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UK’s salary threshold requirement for visas faces legal scrutiny, accused of separating families, others 

The UK’s increased salary threshold which is aimed at reducing net migration, is under legal scrutiny in the high court for potentially causing family separations and discriminating against women and minorities. 

Nairametrics learnt that An advocacy group, Reunite Families UK (RFUK) lodged a judicial review application, arguing that this new policy violates the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Equality Act due to its disproportionately negative impact on women, ethnic minorities, and young people. 

The policy set by Home Secretary James Cleverly had heightened the minimum income requirement (MIR) for visa applicants wishing to bring overseas family members to the UK, setting it at £29,000 annually, with a planned increase to £38,700 next year. 

The legal challenge will assess the legality of the raise and whether it aligns with formal advice from Whitehall. 

This issue was highlighted amid a recent debate between Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer, where both discussed their commitments to implementing stricter legal migration controls, following a record migration figure of 685,000 in 2023. 

How the minimum wage requirement has separated families 

Implemented in April, the MIR increase has been criticized for causing distress among multinational couples and separating families, as the income threshold surpasses what most of the UK population earns. 

The upcoming court proceedings will argue that this increase breaches legal obligations under Article 3 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, suggesting that many children will face separation from a parent abroad due to the British sponsor’s inability to meet the new financial requirements, according to statements from attorneys. 

What they said 

According to Caroline Coombs, of RFUK, “The increases came as a complete surprise to the community we represent – and at a time when people all over the UK have been struggling with a relentless cost of living crisis. 

Whilst they have been working hard to earn and save enough to sponsor their partner, the government has punished them once again and for many, their dream of a family life together here has been shattered.” 

Leigh Day partner Tessa Gregory, who represents RFUK, said: “Our client is appalled that a decision of such import appears to have been taken by the home secretary in such a cavalier manner: without proper analysis; and in breach of critical public law duties such as assessing the impact of the decision on protected groups.” 

Background 

Under significant pressure from the right wing of the Conservative party due to escalating net migration figures, Rishi Sunak announced an increase in the Minimum Income Requirement (MIR) in December 2023. 

  • The requirement pertains to the family visa needed by British citizens or residents to bring foreign partners, spouses, and possibly children, to live in the UK. 
  • In addition, it was set to significantly limit potential job seekers from various nationalities seeking employment in the UK.
  • Previously, the MIR was set at £18,600 until April 2024 and has since been raised to £29,000, with a further planned increase to £34,500 and then to £38,700 by 2025. 

The Conservative party has yet to provide a comment to the advocacy group. 

However, insiders from the party maintained that it is appropriate for individuals who wish to bring family members to the UK to be financially capable of supporting them. 

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