UK partner visa changes announced

14 Jun 2012 | Posted by Carl Thomas

UK partner visa holders could face some difficult decisions in the coming months as the home secretary Theresa May has announced a further set of changes to the immigration system.

The radical changes will see British citizens with foreign-born partners on UK partner visas given the choice of indefinite "exile" in countries including Yemen and Syria or face the breakup of their families if they choose to remain in the UK.

MPs were told that Ms May is to confirm their suspicions and increase the new minimum income requirement for a British sponsor to £18,600 a year, while those partners or British citizens moving to the country on the partner or spouse visa will face tough English language tests during the application process.

While the government is keen to lower the immigration numbers, the changes they are bringing in have been met with fierce opposition from a number of directions. These latest changes have been accused by immigration welfare campaigners of excluding two-thirds of British people due to the salary requirements, preventing them from living in the UK as a couple if they marry a non-EU national.

Estimates suggest that between 45 and 60 per cent of the 53,000 family visas currently issued each year could be caught by these new regulations, making a dramatic change to the British population.

An extended probationary period is also being considered by ministers, which will see spouses and partners required to live in the UK for five years – instead of the current two – before facing an 'attachment test' to show that the 'combined attachment of the couple is greater to Britain than it is to another country.

Meanwhile, illegal migrants or a convicted foreign national facing deportation will no longer live under the protection of Article 8 of the European convention of human rights other than in rare and exceptional cases. Rather, this group will be forced to choose between living with their partner overseas or becoming separated.