‘Absurd’ visa rules on income force UK citizens into exile

Article published by Ramzan Sharif – Solicitor

Minimum income of £18,600 to be able to bring over non-EU spouse is ‘unachievable’ for many people, supreme court hears

The supreme court in London will hear the cases this week beginning 22.2.2016 whether the rules contravene the European convention on human rights.

UK citizens are being forced into exile by the Home Office’s “irrational and absurd” minimum-income visa requirements, with some couples having no hope of ever being able to live together in Britain, the supreme court has heard.

UK nationals must earn more than £18,600 to bring over a non-EU spouse, rising to £22,400 if they have a child who does not have British citizenship, and by an additional £2,400 for each subsequent child.

Seven supreme court justices including the court’s deputy president, Lady Hale, will decide after a three-day hearing whether the rules contravene article 8 of the European convention on human rights, covering respect for private and family life.

The supreme court challenge, brought after the case was dismissed by the court of appeal last year, has multiple appellants. Two of them, Abdul Majid and Shabana Javed, are British and married to Pakistani nationals; a third, known as MM, is a Lebanese refugee. A nephew of MM, known as AF, is also an appellant, as well as SS, a refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The aim of the minimum-income rule, as stated by the government, is for families to be self-sufficient, but the evidence was extremely uncertain that foreign spouses, who have no recourse to public funds, would be any additional drain on the taxpayer.

Referring to the so-called Surinder Singh route – whereby couples and families can move to an EU country for several months and re-apply to return under EU free movement laws, circumventing minimum-income requirements – Gill said the current law forced British citizens into temporary or permanent exile.

“The absurdity is quite staggering,” he said. “People being forced to leave the country and then come back. What on earth is the point of doing that? People are being forced into that situation and we are talking about British citizens – half the working population would face that absurd scenario. The gravity of the interference here [by the state] is particularly high.

Judgement is expected within the next 3-6 months.

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