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New Immigration Rules for family members of British Citizens or of migrants settled in the UK

23 July 2012

On 13 June 2012, the UKBA announced changes to the its immigration policies to take effect on 9 July 2012. The new requirements are to be found under Appendix FM of the Immigration Rules.  Migrants who applied and/or were granted leave to enter or remain as a fiancée, spouse, and civil or unmarried partner before 9 July 2012, however, will not be affected by the changes as their extension or settlement will be considered under the previous requirements.

New applications, however, made post 9 July 2012 will need to meet the more stringent criteria. If an applicant were to apply from outside the UK to join his/her partner in the UK, they will need to satisfy section EC-P of the Rules and in particular to show compliance with both (1) The suitability criteria and  (2) the eligibility criteria.

The suitability criteria will assess an applicant in terms of his/her good character and criminal history. As a result, an applicant will face a mandatory refusal if his/her exclusion from the UK were deemed conducive to the public good, if the applicant is subject to a deportation order or if the applicant has been convicted of an offence that carries a 12 months imprisonments sentence. In addition, an application will be refused if the family member fails without reasonable excuse to attend an interview when required, provide the specified information or undergo a medical examination.

A visa  will normally be refused if an applicant were to make false representations or information with or without his/her knowledge or whether there has been a failure to disclose material facts to the application. It will also normally be refused if the applicant has unpaid NHS charges or an accommodation undertaking has not been supplied if requested by a UKBA official.

In terms of eligibility criteria, the two key areas are  (1) to evidence the genuine nature of the relationship and (2)  the ability to meet the financial requirements. The applicant thus will need to show compliance with the following requirements:

-       The applicant will need to be in a relationship with a British Citizen or a migrant who has been granted settled status in the UK;

-       The applicant and their partner must be both over the age of 18;

-       The applicant and their partner must not be within the prohibited degree of relationship;

-       They must have met in person;

-       Their relationship must be genuine and subsisting;

-       If married or in a civil partnership, it must be a valid marriage or civil partnership;

-       Any previous relationship of the applicant or his partners must have permanently broken down;

-       The couple must intend to live together permanently in the UK

In addition the couple must be the financial requirement as specified under E-ECP3.1.

(a) a specified gross annual income of at least-

(i) £18,600;

(ii) an additional £3,800 for the first child; and

(iii) an additional £2,400 for each additional child; alone or in combination with

(b) specified savings of-

(i) £16,000; and

(ii) additional savings of an amount equivalent to 2.5 times the amount which is the difference between the gross annual income from the sources listed in paragraph E-ECP.3.2.(a)-(d) and the total amount required under paragraph E-ECP.3.1.(a);

The following source of income can be taken into consideration:  partner's income from employment of self-employment, pension, statutory maternity or paternity pay and specified savings of the applicant and his/her partner.

The couple will exempt from the new financial requirement only when the British  or settled partner is receiving disability living allowance, severe disable allowances, industrial injury disablement benefit, attendance allowance or carer's allowance.

Two other important and mandatory eligibility criteria are the ability to be accommodated without recourse to public funds and the English language requirement whereby an applicant will need to show that they can speak and listen at a minimum level A1 of the Common European Framework of References for Languages. In the alternative, the English language requirement will be met if the applicant is a national of a majority speaking country or if he/she was awarded a bachelor or master's degree or PhDs, which was taught in English.

If the application is approved, the family member will be granted 33 months or in the case of a fiancée, six months to enter the UK and marry or enter a civil partnership.

An applicant will be able to apply within the UK if he/ she is in the UK in a visa category which has been granted for six months or more other than as a visitor or on temporary admission. Furthermore, the applicant must not be in the UK in breach of the immigration laws.

The key difference is that when making an in-county application,  as opposed to a visa application, the family member will not meet the suitability criteria if they have been convicted of an offence for which they have been sentenced to imprisonment for at least 4 years. In addition his/her income from employment or self-employment will be taken into consideration, unlike a visa application, unless they are working illegally.

On approval, the family member will be granted 30 months.A family member will qualify for settlement having spent 60 months in the UK in the category. Under the previous Rules, the applicant will only need to have spent 23 months in the UK. In addition, to make a successful application, the applicant will need to have no unspent conviction as well as meet the meet the Life in the UK test and the financial requirement.

As the immigration rules have become so complex, we would strongly recommend any prospective applicant to seek competent legal advice before submitting an application in the UK or in their country of nationality.


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.