The Home Office has today lodged an appeal against a High Court judgment on the income threshold for those wishing to sponsor a foreign fiancee, spouse or partner along with any dependents to enter the UK on a settlement visa. The level was set in July 2012 at £18,600, with extra added on for dependent children, and was based on the average income in the UK at the time. The problem with the figure was that it was an average taken from across the entire population, rather than a median figure – in other words, it was not set at a figure which the majority of the population could realistically achieve. It had been suggested that less than half of the general working population could match the amount required, and so three individual cases were brought before the High Court which handed down its judgment in early July 2013.
Essentially, the judges determined that the threshold was not discriminatory – the basis of the case documents – but that it was unreasonably high and called upon the Home Office to reduce it to £13,000 for one person. The Home Office has today filed a formal appeal against this decision. Additionally, since early July 2013 when the original judgment was delivered, the UK Border Agency (UKBA) has been putting family visa applications on hold. This mainly affects UK settlement visa applications which were going to be turned down on financial grounds alone. However, this does not mean that the visa has been allowed, simply that a decision has been postponed until the final verdict is issued by the High Court.
Any applicants for a UK family or partner visa who do not meet the UKBA criteria for approval in other respects will not have their application put on hold, but will receive a decision in the normal way. Anyone who is in the position of having their settlement visa held up awaiting the result of the appeal, and those applicants who need their passport for travel, should contact the UK Border Agency. If a passport must be released, the UK marriage visa application will be deemed abandoned with no refund and the applicant will have to start the process again.
A Home Office spokesman said that in general they were pleased that the High Court agreed that their threshold was in essence lawful, but is appealing against certain recommendations that the High Court handed down. This is the main reason for the settlement applications which would fail for financial reasons only, being put on hold.