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Amendments to the family migration immigration rules

New Immigration Rules published today introduce some important changes to the family migration routes under Appendix FM and Appendix FM-SE. Introduced by Statement of Changes HC667, the new rules raise the English language requirement for partner and parent-based further leave to remain applications, amend the eligibility and minimum income requirements for dependent children and reduce the level of NHS debt that will found a discretionary refusal on grounds of suitability.

English Language Requirement

Under the previous rules, most applicants for further leave to remain as the partner or a parent of a British citizen or a person settled in the UK, had to meet a minimum English language requirement. This was set at level A1 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). Level A1 is classified as “beginner” level English, whereby the speaker can understand and use basic phrases and expressions, introduce themselves and interact with a person willing to help.

Under the new rules, in force from 24 November 2016, the minimum English language requirement for applicants for further leave in the UK as a partner or parent after completing 30 months in the UK on a five-year route to settlement under Appendix FM has been increased to level A2. Level A2 is described as “waystage” or “elementary”. To fall within this category an individual must be able to understand basic phrases and sentences related to their surroundings, communicate on routine tasks or routes, and describe their background and immediate environment.

As under the previous version of the rules, applicants will not need to pass an approved English test if they are a national of a majority English-speaking country or they hold a degree that is equivalent to at least a UK bachelor degree and that was taught or researched in English. Similarly, applicants may be exempted from the new English language requirement for further leave to remain applications if:

  1. They are aged 65 or over;
  2. They have a disability which prevents them from meeting the requirement; or
  3. There are exceptional circumstances (decided on a case by case basis) which prevent them from being able to meet the requirement.

Dependent Children

Two key changes have been introduced in relation to applications by dependent children under Appendix FM. Firstly, it has been clarified that a child is only eligible to apply for entry clearance or leave to remain under the family route if their parent is also applying or has leave under Appendix FM. This applies to applications decided on or after 24 November 2016.

Secondly, the financial requirement has been amended. Now, not only must the provisions on minimum income thresholds be met in respect of any dependent child of the applicant’s parent, but they must also be met in respect of any dependent child of the applicant’s parent’s partner. In other words, the minimum income threshold has to be met in respect of all relevant dependent children. This applies to applications made on or after 24 November 2016.

In addition, the evidential requirements for proving that the minimum income threshold is met are clarified:

  1. to reflect the gross business profit which can be counted towards the requirement, and to demonstrate ongoing self-employment;
  2. for a self-employed sponsor overseas who is transferring that self employment to the UK;
  3. to include a police disability pension as a source of income;
  4. to calculate the gross level of annual income of a person in non-salaried employment.

These changes to the evidential requirements apply to all applications decided from 24 November 2016.

NHS Debt

In order to encourage the payment for services to the NHS, a rule was introduced under the previous Immigration Rules that, should an applicant applying for leave under the family route accrue £1000 of NHS debt, it was within the Secretary of State’s discretion to refuse leave to remain. This has now been reduced to £500, acting as a further incentive to ensure prompt payment to the NHS.

Contact Our Immigration Barristers

For expert advice in relation to an application or appeal under Appendix FM to the Immigration Rules, contact our family migration immigration barristers on 0203 617 9173 or via our online enquiry form.


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