South African families who are relying on a single family member’s British or European history are set to benefit from a number of new changes made to the UK’s minimum income threshold.
The UK’s Supreme Court has confirmed it will make amendments to the threshold by 10 August, after it received a number of reports of families being torn apart by the current rates.
In 2012, then-home secretary Theresa May introduced the minimum income threshold which a ‘sponsor’ (UK citizen or resident) needs to meet so that their non-UK spouse can qualify for the spousal visa, which allows them to stay in the country for 33 months.
The threshold currently stands at £18,600 (R325,558) for partners only; £22,400 (R393,274) for a partner and a child; and an additional £2,400 (R42,136) for each additional child.
According to a statement released by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI), an estimated 15,000 children, most of whom are British citizens, are currently separated from one parent because of this punitive threshold.
The UK Supreme Court has now noted that, while the threshold does not breach any human rights, the implementation of the rules require review and amendment.
In this case, the Supreme Court highlighted that the best interest of affected children need to be given primary consideration in decisions made.
It was also suggested that alternative sources of income should be taken into account to make up the financial requirement.
The JCWI reported that 5,000 family migration applications have been put on hold in the five months since the Supreme Court case in February.
The new rules
Immigration consultants Sable International have highlighted some of the major changes being implemented with the new rules.
- When an application does not meet the minimum income threshold, the primary consideration needs to be the best interest of the child (under the age of 18) involved.
- The child included in a successful application will be granted the same route to settlement as their parent.
- If the applicant does not meet the minimum income threshold, and there are circumstances that could lead to harsh consequences for any of the parties involved, the Home Office should consider alternative incomes of the applicants to make up the income threshold.
Alternative sources of income will include:
- Credible guarantee of sustainable financial support from a third party
- Credible prospective earnings from the sustainable employment or self-employment of the applicant or partner
- Any other credible and reliable source of income available
If the applicant cannot meet the threshold, the caseworker should consider whether the refusal of the application would breach Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
Should an application be successful based on new considerations, it will put the applicants on a ten-year route to settlement. If the applicant is able to meet the income threshold at a later stage, they can apply for the five-year route to settlement.
By: Business Tech