On 9 July 2012, new immigration rules for non-EEA citizens were introduced. The main changes cover these areas:
- Spouse (with children)
- People wishing to bring their spouses must have a minimum income of Ł18'600, or Ł22'400 for a partner with one child and Ł2'400 more for each additional child. In contrast, the minimum income to bring the spouse was Ł18'500 in 2008.
- The probatory period is extend to 5 years from 2 years. A 10 year route is to be introduced for those who do not qualify for the 5 year route.
- The rule allowing spouses who spent 4 years or more abroad to obtain immediate settlement is abolished.
- Long residence rule prolonged
- 14 years residence rule (after this period of lawful, unlawful, or both residence immigrants are granted permanent residence) is updated with a requirement of 20 years of residence.
- Elderly relatives
- Only those relatives that need otherwise unavailable care are granted entry. Factors such as love, marital status, and others are no longer considered.
- Same threshold of Ł18'600 income holds.
- Family visitor appeals
- Restriction of appeal rights for certain types of applicants for family visit visa.
- No appeal right for all visitors from 2014 onwards.
- Offenders who have served a short sentence but have caused "serious harm" or are perceived as persistent offenders can be deported, unless:
- The offender resided in the UK for 20 years (see long residence rule)
- The offender resided in theUK for 15 years, but has a partner or children who lived in the UK for 7 years and cannot be expected to relocate abroad.
In general, the new rules impose higher barriers for migrants. For example, it is expected that 45% to 60% of applications will not pass the minimum income requirement.