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Reunite families UK challenges government's increase in spouse visa income threshold

Reunite families UK challenges government's increase in spouse visa income threshold


(RFUK) has filed for judicial review against the UK government's decision to raise the minimum income requirement (MIR) for spouse, partner, or family member visas to £38,700

The legal challenge argues that the decision-making process was hasty and lacked proper analysis, breaching public law duties.

RFUK, supported by Leigh Day, asserts that the abrupt increase in the MIR from £18,600 until April 2024 to £38,700 by 2025 was made without due consideration. The organization claims this decision was driven not by policy analysis but by a desire to show swift action on net migration.

The challenge will contend that the decision fails the Secretary of State's Tameside duty of inquiry, as it was not adequately assessed how aligning the MIR with the salary threshold for skilled worker visas would serve the intended policy objectives. Furthermore, RFUK argues that the decision breaches the Secretary of State’s Public Sector Equality Duty and obligations under the Borders and Citizenship Act 2009, impacting disproportionately on women, certain ethnic groups, and young people.

The current MIR, established in 2012, was initially set after public consultation and detailed analysis by the Migration Advisory Committee. It aimed to ensure that migrant families could sustain themselves in the UK without becoming a burden on the state.

Caroline Coombs, speaking for RFUK, criticised the government for the unexpected increases, impacting families amid a cost of living crisis. She called for a more humane migration policy that recognises the value of bi-national families.

Tessa Gregory of Leigh Day condemned the Home Secretary's decision, emphasizing its adverse effects on thousands of families already struggling with separation due to financial thresholds. Leigh Day will challenge the decision in court, alleging that the Home Secretary acted unlawfully.

Case Studies: Sarah Douglas, a British citizen in Italy, and her Italian husband, Matteo Cipolloni, have been unable to apply for a UK visa due to the income threshold increase. Despite nearly meeting the previous £29,000 threshold, they now face uncertainty over the new £38,700 requirement, delaying their plans indefinitely.

Stuart Yates, a retired teacher in Spain, wishes to return to the UK with his non-British wife. However, he finds the new income threshold unattainable on his pension, preventing his wife from joining him.

RFUK's legal action is supported by the Good Law Project and is being crowdfunded. Counsel for the case includes Raza Husain KC, Eleanor Mitchell, and Sarah Dobbie.