The 9 July 2012 is a black day in the immigration law calendar, as it marks the day that the Government introduced the most drastic and wide sweeping changes in immigration law for decades.  Changes which were designed to reduce statistics, but for the people behind the numbers changes which will literally tear families apart.

The headliner change was that families would now have to show that they have £18,600 income per year in order to allow their non EEA/British partner to live with them, its more if there are children.  Previously, so long as families could show that their household income was the same or more than a similar family on Income Support, then they met the maintenance (money) rules.

Now families whose income is below this magic figure are not allowed to live together in the UK, unless they meet the government's exception.  This exception allows a visa to be granted outside the Immigration Rules (2.5 years at a time and an arduous 10 years to settlement) for those already here who have either a British child/partner or a non British child living here for 7 years.

For families returning to the UK from living abroad, don't expect a welcome home. No instead, if you don't satisfy the maintenance rules then your non EEA/British family member will be refused a visa, there are no exceptions to this category in the Immigration Rules.

They say the "devil is in the detail", and there certainly is both "devil" and "detail" to these rules.   To find the detail you need to look at not only the new lengthy Appendix FM to the Immigration Rules but the Guidance contained in the Immigration Directorate Instructions as well as the Government's Statement of Intent.   The "devil" is in the fact that UKBA have not only set the bar at £18,600 but then raised it higher by the introduction of draconian rules on what constitutes "income".

Third Party Loans from parents, job offers for the foreign partner, and cash held for less than 6 months are all examples of what UKBA considers not to be income. So let's say a British housewife living in New York, married to a Consultant Paediatrician, the couple want to bring their family up in Glasgow, under the old rules, entry would have been a breeze, now they could be in real difficulty.  The rules prevent the couple relying on a job offer for the husband, the family breadwinner, and as his British wife has been bringing up the children and hasn't worked for several years, they can't rely on a job offer for her either.

The rules have faced fierce criticism from all quarters, and challenges to the new rules compliance with human rights legislation are expected to play out in the courts for months, may be years.

The immigration team at Drummond Miller has the depth, expertise and drive to help you make the best application possible in light of your circumstances under the Family Migration Rules.  

Jacqueline Moore is Deputy Head of the Immigration Department and Partner in charge of the Immigration Department in Glasgow.