In April 2024, for British nationals and those who already live and work in the UK, the annual income requirement for living with an overseas spouse will increase to £38,700. It is a significant growth from today’s £18,600 level.
When they apply for a family visa, they must further show that they are in a marriage or civil partnership, plan to be within six months, or have been living together for at least two years.
Ministers claim that increasing the income criterion will ensure that families can support themselves and reduce immigration, which has been at record highs in recent years.
Belfast resident Lee, 24, said: “This policy has ruined me because it means that the girl I want to marry and the girl I love”. He plans to propose to his Malaysian girlfriend, Sarah, in the upcoming months. Three years ago, they met Leed while she was studying law and he was studying engineering.
The couple planned to start a new chapter in their relationship in the UK, but Lee said this would “basically destroy” their dream of starting a family. As a researcher in Belfast, Lee makes £26,000 a year and thinks it is impossible that he will make much more with his age and experience.
He added, “I just hate that all of our planning has come to nothing and is breaking apart right now.” I can’t be in this country anymore if I want to be with someone I love.
Josie, a British citizen, lives in Ancona, Italy, with her husband. After marriage in December 2020, both scientists planned to live in the UK.
According to Josie, it is very unlikely that an assistant in the lab at a British university will get £38,700, given that the going rates are usually lower.
The 33-year-old said on 5 Live when asked what her family’s current strategy was, “I don’t know, not come back?” My mother would be upset about that.
In basic terms, it is pushing us into a situation that will make visiting the UK challenging, if not impossible.”
After four years of long-distance dating, Cam, 28, said he was already searching for a new place in London so his American wife could visit and live with him.
They planned on applying for a family visa in March when Cam would have had enough experience at his new work to show his consistent earnings. However, because of the new criteria set to take effect in April, they are unsure if their application will be approved in time.
There’s a great deal of anxiety, he said. “Many people will be extremely hurt and suffer due to this.”
According to a representative for Rishi Sunak, the new minimum level might not be applied in “exceptional circumstances where there would be unreasonably harsh effects for the applicant, their partner, a relevant child, or another family member”.
If applicants are required to provide evidence of their ability to support their family, personal resources and benefits may also be considered, as stated in No 10.
The government claims that the new £38,700 salary keeps it in line with average salaries. It is also being adopted as a minimum income for many foreigners seeking work visas.
The Office of National Statistics reports that in April 2023, the median gross annual earnings of full-time employees in the UK were £34,963.
The government believes that changing family visas will lower net migration by 10,000 annually. Until June 2023, family visas accounted for 39,000 of the net migration.
The current administration is trying to reduce net migration by 300,000 through its broader reforms to legal immigration, which came into effect for the same period and totalled 672,000.
The director of the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford, Dr Madeleine Sumption, said that the move would disproportionately affect people less likely to earn higher incomes.
According to her, British nationals with lower incomes will have the biggest impacts, especially women and younger people who often have lower wages.
“The income level will also affect people more if they live outside of London and the South East, in areas of the country where earnings are lower.”
This article highlights how the changes to the UK immigration visa rules have had a disastrous effect on couples. The sad stories of the affected couples offer powerful reflections of the human cost related to administrative decisions. Contact My Legal Services to apply now before the new rules come into play and if you need any assistance with Spouse Visa.