Many constituents have contacted me about the change announced on 4 December that the minimum salary threshold to be eligible to sponsor a spouse or partner visa would be increasing to £38,700 a year from next spring.

I completely understand the fears about this change which could end up separating British citizens from their loved ones. I feel particularly about this because my mother was a foreign spouse who came to Britain in 1949 when she married my father.

This would be a huge increase in the fees and as the Opposition we have called for the Migration Advisory Committee to look into the proposed changes urgently and advise on the best approach. It’s clear that the Government’s original announcement hadn’t been thought through because just over two weeks later the Government suddenly said (on 21 December) that the threshold would now only rise to £29,000 in the spring, before then increasing “in incremental stages” to give “predictability”. The Minister said the plan was for it eventually to rise to £34,500 and then £38,700 – but no dates were given – so there are still questions that haven’t been answered. As individual circumstances vary I would advise seeking professional advice before making any application.

A Government spokesperson initially confirmed that the new rules would apply to visa extensions, but now the Home Office has said that anyone who wants to renew a family visa will be able to, without having to meet the new earnings threshold. In other words, people who are already here will only have to meet the £18,600 income threshold when they apply to extend a family visa.

More information from the Home Office can be found below.

Thank you once again for contacting me about this very important issue.

Best wishes

Hilary Benn MP


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