The Spouse Visa UK Maintenance Rules
A Spouse Visa to the UK is much more complex than choosing wedding outfits. This is at least due to complex UK spouse visa maintenance requirements.
MM Case on the UK Spouse Visa Maintenance Requirements
The long awaited decision of the case of MM was finally delivered. The UK’s spouse visa maintenance requirements mean that the British spouse must have an annual earning of £18,600 or more. The High Court in Birmingham heard the case of MM in February 2013. Judgment was handed down by Mr Justice Blake on the 5 July 2013.
Mr Justice Blake’s judgment found that the threshold for a UK spouse visa maintenance rules was ‘unjustified and disproportionate’. At Paragraph 125 he stated:
“In reaching my conclusions I understand and have given weight to the wide discretionary area of judgment open to the Secretary of State in making economic and social judgments in the context of immigration. In particular I recognise that the figure of £18,600 was the lower of the two options identified by the Migration Advisory Committee in their report and represented the level at which a two person household would be completely ineligible for housing benefit. I accept that the policy aim was to identify a figure above mere subsistence and from which future recourse to any form of benefit would be made impossible for all practical purposes (thus savings of £16,000 excludes a person from any claim to income support). I further recognise that Parliament must have been aware of the minimum income figure when expressing its satisfaction with the Secretary of State’s policies”
At paragraph 126 he stated that:
“…to set the figure significantly higher than even the £13,400 gross annual wage effectively denies young people and many thousands of low-wage earners in full time employment the ability to be joined by their non-EEA spouses from abroad unless they happen to have wealthy relatives or to have won the lottery. This frustrates the right of refugees and British citizens to live with their chosen partner and found a family unless such modest earnings could be supplemented by any reasonably substantial savings, third party support or the future earnings or the spouse seeking admission. The executive can hardly be heard to say that the minimum adult wage is a manifestly inadequate sum to provide a basic standard of living over the subsistence threshold for a household without dependent children.” (MM & Ors v Secretary of State for the Home Department  EWHC 1900 (Admin).)
There had been hope that the maintenance rules for a UK spouse visa would be changed to minimum levels of pay. That would have been sufficient to bring low income families and loved ones together. The Home Office in the various British Embassies and High Commissions abroad were placing UK spouse visa applications on hold where the maintenance requirement of £18,600 had not been satisfied.
Appeal Court Backs the UK’s Spouse Visa Maintenance Requirements
However the appeal lodged by the Secretary of State, Home Office to the Court of Appeal did not see things in the same light. (MM v Secretary of State for the Home Department  EWCA Civ 985). It is a disappointing result as the Court of Appeal allowed the Home Office’s appeal. This means we are back to the £18,600 requirement for the spouse maintenance rule. There is hope that a further appeal will be submitted to the Supreme Court but this can take months.
Lord Justice Aikens in MM Court of Appeal does state that immigration rules should not be unjust or discriminatory but does disagree with Mr. Justice Blake’s decision in the high court.
Following the Judgment the Home office were quick to update their website in respect of the Judgment. The Immigration and Security Minister James Brokenshire said:
“I am delighted that the Court of Appeal has comprehensively upheld the lawfulness of this important policy. We welcome those who wish to make a life in the UK with their family, work hard and make a contribution, but family life must not be established in the UK at the taxpayer’s expense and family migrants must be able to integrate. The minimum income threshold to sponsor family migrants is delivering these objectives and this judgment recognises the important public interest it serves.”
Applications on hold will now receive a decision. The judgment will mean that, from the 28 July 2014, the 4,000 individuals whose applications are currently on hold, pending this judgment, will now receive a decision. These are cases which met all the requirements apart from the minimum income threshold and now stand to be refused.
Immigration rules for a spouse visa UK are increasingly complex for people in various forms of work and employment. If you are considering marrying someone abroad, we can help you navigate the maze Spouse visa UK maintenance requirements.