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Supreme Court rules income threshold for spouse visas will stay

Court challenges against the salary thresholds imposed on spouse/partner visas were brought to an end after the Supreme Court ruled in favour of the government. This means that the thresholds will remain in place, and have been found ‘compatible’ with Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The Supreme Court unanimously backed the salary threshold in their ruling on 22nd February 2017, despite calling it ‘particularly harsh’ and acknowledging that it ’causes hardship to many thousands of couples, including some who are in no way to blame for the situation in which they find themselves’.

Under the rules, someone settled in the UK sponsoring an applicant for a visa as their partner or spouse must meet the financial requirement by earning at least £18,600 per year, rising to £22,400 with one child and an extra £2,400 for each child after that. Applicants cannot rely on offers of support from family members or other third parties. The non-EEA partner can only count their salary where they have work authorisation in the UK, for instance if they have secured a skilled work visa.

It has been estimated that 41% of the working British population, including 55% of women can’t afford to bring a foreign spouse to live in Britain. With no regional variation in the threshold this means sponsors are more likely to live in London. Whilst campaigners have commended the comments made in the ruling which criticise the impact of the threshold, it remains in place for all applications.

For a summary of the salary threshold, you can read the guidance provided by The Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford.