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Minimum income visa rules challenge in Supreme Court

Is the Government’s introduction of the Minimum Income Requirement unlawful? That is the issue the Supreme Court has had to deal with this week.

What is the Minimum Income Requirement (MIR)?

In 2012 the Government changed the legal rules which deal with the right of individuals to reside and come to this country from outside the EEA. Prior to the change, a couple – where one of the couple was from outside the EEA – only had to demonstrate that they could maintain themselves without recourse to public funds. In 2012 the Government introduced the MIR and stipulated that the UK resident (the UK sponsor) must have a minimum gross annual income of £18,600 before they can invite their partner from outside of the EEA to come and reside with them in the UK. If the couple have a child (who is not a British citizen) the MIR is £22,400 per annum and an addition £2,400 for any further non British children.

Why has the challenge been brought?

The legal challenge in the Supreme Court is hearing two cases. They both deal with the introduction of the MIR and whether the MIR:

  • breaches article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. This is the right to family life. Essentially the claimants argue that the MIR prohibits them from enjoying their article 8 right.
  • is discriminatory. In summary, the Supreme Court has to decide whether the MIR discriminates against women, in particular of certain ethnicities, because they suffer significantly lower rates of pay than men.
  • is irrational. Various arguments have been put forward to show that the MIR is irrational

What does this mean for UK sponsors?

We are awaiting a decision of the Supreme Court. If, however, the Supreme Court decides that the Government was entitled to implement the MIR then it will endorse the Government’s approach and require UK sponsors to ensure that they have a minimum income of £18,600 before they are permitted to bring a partner from outside the EEA to join them in this country.

We will report once the case has been decided.


This briefing is for guidance purposes only. RadcliffesLeBrasseur LLP accepts no responsibility or liability whatsoever for any action taken or not taken in relation to this note and recommends that appropriate legal advice be taken having regard to a client's own particular circumstances.

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