Blog: Cursing Cupid: Money & Love

Jamie Kerr
Jamie Kerr

By Jamie Kerr Immigration specialist at Thorntons Law


The difficult relationship between money and love has been the subject of musings from the UK Supreme Court in London. In a controversial decision, a bench of seven highly paid judges decided that the UK government’s rules on preventing low paid workers (and others) from bringing their spouses and partners to the UK are acceptable in principle.

The decision follows the introduction of tough new family migration rules by the UK Government in 2012. Under these rules, anyone who wishes to bring a non-European partner or spouse to the UK must be earning at least £18,600. An additional sum of £3,800 is added for a dependent child with £2,400 for each additional child after that.

So let’s take the scenario of a British national who wishes his US national wife and her two children to join him in the UK. He would require to be earning £24,800 before being able to do so (£18,600 + £3,800 + £2,400).

When we consider the minimum income rules, it is worth considering the uneven impact they have across the UK. In Scotland for instance, 48% of people who work do not meet the rules. This rises to 51% in Wales and 56% in Merseyside. In London, only 29% of those who work cannot meet the rules.

It is therefore clear that the regions and nations of the UK are hit hardest by a one size fits all immigration policy. The London-based Supreme Court noted ‘substantial regional differences’ though despite this, they were unwilling to find the rules unlawful.

They did recognise the “significant hardship” that the rules cause and will continue to cause to many thousands of couples who have good reasons for wanting to make their lives together in this country. However, they rather disappointingly take the view that “a rule which causes hardship to many, including some who are in no way to blame for the situation in which they now find themselves, does not mean that it is…unlawful at common law.”

And there we have it. Laws that cause hardship to thousands of ordinary people are not necessarily unlawful. Laws that favour London and disproportionality impact the regions and nations of the UK are not necessarily unlawful. Laws that disproportionately affect females are not necessarily unlawful.

Despite all the hype and political rhetoric around migration, many had hoped that the Supreme Court would step in and speak authoritatively, rationally and fairly to remedy a manifestly unjust situation. They did not do so and that is a great shame.

One is left pondering whether the thousands of couples and families who are feeling the significant hardship that the Court speaks of will be cursing Cupid for shooting his arrow at a non-European. Or perhaps they are cursing well paid judges, living a world away from the regions and nations of the UK where this harsh government policy will continue to cause significant hardship.

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