MIR: what you need to know and what you can do about it​

MIR: what you need to know and what you can do about it

What is the MIR?

The MIR stands for Minimum Income Requirement: the financial threshold that British citizens and settled residents have to meet in order to be able to sponsor a joining family member such as a partner, a child or an elderly parent.

This threshold has been imposed on families since 2012 when, as part of the hostile environment, the government toughened the family migration policy and introduced a set of complex and restrictive rules.

These rules include several aspects to them, including other financial requirements and costs. This page will focus on the MIR.

How much is the MIR?

To sponsor a partner, without children:

Currently the MIR is £18,600.

From the 11th April 2024 it will increase to £29,000.

From Spring 2025 it is set increase to £38,700.

Technical details

If someone is employed, they must demonstrate six months of earnings that would make up the equivalent to an annual salary of £18,600.

The rules are different if you are self-employed, or if the earnings come from other sources than an employment salary.

You can read more about the technical details of the requirement on FreeMovement blog, including examples of what income counts, and how it must be demonstrated. 

Alongside this, the sponsoring partner also to show an adequate accomodation requirement

Costs associated with the Spouse and Partner migration rules

  • Visa Fee (and visa extension fee)
  • Immigration Health Surcharge (paid annually)
  • Language test
  • Biometric enrolment (paid annually)
  • Life in the UK test

How does it work?

Alongside this, the joining family member will also have to pay a visa application fee and the Immigration Health Surcharge.  The IHS has to be paid for every year of their 5–10-year route to settlement.

A level which roughly only 40% of the UK workforce earn.

What happens if the sponsoring partners doesn’t earn the required amount?

If the person is unable to meet the required amount, their options include:

  • A) Apply for ‘Exceptional Circumstances’ (see below)
  • B) Remain overseas / move overseas to be with partner
  • C) in the UK separated from partner

(In options b and c, they could obviously wait and apply down the line, if their earnings have increased)

What often happens is case c  people are sadly forced to be separated from their loved ones. If the couple has children, these children therefore also face separation from one of their parents, sometimes it is the mum abroad who keeps the kids.

How many people are impacted by this issue?

We don’t know, and it is difficult to calculate this statistic with the available data. In 2015, the Children’s Commissioner for England estimated that up to 15k children could have already been separated as a result of the rules introduced 3 years earlier. A number which will have exponentially increased since then, considering how also now EU citizens are subject to the rules.

What are ‘Exceptional Circumstances’ and the 10-year route to settlement?

In cases where a refusal has been judged by court to be a breach of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (right to a family life), the joining family member can be granted ‘exceptional circumstances.’ They are therefore allowed to enter/remain in the country but are placed onto the longer and vastly more expensive 10-year route to settlement. A partner and child route to settlement will now cost over £34k over 10 years.  More details can be read here.

What is the impact on families and children in particular?

The current rules have had and continue to have a devastating impact on families and the family unit. Many faces long-term or permanent separation meaning that many children grow up without one of their parents. For them, enforced separation from a parent has become the norm.

As a result of this prolonged separation, children are suffering from a range of mental health impacts including selective mutism, stool holding, behavioural and emotional issue and even suicidal ideation.

Furthermore, families whilst battling a severe cost of living crisis also face a great financial impact as a result of the rules. Funds which are diverted from things such as after school activities for children, a mortgage or any other elements that would make the life of a family more stable and fulfilling.

The two-part initial findings report has been commissioned by Reunite Families UK and funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, and outlines the countless psychological and financial hurdles British and settled residents 5 face in order to be together as a family in the UK.  

The report highlights the following key findings:

  1. The requirements create single parent families and impose a very high economic, social and emotional burden on all affected families.
  2. The effect is discriminatory because it is felt disproportionately by women, young people, and those living outside of London or the South East, and working single parents (usually mothers).
  3. The overall effect makes it harder rather than easier for mixed nationality families to integrate into society, which is the opposite effect to that intended by the Rules.
  4. British citizens and settled residents are very badly affected by these rules; with significant impact on the mental health and well-being of British children.

What does the government need to do to improve this policy?

As we said in a joint briefing with other organisations in the sector concerned about the MIR, the best way to avoid the severe harm to families described above would be to abolish the MIR entirely and recognise a statutory right for a British citizen or settled resident to bring their close family members to the UK.

Short of that, we make the following recommendations:

  1. Commission a review of the family migration rules in detail, which takes account of and builds on the recommendations made by previous rules, such as that conducted by the House of Lords Justice and Home Affairs Committee in 2023, with a particular focus on:
    1. Integration;
    2. Examining how the impact of the rules is gendered and racialised
    3. Their contribution to the worsening mental health of the people going through the process.

2) Adopt family migration rules for British and settled sponsors of overseas spouses and partners that promote family and foster integration (by for instance taking into account the earning potential of both partners). Any new policy must be formulated and implemented giving due weight to the best interests of children.


3) Fix the level of the visa application fees at the cost of processing for all family applications

4) Every route to settlement should be capped at 5 years.

5)Remove all the so-called ‘reset the clock’ mechanisms of applicants on the 10-year route now. Meaning that when people are on the 10-year route to settlement and meet the requirement to be moved onto the 5-year route they shouldn’t have to restart their route to settlement. Their years and fees already spent on a route should be included within the 5-year route to settlement.

What can I do?

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