THE Supreme Court upheld yesterday the Tories’ “discriminatory” policy demanding British citizens earn a minimum income before their overseas spouses can live with them.
Under the policy, introduced in 2012 by then home secretary Theresa May, British citizens must earn at least £18,600 before their spouses and partners from a non-European Economic Area country are allowed to move to Britain. Human rights organisation Liberty said that the policy had driven many families apart.
Several couples had challenged the policy on the grounds that the measures were an “unlawful interference with core human rights,” and that the minimum income level had been set “unreasonably high.”
The High Court in 2013 ruled in their favour, stating the rules were “onerous and unjustified” and ordered the government to rewrite them.
However a year later the government took the case to the Court of Appeal, which ruled in its favour and the Supreme Court declared the scheme did not go against human rights legislation.
The court ruled that the minimum income level was “acceptable in principle,” but stated that the “rules and instructions” should be amended in relation to the duty towards children and to other funding sources.
Liberty policy director Bella Sankey said: “Ordinary British families on modest incomes are suffering the pain of separation as a result of this unjust policy.
“The government is planning to overhaul our immigration system as part of Brexit.
“Showing some decency, compassion and respect for family life by reviewing this policy would be a very good place to start.” Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott branded the measures “discriminatory.”
She said that the measures were drawn up as part of Ms May’s “failed policy to reduce net migration.”
Ms Abbott said: “These rules cause hardship for thousands of families, prevent UK citizens being united with their families and clearly discriminate against women, BAME communities and people on lower incomes.”
The Home Office said that the the minimum income threshold was introduced to “ensure that family migrants do not become reliant on the taxpayer for financial support and are able to integrate effectively.”