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The long awaited judgment in the case of MM v Secretary of State for the Home Department  EWCA Civ 985 is now out. A decision in this controversial appeal case that challenged the minimum income requirement for UK spouse visa applications has been eagerly awaited, particularly by families affected by the rule, and was finally announced today.
Unfortunately, it was not good news at all for those who were hoping for a judgment that would be favourable to the respondents. The appeal, instead, went in favour of the Secretary of State for the Home Department, with Lord Justice Maurice Kay approving the appeal on the grounds that such an outcome is not “discriminatory, manifestly unjust, made in bad faith” or, in short, that it is not in breach of Article 8 of the ECHR. This is, without doubt, a horrendous outcome for the many families around the UK who have been refused a spouse visa or had a decision put on hold on the grounds of inability to meet the financial requirement.
In what is a lengthy judgment even for a case of this nature, Lord Justice Aitkens also commented on the Rights of British Citizens in a manner that is likely to come under some scrutiny in the coming days. In a statement that is in direct conflict with the previous judgment of Blake J in the High Court, Aitkens LJ surmises that the 1971 Immigration Act does not grant a “constitutional right” for British citizens to reside in the UK with their spouses where the respective spouse is not an EEA citizen and has not been granted the right to live in the UK in their own right. This is not only a blow to applicants and potential applicants for spouse visas, but also to British Citizens on the whole who will not enjoy questions being raised as to the extent of their inherent rights.
It is thought that a further appeal will be made to the Supreme Court, but this is highly likely to take an extensive amount of time for a decision to be made there, with cases taking many, many months to be heard. Due to this, it is now likely that a final decision will not be forthcoming until well into 2015. For those whose life depended upon the outcome of this appeal, it seems the wait will continue. Unfortunately, it is not guaranteed that the decision from the Supreme Court will be any different to the one released today. It is suspected that spouse visa applications for those not meeting the requirement will remain on hold until this time.
If your spouse visa application has been affected by the decision in this case then we may be able to help, get in touch with one of our immigration experts to discuss your potential options.