Controversial maintenance funds requirements were introduced for spouse/partner visas (affecting non-EEA national partners of British citizens, refugees and people settled in the UK) in July 2012. Various migrants' rights organisations continue to campaign against the Rules, which are due to be considered by the Supreme Court in early 2016.Jump to full report >>
In July 2012 controversial new maintenance funds requirements were introduced for spouse/partner visas (affecting non-EEA national partners of British citizens, refugees and people settled in the UK).
In effect, these require visa applicants to have available funds equivalent to a minimum gross annual income of £18,600 (or higher in cases including non-EEA national dependent children). In many cases only the British/settled visa sponsor’s employment income can be considered, because the non-EEA national’s employment can only be taken into account if they are already in the UK with permission to work.
Various migrants’ rights groups are campaigning against the financial requirement, which they consider to be unfair, disproportionate and counter-productive. In June 2013 a report by members of the APPG on Migration called for an independent review of the requirement and its impact.
The Coalition Government made some minor adjustments to the policy, but overall was satisfied that it operated as intended. It considered that the maintenance rules ensure that families are able to support themselves and the migrant partner’s integration without being a burden on the general taxpayer. It is unlikely that the new Conservative Government will take a different view.
The lawfulness of the rules is being challenged in the courts. In July 2013 the High Court found that certain factors in the way the financial requirement is applied represent a very significant interference with British citizens’ and refugees’ rights. It suggested some alternative ways of applying a financial requirement. However, on 11 July 2014 the Court of Appeal overturned the High Court’s decision, following an appeal brought by the Government.
The case is due to be considered by the Supreme Court in February 2016. In the meantime, the minimum income requirement remains in force.
Commons Briefing papers SN06724
Authors: Melanie Gower; Amelia Aspden