Judges uphold £18,600 spousal visa constraint

A hugely disappointing ruling of the Supreme Court came in which states mandatory minimum income requirements (MIR) on British citizens who want their foreign spouses or partners to join them in the UK does not breach human rights legislation. Justices at the UK’s highest court dismissed challenges over the rule that a UK sponsor must earn a minimum gross of £18,600 a year before they can apply for spouses or partners from non-EEA (European Economic Area) states to join them.

It is important to remember that the people at fault for this policy are not the Supreme Court judges but, instead, it is the Home Office and this heartless Tory Government whose draconian immigration policies make people’s lives a misery. They are separating families, and making it as difficult as possible for them to live their lives with dignity. Some of the casework we have seen has included individuals who just miss the minimum income requirement, in one case by only £7.

“The Home Office often refuse to use sensible discretion in these cases, even when people have savings or can make up the income with a few hours of overtime. The current immigration rules are far too restrictive and are designed to whittle down the numbers of people coming to the UK. We are afraid that we’ve reached a point where the Government is designing a deliberately inhumane immigration policy based on what might play well on the front pages of right wing newspapers, rather than what’s actually good for families and good for our economy.

One of the cases we would like to refer to is that of Saeed Mohammadi, who lives in Cowcaddens, and who has been trying to apply for a spousal visa from Iran for his wife in Iran. They are a childless couple with no children so are subject to the £18,600 salary limit. Mohammadi earns £18,593 from his work at HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and is £7 short of the MIR. Because UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) only take into account gross earnings, even if he works only one hour of overtime a year to make up the shortfall, the visa will be refused. He is now on his third application for his wife.

In 2014, the UK Government won an appeal court ruling that the MIR was lawful. The Supreme Court has now decided the overall scheme is compliant with human rights legislation, meaning that the £18,600 threshold will remain. At a hearing in London in last February, the justices heard challenges from two British citizens, Abdul Majid and Shabana Jawed, who cannot meet the requirement to bring their non-EEA spouses into the UK, and from MM, a refugee from the Lebanon who is resident in the UK and in a similar position, and his nephew AF.

In yesterday’s ruling, they allowed the four appeals “to a limited extent”. They said the MIR “is acceptable in principle”, but that the rules and instructions “unlawfully fail to take proper account” of the Home Secretary’s duty … to have regard to the need to safeguard and promote the welfare of children when making decisions which affect them.

A Home Office spokesman said: “The current rules remain in force but we are carefully considering what the court has said in relation to exceptional cases where the income threshold has not been met, particularly where the case involves a child.”

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