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Family migration changes announced - updated
13 June 2012
On 11 June 2012 the Government announced changes to the Immigration Rules for non-European Economic Area (non-EEA) nationals applying to enter or remain in the UK on the family migration route. The new Immigration Rules will also unify consideration under the rules and Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, by defining the basis on which a person can enter or remain in the UK on the basis of their family or private life.
Today (13 June 2012) rules have been laid in Parliament which will bring these changes into effect, along with an impact assessment, a policy equality statement and a statement on the compatibility of the rules with Article 8.
Most of these changes will apply to new applicants from 9 July 2012.
The changes are part of the Government's programme of reform of the immigration routes and follow wide consultation and expert advice from the Migration Advisory Committee. The changes include:
- introducing a new minimum income threshold of £18,600 for sponsoring the settlement in the UK of a spouse or partner, or fiancé(e) or proposed civil partner of non-European Economic Area (EEA) nationality, with a higher threshold for any children also sponsored; £22,400 for one child and an additional £2,400 for each further child;
- publishing, in casework guidance, a list of factors associated with genuine and non-genuine relationships, to help UK Border Agency caseworkers to focus on these issues;
- extending the minimum probationary period for settlement for non-EEA spouses andpartners from two years to five years, to test the genuineness of the relationship;
- abolishing immediate settlement for the migrant spouses and partner where a couple have been living together overseas for at least 4 years, and requiring them to complete a 5 year probationary period;
- from October 2013, requiring all applicants for settlement to pass the Life in the UK Test and present an English language speaking and listening qualification at B1 level or above of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages unless they are exempt;
- allowing adult and elderly dependants to settle in the UK only where they can demonstrate that, as a result of age, illness or disability, they require a level of long-term personal care that can only be provided by a relative in the UK, and requiring them to apply from overseas rather than switch in the UK from another category, for example as a visitor; and
- restricting family visit visa appeals, initially by narrowing the current definitions of family and sponsor for appeal purposes, and then, subject to the passage of the Crime and Courts Bill, which was published on 11 May 2012, removing the full right of appeal against refusal of a family visit visa.
For more information about the changes that are being introduced and details of transitional arrangements, please see the Statement of Changes to the Immigration rules (HC 194), the Explanatory Memorandum, impact assessment, the policy equality statement and European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) memorandum on the right side of this page.
Additional information is available in the draft staff guidance on the right side of this page.
If you already have leave on the basis of being the spouse or partner of a settled person, you need to meet the current rules when you apply for settlement on this basis, not the new rules outlined above.