The Supreme Court is to rule on whether an income barrier stopping thousands of British citizens from bringing a foreign spouse to the UK is lawful. As of 2012, Britons must earn more than £18,600 before a husband or wife from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) can settle in the UK. Critics claim 15,000 children have been separated from parents because of it. If the government loses, thousands of couples who currently live outside the UK could move to Britain. In a series of test cases, affected couples argued that the rules breached their right to family life.  Two of the claimants, Abdul Majid and Shabana Javed, are British citizens who have partners who are Pakistani nationals.  The third claimant is a Lebanese refugee who cannot find suitable work in the UK despite his postgraduate qualifications. He says his similarly-qualified wife has high earning potential and speaks fluent English.  The final case concerns another recognised refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo whose wife has been barred from settling.  The rule was introduced by the former coalition government to stop foreign spouses becoming reliant on taxpayers. The minimum income threshold, which also affects people settled in the UK as refugees, rises to £22,400 if the couple have a child who does not have British citizenship – and then by an additional £2,400 for each subsequent child. These thresholds replaced a previous, more general requirement to show the Home Office that the incoming partner would not be a drain on public resources and that the couple or family could adequately supports them.  The current rules do not take into account the earnings of the overseas partner – even if they have higher qualifications, or are likely to be employed in higher-paid work than their British spouse.

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