Supreme Court backs income threshold for partners of British Citizens

Today, the highest court in the UK has ruled that the income threshold restricting the ability of many thousands of partners and children to join their British partner (or those who have Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK) is lawful. However, the Supreme Court acknowledged that the strict requirement causes significant hardship for thousands of families.

If you are the partner of either:

  1. a British citizen in the UK;
  2. a person who is present and settled in the UK (i.e. who holds ILR); or
  3. a person in the UK with refugee leave or humanitarian protection.

Then the following financial requirements are applicable under Appendix FM and FM-SE of the Immigration Rules:

  1. the partner in the UK must have earnings of at least £18,600 for a continuous six month period (this increases for each dependent, non-British child); or
  2. either partner must have at least £62,500 in cash savings held for at least six months.

There are different ways in which the above can be met and shown under the rules, for instance from PAYE earnings or through property rental income, however many people fall foul of the rules as the documents required to be shown are extensive and many people who are self-employed find it difficult to produce all of the evidence required, with this often taking many months to prepare an application.

It must be noted that the above financial requirement does not apply to partners of EEA nationals (whilst we are still a member of the EEA), nor does it apply to those who are here in the UK as students, workers, entrepreneurs or investors, they have a far lower financial requirement.

The Supreme Court justices who heard the case said that the minimum income requirement was “acceptable in principle”, however that the rules around it did not take into account proper consideration of the duty to promote the welfare of children when making a decision that will directly affect them. The justices also ruled that alternative sources of income should be taken into account when a person’s right to family life could be breached.

It is now expected that the Home Office will have to issue new amended rules and guidance to reflect the justices above findings.

We will continue to keep you updated.

Posted on Feb 22, 2017.


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