Supreme court backs minimum income rule for non-European spouses

Source:https://www.theguardian.com/law/2017/feb/22/supreme-court-backs-minimum-income-rule-for-non-european-spouses

Supreme Court justices have unanimously backed Theresa May’s “particularly harsh” £18,600 minimum income rule for British citizens to bring non-European spouses into Britain that campaigners say has led to tens of thousands of families being separated.

But the supreme court ruling does acknowledge that the rule has caused hardship for thousands, and criticises the lack of focus on the treatment of children and the ability of Home Office staff to consider alternative assets when they assess the earning ability of the British spouse.

Lord Carnwath said he and his fellow judges had held “that the minimum income threshold is accepted in principle” but he added that the Home Office’s rules and instructions failed to take full account of their legal duties in respect to the children involved or to allow alternative sources of funding to be considered.

The justices ruled that current Home Office rules and guidance are defective and unlawful until they are amended to give more weight to the interests of the children involved. This could give limited hope to some of the separated families with children but the four families who brought the appeal will not find out whether they can live together in Britain until their cases are reconsidered.

The £18,600 minimum income threshold for British citizens to bring non-European Economic Area spouses to live with them in the UK was introduced by May when she was a home secretary in 2012 as part of her drive to reduce net migration below 100,000 and the ruling will come as a major relief to the Home Office.

It was estimated in 2015 that the £18,600 threshold excludes 41% of the British working population, including 55% of women, from bringing a foreign spouse to live in Britain. The threshold rises to £22,400 if there is one or more non-European-born child in the family. The income of the non-European partner does not count towards the threshold.

The ruling testing the legality of the family visa rules covered several linked cases. Two of them, Abdul Majid and Shabana Javed, involve British nationals married to Pakistanis; a third, known as MM, is a Lebanese refugee. A nephew of MM, known as AF, is also an appellant, as well as SS, a refugee from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The ruling is a blow to campaigners who say the rule has meant British families have faced a choice of separation or living in exile. They have highlighted the plight of up to 15,000 British children who have grown up as “Skype kids” to keep in contact with one of their parents since the rule was introduced.

The supreme court justices acknowledge in their judgment that the £18,600 rule “causes hardship to many thousands of couples, including some who are in no way to blame for the situation in which they find themselves” but add that “does not mean that it is incompatible” with Article 8 of the European convention on human rights on the right to family life.

The supreme court also agreed that the income rule has “a particularly harsh effect” on British citizens who have lived and worked abroad, have married or formed stable relationships there and now cannot return home to Britain.

It is also particularly harsh for couples who got together before 2012. “Of particular concern is the impact upon the children of these couples, many or even most of whom will be British citizens themselves,” they add.

The justices also acknowledge that the rule “does present a serious obstacle to their enjoying family life together” and may provide a permanent obstacle to many couples because those earning less than £18,600 are unlikely to amass sufficient savings to make good the shortfall. Women and especially those from minority ethnic groups will be particularly hit because of the gender pay gap.

But they have ruled that the £18,600 threshold is a legitimate part “of an overall strategy aimed at reducing net migration. Its particular aims are no doubt entirely legitimate to ensure, as far as practicable, that the couple do not have recourse to welfare benefits and have sufficient resources to be able to play a full part of British life.” They say that, given that is a legitimate aim, it was not possible to say that “a less intrusive measure” should have been adopted.

Immigration welfare campaigners took comfort in the supreme court’s findings that the rule was causing hardship to thousands of families and that the interests of children needed to be reconsidered.

Saira Grant, the chief executive of the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, said: “This judgment is a real victory for families, especially those with children. For five years JCWI has been working with affected families and has been trying to persuade the government to abandon the family migration rules it introduced in 2012 because they are tearing families apart and significantly harming children.

“The supreme court has now declared this to be the case. These rules are unlawful as they do not safeguard the best interests of children. The strict requirement that only the sponsor’s personal finances can allow the £18,600 threshold to be met has also been discredited.”

She added: “The supreme court has said that alternative funding sources should be taken into account when a person’s right to family life could be breached. These are significant victories for families up and down the country. This judgment confirms that the government’s position is now untenable and they must now take immediate steps to protect the welfare of children in accordance with their legal duty.”

A Home Office spokesperson said the court had endorsed its approach in setting an income threshold for family migration that prevents a burden on the taxpayer and ensures migrant families can integrate into our communities.

“This is central to building an immigration system that works in the national interest,” they said.

“The current rules remain in force but we are carefully considering what the court has said in relation to exceptional cases where the income threshold has not been met, particularly where the case involves a child,” they added.

Marriage-related migration to the UK

Spouses are the largest single category of migrant settlement in the UK (39% in 2008, and 40% in 2009, Home Office 2009 and 2010), but the limited nature of research on family and marriagerelated migration has been widely recognised (Kofman 2001, Migration Advisory Committee 2009).

Whilst work in this area has been expanding in recent years, it is by no means comprehensive, and is characterised by a focus on certain issues and regions of origin, while others remain markedly under-researched. The majority of available research concerns South Asian populations whose migration has long been addressed through the lens of kinship.

Such ethno-national stereotyping of migration channels has led to the neglect of the important role of marriage in the migration trajectories of other groups.1 In this article, available evidence is reviewed to construct a much more comprehensive portrait of marriage-related migration to the UK than has previously been available, focusing on the largest nationality groups of migrant spouses.

The complex and varied picture which emerges challenges stereotypical views of marriage-related migration to the UK, casting light on the variety of processes involved, links with other forms of migration, and gendered dynamics. It also exposes the lacunae in this field, and the limits of analysis possible on the basis of existing research, providing new perspectives and cautionary lessons for policy making in this area.

The issue of marriage-related migration has been gaining increasing political importance across Europe in recent years, with considerable tightening of spousal immigration regulations in countries such as Denmark and the Netherlands. In the UK, the issue has not received comparable political and public attention to date, but after recent public policy consultations (for example on the raising of the minimum age of spousal migration), the introduction of pre-entry English language requirements for spouses2 under the new coalition government, and a stated aim to cap immigration numbers, it seems likely that the UK will follow the example of its neighbours in seeking to tighten restrictions on spousal immigration. In this context, the uneven availability of evidence described in this article, and examples from recent British history and elsewhere in Europe, suggest a danger that legislation designed on the basis of partial information will have unforeseen consequences.

 

Capital Gains Tax liability

You and your spouse or civil partner are treated as separate individuals for Capital Gains Tax purposes. Each of you will pay tax only on your own gains and you’ll get relief only for your own losses. Although you’re taxed separately, you may be treated as ‘connected’ with each other and with each other’s relatives for certain purposes.

If you and your spouse or civil partner are living together, any transfer of an asset between you is treated as giving rise to neither a gain nor a loss to the person transferring it. Any amount actually paid is ignored. If the person receiving the asset later disposes of it, they’ll be treated as if they had paid an amount equal to the total of your costs.

If you’re not living together or the asset involved is trading stock, any asset transferred between you is treated as transferred at its market value at the time of the transfer. So, in these circumstances, the person transferring the asset may make a chargeable gain or an allowable loss.

If you transfer exempt employee shareholder shares to your spouse or civil partner the shares are also treated as transferred at their market value at the time of transfer but you make no chargeable gain or allowable loss. Similarly, any asset transferred at the time of death is treated as acquired at its market value at that date and there’s no chargeable gain or allowable loss. In general, a person who inherits from their late spouse or civil partner is treated in the same way as any other person who inherits on death.

Non-resident Capital Gains Tax

For Non-resident Capital Gains Tax purposes all disposals by non-residents of UK residential property must be reported using HMRC’s online return form within 30 days of conveyance of the property whether or not there’s a chargeable gain or tax to pay. This includes assets transferred to a spouse or civil partner. If a property was jointly owned each owner must tell HMRC about their own gain or loss.

If the spousal transfer is on or after 6 April 2015, the transferee is treated as acquiring the asset, but they cannot rebase as they have acquired the asset after 5 April (even though the non-resident transferee may have acquired the asset before then).

Assets held in your name

You’re chargeable to CGT if you dispose of an asset held in your name, unless you’re holding it on behalf of another person, such as your spouse or civil partner. If you’re holding an asset on behalf of your spouse or civil partner, your spouse or civil partner is commonly known as the beneficial owner and will pay tax if a gain is made from its disposal.

To decide which of you should return any gain and pay any tax, you should consider:

  • whether you and your spouse or civil partner have made a formal declaration about beneficial ownership using form 17, Declaration of beneficial interests in joint property and income
  • who provided the cost price and whether the asset was bought as a gift for your spouse or civil partner
  • who received the proceeds of the disposal

What counts as ‘living together’

You and your spouse or civil partner are treated as living together unless you’re separated:

  • under a court order
  • by a formal Deed of Separation executed under seal (in Scotland a deed should be witnessed)
  • in such circumstances that the separation is likely to be permanent

In each case the marriage or civil partnership must have broken down. If the marriage or civil partnership has not broken down but the 2 of you don’t live in the same house, you’re still treated as living together for Capital Gains Tax purposes.

Separation, divorce and dissolution

The remainder of this helpsheet explains your Capital Gains Tax liability if you’re separated or divorced or your civil partnership is dissolved and you’ve transferred assets to the spouse or civil partner from whom you’re separated, or to a former spouse from whom you’re divorced, or to a civil partner from a civil partnership which has been dissolved.

Year of permanent separation

If you or your spouse or civil partner were living together at some time in a tax year, you can transfer assets between you at any time in that tax year at no gain or loss. There’s no requirement that you should be living together at the time of transfer.

If a transfer occurs between you and your spouse or civil partner after the end of the tax year in which you stop living together, there are rules to decide the date of disposal and the amount of consideration on disposal. These rules depend on your particular circumstances and the information you’ll need is the date of:

  • any decree absolute or dissolution of the civil partnership
  • the court order if the asset was transferred by such an order
  • any other contract under which the asset was transferred

Private Residence Relief

You may be entitled to Private Residence Relief on any gain arising on the disposal of your only or main residence. You and your spouse or civil partner can’t have more than one residence or main residence between you for the purposes of the relief at any time while you’re living together. (You’re treated as living together unless you’re separated under a court order, or by Deed of Separation, or are otherwise separated in such circumstances that the separation is likely to become permanent.) Following separation, the residence which is your only or main residence for the purposes of the relief need not be the same as that which is your spouse’s or civil partner’s only or main residence for such purposes.

Full Private Residence Relief will not be due where, as part of a financial settlement on separation, divorce or dissolution, the spouse or civil partner who has ceased to occupy the matrimonial or civil partnership home:

  • transfers an interest in that home to the other spouse or civil partner
  • the date of transfer takes place more than 18 months after the time when the spouse or civil partner last occupied the matrimonial or civil partnership home

The former matrimonial or civil partnership home can be treated as the only or main residence of the transferring spouse or civil partner from the date their occupation ceased until the earlier of the:

  • date of transfer
  • date on which the spouse or civil partner to whom the property is transferred ceases to use it as their only or main residence

 

Make a claim to a deceased person’s estate

This guidance is for information only, is not intended to be legal advice or to cover every situation that may arise when claiming an estate. If required you should seek your own independent legal advice from a qualified solicitor, your local law centre or Citizens Advice Bureau.

The Bona Vacantia division (BVD) of the Government Legal Department administers the estates of people who die without blood relatives and without leaving a Will

Check your entitlement

Order of priority to share in an intestate estate

If someone dies without leaving a valid or effective will (intestate) the following are entitled to the estate in the order shown below:

  1. husband, wife or civil partner
  2. children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and so on
  3. mother or father
  4. brothers or sisters who share both the same mother and father, or their children (nieces and nephews)
  5. half brothers or sisters or their children (nieces and nephews of the half blood or their children). ‘Half ’ means they share only one parent with the deceased
  6. grandparents
  7. uncles and aunts or their children (first cousins or their descendants)
  8. half uncles and aunts or their children (first cousins of the half blood or their children). ‘Half’ means they only share one grandparent with the deceased, not both

If you are, for example, a first cousin of the deceased, you would only be entitled to share in the estate if there are no relatives above you in the order of entitlement, for example, a niece or nephew.

If your relationship to the deceased is traced through someone who survived the deceased but has since died, you will need to confirm who is entitled to deal with that person’s estate. The person entitled to deal with someone’s estate is known as their ‘legal personal representative’. They are the person entitled to make the claim to the deceased’s estate (see “Claims from personal representatives” below).

For example, children are only entitled to share in an estate if their parent died before the deceased, in which case they take their parent’s share of the deceased’s estate. If their parent survived the deceased but has subsequently died, then whoever is dealing with their estate should claim. See “Claims from Personal Representatives” below.

Claims from personal representatives

If an entitled relative survived the deceased but has since died, that relative’s personal representative (the person legally entitled to deal with their estate) must make a claim to the deceased person’s estate.

Definition of a personal representative

A personal representative is defined (in descending order of priority) as:

If the person who has died left a valid will:

  • The person named on the grant of Probate (or Letters of Administration with will annexed) or
  • If Probate was not granted to the will, the executor named in the will, or

If they did not leave a valid will:

  • The person named on the grant of Letters of Administration or
  • If no grant of Letters of Administration, the person entitled to administer their intestate estate

If that person’s personal representative subsequently dies then it will be their personal representative who is entitled to deal with both estates.

Where you make a claim as a personal representative, or it is traced through a personal representative or representatives, BVD require a Court sealed copy of all Grants of Probate or Letters of Administration to the relevant estates.

If probate or Letters of Administration have not been applied for, you will need to prove your entitlement by submitting a certified true copy of the original of the will. If your (or another person’s) entitlement to act as legal personal representative is based on intestacy you will need to prove your (or their) relationship by supplying the birth and marriage certificates which prove you (or they) are that person’s personal representative. You will also need to confirm the dates of death of anyone entitled to act as a personal representative when you submit a claim (see Order of priority to share to an intestate estate above) as well as supplying copies of search results for a grant to the estate concerned which can be obtained from Find a will

For example, if you are a nephew of someone whose estate has been dealt with by BVD but your father (the deceased’s brother) survived the deceased but has since died then it is your father’s estate that is entitled to claim and share in the deceased’s estate. Any claim to the deceased’s estate would have to be made by your father’s personal representative (see ‘Definition of a personal representative’ above). If your father left a valid will, his personal representative will be the person named on the grant of probate to the will or, if probate was not granted, the executor of the will.

If your father did not leave a will, it will be the person named on the grant of letters of administration to his estate or the person entitled to deal with his intestate estate (see ‘Order of priority to share in an intestate estate’ above).

You would only be entitled to claim the deceased’s estate if you are your father’s personal representative.

For example, if your father died without leaving a will and there is no grant of letters of administration to his estate and he was married at the time of his death, it will be his spouse who will be his personal representative. If she has since died then it will be her legal personal representative who will be entitled to make a claim to the deceased’s estate (and her personal representative will be determined in the same way as set out in the ‘Definition of a personal representative section). If you are in any doubt about your entitlement to claim the estate, you should either seek your own legal advice or send a family tree, including the dates of death of family members on it.

Illegitimacy

Illegitimacy (when a child is born to parents who were not married at the time of his or her birth and they did not subsequently marry) as a bar to intestate succession was removed by the Family Law Reform Act 1987. This means illegitimacy is irrelevant if someone dies on or after 4 April 1988 and their estate can be claimed by those relatives defined by the Administration of Estates Act 1925 whether they were illegitimate or not.

If a deceased person died intestate before 4 April 1988 and was illegitimate, the only persons who are entitled to share in their estate before the Crown are their spouse, children (or their descendants) and parents.

Adoptions

Only adoptions made by Court Order under the Adoption Act (or foreign adoptions recognised by English law) have any legal effect for the purposes of succession. Such an adopted person becomes, for the purposes of succession, the child of his or her adoptive parents and ceases to have any interest in his or her natural family. Legal adoptions have been possible only since 1 January 1927.

Time limits for claiming Estates Administered by BVD

Claims will be accepted by BVD within, generally, 12 years from the date that the administration of the estate was completed and interest will be paid on the money held.

However, BVD will admit fully documented claims up to 30 years from the date of death, subject to no interest being paid on the money held, if the claim is received after the 12 year period above has run out.

Fully documented claims (including documents of ID and personal representative documents) must be received within 30 years of the date of death. If BVD receives a claim whether fully documented or not, outside the 30 year time limit it will not be considered. If an incomplete claim is received, you must supply the documents required to complete the claim within the 30 year time limit or the claim will not be considered.

 

This will include:

  • full birth certificates (showing the parents’ names) and marriage certificates of each person between you and the deceased (including yours and the deceased’s).
  • identification documents which provide proof of your name and of your name linked to your address (see a list of acceptable ID documents at the end of this guide)
  • a full explanation, supported by evidence, of any discrepancies in the documents supplied with your claim or about any missing documents but you should note that these may affect the acceptance of your claim

BVD may also ask you for other evidence if needed. If additional evidence includes census returns or the 1939 Register, this should be a copy of the actual return not an online transcript of the information contained on the return.

If you are in any doubt about how to prove your claim, you should seek your own advice, from a solicitor, local law centre or the Citizen’s Advice Bureau. BVD cannot advise you.

Incomplete claims submitted to BVD

If you, or your representative, submit a claim that does not provide all the documents required or copy documents that have not been properly certified as true copies of the originals, (including documents of ID and personal representative documents) to show how you are entitled to claim the estate it will be returned to you and copies will not be retained. BVD will generally deal with the first fully documented claim received. If a claim that is incomplete is received first and is then followed by a fully documented claim from someone else – the fully documented claim will be dealt with.

If BVD receive a fully documented claim and subsequently receive a claim from a relative who is higher up the order of priority.

Documents BVD will accept as evidence of formal identification

Name Address
Current signed passport Utility bill (gas, electric, satellite television, landline phone bill) issued within the last three months
Original birth certificate (issued within 12 months of the date of birth) in full or short form including those issued by UK authorities overseas such as Embassies High Commissions and HM Forces) Water bill issued for the current financial year
EEA member state identity card Local authority council tax bill for the current council tax year
Current UK or EEA photocard driving licence EEA member state identity card
Full old-style driving licence. Current UK or EEA photocard driving licence
Photographic registration cards for self-employed individuals in the construction industry – CIS4 Original mortgage statement from a recognised lender issued for the last full year
Confirmation from DWP of state benefits issued within the current year Solicitor’s letter confirming recent (within previous three months) house purchase or current Land Registry title view
Firearms or shotgun certificate Council or housing association rent card/statement or tenancy agreement for the current financial year
Residence permit issued by the Home Office to EEA nationals on sight of own country’s passport Confirmation from DWP of state benefits issued within the current year
Medical card or letter of confirmation from GP’s practice of registration with the surgery Bank, Building Society or Credit Union statement (dated within the last three months) or passbook.
HMRC self-assessment letters or tax demands dated within the current financial year
Medical card or letter of confirmation from GP’s practice of registration with the surgery

BVD will accept the overseas equivalent of the above documents for claimants who live abroad.

 

Copies of documents & Certificates

BVD would prefer that you do not send original documents of identity when submitting a claim. BVD will accept good quality copies of certificates and identification documents which have been certified by one of the following as a true copy of the original that they have seen:

Within the UK

  • a practising solicitor
  • the Post Office’s ID checking service (in which case, please also include the completed ID Checking Service form which has been stamped by the Post Office)

Outside the UK

  • an Apostille
  • Notary Public

What happens after your claim has been accepted

Acceptance of claims to estates administered by BVD (money held)

You will be informed that your claim has been accepted and the value of the estate. You will be asked to confirm who will be acting as the estate’s administrator if you have not already provided this.

Once BVD is told who will be administering the estate, payment of the monies we are holding will be released to the administrator as follows:

If the money BVD holds is below £15,000

  • a draft estate account and an indemnity will be sent to the administrator for signature
  • on receipt of the signed estate account and indemnity, payment of the money held by BVD will be made

If the net estate is over £15,000

  • BVD will require you to take out a Grant of Letters of Administration and then provide a sealed office copy of that Grant.
  • If BVD took out a Grant of Representation it will be revoked and the revocation notice provided to you together with a details of the estate’s assets and liabilities (at the date of death)
    • When BVD receives a sealed copy of the Grant of Letters of Administration an estate account will be provided to the administrator
    • On receipt of the signed estate account payment of the money held by BVD will be made

      Personal information and prevention of crime

      BVD will only release information about the value of the estate, or details about its assets and liabilities, to a successful claimant or their representative.

Apply for a forced marriage protection order

You can apply for a forced marriage protection order if one of the following applies:

  • you or someone else is being threatened with a forced marriage
  • you’re in a forced marriage

The order will be designed to protect you according to your individual circumstances, eg to stop someone taking you out of the UK.

Get a forced marriage protection order

You’ll need to:

  • check if you can apply and get the forms
  • attend a hearing

Emergency orders

You can get an emergency order (an ‘ex-parte’ or ‘without notice’ order) to protect you immediately without the person you’re making the order against being involved in getting the order.

Download and fill in form FL401A.

Write a witness statement. Include all of the following:

  • what happened
  • that you want the forced marriage protection order to be made
  • why the court should deal with the application without notifying the person you’re making the order against

Write the following words at the bottom of your witness statement – this is known as a statement of truth:

“I believe that the facts stated in this witness statement are true.”

Sign and date the statement of truth.

Take your form and statement to a family court.

Get a decision

The court will consider your case, including any risk of significant harm if the order isn’t made immediately.

You’ll get a decision about the order when you take your form and statement to the court.

Get help

Want to find out all about Forced Marriage?
Talk to our experts and get the right advice first time, every time.

How to apply

You can apply for a forced marriage protection order yourself or if you’re one of the following:

  • relative or friend
  • voluntary worker or someone else official who’s been asked for help
  • any other person with the permission of the court

Anyone can apply for a court order – even if you’re a child under 18.

Children don’t have to have someone to help them if:

  • the court agrees
  • they have a legal representative

After you apply

You’ll be sent a ‘notice of proceedings’. It’ll tell you the date of your hearing.

You must arrange for the person named in the application (‘the respondent’) to be given (‘served’) a copy of your application and witness statement. You can:

  • ask the court to serve the documents
  • get someone else to serve the documents
  • serve the documents yourself if this doesn’t put you in danger

Attend the hearing

Your case will usually be heard in private with you, the judge and your legal advisers.

You can get help and support at court.

You can ask for other help including:

  • separate entrances, exits and waiting areas so you don’t have to be in the same place as the person you’re making the order against
  • protection at court, eg screens around the witness box

Get a decision

The judge may decide:

  • that more information is needed
  • to make a temporary ‘interim’ order
  • to make an order which will continue until it’s cancelled or changed by the court
  • that the person you’ve applied for an injunction against must make an ‘undertaking’ (a promise) to do or not do something

You’ll usually get a decision about the order at the hearing based on your individual circumstances, eg you’ll get an order that stops your family forcing you into a marriage.

You’ll get a copy of the order and any other court documents necessary.

After the hearing

You can apply to change or extend (‘vary’) or end (‘discharge’) the order .

You must arrange to give (‘serve’) a copy of the forced marriage protection order (if you get one) and any other court documents on the respondents and any other person named in the order.

You must also give the police both of the following:

  • a copy of the order
  • a statement saying you’ve given a copy of the order to the respondents and anyone else named in the order

Take the order and statement to the police station nearest to your address unless you’re told otherwise.

Appeal a decision

You may be able to appeal against a decision if you think there’s been a serious mistake. You must get permission and you’ll usually have to pay a fee.

Thousands of foreign spouses to be barred entry to UK as income limit increased

Thousands more Britons will be barred from bringing their foreign husbands and wives to the UK, under plans in the Conservative manifesto.

The next Tory government would hike the minimum income requirement already attacked as “particularly harsh” by Supreme Court justices.

A further crackdown on immigration would also “toughen the visa requirements for students” – firmly crushing cabinet opposition to including students within the target to reduce incomers.

 

The current threshold to bring in spouses of £18,600, introduced by Theresa May as Home Secretary, has been blamed for inflicting a harsh choice of separation or living in exile on British families.

Campaigners have highlighted the plight of up to 15,000 children who have grown up as “Skype kids”, in order to keep in contact with one of their parents.

The manifesto reads: “We will increase the earnings thresholds for people wishing to sponsor migrants for family visas.” But it does not set out a new minimum amount.

It makes clear that the move would be an attempt to help the Conservatives reach their widely-ridiculed target of reducing net immigration to the tens of thousands.

“We will, therefore, continue to bear down on immigration from outside the European Union,” it says.

In 2015, it was estimated that the £18,600 threshold excludes 41 per cent of the British working population from bringing a foreign spouse to live in Britain, including 55 per cent of women.

The threshold rises to £22,400 if there is one or more non-European-born child in the family – and the income of the non-European partner does not count towards the threshold.

In February, the Supreme Court ruled that the minimum income threshold is legal, but warned that it had caused hardship for thousands of couples.

Labour has said it would scrap the threshold, stating it does not believe that “family life should be protected only for the wealthy”.

The section of the manifesto devoted to immigration also makes clear that trying to reach the target would involve a further squeeze on foreign students.

The True Cost Of Immigration

dependency Visa
We’ve all seen the headlines about the UK offering a ‘meal ticket’ to immigrants through the exploitation of our welfare state. The truth is however that most people entering the UK that are subject to immigration control, do not have any access to our public purse. In fact, unless they’re here seeking refuge or protection, they have to demonstrate financial independence to even gain access to support in the first place.

With Article 50 triggered, here are three hard facts about the true cost of immigration to the UK for those wishing to live and work here.

Restrictions and criteria

Non-EEA nationals must possess a valid visa to enter the UK and these visas are subject to financial criteria. For foreign investors and entrepreneurs looking to generate business opportunities in the UK, this criteria can require proof of up to £2m in assets in order to secure entry. Working visas are means tested, with skilled workers in well-paid employment more likely to receieve offers of a visa than non-skilled workers. Even love comes at a price — if a British citizen or person with an indefinite leave to remain wishes to bring a non-British national into the UK, they must first demonstrate a minimum income of £18,600 or savings of at least £16,000 in order for their loved one to be granted a visa. For more information check out Spouse Visa UK.

Even EEA citizens have restrictions on the financial support they can access. No means-tested benefit is payable within the first three months of residency, and then, only if they demonstrate a commitment to finding work and can pass a ‘habitual residence test’ which considers their likelihood of employment and the action they have taken to seek work.

Adding value

According to a University College of London report between 1995 and 2011 EEA immigration contributed £8.8bn more to the UK purse than it took out in benefits. In fact, since 2000 immigrants have been a substantial net contributor of more than £20bn to the UK economy at a time when recession was at its worst.

Another fact is that some industries and professions have been kept alive by immigration; including the NHS that supposedly is due to benefit in a post-Brexit world, or so the Leave campaign would have us believe.

Mind the gap

Immigration brings valuable human capital and vital skills to Britain that some estimate would have cost the UK £6.8bn in education.

As the UK continues to try and prop up its skills shortage in key areas like STEM careers, immigration can help plug the gap and help grow our fragile economy.

Whatever decisions are taken over the next two years with regards to the immigration question, there is no getting around the fact that the free movement of people — ideas, skills, money and culture — has had a positive impact on the UK and the rest of the world. We are a global community — let’s hope we can maintain that feeling even after Brexit.

 

Source: https://www.shoutoutuk.org/2017/04/19/true-cost-immigration/

UK Immigration of Australian Paramedics on Tier 2 visas

A growing number of Australian-born paramedics are relocating to Britain on Tier 2 visas, angering Australian ambulance unions. Lives are being put at risk because of a lack of paramedics who are choosing to work overseas instead of remaining in Australia say unions.

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More Aussie-born paramedics are heading to Britain on Tier 2 visas because of better pay, more interesting work and improved working conditions. In the last 12 months Britain has had three recruitment campaigns in Australia aimed at experienced paramedics and recent graduates.

With the promise of free airfares, generous relocation packages and better pay, better training and an improved work-life balance, so far 450 Australians have taken up roles in the UK with a further 40 to follow in July 2016. Gerard Hayes, secretary for Australia’s Health Services Union New South Wales (NSW), said: “There are critical consequences of the Aussie paramedic exodus.”

Australia’s Governor-General recognises importance of Australian Paramedics in the UK

Australia’s Governor-General, Peter Cosgrove, along with his wife Lynne who happened to be in London for the Queen’s 90th birthday celebrations, visited the London Ambulance Service’s emergency control room in central London.

Their visit to the London Ambulance service was made to ‘recognise the significant contribution’ that Aussie-trained paramedics are making in Britain’s capital city. The pair were then taken on a tour of the site where a dozen or so paramedics had recently made the move from Australia to the UK on a Tier 2 visa.

 

Australian paramedics Highly Skilled

Hayes said: “While it’s good that the Governor-General recognises the skill of Australian paramedics, it’s just been announced by NSW’s Health Minister that there will be 100 new paramedics joining the ranks, but in fact about 800 are needed. When some of our best and brightest see better opportunities elsewhere, it puts an extra drain on our services.”

President of the Australian Paramedics Association NSW, Stephen Pearce, said that his group had been urging the government to ‘increase the number of paramedics.’ He said: “Our concern is that new recruits that do their paramedic degree can’t get jobs.”

Pearce said that it was ‘great’ to see Aussie paramedics receiving recognition in London. He said: “We are proud of them as well, but we would rather be proud of them working in Australia.”

Acting President of the Australian Paramedics Association, Amir Samuel, revealed that staff in Australia are ‘overstretched’. However, it seems there is not so much demand for recent graduates. He went onto say that young, fresh out of university graduates were heading overseas because they are unable to secure employment with a state-based ambulance service in Australia.

How Can I Prove That I Am The Spouse Of An EEA National?

UK Spouse Visa Evidence List

The Guidance to Supporting Documents lists a number of documents that you may submit to prove that you are the spouse of an EEA national. This includes a marriage certificate, phone records, emails, letters, and photographs. However, the submission of these documents may not necessarily satisfy the ECO that you are the spouse of an EEA national.

 

Marriage of Convenience

Under the Guidance, the ECO must be satisfied that there are no grounds to consider that the marriage is one of convenience. Again the EEA Regulations define a ‘spouse’ to exclude a party to marriage of convenience. A marriage is one of convenience if it is entered in solely for an immigration benefit and the parties have no intention to live together permanently in the UK.

 

How can you prove that your marriage is not one of convenience?

The Guidance lists a number of factors in assessing whether a marriage is one of convenience:

(i) Adverse immigration history

The officer is more likely to find that your marriage is one of convenience if you have an adverse immigration history. Factors in assessing immigration history include repetitive applications, marriage entered soon after other visa refusals either in the UK or other country, entering into a marriage soon after a deportation, removal, or refusal of entry to the UK, etc.

(ii) Doubts on the validity of the documentation provided in support of the marriage.

If the ECO has doubts on the validity of the documentation provided in support of the marriage, they are more likely to decide that the marriage is one of convenience. If one of the parties has previously been married, you must submit a document or other evidence to prove that the previous marriage has permanently broken down. Usually, a court decree of divorce or a registration of Divorce certificate may be primary evidence of the divorce. The situation becomes trickier in cases of customary divorce where the parties dissolved the marriage customarily and have no official document to prove the divorce.

The UK Immigration Appeals Tribunal case of NA (customary marriage and divorce) evidence [2009] UKAIT 9 however held that as registration of the dissolution of a customary marriage is not mandatory in Ghana, an appellant does not necessarily have to produce a registration of dissolution to prove the divorce. They suggested that evidence in the form of a statutory declaration or an affidavit produced by family members or other people able to confirm the dissolution of the customary tribal marriage should be produced.

In preparing declarations of this sort, the US Department of Justice Board of Immigration Appeals decision in Kodwo (24 I&N Dec 1979) held that affidavits should be specific and include the full names and birthdates of the parties; the date of the customary marriage; the date of, and the grounds for, the dissolution of the marriage; the names, birthdates of, and custody agreement for any children born of the marriage and a description of the tribal formalities that were observed including the names of the tribal leaders, the name of the tribe, the place, the type of divorce, and any other relevant information.

(iii) Application following soon after the marriage.

Though, there may be nothing practically wrong with making an application soon after a marriage, it is always safe to allow for some time before doing so. The Regulations do not say when a party may make an application after their marriage. However, a reasonable time between the date of the marriage and the making of the application such as to lead a reasonable man to conclude that the marriage was not entered into solely for the purposes of the application must be the guide.

(iv) Evidence of previous relationship

Finally, the party to the marriage must be able to provide evidence of previous relationship. This may be in the form of letters, emails, phone records, photographs or some other means of contact that preceded the actual marriage. In the absence of such evidence the ECO may likely hold that the marriage is one of convenience.

Disclaimer: This article only provides general information and guidance on UK immigration law. The specific facts that apply to your matter may make the outcome different than would be anticipated by you. The writer will not accept any liability for any claims or inconvenience as a result of the use of this information. The writer is an immigration law advisor and a practicing law attorney in Ghana. He advises on U.S., UK, and Schengen immigration law. He works part-time for Acheampong & Associates Ltd, an immigration law firm in Accra.

Source: Emmanuel Opoku Acheampong/acheampongassociatesgh@gmail.com

Dailly blasts MoJ’s proposed 500 per cent increase in asylum and immigration tribunal fees

Solicitor advocate Mike Dailly has slammed the UK government’s proposed increase of more than 500 per cent in asylum and immigration tribunal fees, saying that “Securing a fair and just outcome should never depend upon your bank balance.”

Dominic Raab MP yesterday told the House of Commons that it is “no longer reasonable to expect the taxpayer to fund around 75 per cent of the costs of immigration and asylum proceedings”.

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has launched a consultation on the fee changes, which runs until 3 June 2016.

The government’s proposal is to increase fees in the First-tier Tribunal from £80 to £490 for an application for a decision on the papers and from £140 to £800 for an application for an oral hearing.

There would be a new fee of £455 for an application to the First-tier Tribunal for permission to appeal to the Upper Tribunal.

The government further proposes a fee of £350 for an application to the Upper Tribunal for permission to appeal, where permission has been refused by the First-tier Tribunal, and a fee of £510 for an appeal hearing where permission is granted.

But Mr Dailly, solicitor advocate at Govan Law Centre, told Scottish Legal News that the MoJ’s deficit was “no justification” for the proposed increase.

He said: “The deficit is politically imposed. Access to justice has long since been recognised as a constitutional right in Scotland and the UK, and as such, should never be subject to the caprice of politically imposed decisions from the Treasury which will have the effect of creating further barriers to justice.

“The flaw in the MoJ’s position – and indeed this applies to the Scottish government – is the idea that there should be ‘full cost recovery’ as a business model in accessing our courts and tribunals. In other words, the notion that litigants should pay for it all. This approach crept in during the 1990s and successful legal challenges saw the introduction of court fee exemptions – exemptions which aren’t robust enough.”

He added: “Access to justice can’t operate on the same business model as a supermarket or shop because it isn’t selling a commodity, it’s offering a fundamental constitutional and human right. Securing a fair and just outcome should never depend upon your bank balance. The MoJ has already been successfully challenged on its residence test, and we have seen how employment tribunal fees has undermined access to justice for workers across the UK.

“This proposal is deeply flawed, and creating artificial financial barriers for those seeking asylum will undermine our credibility in relation to our international legal obligations.”

Mr Raab told MPs: “We are mindful of the fact that some applicants will face difficulties in paying these fees, so to make sure that the burden of funding the system is shared as fairly as possible we will continue to exempt from fees those in particularly vulnerable positions.

“This includes those who qualify for legal aid or asylum support; those who are appealing against a decision to deprive them of their citizenship; and those children bringing appeals to the tribunal who are being supported by a local authority.

“We will also extend our exemptions to protect children being housed by the local authority and the parents of children receiving local authority support. In addition, we are consulting on further extensions to the exemptions scheme in this consultation to make sure we continue to protect the most vulnerable.”