Labour Pledges to Scrap Minimum Income Requirement for Foreign Spouses

If Labour wins the UK elections on 8th June 2017, Skype families may become a thing of the past.  Jeremy Corbyn has pledged to scrap the minimum income requirement for Spouse Visas.

This announcement will be greeted with jubilation by immigration solicitors doing their best to reunite families separated by the minimum income requirement.

The policy was included in the Labour Party’s draft manifesto document which was leaked yesterday.

immigration rules currently require British citizens to earn more than £18,600 before their foreign partner can join them on a spouse visa.  This amount increases if the couple have children who are not British Citizens. Critics say the policy discriminates against working class people on lower incomes.

In February, seven judges of the Supreme Court declared the minimum income requirement was “acceptable in principle”, but criticised the fact there were few safeguards in place to protect the welfare of children.  The court also asked that the Home Office review its policy of not taking third-party funding into account, as such a policy may be incompatible with Human Rights obligations.

According to the Independent, the leaked version of the party’s draft manifesto says: “We believe fair rules mean that a distinction should be made between family connections and migrant labour.”

“We do not believe family life should be protected only for the wealthy and so we propose to replace the income thresholds for family attachments with an obligation to survive without recourse to public funds.”

“Labour will replace the financial threshold test for family reunion.”

Theresa May wants to extend minimum income threshold to EU nationals

The Labour Party’s pledge to replace the minimum income requirement for Spouse Visas comes at a time when Theresa May is expected to demand EU nationals who want to bring family members to the UK meet the £18,600 requirement when she negotiates the Brexit deal.

The EU official negotiation guidelines states that any reciprocal deal on the rights of EU citizens in the UK must also cover “their family members who accompany them or join them at any point in time before or after the withdrawal date”.

However, according to The Guardian, this is likely to be challenged by Mrs May, who as Home Secretary, brought in the draconian minimum income threshold rule in 2012.

Conservatives, including, it is assumed, May, have long wanted to restrict EU citizens’ rights to bring their families to Britain.  Applying the minimum income threshold to them is a quick way of achieving this goal.

However, on Wednesday, the Brexit secretary, David Davis, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that he expected that the rights of EU citizens in Britain would be “pretty much” the same after Britain leaves the EU as they were now. He made no mention of possible restrictions on their future rights to bring their families with them.

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