Posted on June 14th 2017
As we enter a new parliament, exactly five years on from the July 2012 Family Migration Rule changes, what is next for family migration?
Join us on 11 July 2-4pm in Portcullis House to discuss the family migration rules with MPs, lawyers, campaigners and affected families.Register your attendance for free here.
Five years ago, the Immigration Rules for British citizens and settled UK residents to sponsor family members from countries outside the European Economic Area (EEA) were drastically tightened in pursuit of getting net migration down to “tens of thousands”. This includes the requirement for British citizens and settled residents to earn a minimum of £18,600 in order to sponsor a non-EEA citizen spouse or partner. Adult relatives (such as parents and grandparents) from outside the EEA must also be so physically infirm before they can apply to join British and settled family in the UK that the route has effectively been closed. Thousands of families, many containing British citizen children, have been torn apart as a result, forced to rely on Skype and long-distance phone calls as the only method of communication.
In February 2017, the Supreme Court upheld our intervention and declared the Family Migration Rules unlawful insofar as they do not protect the best interests of children. The judges condemned the Rules’ effect on children as “particularly harsh” and instructed the Government to correct this illegality. The judges also recommended that additional sources of income be taken into account by the Home Office when deciding whether a spouse visa application should be granted, rather than looking solely at the UK resident partner’s income.
To date, almost 4 months on, the Government has not responded to the judgment at all. Spouse and partner visa applications that do not meet the Rules and applications that fall for refusal where a child is involved have been put on hold, leaving many families in limbo (the Home Office has refused to say how many). Meanwhile, in another recent case, the Court of Appeal refused to overturn the rules relating to adult dependent relatives, but did suggest that they had been too strictly applied.
The recent Conservative Party Manifesto contained a pledge to raise the minimum income threshold above £18,600. However, the Labour Manifesto pledged to abolish it entirely and replace it with the (existing) commitment for migrant spouses not to access public funds.
Having failed to inspire the confidence of the electorate, will the new minority Government still attempt to push through an increase and price more families out of love? Or is it time for a wholesale rethink of the Immigration Rules in light of Brexit?
In this new political landscape, we must urgently renew our call for wholesale reform of the family migration system. We must ensure that MPs are aware of the devastating impact the rules are having on families, and ensure that the voices of affected families are heard by politicians and represented in Parliament.
The first step is coming together to discuss the issues with MPs from across the political spectrum, both new and returning, lawyers, campaigners and affected families. Join us on 11 July, 2-4pm in Portcullis House, Westminster to discuss the family migration rules with MPs, lawyers, campaigners and affected families.
We hope to see you there!