Family Migration



We will continue to value the positive contribution immigration has made to our society – enriching our communities and culture. Those who wish to establish their family life in the UK, should do so on a basis that prevents burdens on the taxpayer and promotes integration. That is fair to migrants and to the wider community. That is why we have established clear rules for British citizens looking to bring their non-EEA family members to the UK.

These rules already apply to non-EEA citizens who are settled in the UK and will apply to settled EU citizens in the future. Different arrangements will apply to resident EU citizens who are eligible under the EU Settlement Scheme and dependants of temporary workers and students. To encourage integration, those coming to the UK on a family visa with only basic English are required to become more fluent over time.

8.1 EU exit will enable the UK to put in place fair and consistent rules for family migration for everyone. The UK’s current family Immigration Rules are designed to minimise burdens on the taxpayer, tackle immigration abuse and promote integration in our communities – reflecting the view of UK Government and Parliament of the public interest in controlling immigration in the national interest.

8.2 Under our future system, EU citizens will be subject to UK immigration laws. All individuals, including EU citizens22, who are settled in the UK and want to bring family members to live with them, will need to meet the UK’s family Immigration Rules, or come here under another immigration category to work or study.

8.3 We will ensure that the future system is able to respond to individual circumstances, recognising that British citizens and those settled in the UK may travel and meet people from different countries, whilst deterring and preventing abuse of the rules.

Example case study

A British citizen meets and marries their EU citizen partner whilst working outside the UK.  As a couple, they decide that they want to continue their family life in the UK. The EU citizen considers various work and study options to enter and remain in the UK in their own right, but chooses to enter as a dependent spouse/partner. The EU citizen makes an application with their British citizen partner acting as sponsor, subject to meeting the necessary criteria, including financial independence (i.e. sponsor earning at least £18,600 per year).

8.4 The UK’s family Immigration Rules balance the individual right to respect for family life and the best interests of children, with the public interest in safeguarding the economic wellbeing of the UK by controlling immigration, in protecting the public from foreign criminals and in protecting the rights and freedoms of others.

8.5 Those who wish to establish their family life in the UK must meet suitability and eligibility criteria, or there must be exceptional circumstances that mean refusal would breach their human rights (family or private life).

8.6 Family who do not fall for refusal on grounds of criminality and are compliant, who meet all eligibility requirements, including being financially independent (minimum income threshold or adequate maintenance), speak English and maintain lawful immigration status, are granted 30 months’ leave on a five-year route to settlement.

8.7 Financial independence means meeting a minimum income requirement of £18,600 for sponsoring a partner to come or remain here, which rises to £22,400 for sponsoring a partner and non-British or settled child, and an additional £2,400 for each further child. This reflects advice from the MAC, on the level of income which means a family settled in the UK generally cannot access income-related benefits.

8.8 Speaking English is fundamental to successful integration into British society, helping migrants to participate in community life and find work. It makes it easier for families to access vital public services and enables parents to support their children’s education. Those coming to the UK on a family visa with only basic English are required to become more fluent over time.

8.9 It is essential that migrants learn to speak and understand our language and make the most of opportunities to become part of our communities – and the Government and existing residents of communities need to support them to do this. This will only become more important as we leave the European Union. We must unify as one nation and remove any barriers, working with a wide range of stakeholders, including communities and voluntary and faith organisations.

8.10 Those wishing to settle in the UK must pass the Life in the UK test. The Government will review this test, last reviewed in 2012, to ensure it is up to date.

8.11 Where all or some of the requirements of the family Rules are not met, where a person relies on their private life or long residence to remain in the UK, or where there are exceptional circumstances that mean refusal would result in unduly harsh consequences for the applicant or their family such that would breach their Article 8 rights, a person will be granted an initial period of 30 months leave on a longer 10-year route to settlement.

8.12 Adult dependent relatives are given immediate settlement, where they demonstrate that, because of age, illness or disability, they require a level of longterm personal care that can only be provided in the UK by their sponsor here and without recourse to public funds.

8.13 A child’s migration status will largely be provided for in-line with the leave granted to their parent(s). Consideration of the best interests of a child in the UK is a primary consideration in all immigration cases affecting a child. For example, as is currently the case, for safeguarding and welfare reasons, children will not be deprived of an education, because of their migration status, whilst they live in the UK.

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