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Implications of the Spring 2024 Immigration Reforms on Family Visas

Published 20 June 2024

The upcoming immigration changes in the UK, slated for Spring 2024, entail significant alterations to family visa regulations, posing new challenges for British citizens and UK residents seeking to sponsor family members.

Elevated Minimum Income Threshold for Family Visas

The Home Office has raised the minimum income threshold for family visas under Appendix FM from £18,600 to £38,700. This substantial increase sets a significantly higher financial bar for British citizens or those settled in the UK to sponsor a spouse, partner, or fiancé. According to the Migration Observatory, in 2023, almost 70% of British employees in the UK earned below this new threshold.

This heightened requirement is likely to have a disproportionate effect on various demographic groups. Notably, while around 60% of men earn less than this new threshold, over 75% of women fall into this category. The impact is even more pronounced among part-time employees, with nearly all earning below the threshold. This effectively limits the ability of migrant dependants to reside in the UK primarily to those sponsored by full-time workers.

Potential Legal Challenges and Urgency for Applications

The increase in the partner visa minimum income requirement raises potential human rights concerns, particularly in light of the Supreme Court’s judgment in MM (Lebanon) [2017] UKSC 10. This ruling highlighted the requirement’s possible incompatibility with Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Consequently, the revised income threshold may face legal challenges.

There has been reports in the news that the new financial requirements will not affect those who have been granted visas prior to the changes coming into force in Spring 2024.

Given these impending changes, applicants concerned about meeting the new financial requirements should consider applying for their spouse, partner, or fiancé to join them before the introduction of the new rules in Spring 2024.

Alternatives and Legal Advice

For family members unable to apply before the new regulations take effect or who cannot meet the financial requirements for a UK spouse, partner, or fiancé visa, there are still possible alternatives. These include relying on third-party support or invoking an exception to the financial requirement. However, due to the complexity of such applications, it is highly advisable for individuals to seek professional legal advice.

These imminent changes to family and dependant visas form a critical part of the Spring 2024 immigration reforms, presenting significant implications for many families and individuals connected to the UK immigration system. The increased financial threshold, in particular, highlights the need for careful planning and consideration for those affected.

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