On the 4th and 5th of March 2014, the Court of Appeal heard the Home Office appeal against a previous High Court ruling which judged that the income level required of sponsoring British citizens and permanent residents for UK fiancee, partner and marriage visa applicants was too high.
This case revolves around the fact that many people feel the income level a sponsoring partner or spouse must have in order to bring a non-EEA national into the country is set too high. At present, a British citizen or UK legal permanent resident must prove they have an income of at least £18,600 per year. Furthermore, the level of income required rises to £22,400 for a family with one dependent child, and then £2400 for each additional child included in a UK settlement visa application.
In July 2013, Mr Justice Blake presided over the High Court ruling which decided that this threshold was unfairly high. The case had been brought by three claimants who wished to challenge the threshold on the basis that the income requirements interfered with Article 8 of the Human Rights Act (the right to a private and family life) and were discriminatory. The judge agreed.
The Home Office appealed this decision. Unsurprisingly, the Court of Appeal did not make a final judgement in the case, but rather reserved judgement for the time being. It is now expected that a final decision will be revealed in the next few weeks. However, whichever way the Court of Appeal judgement goes, a final appeal will no doubt be made to the Supreme Court, which will take many more months to resolve. Meanwhile, UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) will continue to defer settlement fiancee, partner and marriage visa applications that fall to be refused solely because the applicant and their sponsor do not meet the income threshold requirement under Appendix FM and/or the related evidential requirements under Appendix FM-SE.