Couples torn apart by UK family migration rules

9 April 2013

It has been almost a year since the introduction of new draconian immigration rules relating to family migration. We shared some of our concerns about the changes in a previous blog, ‘New rules for family migration – unrealistic specified documents’, and evidence would now suggest that these rules continue to result in partners being split up.

Some of the more shocking victims of ill thought out rules are starting to make waves in the media.

The financial requirement, intended apparently to reduce the risk of migrant spouses having recourse to public funds, cannot be said to be fit for purpose, as the following examples clearly set out.

  1. Mr X has been working in the UK for six months and would like to bring his wife, a non-EEA national to the UK to live with him. His annual salary is £18,600.

    Mr X’s monthly take home pay is around £1,288. He lives in London and pays £1000 per month for a one bedroom flat. His monthly bills amount to around £200 and he pays £100 per month for transport. He relies heavily on his credit cards and overdrafts to meet his monthly liabilities.
  2. Mrs Y has been self-employed in the UK for the last six months and would like to bring her husband, a non-EEA national to the UK to live with her. Since establishing her consultancy business in the UK, she has been very successful. She has earned more than £50,000 so far and her accountant forecasts earnings of more than £100,000 in this first year of trading.

    Mrs Y owns her home, a two bedroom flat, and pays £800 a month towards her mortgage. She lives outside of London and her monthly bills are £150. She works mostly from home and has no transport costs.
  3. Mr Z graduated from University last year. While at University he met and began living with his same sex partner, a non EEA national, Mr A. Since graduating from University, Mr Z’s parents have purchased him a flat in central London. There is no mortgage on the three bedroom property. Mr Z and his partner live their rent free and rent the other two bedrooms out. Each room is rented for £1000 per month as the property is large and in an excellent location.  The tenants also contribute to the cost of bills.

    Mr Z and his partner therefore have income of £24,000 per annum. Mr Z is currently applying for jobs (all within walking distance of the flat) and his partner has a job offer but cannot take it up yet because he has leave to remain as a student and cannot take on a permanent full time role. Both partners have now finished their studies and as Mr A’s leave is due to expire shortly; they were planning on extending his leave to remain as a same-sex partner.

Only one of the above applicants would potentially satisfy the requirements of the Immigration Rules if they were to apply to join or remain with their partner in the UK. If you were to guess, you would probably guess the couples in either the second or third scenario had the best prospects for success. However, it is Mr and Mrs X in scenario 1 who have a clear route to satisfying the Immigration Rules if they applied right now. This couple, I hear you cry, sounds the least financially secure with expenses that easily outstrip their income.

Pre-July 2012, this couple most likely would not have satisfied the old Immigration Rules. This was because assessing the financial requirements meant a careful consideration and reconciliation of income and expenses, a test couple number 1 would have failed. On the other hand, under an assessment of earnings and outgoings, both couples in the second and third scenario would have satisfied the old Immigration Rules.

The Home Secretary, Theresa May, in her forward to the consultation which preceded the July 2012 changes, stated that ‘Families should be able to manage their own lives’. She was speaking specifically in terms of ensuring families can support themselves without recourse to public funds. However, what she has created is a system which results in families unable to plan their own lives, a system where families cannot even choose whether to be employed or self-employed without facing the consequences of months of family separation as a result.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Migration has been reviewing the July 2012 changes. They have collected evidence from the public and their report is due later this month. We are hopeful that some of the public frustration with the Rules will feature prominently in the report. We wait with baited breath as to whether this will be enough to inspire change, given the Government’s single minded plan to reduce net migration by all means possible.

There is a glimmer of hope on the horizon, with successive changes to the Rules in recent months. These changes have, on the whole, marked small successes for an injection of common sense into the immigration rules but there is a long way to go.

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On August 2nd 2013 Peter Musoni commented:

The on-going legal challenge in relation to the financial requirement should hopefully lead to the amendment of the financial requirement.

On June 18th 2013 Katie Newbury commented:

Dear Mary,

There is a minimum income requirement of £18,600 in order to satisfy the maintenance requirement under the new family migration rules. The minimum income threshold is higher if there are also dependent children. How this needs to be earned and evidenced will vary depending on the type of income and who has been earning it. The rules are different if you are relying on savings.

If you would like more information about this, please use the new enquiry form at bottom of the page to send your query to a member of our immigration team.

Kind regards,


On June 18th 2013 Katie Newbury commented:

Dear Iain,

The family migration rules following the July 2012 changes have proved especially challenging for couples where one or both parties are students. The All Party Parliamentary Group on Migration have recently considered some of the logistical difficulties created by the Rules and the ways they are impacting a whole range of families and leading to family separation. You may find it interesting to look at the findings of the report which can be accessed here: We don’t yet know how, if at all, the Government may respond to this inquiry but we are hopeful it may lead to some common sense improvements.

Unless and until such changes come into effect, couples should always consider what options they may have under EU law and whether they can rely on these routes instead of Appendix FM of the Immigration Rules.

If you would like any further advice about your options, please do not hesitate to contact our immigration team using the quick enquiry form at the bottom of the page.

Kind regards,


On June 1st 2013 mary commented:

tell me more about the financial requirements? how much is required for me to come there and also does my boyfriend have to show in the bank that he has 18, ooo pound

On May 28th 2013 Iain commented:

My wife and I are currently suffering at the hands of the government on this subject. We got married at the end of December near my wife's home in Mexico. I am currently a student and so don't earn anywhere near the threshold. Me sought legal advice and our lawyer told us of a backdoor method under a Surinder Singh application. What this means is we hve to move away to another EU country where I have to work for at least 6 months, then we can come back to the UK with a EEA family permit. This gives us 6 months after which we can apply for the normal visa without this restriction applying. What this means though is having to leave my course at University for a year, give up our flat, and the job I have here and basically put our lives on hold for a year just to satisfy a rule that has absolutely no logic to it. I truly despise this government, and more so Theresa May.

On April 25th 2013 Adewale commented:

Please when is these government going to revoke or go back to the old spouse settlement requirement and stop tearing families apart with their desperate bid to reduce immigration.what is the latest news regarding these issue before july 9 2013

On April 25th 2013 Kashif commented:

British GOV make this stupid changes will create a society non serious.if I have no kids with me there.I will not take care of the kids future of their Britons.

On April 10th 2013 Steve / BritCits commented:

More stories like this are being published at Over 70 so far, exposing the heartlessness of the rules.

Heartlessness, and futility - loved ones will always be together.

(The financial requirement is not fit for purpose, furthermore, because in forcing people to be single parents it's actually forcing people ONTO benefits!).

On April 10th 2013 Gerard Hearne commented:

Finally, after 14 months, my non-EU spouse is here. We satisfy all the rules. Part of the delay was because unless you're an expert the UKBA website does not make it at all clear what documentation they want to prove income; in my case it is part rent, part self-employment.

So my wife's application was rejected of course, whereupon the UKBA THEN made it clear what they wanted, no doubt they had to, and we had to appeal. Eventually the ECM decided to issue a visa, though of course they take their time, as they do every time.

Now, I’m in the ridiculous position that I have to top up my perfectly adequate rental income for the next five years simply to satisfy the income threshold. I own my home and my old premises, I pay nothing in rent or mortgage. We could live very comfortably only off my secure rental income. I’m at an age where I really don’t need this nonsense.

On April 10th 2013 Alexis McGhee commented:

The financial requirement cannot be said to be fit for purpose because a NON EU citizen's passport is stamped "NO recourse to public funds" and always has been. There is no burden on the tax payer!

We welcome views and opinions about the issues raised in this blog. Should you require specific advice in relation to personal circumstances, please use the form on the contact page.

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