Gift Phiri 24 February 2017
HARARE – The UK Supreme Court has upheld British Prime Minister Theresa
May’s “harsh” -L-18 600 minimum income rule for those wishing to bring in
non-European spouses in a ruling slammed by Zimbabwean campaigners as
perpetuating the separation of thousands of families.
The seven justices at the UK’s highest court announced their decision on
Wednesday, ruling that “the minimum income threshold is accepted in
On top of the -L-18 600 minimum threshold, one must earn an additional
-L-3 800 for the first dependent child and -L-2 400 for each further
In their full judgment, the justices, however, noted that the Home
Office’s rules and instructions failed to take full account of the
children involved and “has caused, and will continue to cause, significant
hardship to many thousands of couples who have good reasons for wanting to
make their lives together in this country, and to their children”.
This comes as the UK has attracted thousands of Zimbabwean migrants,
desperate for work and a chance to send money home, with the southern
African country now in the UK’s Top 10 asylum receiving nations.
In 2016, Zimbabwe received formal Diaspora remittance receipts of $780
million, a 17 percent decline from $935 million recorded in 2015, in part
reflecting the impact of the appreciation of the US dollar against other
source currencies, particularly the South African rand, according to
Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa.
The ruling means thousands of Zimbabweans that have migrated to the UK
cannot bring or remain with their spouses in Britain, because they do not
earn enough money.
Taffi Nyawanza of the Zimbabwe Diaspora Investment Group said while the
minimum income requirement of -L-18 600 was harsh, there were three
positives from the ruling.
“For the first time, the Home Office will now be required to take into
account the income of the spouse coming from abroad. This is significant
and a game changer,” he said.
“If there are children involved, potentially there must be flexibility in
the assessment of the rules and the Home Office has been ordered to
propose how it will take this into account.
“Finally, where the spouse is already in the UK and is an overstayer
usually where the couples have met in the UK but there is sufficient
income, the court has said there is no need to send that spouse out of the
UK for the purpose of making a visa application which would be granted
The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) said yesterday the
rules were “tearing families apart and significantly harming children.”
“This judgment confirms that the (UK) government’s position is now
untenable and they must now take immediate steps to protect the welfare of
children in accordance with their legal duty,” JCWI chief executive, Saira
The UK government says the minimum income rule is to prevent unqualified
spouses coming to the UK and becoming dependent on the State.
The rules were first introduced on July, 9, 2012 by May when she was home
There is a significant population of Zimbabweans who have been living in
the UK for many years without receiving a positive decision on their
application for asylum, unable to undertake paid work or receive support
from the UK government, with many asylum seekers facing destitution,
unable to reunite with their families back home.
Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Brian Paddick said: ” . . . May
and (UK home secretary) Amber Rudd seem hell-bent on reducing immigration
at all costs regardless of the heartbreak and suffering it results in.”
A Home Office spokesperson said: “The current rules remain in force but we
are carefully considering what the court has said in relation to
exceptional cases where the income threshold has not been met,
particularly where the case involves a child.”