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UK ‘s New Family Visa Income Requirement Faces High Court Challenge

The policy initiated by British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to increase the minimum income requirement (MIR) for family visas has come under scrutiny and is now being challenged in the high court. The new rule mandates applicants to earn £29,000 annually to bring a family member to the UK, a move critics argue disproportionately impacts children, women, and minorities, according to a report by The Guardian. UK Family visa income requirements

Announced last year, this policy aims to align the family visa salary threshold with that of the Skilled Worker visa, and it took effect on April 11. The change represents a significant jump from the previous requirement of £18,600, now up by 55% to £29,000 (approximately Rs 30,95,590 at current exchange rates).

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The Home Office defends this increase as a crucial part of Sunak’s strategy to curb legal migration and to ensure that newcomers do not become a financial burden on the state. Home Secretary James Cleverly remarked, “We have reached a tipping point with mass migration. There is no simple solution or easy decision which cuts numbers to levels acceptable to the British people.”

Reunite Families UK (RFUK), a non-profit organization dedicated to assisting families with UK spouse visas and raising awareness about immigration rule impacts, has sought a judicial review. RFUK claims the measure breaches the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, as reported by The Guardian. The organization also questions whether the policy aligns with official Whitehall advice.

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Criticism and Ongoing Debate

The policy has faced significant criticism for its negative impacts on women, ethnic minorities, and young people, with RFUK arguing that it violates the Equality Act 2010, which protects individuals from discrimination in various aspects of society.

This policy adjustment has emerged amidst ongoing debates between Sunak and Labour leader Keir Starmer over immigration levels, with both political figures advocating for stricter immigration controls. The income threshold increase, which became effective in April, has reportedly led to numerous family separations, as many UK residents struggle to meet the new income criteria necessary to sponsor foreign spouses. Future increases are anticipated, with the MIR expected to rise to £38,700 (approximately Rs 41,31,486) next year. UK Family visa income requirements

Court documents are expected to argue that the policy contravenes the home secretary’s obligations under Article 3 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, resulting in children being separated from their parents abroad. Caroline Coombs of RFUK expressed the community’s shock at the abrupt changes, especially during the ongoing cost of living crisis. “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,” Coombs stated. “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.”

Tessa Gregory, a partner at Leigh Day representing RFUK, criticized the decision-making process, calling it cavalier and lacking proper analysis. “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,” Gregory remarked.

Despite Reduced Immigration, Sunak Increases MIR

Prime Minister Sunak announced the MIR increase in December, under pressure from the Conservative party’s right wing due to rising net migration figures. Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows a 10% decline in net migration to the UK in 2023, dropping to 685,000 from a peak of 764,000 in 2022. UK Family visa income requirements

While the Home Office has refrained from commenting due to purdah rules ahead of the general election, the Conservative party has defended the policy, asserting it ensures sponsors can financially support their families. The Labour Party has also shown broad support for the changes.

A family visa enables a British citizen or settled resident to bring a foreign partner or spouse, and potentially children, to live in the UK. The MIR, previously set at £18,600, was increased to £29,000 in April, with further hikes planned.

Disclaimer: This article is a rewritten version based on information from The Guardian. For more details, visit UK(msn.com)

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