In 2012 new immigration rules were introduced with a higher income threshold of £18,600 (a sum above average earnings in parts of the country), which means than millions of people on lower income such as disabled people find it harder to meet this threshold and obtain visas for partners from non-EU countries. However, the minimum income requirement does not apply if the UK-based sponsor is in receipt of a disability related benefit or of Carer’s Allowance. Instead, the ‘adequate’ maintenance requirements in the previous version of the Immigration Rules must be satisfied. However, the minimum income requirement will apply in subsequent applications if the sponsor’s circumstances have changed. In March 2013 the Government confirmed that a review of the exemptions for sponsors who are disabled was ongoing and would be concluded ‘shortly’, and that affected persons should not assume that the exemption would necessarily remain after April 2013. However these exemptions remain in place to date, but as the UK government intends to reduce drastically the number of recipients of disability benefits, the exemptions are likely to apply to fewer people.
Another rule introduced in July 2012 concerns non-EEA adult dependent relatives who “will only be able to settle in the UK if they can demonstrate that, as a result of age, illness or disability, they require a level of long-term personal care that can only be provided in the UK by their relative here and without recourse to public funds. The route will be limited to those applying from overseas”. The government has confirmed that between 9 July and 31 October 2012 just one visa was issued worldwide to an adult dependent relative.