Changes to immigration rules in the UK for people from outside the European Economic Area will take effect next month.
They affect those applying to enter or remain in the UK on the family migration route and define the basis on which a person can enter or remain in the country on the basis of their family or private life.Most of these changes will start on 09 July 2012 and are part of the UK government’s programme of reform of the immigration routes and follow wide consultation and expert advice from the Migration Advisory Committee.
There will be a new minimum income threshold of £18,600 for sponsoring the settlement in the UK of a spouse or partner, fiancé(e) or proposed civil partner, of non-European Economic Area (EEA) nationality, with a higher threshold for any children also sponsored at £22,400 for one child and an additional £2,400 for each further child.
In casework guidance there will be a list of factors associated with genuine and non-genuine relationships to help UK Border Agency caseworkers to focus on these issues and the minimum probationary period for settlement for non-EEA spouses and partners will be extended from two years to five years.
There will also be tests to check on the genuineness of the relationship and immediate settlement for migrant spouses and partners where a couple have been living together overseas for at least four years will be abandoned.
From October 2013 all applicant 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.
The changes also mean that adult and elderly dependants can 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 they will be required to apply from overseas rather than switch in the UK from another category, for example as a visitor.
Family visit visa appeals will be restricted, 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, removing the full right of appeal against refusal of a family visit visa.