Under a law introduced in July last year, supposedly to ease the financial burden of immigration costs, only British citizens earning more than £18,600 annually can sponsor a non-European spouse. For families with one child, the threshold rises to £22,400, with each extra child adding another £2,400.

The policy was challenged as being discriminatory and against the Human Rights Act’s entitlement to a private, family life. The court decided that the rule was not unlawful as regards discrimination, nor did it conflict with the immigration department’s statutory duty to take into account the rights of children when making visa decisions.

However, the presiding judge, Mr Justice Blake, noted that the threshold could be considered as inappropriate if set with one of four other requirements. For example, he said, savings to supplement an income threshold shortfall had to be over $16,000, rather than simply the amount needed to make up the shortfall.

A combination of two or more of the five stipulations, he added, was onerous to the point that it was an unjustifiable, disproportionate interference in family life between a citizen and non-EU spouse. He suggested that the threshold be reduced to a minimum of £13,000, and his written ruling urged the secretary of state to make adjustments according to the court’s judgement ‘if she sees fit’.
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