Tory rule on foreign spouses unlawful, Supreme Court hears

© Robert Galbraith
Banning foreign-born spouses of Britons from coming to the UK unless their partners earn enough is unlawful and an abuse of the relevant legislation, Britain’s highest court has heard.

The 2012 initiative was brought into effect by Home Secretary Theresa May and means that a British citizen must be earning £18,500 a year to bring a foreign spouse into the UK.

If visas are also required for children, then wages are required to be even higher.

Groups including the Divided Families Campaign had their cases heard in the Supreme Court on Tuesday.

The anonymous complainants are represented by Manjit Gill QC, who told the seven judges who sit at Supreme Court hearings that May’s policy breached the European Convention on Human Rights.

Parliament could not have intended the rule-making power to be used in such a way that it disentitles something in the region of half the working population from any possibility of being able to marry a foreign spouse,” Gill said.

He argued that the wage threshold was “unreasonably high” and had become “an unlawful interference with core human rights.

The Home Office claims the UK immigration laws were established to reduce the financial burden on social services and bring UK immigration rates down. Critics insist the threshold is disproportionately high.

As long ago as July 2013 the High Court described the draconian rules as “onerous and unjustified,” yet the law remains unchanged.

Meanwhile, according to the figures cited by Migrants’ Rights Network, there has been a steep reduction in family members joining their spouses in the last five years.

The hearing continues.