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Major changes and restrictions to be introduced for family migrants
The Home Secretary announced on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show on Sunday 10 June that changes would be made to the Immigration Rules for non-EEA nationals applying to enter or remain in the UK under the family migration route.
On 11 June 2012 the Government provided details of these proposed changes that are designed to further restrict the ability of spouses/civil partners or fiancé(e)/proposed civil partners of current migrants to settle in the UK and subsequently released the statement of intent. This is part of a wider Government initiative to bring net UK inbound migration below 100,000 by 2015 and is intended to reduce the number of non-EEA family migrants.
Most of the changes apply to new applicants from 9 July 2012 and they include:
- increasing the current two year probationary period for partners to five years. It will also be necessary to renew probationary leave to remain in-country after 2.5 years;
- a new minimum income threshold of £18,600 for sponsoring the settlement in the UK of a non-EEA spouse, partner, fiancé(e) or proposed civil partner. The threshold is increased to £22,400 if a child is included on the application and an additional £2,400 for each further child;
- introducing a requirement that the relationship should be ‘genuine’ as well as ‘subsisting’ and will publish via supporting guidance a list of factors indicating genuine and non-genuine relationships which must be shown for 2.5 years;
- immediate settlement for migrant spouses and unmarried partners where the couple have been living together for four years overseas is to be abolished;
- from October 2013, all applicants for settlement will be required to pass the Life in the UK test and meet an English language requirement of level B1 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages, or above. The current requirement is to pass the Life in the UK test or an ESOL course using citizenship materials only;
- in addition, applicants will be required to satisfy a new criminality threshold to be introduced in the Immigration Rules; and
- the current 14 year long residence route to settlement for those in the UK lawfully or unlawfully will be abolished. Instead at least 20 years’ continuous residence in the UK, lawfully or unlawfully, will generally be required.