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Important changes to the UK spouse visa category to be implemented on 9 July 2012

14 June 2012

On 11 June 2012 the Government announced changes to the Immigration Rules for foreign migrants applying to enter or remain in the UK on the family migration route under the spouse, civil or unmarried partner and fiancée visa categories.The new Immigration Rules will also unify consideration under the rules and Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, by defining the basis on which a person can enter or remain in the UK on the basis of their family or private life.

Most of these changes, listed below, will apply to new applicants from 9 July 2012.

  • introducing a new minimum income threshold of £18,600 for sponsoring the settlement in the UK of a spouse or partner, or fiancé(e) or proposed civil partner of non-European Economic Area (EEA) nationality, with a higher threshold for any children also sponsored; £22,400 for one child and an additional £2,400 for each further child;
  • publishing, in casework guidance, a list of factors associated with genuine and non-genuine relationships, to help UK Border Agency caseworkers to focus on these issues;
  • extending the minimum probationary period for settlement for non-EEA spouses and partners from two years to five years, to test the genuineness of the relationship;
  • abolishing immediate settlement for the migrant spouses and partner where a couple have been living together overseas for at least four years, and requiring them to complete a five-year probationary period;
  • from October 2013, requiring all applicants for settlement 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;
  • allowing adult and elderly dependants 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, and requiring them to apply from overseas rather than switch in the UK from another category, for example as a visitor; and
  • restricting family visit visa appeals, 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, which was published on 11 May 2012, removing the full right of appeal against refusal of a family visit visa.

We would strongly recommend any applicant wishing to submit an application before the deadline in order to benefit from the current 2-year probationary period to contact us immediately for professional and expert legal advice.

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Migra & Co is a private immigration company, regulated by the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC), reference number F200900038. This website is not a government website and as such, we are not linked or affiliated with the UK Visas and Immigration. We offer expert legal advice and flexible tailored solutions to both private and corporate clients to ensure that their immigration needs are met. If you wish to download or prepare a UK visa application form, you can do so free of charge by visiting the Official UKVI website.