IMPORTANT CHANGES REGARDING CERTAIN TYPE OF APPLICANT TO BE MADE BEFORE 9 JULY - MEANS APPLICATION SHOULD BE SUBMITTED BY THE 6TH
13 June 2012
On 11 June 2012, the Home Secretary, Theresa May, announced to Parliament that new restrictions would be introduced, which are intended to reduce the number of non-EEA family migrants. Most of the changes are intended to apply to new applicants from 9 July 2012.
As announced in a previous article, the UKBA has designed a series of measures designed to reduce family migration dramatically. Many family migrants, particularly those on lower incomes, who would qualify for leave under the current Immigration Rules, will no longer do so after the introduction of these changes.
In brief, the changes will:
- Increase the current 2-year probationary period for partners to 5 years. It will also be necessary to renew probationary leave to remain in-country after 2.5 years.
- Introduce a new minimum income threshold of £18,600 for sponsoring a partner, with a higher threshold for any children also sponsored: £22,400 for one child and an additional £2,400 for each further child; this threshold (which may increase) will also have to be met when applying to renew leave to remain after 2.5 years and for settlement after 5 years. This new minimum income threshold will replace the current requirement of 'adequate maintenance', which equates to the Income Support level for the individual family;
- Introduce a requirement that the relationship should be 'genuine' as well as 'subsisting' and will publish a list of factors indicating genuine and non-genuine relationships in guidance documents. The 'genuine' requirement will also have to be satisfied after 2.5 years.
- The current route of immediate settlement for migrant spouses and partners who have been living together overseas for at least 4 years is to be abolished.
- From October 2013, all applicants for settlement will be required to pass the Life in the UK test and meet an English language requirement of B1 or above. The current requirement is to pass the Life in the UK test or an ESOL course using citizenship materials;
- In addition, applicants will be required to satisfy a new criminality threshold to be introduced in the Immigration Rules.
If you are a non-EEA partner of a person present and settled in the UK or of a person who is intending to apply to bring you to the UK and you satisfy the requirements of the current Rules, then you would be well advised to apply for a visa/leave to remain before 9 July 2012 in order to benefit from the current, less restrictive criteria. This is especially so if you have any doubts about whether you would meet the requirements of the new Rules.
If you are planning to marry after 9 July 2012 before applying for a visa/leave to remain as a partner, then you may wish to seriously consider bringing the date of your marriage forward to enable an application to be made before 9 July, prior to the introduction of these changes.
If you are already planning to marry before 9 July or will have been in a relationship akin to a marriage or civil partnership for two years shortly before that date, then you would be well advised to prepare any application for a visa/leave to remain beforehand so that it can be submitted promptly before the Rules change.
Even if you would meet the requirements of the new rules, you would still be well advised to make an application for a visa or leave to remain before 9 July 2012 in order to benefit from the current 2-year probationary period for settlement.
Gherson's expert immigration lawyers can help you with partner applications.