Changes to UK Family Immigration

This week, the Government announced a series of changes to UK Family Immigration which will mostly come into force from the 9th July 2012. 

The changes have provoked strong reactions in the media, because they are clearly designed to restrict the numbers of migrants who can take up residence in the UK via this category.

We will be commenting on these developments and how the new policies will affect migrants in our blog, but have summarised the key changes below. 

We would strongly advise that, should you wish to sponsor a family member to join you in the UK, you submit the application as quickly as possible, and in any case before the 9th July 2012 in order to avoid being restricted by the new rules.

Summary of Key Changes:

  • A minimum income threshold of £18,600 will be imposed for those who wish to sponsor the settlement of a spouse or partner in the UK.  A higher threshold will be required for the additional sponsorship of migrant children under the age of 18: £22,400 for one child and an additional £2,400 for each further child sponsored before the migrant parent is eligible for settlement;
  • The minimum probationary period before non-EEA spouses and partners living in the UK can apply for settlement will be increased from two years to five years;
  • Immediate settlement for migrant spouses and partners where the couple have been living together overseas for at least four years will be abolished. They will need to complete a five-year probationary period in the UK in order to qualify for settlement;
  • From October 2013, all applicants for settlement will be required to pass the Life in the UK test and present an English language speaking and listening qualification at B1 level or above, unless they are exempt;
  • Adult dependent relatives will only be able to apply to settle in the UK from overseas and will be required to demonstrate that, as a result of age, illness or disability, they require a level of long-term personal care that can only be provided in the UK by their relative here and without recourse to public funds;
  • Only in exceptional circumstances will the public interest in the deportation of foreign criminals sentenced to at least four years be outweighed by other factors. Those with lesser sentences will normally be deported, unless they have a child and it is not reasonable for that child to leave the UK with the parent, or the child cannot be cared for by other family members in the UK, or they have been in the UK lawfully for at least 15 years and there are insurmountable obstacles to continuing family life with their partner overseas;
  • The Crime and Courts Bill was published on 11 May and included provision to remove the full right of appeal for family visit visas. In the interim regulations will be laid before Parliament shortly to remove the full right of appeal from those applying to visit their cousin, uncle, aunt, niece or nephew, or a relative who does not have settled, refugee or humanitarian protection status;
  • “Compliance with the Rules will now be rewarded” –  A non-EEA applicant in the UK who does not meet all the requirements of the five-year route, but has a legal basis to remain here under Article 8, such as where a child’s best interests so require, will be granted leave under the Rules on a 10-year path to settlement. The current Rule allowing a person here unlawfully to qualify for settlement after 14 years will be abolished. A person will generally have to be in the UK for a minimum of 20 years before they can apply to remain here, on a 10-year route to settlement from that point, on the basis of the Article 8 right to respect for private life;

If you are concerned about how the impending changes may affect you or a family member, please contact us for guidance.


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