Foreign spouse income limit: Supreme Court ruling leaves families in fear

Families tell The Independent they now face bringing up their children as single parents

The Supreme Court building in London
The Supreme Court building in London

Families have spoken of their fear and frustration after a Supreme Court ruling upheld Government policy to deny foreign spouses visas on the basis of income.

The court, which is the most senior in the country, ruled against a case brought by campaigners against policy introduced by the Coalition Government in 2012, which allows Britain to restrict entry to the overseas spouses of UK citizens.

British people who are married to nationals from outside the European Economic Area (EEA), can see their spouses’ applications to join them in the UK if the British spouse earns less than £18,600 per year.

Couples are also required to have more than £60,000 savings.

The policy was introduced in order to reduce the possibility that foreign migrants could be a “burden” on taxpayers. However, critics and those affected say it is an arbitrary and prejudiced ban which has forced more than 15,000 children to be separated from their parents.

They say that the visa requirement is a breach of European human rights legislation which enshrines the right to a family life.

Despite this, the Supreme Court upheld that the Government was acting legally in having the policy in place.

Families have told The Independent they now face bringing up their children as single parents, divided from their spouses, as a result of the ruling.

Soma Dina met her husband when she was studying at university in Nigeria in 2008 and they subsequently married in 2012.

The couple now have two children aged two and four. Soma returned to the UK when she was pregnant with their first child and began a postgraduate university course at the University of Derby.

She says that because she did not have a steady income as a student, her husband was refused right to remain.

She told The Independent: “He has missed several milestones in mine and our kids lives. It brings tears to my eyes each time i think about it. My kids are two and four and miss their dad so so much.

"My kids are growing so fast and it hurts that their father is not present physically to witness all the feats they achieve.

“My marriage has suffered so much strain and I fear that I may lose the very thing that means so much to me. It is so heartbreaking for me and my children.

"I am pleading with the government to have mercy on myself and others in my situation and kindly hear our cry. Each time my kids see an airplane, they ask if daddy is coming to visit. What do I answer each time they ask? Its extremely heartbreaking.”

She added: “We are not migrants or foreigners. We are like every other British citizen who happened to fall in love with a non British citizen. You just can't help who you fall in love with.”

Elle Osili-Wood met her husband, an Australian national, at a pub quiz through mutual friends.

They fell in love in married in October 2015. She is a freelance broadcaster and journalist who usually brings in earnings above the threshold. However, she had taken time off to travel in the all-important 12 months immediately proceeding an application and was recorded as having earned no income for the portion she was not in the country. As a consequence, she was determined not to meet the required £18,600 income for her husband to join her in the UK.

The couple have recently lived in Australia for a period and are still trying to get approval to move back to the UK.

She told The Independent: “When we actually read the [visa] rules, we were astounded at just how arbitrary many of them are. We had to sell our home and move to Australia for six months (we've just arrived home) to meet the £62,500 savings requirement.

“Even with all the stress and worry, the worst part has actually been feeling unwelcome in my own country. I work, I pay taxes, I'm law abiding - I never thought I'd be fighting my government for the right to live with the person I love.

"In addition, Teresa May is clearly targeting couples like us because we're an easy way to meet her ill advised immigration targets.”

Michael Richard Baines, 31, from Hackney in London, met his wife through family members and they married in 2013.

She is a Ghanian citizen and because Michael works as a care worker, he does not meet the £18,600 salary threshold for her to be allowed to join him in the UK.

He told The Independent: “The decision, made by the Supreme Court today, is a complete tragedy for people - couples, married or not, who are finding themselves in this situation where they cannot be together simply because they could not stop themselves for falling for someone who is non British or non European.”

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