39 MPs have written to the Home Secretary, urging her not to scrap important protections for families affected by spouse visa rules during the pandemic. 

No family should face separation because of what they earn, but the Minimum Income Requirement (MIR) puts family life at risk for those who have lost their jobs, seen a cut in hours or need to shield during the pandemic.

Following months of families asking for advice and support, on 9 June the Home Office announced a concession, designed to protect families whose incomes had dropped because of the pandemic. But that concession stops on 31 July.

It is unfair and unsafe to reinstate the MIR in an ongoing health and financial crisis. MPs are warning that bringing these rules back now could make thousands of people undocumented down the line, or separated from their families. Please write to your MP today, and together we can get our broken spouse visa rules fixed.

Write to your MP

Letter to the Home Secretary

View as a pdf

Re: Halting the reinstatement of spouse visa income requirements

Dear Rt Hon Priti Patel MP,

We are writing to raise our concerns regarding plans to reinstate the Minimum Income Requirement (MIR) from 1 August 2020. The Home Office confirmed on 20 July 2020 that there are currently no plans to extend concessions to the MIR for people whose income has been affected by the coronavirus pandemic. We are concerned that this will put tens of thousands of families at risk of becoming undocumented, or of working when it is not safe to do so – with both increasing the risk from coronavirus.

The Home Office announced on 9 June 2020 that a loss of employment or self employment income due to the coronavirus pandemic would be disregarded for those needing to meet the MIR to sponsor the visa of a partner from outside the EEA, as long as that loss of income was recorded between 1 March and 31 July 2020. It was noted at the time that the guidance published on 9 June 2020 originally included an assurance that “if you have experienced a loss of income due to coronavirus, you will not be disadvantaged.” This guidance was temporarily withdrawn after publication, and the assurance that no applicant would be disadvantaged because of a drop in income due to coronavirus was taken out.

Now, the Home Office has set out plans to stop discounting a loss of income - due to the coronavirus pandemic from 1 August 2020, “as the UK returns to work.” This raises grave concerns for the large numbers of families living in the UK who are subject to the Minimum Income Requirement, because one family member is a non-EEA national. 

According to what has so far been set out, families in this position will be expected, as of 1 August 2020, to be earning above £18,600 a year, and for their income to have returned to pre-coronavirus levels. We know that this will not be the case for huge numbers of people. Some 600,000 jobs are already thought to have been lost due to the pandemic with over half of UK manufacturers expecting to cut jobs over the next six months. The economic impact of coronavirus is expected to last for several years.

Reinstating the MIR from 1 August 2020 will mean that people who have lost jobs due to the pandemic are unable to sponsor a visa application for their non-EEA partner. For couples and families already established in the UK, this will mean their family life is put at risk. As was the case before the concessions on the MIR were announced in June 2020, many people may feel compelled to take on unsafe work, in order to meet the income requirement and keep their families together. Other applicants whose income does not meet the requirements may not apply, fearing that they will be refused, and will therefore become undocumented. There are tens of thousands of people living in the UK with their British partners, so if even a small fraction were to fall out of status, it could cause untold
problems down the line. 

Although applications can be made outside the rules where the income requirement is not met, such applications are much more complex. Families already going through financial hardship will be unlikely to risk thousands of pounds in application fees on an application that may be refused because of a failure to meet the MIR. Instead, it is likely that they will either take on unsafe work, or will not apply at the correct time, and consequently will become undocumented.

The concerns of constituents up and down the country who will now be worried about how they will keep their families together are all too real. Asking people to navigate complex income requirements as a prerequisite of having a family life in this country risks causing anguish and physical illness for many. We therefore ask that you put an immediate stay on reinstating the Minimum Income Requirement in its habitual form, and pledge to review the impact of this policy given the changed economic environment in which we are operating.

Yours sincerely,

Stuart McDonald MP
Alan Brown MP
Alison Thewliss MP
Alistair Carmichael MP
Allan Dorans MP
Alyn Smith MP
Angela Crawley MP
Angus MacNeil MP
Anne McLaughlin MP
Apsana Begum MP
Bell Ribeiro-Addy MP
Caroline Lucas MP
Christine Jardine MP
David Linden MP
Deirdre Brock MP
Drew Hendry MP
Edward Davey MP
George Howarth MP
Hywel Williams MP
Ian Blackford MP
Jim Shannon MP
John McNally MP
Kenny Macaskill MP
Kirsten Oswald MP
Layla Moran MP
Margaret Ferrier MP
Martyn Day MP
Neale Hanvey MP
Neil Gray MP
Owen Thompson MP
Patrick Grady MP
Peter Grant MP
Philippa Whitford MP
Richard Thomson MP
Ronnie Cowan MP
Stephen Flynn MP
Stephen Timms MP
Steven Bonnar MP
Tommy Sheppard MP
Wera Hobhouse MP