18,600 reasons why immigration laws are destroying UK families

The London Economic

By Joe Mellor, In house Reporter

Under new rules that came into force in July 2012 only British citizens who can prove they earn at least £18,600 a year can sponsor their non-European spouse’s visa, leaving families stranded thousands of miles apart.

An inquiry by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Migration looked at more than 175 cases from families affected by the rules.

Forty-five claimed their inability to meet the income threshold had led to the separation of children, including British children, from a non-EU parent, the group said.

Baroness Hamwee, chairwoman of the inquiry and Liberal Democrat home affairs lead in the House of Lords, said the parliamentary group had been “struck by the evidence showing just how many British people have been kept apart from partners, children and elderly relatives”.

The Home office said the rules were designed to ease the burden of migration on the taxpayer, but there is mounting evidence it is tearing families apart. One husband we contacted has never even met his daughter.

Wanye Hampson, 39 from Haydock married Gerlie, 39 in 2007 in the Philippines.

“We had a son (now five) together but he was getting very ill in the Philippines. I decided to take him back to the UK to see if he was better suited to that environment. Gerlie was pregnant at the time and I planned to bring her over later in the year.

“But when I applied for my family to join me in the UK I was told I didn’t meet the financial criteria. I wasn’t able to work full-time as I was looking after my son, so I can’t make anywhere near the threshold and I don’t have the savings.”

For partners with children the threshold rises to £22,400 for families with one child, and an additional £2,400 for each further child, out of reach of many hard-working families.

“It’s a catch 22 situation. It means I have only ever seen my daughter via Skype. It’s heart-breaking. She is three years old now and she has never even hugged her dad. Every penny I have I need to put into savings in the vain hope I have enough money to satisfy the immigration system.”

If couple’s have over £16,000 in savings for over six months then they can use this amount to fill the shortfall in salaried earnings.

“If I was reunited with my wife, I could work full-time. I am a computer engineer and should able to secure a decent salary, even though most people in my local area don’t earn salaries anywhere near that level. You don’t get London salaries in Haydock.”

But even married couples with well-paid jobs, above the threshold are having a very difficult time getting their loved ones into the country

Sophia Deery, 23 from London married her long term partner Anton, 25 in April 2013 in Kiev.

“I had been in my position with the local council since January 2013 and just after our wedding in April, we did not have the six month’s payslips needed to meet the financial requirements for that Visa.

“Now I have the six months’ payslips equating to well over £18,600 a year, my local authority job actually pays £25,500 per annum, but the problem is that my current job is a temporary contract.

“The time taken to process a visa application is three months but can often take even longer. As my contract expires 31st August 2013, our lawyers advised that we could be declined regardless of the fact we meet the requirements.”

“I have luckily managed to find a job with a local school, in the same local authority that starts 2nd September. This means I will have had continuous employment with the same employer with no gap in my earnings. However, the new job doesn’t earn enough. It pays £18,051 a year, less than £600 under what is required.

“I don’t see any light at the end of the tunnel. I understand the government wants to stop people who might become a burden to society coming in to the UK, but Anton isn’t one of them.

“He is a qualified lawyer in Ukraine, has two postgraduate degrees, speaks three languages fluently, including English, and has an entrepreneurial spirit – having started two of his own Internet businesses. I know that if given the chance then he could really help drive this country forward. He would also be a loving husband and an outstanding father. If only he could be allowed the chance.

“I don’t necessarily object to a financial requirement being in place for Marriage Visa applicants, but a criterion that the majority of British citizens can’t meet is an injustice.”

The parliamentary group said that wider evidence suggested that 47% of the UK working population last year would have failed to meet the income level to sponsor a non-European Economic Area partner.

However, a Home Office spokesman responded to say the rules had been designed to make sure 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.

“High-value migrants would not be refused because their British spouse or partner was not employed,” he said.

“They can meet the income threshold by having cash savings of £62,500 or through their own private income, for example from investments. We have also introduced greater flexibility for those holding investments to liquidate them into cash in order to meet the rules.”

It appears that the policy is an institutionalised prejudice against a vast majority of people who are statistically less likely to receive a high income. Women – who still continue to earn less money than men, young people – vast majority are struggling to find employment in the current climate, and those who work in care professions such as nurses, teachers, childcare and support workers would all struggle under the legislation.

It appears the UK government prefers high net worth individuals rather than helping to secure a family unit, which can only polarise society further.

8 Responses

  1. Immigration specialist and veteran of many human rights appeals Vanessa Ganguin of Laura Devine Solicitors has since said: “Despite the High Court’s recent ruling that these income requirements are disproportionate and unfair and the judges suggesting a variety of sensible options to make the new rules work, the Government looks set not to budge.

    The Government is now appealing the High Court’s judgment,— leaving thousands of families who do not meet the income requirements in limbo. This may be a sign that the Government fears discrimination or human rights claims if it loses.

    For the sake of thousands of families who may be kept apart, we hope that the Court of Appeal puts a right to a family life first.”

  2. My family is an example of how discriminatory this law is, I am an American and my husband is British and we have just had a baby girl last month. We are currently living the in the USA and had planned to return to the UK in 2014. We cannot return to the UK as a family, even though we lived there as a married couple between 2007-2009, when we worked the whole time, paying taxes and not claiming benefits. We obeyed the rules and paid for the spousal visa, even having my husband’s parents as guarantors, but the law has blocked us entry to return to Britain and live and work again as a family. My husband is a musician and has written a song about this new law and the way it has affected our basic human rights. You can hear the song and the story behind it here:
    Nonpersons – song by Graystar

    1. Susan

      I’m american and my boyfriend is british. This is the hardest thing to have to go through. When we began planning a wedding the new rules took effect and now we are stuck apart. I work full time and taking off work to visit for only short periods of time is heartbreaking. We can’t even get married and enjoy life together because we aren’t rich enough. It’s not fair. I have since began going to therapy to help with the pain. It hurts so bad. He has a child in the uk so coming here to be with me would mean he’d be away from his child and that’s not right. I ask myself why everyday… Why must rich people deserve a family life in the uk more then those who aren’t as wealthy? We don’t want any public funds working is not the problem but if the jobs in the uk don’t even pay enough to meet the requirement how do they expect it anyone to? God awful. If they were in this situation they would know how it’s feels but because they are wealthy probably living in Mayfair it just doesn’t matter.

  3. I am in the same position. I hAve a 2 year old and a 5 month old. My husband is in the uae and he cannot return untill I can sponsor him. I’m lonely and my daughter only sees him on skype. There’s no light at the end of the tunnel. I’m very depressed when I should be enjoying my children.

  4. petesomething

    Theresa may has no children so what does she know about family life, and i am sorry to tell you , if you cant make over 18600 , how will you pay for your visa and new national insurance charge even if you are paying national insurance through your wages like my self and wife are , the extra cost national insurance for my wife and child cost £1000 then also visa and test , you may need solicitor , with high rent, bills food , £18600 you will not make it, remember 18600 or £22400 with one child you must make for the next five year or your wife husband children will be sent home and leave you hart broken , last court case i think some one got sent home because they were 59p sort of 18600 , would 59p make them a tax burden , well no , with solicitor fees it cost us about £4000 to get next part of our visa in two and half years time this be about £5000 with wife one child for last of visa the 5 year , Theresa may is not a mother , she does not care about you or your children , but she care about your money she wants it and it does not matter how you live , maybe because she has no children this why she treating British families so bad , she has no children why should we be happy

  5. kerrie ball

    Im a british born uk woman forced to live apart from my usa partner due to the uk governments financial requirements….sickening how uk born citizens have no rights in their home country….this government only cares about money(greed) …we are expected to accept the rules while eu people can trample all over them…surely this is criminal the way we are treated as uk born citizens by our own government?

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