Challenges to UK Family Visa Rules Dismissed by High Court

The High Court has ruled that UK visa rules for family immigration are not discriminatory and do not breach human rights law.

Claimants challenging new UK immigration laws imposed on families have had their cases dismissed by the High Court. Three claimants had challenged current legislation, which sets an income threshold for British citizens to allow them to sponsor the UK visa of a non-European spouse or partner, but their challenge proved unsuccessful.

Current UK family immigration laws were introduced in July 2012 by the Home Office for the purpose of reducing the financial strain of migration on the British taxpayer.

The court ruled that in all three cases the rules stood and all three parties are now expected to lodge appeals.

Present family immigration policy dictates that the right to sponsor a non-EU spouse for UK entry applies to UK citizens, or those holding refugee status, that are earning a minimum of £18,600 per annum.

The threshold rises to £22,400 per annum for families that include one child and a further clause means that for every additional child £2,400 is added to the income threshold requirement.

Claimants opposed the policy based on an infringement of Article 8 of the Human Rights Act, which stipulates that immigrants have the right to a private and family life. They challenged on the grounds that the present law was discriminatory and interfered with the regulations set in in Article 8.

However, the Royal Courts of Justice disagreed with the views of the claimants and concluded that the rules were far from unlawful and did not conflict with the best interests of children associated with the cases involved.

Despite the overall verdict concluding that nothing was untoward, the Court did acknowledge that the income threshold could be disproportionate, if combined with one of the four other requirements in the rules, for instance, an inability to supplement a shortfall in earnings with savings, unless the savings were over £16,000.

The Home Secretary, Theresa May, will be called upon to make a decision whether any alterations should be made to meet the requirements of proportionality.

Whilst court was in session, counsel for the Home Secretary specified that guidance would be provided to all entry clearance officers and that those who, without doubt, met the requirements, would continue to have their applications addressed.

However, May’s counsel also indicated that there will be a pause in proceedings as both sides take stock of the judgement regarding those who do not meet the requirements.

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