Supreme Court Ruling on Minimum Income Requirement for Spousal Visas

Article 8 of the Human Rights Act 1998, first paragraph:

'Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence.'

In this instance the word 'his' applies to everybody regardless of gender.

Article 8 was the core argument of a long legal battle by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, a UK organisation that mounted a legal challenge in 2012. They opposed the rule that the UK spouse of a non-EU citizen must earn £18,600 pa in order to for the non-EU citizen to live in the UK. The JCWI took the legal battle all the way to the Supreme Court in 2016. For three days the Supreme Court Justices Lady Hale (Deputy President), Lord Kerr, Lord Wilson, Lord Reed, Lord Carnwath, Lord Hughes, and Lord Hodge listened to testimony. Every migrant right's group in the UK waited for the Supreme Court's conclusion.

There is a second paragraph in Article 8 of the Human Rights Act:

'There shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.'

The phrase 'economic well-being of the country' must be the five (or six depending on how you feel about hyphens) words that the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom used to justify the Minimum Income Requirement of the spouse visa, on February 22nd 2017.

There is nothing else in the paragraph that might apply to the MIR; national security is not a concern, nor are public safety, health and morals, there is no concern about crime or disorder, and nobody else's freedoms are being endangered. The figure of £18,600 is what the Home Office feels will prevent a couple in the UK from depending too much on benefits or the welfare system, presumably 'endangering the economic well-being of the country'.

Due to the Supreme Court the Home Office is required to rewrite the rules regarding children, and regarding income sources. This alone could help thousands of the 15,000 children for whom one of their parents is only ever a Skype call. But the Supreme Court ultimately concluded that the MIR has been badly implemented, that it discriminates against women, people of colour, families, and disabled people, and that is legal.

If you were born in the UK, then you fall in love with someone born outside of the EU and marry them, you must earn £18,600 to live in the UK with them. Since 43% of UK citizens do not earn this much, love is only a privilege.

For the economic well-being of the country, your partner must leave.

When we (Stop35k.org) consulted with a law firm in 2016, we even discussed whether Article 8 might be grounds for a legal challenge based on the JCWI's own argument. The Supreme Court's conclusion reinforces every other income threshold like the 35k settlement rule, disappoints everyone who argues for migrant's rights, and of course disappoints every migrant in the UK and elsewhere.

Nevertheless, the JCWI are persisting. We all are.


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