Family migration rules tightened

Home Office has changed Immigration Rules for non-European Economic Area (non-EEA) nationals applying to enter or remain in the UK on the family migration route.

From July 2012, only those earning at least £18,600 will be able to bring in a non-EEA spouse or partner, fiancé(e) or proposed civil partner.

Those with children will need to earn £22,400 for one child and an additional £2,400 for each additional child.

The Home Office has also extended the minimum probationary period for settlement for non-EEA spouses and partners from two years to five years. This is being done, according to the Home Office, to test the genuineness of the relationship and to deter sham marriages.

Immediate settlement for migrant spouses and partners where a couple have been living together overseas for at least four years has also been abolished.

From October 2013, all applicants for settlement will be required 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.

Under the new rules, adult and elderly dependants will be allowed 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. They’ll also be required to apply from overseas rather than switch in the UK from another category, for example as a visitor.

The Home Secretary Theresa May said: “To play a full part in British life, family migrants must be able to integrate – that means they must speak our language and pay their way. This is fair to applicants, but also fair to the public.”

Family visit visa appeals have been restricted, initially by narrowing the current definitions of family and sponsor for appeal purposes. Should the Parliament approve the Crime and Courts Bill which was published on 11th May 2012, the full right of appeal against refusal of a family visit visa will be removed.

The Home Secretary has also announced what the Home Office described as “decisive action to protect the public from foreign offenders who try to abuse human rights legislation to prevent their removal from the UK.”

“It is unacceptable that foreign nationals whose criminal behaviour undermines our way of life can use weak human rights claims to dodge deportation,” Ms. May said. “We want these new rules to make it clear when the rights of the law abiding majority will outweigh a foreign criminal's right to family and private life. By voting on this in the House of Commons, Parliament will define for the first time where the balance should lie.”

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