Read that recent news story, here.
It isn't easy to move across the world as there is a lot to consider: where will you live, how will you find work and how will your family adjust but families in this situation also have to consider if they can meet the immigration rules.
Most people think that a British citizen returning from abroad can bring their family back with them without any difficulties but the immigration rules are not straightforward. If the British citizen is married to a non EEA national then they have to show that have a sufficient income to support their spouse without claiming benefits. The level of income required by the immigration rules is £18,600 per year and this increases if the couple have any non British children.
For British citizens returning from abroad the Home Office will only consider the income of the British citizen and not the income of their spouse regardless of circumstances. The British citizen will need to show that they have earned £18,600 before tax in the last twelve months and that they have a firm job offer in the UK paying at least this amount and starting within three months of their return.
There are complex rules relating to other sources of income and it is also possible to rely on savings held by either the British citizen or their partner. However the amount of savings required varies depending on the level of income of the British citizen. The amount of savings is 2.5 times the amount of any shortfall plus £16,000 and this needs to be held for 6 months. If the British citizen has no income at all, then £62,500 in cash savings is required.
In the case from the news article the British citizen was earning £17,050 a year. This meant that in order to make up the shortfall she needed to show cash savings of £19,875.
The immigration rules also set out exactly what documents need to be provided to show that a couple meet the income requirements and if any errors are made in terms of documentation then the application is likely to be refused.
Where the British citizen is returning from living in another EU member state then they may be able to rely on EU law provided they can show that the centre of their life transferred to the EU member state while they were living there. What is meant by this has yet to be clarified by the Home Office but this route does offer some relief from the immigration rules as the financial requirement does not need to be met. However many families living outside the EU are having to look for another immigration route to allow them to return to the UK.
The income requirements are currently being challenged in the English courts. At first instance the rules were found to be an interference with the right to a private and family life but this is being appealed by the Home Office. The Court of Appeal is currently considering its decision but it is likely the case will proceed to the Supreme Court to be determined once and for all. During this time anyone who does not meet the financial requirement is having their applications held by the Home Office.