Newsletter 2 (March 2024)

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Brexit Couples Research Project Newsletter: 2 (March 2024)

In this Newsletter:

News: Partner visa changes |
Our Research | New Project Outputs | Other Resources & Reports | UK immigration and immigration law | Other news | Subscription Details
News: Changes to migration rules for partner visas

In December 2023 the Home Secretary James Cleverly announced changes to the Legal Migration system in the UK (here), and in February 2024, the UK government provided further details on the changes to legal migration rules for family visas (here), which were laid before parliament in March 2024 (here). These changes include:

  • From 6 February 2024, the annual immigration health surcharge (IHS) has increased from £624 to £1,035 (66% increase).
  • Social care workers will not be allowed to bring immediate family and dependents from 11 April 2024.
  • The minimum income requirement (MIR) for spouse/partner visas will increase from £18,600 to £29,000 per year (56% increase) from 11 April 2024. It is proposed that the MIR will further increase to £34,500 in late 2024, and to £38,700 in early 2025.

The Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford (here) suggests that “50% of UK employees earn less than the £29,000 threshold, and 70% earn less than £38,700”, which is also verified by the UK’s ONS statistics that state that the average gross income for full-time employment in the UK (in April 2023) was £34,963 (here). These increases also have a variety of effects: Reunite Families UK argue that 60% of men, 75% of women would not be able to meet the 38k threshold (here), and the Migration Observatory calculated that 75% of the population outside of London and the South West would not be able to meet the 38k MIR.

We are actively working with experts and organisations to raise awareness of the severe impact these increases will have on couples and families. Katharine and Helena from the Brexit Couples Team submitted a briefing on the increase of the Minimum Income Requirement (MIR) for partner migration for the Home Affairs Select Committee (28 January 2024) (here). They have also written a blog on the devasting effects of the proposed increase which were laid before parliament in March 2024 (here).


Update: Brexit Couples Research

Hello from the Brexit Couples Research Team!

We have conducted more than 40 interviews with couples so far, and will soon begin the second phase of interviews with our participants – if you are one of our early participants, you will receive an email from us shortly!

Helena has also started interviews with a variety of experts, organisations and stakeholders.

We are still looking for further participants: if you are a UK-EU/EEA/Swiss couple, get in touch with us!


New Project Outputs

  • Charsley, K. and Wray, H. (19 March 2024) ‘Instead of separating thousands more families rethink UK family migration policies‘. Migration Mobilities Bristol (MMB) Blog (here).
  • Charsley, K. and Wray, H. (28 January 2024) Home Affairs Select Committee Briefing: Changes to the Minimum Income Requirement (MIR) for partner migration (here).
  • Conference Presentations:
    • March 2024: Routes Workshop (University of Exeter) (here)
    • March 2024: Socio-Legal Studies Association Annual Conference (University of Portsmouth) (here)
    • July 2024: IMISCOE Annual Conference (Lisbon) (see here)


Other Resources & Reports

The Minimum Income Requirement:
  • Migration Observatory: ‘Family fortunes: The UK’s new income requirement for partner visas’ (here)

  • Migrant Voice, British in Europe, Praxis, Reunite Families UK: ‘Increase to the Minimum Income Requirement: Joint Parliamentary Briefing January 2024’ (here)

  • Chris Rowe: ‘The legality of the new minimum income requirement’ (UK Constitutional Law Association) (here)

Other reports & resources:
  • Reunite Families UK & Migrant Voice: ‘How to Engage Your MP’ (webinar) (here)

  • Tamsin Koumis & Reunite Families UK (December 2023): ‘Spouse/Partner Migration Rules: An initial findings report examining the mental health impact of the rules on children and families’ (here)

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


UK immigration and immigration law


  • House of Commons Research Briefing Changes to legal migration rules for family and work visas in 2024 (14 March 2024) (here)

  • House of Commons Research Briefing on the health surcharge increase to £1,035 per year from 6 February 2024 (31 January 2024) (here)

  • Update to the definition of an unmarried partner under Appendix FM. UK Home Office Immigration Staff Guidance (here), or report by Kingsley Napley immigration solicitors (here)

  • Advice from Free Movement on the limited options to avoid the MIR for spouses (here)


  • UK Home Office Legal Migration Statement: Estimated Immigration Impacts (21 December 2023) (here)
  • Statement by MP Tom Pursglove (Minister for Legal Migration and Delivery): Legal Migration Implementation Update (30 January 2024) (here)

  • MPs to hold a debate on minimum income thresholds for partner and spousal visas [on 23 April] (18 March 2024) (here)

  • Britons living abroad regain right to vote in UK elections as 15-year rule ends (full report here, also see here)


  • Why do people come to the UK? For family reasons – UK Government statistics (February 2024) (here)

  • Migration Observatory: Net migration to the UK (22 January 2024) (here)

  • UK immigration system statistics, year ending December 2023 (here)


Other news & announcements


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