||In July 2012, the Immigration Rules were changed to introduce requirements for those wishing to come to or remain in the UK on the basis of their relationship with a family member who is a British citizen or settled in the UK. The changes were aimed at preventing burdens on the taxpayer, promoting integration and tackling abuse. The Rules contain eligibility requirements on lawful immigration status, financial independence and English language proficiency.
Leave is granted for periods of 30 months at a time (33 months for leave to enter, so as to allow time for arrangements and travel). In order to settle after five years, an applicant must have started the route with leave to enter or remain and have made a successful application for further leave at the mid-point, before they are eligible to apply for indefinite leave to remain (ILR). This represents the expectation applicants should serve a probationary period of limited leave before being eligible to settle. However, there is discretion to grant ILR outside the rules where there are particularly exceptional or compelling reasons to do so.
Visa, immigration and citizenship fees are set at a level which helps provide the resources necessary to operate the wider Border, Immigration and Citizenship (BIC) system. The Home Office believes it is right a greater share of the cost of operating the system is borne by those applicants who directly use it, to reduce the burden on taxpayers more generally who do not. The fee-setting criteria are set out in Section 68(9) of the Immigration Act 2014, full details of which can be reviewed via the following link: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2014/22/section/68.
Immigration application fee waivers are also available on specified human rights routes where a person is exercising the right to remain in the UK based on family or private life, but is destitute, or would be rendered destitute, by payment of the immigration application fee. Where this fee is waived, the requirement to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge is also waived automatically.
The principle a migrant should be granted entry or leave to remain on a condition of No Recourse to Public Funds was established as far back as 1971. It is a condition that has been applied to those staying here with a temporary immigration status under successive Governments, who have taken the view access to publicly-funded benefits and services should normally be based on whether a person has made a contribution to those public funds (for instance, through a period of paying tax and national insurance) or, in the case of what are classed as non-contributory public funds, through the strength of their connection with the UK such as comes with settlement.
These requirements are important elements of immigration policy, designed to assure the public controlled immigration brings real benefits to the UK and is not based on access to UK taxpayer funded public services or welfare benefits.
Exceptions to these restrictions are already in place for some groups of migrants, such as refugees or those here on the basis of their human rights where they would otherwise be destitute. Individuals on family and human rights routes, which will include many of those with children, can also apply to have their ‘no recourse to public funds’ condition lifted if they are destitute or at risk of destitution, where there are particularly compelling reasons relating to the welfare of their child on account of their very low income, or if there are other exceptional financial circumstances. Where a child is in need, Local Authorities are already required to provide support through section 17 of the Children Act 1989.
We recognise the difficulties faced by some families where one or more members of the family is a migrant with temporary leave to remain in the UK. However, all individuals and families’ circumstances will vary so we have processes in place to assist those who need it. We have no plans to make an automatic grant of indefinite leave to remain to migrant parents of British citizen children because such a dispensation could undermine the immigration system, be unfair on other applicants, or be discriminatory.
We continue to keep the family Immigration Rules under review and to make adjustments in light of feedback on their operation and impact. However, our overall assessment is the family Immigration Rules are helping to restore public confidence in the immigration system.