Reuniting families affected by UK spouse visa rules

Government announces incremental increase to Minimum Income Requirement to £38,700 which will end possibility of family reunification for countless people

Reunite Families UK and our members are still reeling from the decision announced by the Home Secretary on the 4th of December 2023 to more than double the Minimum Income Requirement from £18.600 to £38,700. A threshold which only 40% of the workers in this country currently earn (the UK average salary in 2023 was around £35,464).

We were not relieved by the subsequent release of more details by the government on the 21st of December including the fact that the new threshold would be introduced gradually.

In fact, according to a Factsheet on net migration measures:

  • Our intention [the government] remains to bring this in line with the new minimum general salary threshold for Skilled Workers, £38,700. This will ensure people only bring dependants to the UK they can support financially and will apply to all British and settled sponsors under the five-year partner route.
  • We will raise the minimum income for family visas incrementally, in stages, to give predictability to families:
    • In Spring 2024 we will raise the threshold to £29,000, that is the 25th percentile of earnings for jobs at the skill level of RQF3 [1], moving to the 40th percentile (currently £34,500) and finally the 50th percentile (currently £38,700 and the level at which the General Skilled Worker threshold is set).
  • There will no longer be a separate child element to the minimum income requirement, to ensure that British nationals are not treated less favourably than migrants who are required to meet the General Skilled Worker threshold as a flat rate, regardless of any children being sponsored.

Following weeks of intense pressure and criticism of the government for the lack of details or how they decided to raise the MIR to 38,700 the government also released an update with regards to the transitional arrangements. 

They stated that people already on the route would now not be subject to the increase:

  • Those who already have a family visa within the five-year partner route, or who apply before the minimum income threshold is raised, will continue to have their applications assessed against the current income requirement and will not be required to meet the increased threshold. This will also be the case for children seeking to join or accompany parents.
  • Anyone granted a fianc(é)e visa before the minimum income threshold is raised will also be assessed against the current income requirement when they apply for a family visa within the five-year partner route.
  • Those already in the UK on a different route who apply to switch into the five-year partner route, after the minimum income requirement has been increased, will be subject to the new income requirement.

The latest announcement came off the back of a huge increases to the visa fees (between 20 and 35%) and the Immigration Health Surcharge (66%).

It is difficult to describe the anger and despair of our members with many of them thinking this could have been the last Christmas together here with their loved ones, not to mention those who couldn’t meet the current MIR and see family reunification now in effect impossible altogether.

Please visit our campaign page to learn how Reunite Families UK and our community are fighting Defend our Right to a Family Life.