By Oshin Shahiean, managing partner at OTS Solicitors
The Beatles classic track says “You can't buy me love” but families caught up in navigating the UK’s family immigration Rules may disagree.
Current immigration rules say, if you are settled in the UK and want to bring a loved one to join you and they are, by an accident of birth, a non-EEA citizen you have to earn at least £18,600 per year to sponsor them and reunite as a family.
The white paper states that the EU exit will enable the UK to put in place fair and consistent family migration rules for both EU and non-EEA citizens in order to:
• Minimise burdens on the taxpayer;
• Prevent immigration abuse;
• Promote community integration ;
• Value the positive contribution immigration makes to UK society, its communities and culture;
• Meet the national interest in controlling immigration;
• Balance the individual right to respect for family life and the best interests of children, with the public interest in safeguarding the economy by controlling immigration, protecting the public from foreign criminals whilst protecting the rights and freedoms of others.
One route for family migration
The white paper reveals that there will be one route for family migration. That means all individuals, including EU citizens, who are settled in the UK and want to bring EU or non- EEA family members to live with them, will need to meet the UK’s family migration rules. The family members only other option is to enter the UK through a work or student visa scheme.
How can OTS Solicitors help?
At OTS Solicitors, we recognise that when it comes to reuniting family it is essential to get top London immigration solicitor advice.
Please call us on 0203 959 9123 to arrange an appointment to speak to one of our experienced London immigration solicitors who will be happy to help you look at your options.
The white paper proposals
The top London immigration solicitors questioned how the white paper proposals would work in practice when it came to new family migration rules.
In essence, the current family migration rules that are applicable to non-EU citizens will now apply to EU citizens who are settled in the UK. They will also apply to settled EU citizens in the future.
Different arrangements will apply to resident EU citizens who are eligible under the EU Settlement Scheme and dependants of temporary workers and students.
The family migration criteria for loved ones
EU or non-EEA citizens who want to establish family life in the UK will have to meet standard suitability and eligibility criteria, or there must be exceptional circumstances that mean refusal would breach human rights to family or private life.
The criteria for the entry of a loved one into the UK is:
• Satisfy criminality record checks; and
• Speak English; and
• Will be financially independent through either the minimum income threshold or adequate maintenance; and
• Maintain lawful immigration status.
If a family migrant manages to meet those criteria, they can be granted 30 months’ leave on a five-year route to settlement.
The best London immigration solicitors advise that the financial independence test means meeting a minimum income requirement.
You must earn a minimum of £18,600 per year to sponsor a partner to come to the UK or remain here.
The minimum income rises to £22,400 to sponsor a partner and a non-British or settled child. For any additional child there you need to earn a further £2,400.
In real terms this means to reunite two parents and two children you need to be earning a minimum of £24,800.
The UK fulltime average salary is, according to the office of national statistics, £27,271. However, statistically 40% of the working population earn less than that.
The figure of £22,400 was apparently chosen because it is a level of income, which means a family settled in the UK will not normally be eligible to receive income-related state benefits.
To top London immigration solicitors the financial independence criteria is unduly onerous on:
• Pensioners whose pension income, from state and occupational schemes, is less than £18,600 per year;
• The disabled whose income and benefits are often modest;
• Women who are caring for a child and want to reunite with the child’s father but are only able to work part time as a result of their child care responsibilities;
• Those who have not had the ability to save as savings of £62,500 or more allow the minimum salary requirement to be waived;
• The young who statistically work in lower paid jobs than middle aged or older people;
• Low skilled persons who are only able to secure low paid or zero hours contract work.
The work visa route
If a family member enters the UK under a work visa then if they are a low skilled worker earning less than £30,000 per year, under the proposals in the immigration white paper, they will only be able to stay in the UK for a year. For separated families with a child that does not give consistency of parenting.
Life in the UK test
Currently if you want to settle in the UK, you must pass the Life in the UK test.
The Government has said that it will review this test, to bring it up to date.
If someone cannot meet all the family criteria and where there are exceptional circumstances that mean refusal would result in unduly harsh consequences for the applicant or their family, such that would breach their human rights, the migrant can be granted entry for an initial period of 30 months leave. There is then a longer 10-year route to settlement.
If it can be established that an adult dependent requires care, which can only be provided in the UK, relatives are given immediate settlement. The relative has to demonstrate the need because of age, illness or disability.
The added caveat to this regulation is that the care in the UK has to be paid by their sponsor in the UK and without recourse to public funds.
Can't Buy Me Love: but you can if you earn over £18,600 per year
So, back to the Beatles’ classic, “Can’t buy me love”. Many of the best London immigration solicitors think that the extension of the family migration rules to include EU citizen will perpetuate and extend the two-tier system of who can and cannot afford “love”.
Living with a non-UK spouse in the UK will hinge on earning at least £18,600 a year or the non-UK spouse being capable of securing a skilled job (paying on current immigration proposals a minimum of £30,000 per year).
The world is getting smaller because of people travelling and working abroad. To restrict who can enjoy family life based on their income may backfire if the low paid feel that they have no alternative to leave the UK in order to enjoy family life.
In the view of the best London immigration solicitors, that is not what employers want when the UK is already heading toward an economic crisis of high Employment, wage pressures and falling migration.
top London immigration solicitors point out that extending the current family migration policy to EU nationals will create a gulf between those who have and those that don’t, as they can't afford to buy love.
How can OTS Solicitors help?
At OTS Solicitors, we pride ourselves on offering bespoke immigration advice, carefully considering family circumstances, to give you the best chance at securing a visa and reuniting family.
OTS Solicitors have Law Society accredited solicitors status as trusted specialists in immigration law.
For more information on family migration and visa applications or any alternative aspect of personal or Business Immigration law please call us on 0203 959 9123 to arrange an appointment to speak to one of our experienced London immigration solicitors who will be happy to help.
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Posted on: Friday, 28 December, 2018