The Spouse Visa/Civil Partnership Visa provides an opportunity to non-EEA national partners to live and work in the UK. You can apply for this visa if you are the spouse, civil partner, partner (of more than two years) of a British national or a person who is settled in the UK. Although some of the requirements have been heavily scrutinised for their restrictiveness, such as the Minimum Income Requirement (MIR), our team provides expert legal advice and representation to those who are applying for a UK Spouse / Civil Partnership visa. We have a high success rate for applications, and we aim to provide a tailored service for your specific circumstances.
What is the controversy?
In February 2017 the Supreme Court, in the case of R (on the application of MM (Lebanon)) v Secretary of State for the Home Department  UKSC 10, found that the MIR is acceptable in principle, as the fact that the MIR may cause hardship to many does not render it unlawful. Consequently, since July 2012 the UK’s Immigration Rules have required non-EEA nationals to satisfy a financial ‘minimum income’ requirement, in order to secure a visa to join their British or settled spouse or partner in the UK. The current maintenance funds equivalent to a gross annual income of £18,600, and a higher amount is required when visas are sought for non‑EEA national children.
The MIR can only be met through specific sources of income and funding, and these are further subject to conditions. For example, you may rely on:
- Income from employment/self-employment (as long as you have been earning the necessary wage for at least 6 months);
- Non-employment income, such as income generated from shares or rent;
- Maternity or paternity pay;
- Cash savings of over at least £16,000 (if they have been in your control for over 6 months)
However, the MIR has been criticised for excluding low-income families, and some conditions add to the already difficult standards. For example, the visa applicant’s employment income can only be considered if they are already in the UK with permission to work, and the sponsoring partner’s overseas employment is not acceptable on its own to satisfy the requirement.
Though, a fair balance is trying to be maintained. Individual exceptions to the MIR cannot be made, but there can be some flexibility if a visa refusal would breach the couple’s human rights by engaging Article 8 ECHR. In other words, the decision maker is concerned about whether there are “exceptional circumstances” in the case. The MIR further does not apply if the UK-based sponsor is in receipt of Carer’s Allowance or certain disability-related benefits, such a Personal Independence Payment (PIP). In such cases, “adequate maintenance” is sufficient.
If the decision-maker considers that refusal would result in a breach of the Article 8 rights of a relevant party, they must grant the application, even if the financial requirement is not met. Though, applicants granted on human rights grounds do not have to satisfy the financial requirement again when applying to renew their temporary visa, they must wait 10 years (instead of the standard 5 years) before becoming eligible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain.