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British citizens with foreign-born partners are set to face a challenging time when it comes to their family life. The EU renegotiation, campaigners and lawyers have warned that a legal loophole – that hundreds rely on to allow them to live together in the UK – is in line for new restrictions.
The rules currently in place, state that a British spouse must earn more than £18,600 for their loved to be able to join them in the UK, regardless of how much the foreign spouse earns or assets are worth.
This ruling already receives its fair share of criticism, as it is argued that the current law on spouse visas, penalises around 43% of the UK population who are unable to meet the income figure.
As a result of this, many couples have depended on a route known as the ‘Surinder Singh’. The route, taken by low-income British citizens, involves the British party temporarily moving to another EU country with their foreign partner, before they both move to the UK together under the EU freedom of movement laws.
This is all set to change however as the draft deal advised from the European commission (aimed at keeping Britain as part of the EU) includes a paragraph focussed on removing the loophole. The paragraph agrees ‘to exclude, from the scope of free movement rights, third-country nationals who had no prior lawful residence in a member state before marrying a union citizen or who marry a union citizen only after the union citizen has established residence in the host member state’.
The proposal also states that members of the EU should be able to use the ‘abuse of free movement rights’ as a reason for denying a visa, if couples were attempting to avoid the application of national immigration rules.
Families are now challenging the Home Office over the minimum income rules as many cannot meet the demands, particularly those working within the public sector or mothering young children.
The final appeal is set to be heard on Monday the 22nd of February at the supreme court.