In today’s blog post we report on the current three day hearing before the Supreme Court in regards to the minimum earning requirements for UK nationals and spouse visas. Currently, a UK national who has a non-EU spouse is subject to a minimum threshold of £18,600 (rising to £22,400 if they have a child who does not have UK citizenship) and an additional £2,400 for every other child.
The seven Supreme Court judges will decide on whether or not the requirement contravenes article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights which covers respect to privacy and family life.
Manjit Gill Singh QC opened the case to a packed court house and said that the law prevents around 47% of the UK population from having a spouse from a non -EU country. The QC added that, whilst the introduction of the English language test has proofed difficult for some, through hours of practice and study many are able to pass the exam but for many the figure of £18,600 is simply unattainable.
The challenge in the Supreme Court follows on from the case being dismissed by the court of appeal last year. The multiple appellants two of whom are British and are married to Pakistani nationals, all have non -EU spouses and are contesting the law.
Mr. Gill Singh contested that the application for the spousal visa is often complex, costly and laborious. The entire process he said has been torture for the families and is needlessly complex. The UK has the second highest income threshold in the world after Norway, yet Norway has a far greater minimum wage.
The aim of the government is for families to be self-sufficient and not rely on taxpayers. However, many spouses often work once they are in the UK and are have no recourse to public funds meaning that they are unable to claim benefits in the UK.
Referring to the Surrinder Singh case where families and couples can move to an EU country and then reapply for entry into the UK is turning British citizens into exile Mr. Gill stated. With just under half the country unable to afford to bring a non-EU spouse into the country Mr. Gill called the laws absurd. The hearing will continue for a further two days where lawyers from the Home Office and from the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants will also provide evidence, a decision is expected within 6 months.
The measures, English Language Test and financial requirements, introduced in 2012 have proved to be controversial. Many have argued that they are unfair on both parties and that the state is overbearing in its demands. However, the spouse visa is not the only visa category to face more restricted policies as the government have doubled the investment requirements for the Investor Visa, introduced a genuine entrepreneur test for the Entrepreneur Visa and increasingly made the Tier 2 work visa more difficult to obtain.
Do you think the salary requirement is fair? Should the government back down and reverse this policy? As always, leave your thoughts below.