Newsletter 1 (December 2023)

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Brexit Couples Research Project Newsletter: 1 (December 2023)

In this Newsletter:

News: MIR |
Meet the Team | Our Project | Project Outputs | Useful Resources | UK immigration and immigration law | Other news | Subscription Details
News: UK Government proposes increase to Minimum Income Requirement

The UK Government recently announced their intention to increase the Minimum Income Requirement for spouse/partner visas from Spring 2024, although many details are still unclear.

Katharine and Helena from the Brexit Couples project have published an article in response (see here).

If you are concerned by these issues, our Advisory Board partner Reunite Families UK (RFUK, see here) - especially on Facebook (see here) – is a source of information, discussion and peer support. RFUK are organising a Support and Q&A webinar with immigration lawyers on Thursday, 14 December 2023, 17:30-19:00 (UK time) – more details to will follow on RFUK’s website and Facebook.


Meet the Team

Hello from the Brexit Couples Research Team!

Prof Katharine Charsley (project lead, University of Bristol) is a social scientist who is interested in marriage/family and migration. Prof Helena Wray (project co-lead, University of Exeter) is an expert on migration law, especially for families. Dr. Nicole Hoellerer (project researcher) is an anthropologist whose work focuses on migration. Jasmin El-Shewy (project researcher) holds a PhD in International Development Studies, and has worked as a legal adviser and researcher on migration and forced displacement. Ryan Lutz (project administrator) is doing a PhD on migrant integration policies in the UK.

The project team is supported by an advisory group of key experts such as Prof Eleonore Kofman, and support and campaigning organisations such as the 3Million, Reunite Families UK and ILPA.


Our Project

Before Brexit, couples with one UK and one EU (or EEA/ Swiss) partner could live together easily in the UK under EU law. Now, if the partner does not have settled or pre-settled status, they need a visa or leave to remain in the UK under the UK’s immigration rules.

This project explores the overlooked impact of Brexit on couples when the partner must apply for leave as a spouse or partner under British immigration law. What experiences do these couples share? What different challenges do they face? What do UK immigration policy and systems look like from their perspectives? How does the inclusion of this new group affect perceptions of the UK immigration system?

We have already conducted more than 20 interviews with affected couples, but we are still looking for participants. To find out more about our interviews, click here


Project Outputs

  • Charsley, Katharine & Wray, Helena (December 2023) ‘Just the rich can do it: Our research shows how immigration income requirements devastate families’. The Conversation (here)
  • Brexit Couples Project Policy Brief 1 ‘UK-EU Couples after Brexit’ (September 2023) (here)
  • Wray, Helena (May 2023) UKICE Blog ‘Love after Brexit: UK-EU couples and the British immigration system’ (here)

  • Wray, Helena (November 2023) Migzen Podcast ‘Families at the border’ (here)

  • We also participated in various conferences in 2023 (see here)


Useful Resources

  • UK House of Lords Justice and Home Affairs Committee Report (2023) ‘All families matter: An inquiry into family migration’ (here)

  • Reunite Families UK & Fragomen Webinar (2023) ‘Family Schemes for EU Citizens’ (here)

  • Wray, H; Charsley, K., et al. (2023) ‘Special Issue: Family Migration in Times of Crisis’. Migration Studies, 11 (3). (here)

  • Charsley, K., et al (2020) ‘Kept Apart – Couples and families separated by the UK immigration system’ (free e-book with illustration by M. Grieve). (here)
  • Children’s Commissioner for England Report (2015) ‘Family Friendly? The impact on children of the Family Migration Rules: A review of the financial requirements’. (here)

You can find further sources of support and links to other relevant research projects here


UK immigration and immigration law


  • Free Movement Guide to applying for a UK spouse/partner visa (here)

  • Free Movement Guide to Visitor visas in the UK (here)


  • Proposed increase in Minimum Income Requirements (here and here)
  • Increase in UK immigration fees (here)

  • Increase in immigration health surcharge (here and here)

  • Changes in the assessments of late EUSS application (here)


  • Why do people come to the UK? For family reasons – UK Government statistics (Sept. 2023) (here)

  • EU net migration remains negative because of the post-Brexit immigration system (Twitter/X post and here)

  • Also see our update on Social media on EU spousal applications, drawing on the latest UK immigration statistics (up to June 2023, see here)


Other news & announcements

Reunite Families UK (RFUK) – a grass-roots NGO that supports and advocates for British and settled citizens who are in a partnership or married to a non-British citizen – plan to create a podcast series this December about the issues couples face in relation to immigration rules and its impact on their family life. If you would like to know more get in touch with Caroline at


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