Wednesday, 17 June 2020
Campaign response – Please make sure families affected by COVID-19 are not split up
Thank you for constituents who have contacted me recently to express their concerns over the minimum income requirement in our immigration rules.
They mentioned an amendment to the Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination Bill that is unfortunately out of scope and is therefore highly unlikely to be considered by MPs in the next stage of the bill’s progress through the Commons.
The bill primarily relates to our leaving of the EU and the ending of the EU doctrine of free movement, as opposed to setting the rules for our future immigration system.
That said, I fully understand the strength of feeling on this matter and I have always made the case that at the Home Office needs to take into greater consideration the interest of the family in its immigration decisions. After Brexit we will be regain the ability to build a fairer and more effective immigration system. Where there are genuine reasons for immigration in the UK, such as for family purposes, we must look to ensure that any unnecessary obstacles are removed so that we will continue to be welcoming and open nation.
On the minimum income requirement more specifically, since July 2012 the UK’s Immigration Rules have required non-EEA nationals to satisfy a financial, ‘minimum income’ requirement in order to secure a visa to join a British/settled spouse or partner in the UK.
Since the introduction of the minimum income requirement, there have been several legal proceedings against it. In 2017 the Supreme Court found that the minimum income requirement is acceptable in principle. It ruled that the government policy strikes a fair balance between the interests of those wishing to sponsor a spouse to settle in the UK and of the community in general. It ensures that taxpayers are not required to support those settling in the UK on Family visas and the policy promotes integration.
However the Court did require the Government to make some changes to the Immigration Rules and associated policy guidance.
Amended Immigration Rules and policy guidance came into effect on 10 August 2017.
Since then, if an application cannot meet the financial requirement through the five sources specified in the Immigration Rules, decision-makers (i.e. Home Office officials and caseworkers) are instructed to consider whether there are “exceptional circumstances” which could or would render a refusal decision a breach of human rights (ECHR Article 8).
If the Home Office decision-maker considers that refusal would result in a breach of the Article 8 rights of a relevant party, they must grant the application, even if the financial requirement is not met.
The Government has commented this subject: “We continue to keep our family immigration rules under review and make adjustments in light of feedback on their operation and impact.”
Going forward I will continue to monitor the impact that the minimum income requirement has on our families in Mid-Cornwall and speak up in support of them where possible.
If any constituent would like help with an immigration application or case for a family member, they are always welcome to get in touch with me on firstname.lastname@example.org