I strongly support the principle of family unity, and I am glad that there already is a comprehensive framework for refugees and their families to be safely reunited in the UK. The present refugee family reunion policy allows immediate family members of those granted protection in the UK to reunite with them here. The family provisions in the immigration rules provide for relatives with protection in the UK to sponsor children when there are serious and compelling circumstances.
The policy is also clear that where an application fails under the rules, the Government will consider whether there are exceptional reasons to grant leave outside the rules. In addition, refugees with family members in the UK may be eligible for resettlement under the Mandate and Gateway Scheme.
The family reunion policy is designed to provide a safe and legal route for close, dependent family members to join their refugee family in the UK. This avoids the need for family members to make dangerous journeys in order to seek protection. It is crucial that our efforts are concentrated on ensuring that existing resettlement schemes are used to full effect, and that the current rules work properly and effectively. This way we can help those who need it most.
As far as economic migrants to the UK are concerned, as there are multiple kinds of visa, the criteria for which differs, but common requirements include the ability to support oneself, a good knowledge of the English language and the absence of particular criminal convictions. All applications are assessed on a case by case basis, according to their individual merits and against the part of the Immigration Rules which relates to the purpose for which they are seeking entry. I believe it is fair to have rules on bringing spouses from abroad into this country and on family reunion in such circumstances.
Indeed, the Supreme Court has upheld the lawfulness of the minimum income requirement for spouse visas, which prevents burdens on the taxpayer and promotes integration. The Supreme Court agreed that it strikes a fair balance between the interests of those wishing to sponsor a spouse to settle in the UK and of the community in general. However, the Home Secretary has been clear that the Home Office constantly reviews the rules to ensure they continue to be fair.