UK: Minimum Salary Threshold Upheld

The Supreme Court has upheld the minimum salary threshold of £18,600 per year for settled residents of the UK who wish to sponsor a foreign spouse.

Despite a legal challenge from families who claim the wage threshold is a breach of their human right to a family life, Judges ruled that the minimum income requirement was “acceptable in principle”.

Since 2012, a UK resident who wishes to sponsor a husband or wife from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) must earn at least £18,600 per year. This threshold rises to £22,400 per year if the couple have a child, plus an additional £2,400 for any further children in the family. The earnings of the foreign spouse are not taken into account, however in certain cases cash savings can also be used to subsidise the total earnings provided the amount of savings exceeds £16,000.

Such thresholds are in place to ensure families have enough income to support themselves financially, without needing to claim benefits or become a cost to the UK taxpayer.

However, many couples argue that such strict financial sanctions could potentially cause families to be separated and are therefore a breach of human rights. Whilst some couples have successfully won individual appeals, the courts upheld that the current system is, in fact, compatible with human rights.

Reading their verdict, the Supreme Court ruled that the current Immigration Rules had the genuine intention of ensuring families “do not have recourse to benefits and have sufficient resources to play a full part in British life”.

The Home Office have further stated that the introduction of salary thresholds is central to “building an immigration system that works in the national interest.”

For further information regarding the current minimum salary thresholds or for a more detailed assessment of a case, please contact

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