Breaking News: UK Government Announces Phased Increase in Minimum Income Requirement for Spouse Visa
In a surprising turn of events, the UK Government has adjusted its plans for the MIR- minimum income requirement for a spouse or partner visa. This suggests a direction change from the earlier announcement by the Home Secretary on December 4. Now, the MIR will undergo a phased increase, starting at £29,000 in Spring 2024, reaching £38,700 at its final implementation.
Recently, Lord Sharpe of Epsom, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Home Office, unveiled the new approach, emphasizing the need for predictability. According to Lord Sharpe, the initial increase to £29,000 aligns with the 25th percentile of earnings for jobs eligible for Skilled Worker visas.
Recent Home Office Factsheet Announcement
In a Home Office policy paper released later in the day, Government made the decision to align the family MIR with the standard Skilled Worker general threshold. The initial raise to £29,000, representing ratio of jobs at the skill level of RQF3, hopes to address concerns raised about the £38,700 threshold increase.
Crucially, the additional income requirements for children will be eliminated, ensuring equal treatment for British nationals and migrants under the General Skilled Worker threshold.
In a factsheet, the Home Office specified that individuals with existing visas aren’t affected by the increased threshold. Those with family visas within the five-year partner route plus children seeking accompany parents continue assessment against the current income requirement.
So, what about individuals on different pathways applying to switch into the five-year partner route after the threshold increase? These applicants will be subject to the new income requirement.
Public Backlash to the Minimum Income Requirement Changes
This unexpected adjustment by the Home Office has garnered strong reactions. Matt Dathan, home affairs editor at The Times, cited a ‘big climb down’ blaming the government for not communicating the phased introduction earlier.
Zoe Bantleman, legal director at the Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association (ILPA), argued that linking income requirements to job percentiles is unreasonable. NGOs such as Migrant Voice and Reunite Families UK expressed concerns that even with the adjusted £29,000 threshold, families would still face separation.
Labour’s shadow Home Secretary, Yvette Cooper, asserted that the change reflects Conservative chaos on immigration. Meanwhile Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Alistair Carmichael labelled the increase as “yet another half-thought-through idea.”
In conclusion, this move meets with strong criticism. Moreover, in a surprising update on December 22, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced that the MIR will increase to the full amount of £38,700 in early 2025. This confirms the UK government’s commitment to the phased approach.
These developments underscore the fluid nature of immigration policies, and individuals navigating the spouse visa application process should stay informed and seek professional advice to ensure compliance with the evolving requirements.
For more information please our Head of Immigration Leena Chouhan on 0207 427 5972.