Mon. Jul 4th, 2022

2014714635408964277482320Theresa-May_660London, UK – On Friday the British Court of appeal upheld changes made to immigration laws which require British citizens sponsoring foreign spouses to have a minimum income before they can join them in the UK.

The measure which was introduced in July 2012 was questioned almost immediately at the time by one of the most senior British Immigration judges, Lord Justice Blake, who ruled that the new minimum financial requirement was a breach of the Right to Family Life under European Union Human Rights law and “disproportionate and unjustified.” However, three judges at the Court of Appeal dismissed the legal challenge to the Home Office minimum income rules and declared they were “lawful” last Friday.

The rules, introduced by the British Home Secretary Theresa May, require British citizens to earn a minimum of £18,600 before they can be allowed to have their foreign spouses join them in the UK. This rises to £22,400 for couples with children and then £2,400 for any extra child.

The aim of the policy according to the Home Office is “to ensure that family of migrants do not become reliant on the taxpayers for financial support and are able to integrate effectively” into UK life.

This decision is thought to affect around 3,600 families who were awaiting the outcome of this decision in order to progress their applications successfully and those currently on lower incomes than the legal requirement who want to sponsor their spouse to the UK to enjoy a family life in the future.
The government was “delighted” with the outcome and this was conveyed by the Immigration and Security Minister James Brokenshire who said:

“I am delighted that the Court of Appeal has comprehensively upheld the lawfulness of this important policy.

We welcome those who wish to make a life in the UK with their family, work hard and make a contribution, but family life must not be established in the UK at the taxpayer’s expense and family migrants must be able to integrate.

The minimum income threshold to sponsor family migrants is delivering these objectives and this judgment recognises the important public interest it serves.”

While the government celebrated, campaigners against the policy including the affected families’ legal advisors expressed their disappointment and stated that they will investigate appealing the decision on human rights grounds. However, for now the minimum requirement rules remains the law and will need to be satisfied by current and future British citizens who want to sponsor a foreign spouse or partner.

“The decision was disappointing and it will keep thousands of families apart all in the name of achieving immigration control,” said Yasar Dogan lead immigration Solicitor at Ozkutan and Co Solicitors in London. “The best course of action that families can take is to try and meet all the requirements of the immigration rules.”

Mohamed Jama, an East London based factory operative originally from Somalia recently married in Hargeisa and was eagerly awaiting the outcome of this decision.

“I earn £1,000 below the minimum requirement which is £18,600 and because there is no overtime and few shifts available I will find it hard now to bring my wife to live with me in the UK,” said Mohamed. “I have already paid my solicitors for advice and the paper work too and I will lose that many now.”

Nur Abdi, a part time administrator and student in Birmingham also married his wife Asha in January this year in Ethiopia and was also awaiting the Court of appeal decision to decide on his young family’s future.

“I earn too little now and will have to work hard in the future to get a better job after graduation to bring my wife here,” said Nur. “The problem now is that my wife is pregnant with our first child and I have to find an extra money for them too before they can come to the UK. If I can’t do this then I have to go live with them I think.”

Ruth Grove-White, policy director at the Migrants Rights Network, argued that Friday’s judgement is not the end of the story and that her organisation will continue the fight to overturn the law which she argued keep families apart in direct breach of their Human Rights. Whether or not her organisations succeeds in the future, at least for now, the rules remain tough for those British citizens who fall in love abroad and are on lower incomes than the law allows to sponsor a spouse to join them.

By Rasaas