New British visa rules said to be tearing families apart

LONDON, England, Wednesday June 19, 2013 – A group of British MPs and peers have claimed in a report that new migration rules for people from outside the European Union are “tearing British families apart”.

According to the report, thousands of Britons have been unable to take a non-European Union spouse or partner to live in the United Kingdom since minimum earnings requirements were introduced last July. The committee added that children have also been separated from a parent as a result of the new requirements.

The rules require any British citizen who wants to sponsor his or her non-EU spouse’s visa to be able to prove that they earn at least £18,600 a year. The amount rises to £22,400 to sponsor a child and an additional £2,400 for each further child.

These new rules are designed to ease the burden of migration on British taxpayers, according to the Home Office.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Migration is calling for an independent review of the minimum income requirement.

In the course of its inquiry, the committee looked at over 175 cases from families impacted by the new rules.

Forty-five claimed their inability to meet the minimum income requirement had led to the separation of children, including British children, from a non-EU parent. In one case, a woman was separated from her British husband and two sons, including a five-month-old baby she had been breastfeeding.

A number of UK sponsors in full-time employment at or above the national minimum wage reported that they were unable to meet the income threshold. Evidence suggested that 47 percent of the British working population last year would have failed to meet the income level for sponsorship.

The committee noted that, by the government’s own estimate, almost 18,000 British people would be prevented from being reunited with their spouse or partner in the UK annually as a result of the new rules.

Baroness Hamwee, chairwoman of the inquiry, said the committee was “struck by the evidence showing just how many British people have been kept apart from partners, children and elderly relatives”.

“These rules are causing anguish for families and, counter to their original objectives, may actually be costing the public purse,” she added.

Sarah Teather MP emphasised that “whatever the objective of the policy, children shouldn’t suffer as a result”.

According to a Home Office spokesperson, the rules had been designed to make sure that those coming to the UK to join their spouse or partner would not become a burden on the taxpayer and would be well enough supported to integrate effectively.


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