UK spouse visa changes proposed

13 Jul 2011 | Posted by Carl Thomas

The UK spouse visa system has become the government’s latest target as it attempts to tighten up immigration.

UK immigration minister Damian Green announced the consultation on family migration today (July 13th).

“This consultation is about better family migration - better for migrants, communities and the UK as a whole,” he remarked. “We welcome those who want to make a life here with their family, but too often in the past the family route has been abused as a means to bypass our immigration laws.”

To reduce the likelihood of what is seen as an abuse of UK spouse visas, Mr Green put forward a number of key proposals designed to reform the system. These included the introduction of a new minimum income threshold for sponsors of partners and dependants, in an attempt to ensure that migrants and their families are adequately supported as a basis for integration. The Migration Advisory Committee has been called upon to suggest the most suitable theshold.

Meanwhile, the probationary period before partners on a UK spouse visa can apply for settlement in this country is to be extended from two years to five years. According to the UK Border Agency, this change is designed to “test that relationships are genuine”, while encouraging immigrants to integrate into British life.

English language requirements will also be reinforced if the proposals go through. All partners and adult dependants aged under 65 will have to demonstrate they can understand everyday English when they apply for settlement.

Last year, 40,500 UK spouse visas or UK partner visas were granted on the basis of a marriage or a civil or other partnership. A further 8,400 visas were supplied to other dependants through the family route.