UK marriage visa process: High Court judgment on income threshold for partners and spouses affecting settlement applications made after 5 July 2013

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LONDON, U.K., July 23, 2013 (SEND2PRESS NEWSWIRE) -- UKmarriageVisa, a full service immigration consultancy specializing in UK fiancee, unmarried partner and spouse visas, today announced that the latest High Court judgment on the UK Border Agency (UKBA) financial requirement for partners and spouses of British citizens and legal permanent residents is affecting UK settlement visa applications made after 5 July 2013.

A year after income threshold rules for those applying for a UK marriage, partner or fiancee visa under the settlement category were introduced by the UK Border Agency, the High Court has handed down its ruling on whether it is unlawful. Three claimants had challenged the new measures by taking their cases to the High Court, on the grounds that rules were discriminatory and interfered with Article 8 of the Human Rights Act, the right to a private and family life.

Ever since the rules regarding UK marriage and spousal visas came into force they had attracted a lot of criticism from those directly affected and bodies speaking on behalf of would-be immigrants to the UK, because the levels set were outside the wage-earning capacity of most of those sponsoring a foreign partner or spouse for a UK settlement visa to join them in the UK. The threshold was set at 18,600 pounds per year, rising to 22,400 pounds if one child was also applying. An extra 2,400 pounds is then added for every extra child. This takes the minimum earnings required to well above the median earnings of the UK worker. One estimate puts the level as above that earned by 47 percent of the general UK working population, meaning that many families have been separated for at least a year to date.

The High Court, whilst stating that the rules regarding UK partner visas were not "unlawful" was of the opinion that they were onerous and unjustified. The High Court judge, in giving his judgment, said that the earnings threshold was disproportionate if combined with one of the four other requirements in the rules - for example, an inability to supplement a shortfall in income with savings, unless the savings were over 16,000 pounds. He added that "While there may be sound reasons in favour of some of the individual requirements taken in isolation," the combination of more than one of the five requirements of the rules was "so onerous in effect as to be an unjustified and disproportionate interference with a genuine spousal relationship."

Whilst unable to strike down the law on salary thresholds on the basis of discrimination, or due to a conflict with the statutory duty to regard the best interests of children while making visa decisions, the High Court did, however, make some suggestions as to what would be a reasonable level to set the threshold, namely, something more in the region of 13,000 pounds, a figure more in-keeping with the UK median salary. The Home Secretary, Teresa May, has permission to appeal the judgment, but she has been given a clear message by the High Court that adjustments must be made to prevent more hardship on families facing even longer terms of separation.

While waiting to see whether an appeal is to be lodged and the outcome, effective 5 July 2013, the UK Border Agency (UKBA) has paused any UK settlement visa applications, i.e. UK marriage visa, fiancee visa, unmarried partner visa, that would be turned down on financial grounds alone. The UKBA has made it clear that any other reason for refusal of a visa for the entry of a non-EU/EEA spouse or family member will still stand and that also anyone who falls into the "paused" category will still have to cancel their application in the normal way should they need their passport for travel. The UK immigration authorities also pointed out that no application fees will be refunded in these cases.

The High Court ruling has not, in the event, given a clear answer in respect of the current threshold earnings ruling and as such is not what the claimants and many other people had hoped, but the recommendations of the court have given them reason to hope that before too many more months have elapsed, a large number of families kept apart by the financial rules will finally be able to be together again. is a team of professional immigration consultants specialising in UK fiancee, unmarried (de facto) partner and spouse visas. The firm offers UK marriage visa services providing assistance to those looking to obtain a UK settlement visa to reunite with their partner or spouse in the UK.

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