Friday, 2 November 2012

Recent changes to immigration rules and how they affect families

The Coalition Government recently changed the rules for people wishing to bring their family into Britain. These changes affect migrant workers but they equally affect British nationals who have married people from outside the EEA and are bringing their partner into the UK for this first time, or who are returning from abroad with their family.

The changes are designed to ensure that British nationals do not need to claim benefits to support their family. It is important to realise that this does not represent a policy change and there were always provisions in place to make sure that this was the case. What this rule changes does, however, is severely limit the ability of low paid workers to have a family life as they place an earnings bar on the right to have your family with you in Britain.

The new rules mean that only someone earning more than £18,600 a year can bring their partner into the UK. This rises to £22,400 for a partner and a child, with an additional £2,400 for each further child sponsored. The new rules also mean that only the income of the British citizen (or visa holder) will be considered. This means that you could be married to a billionaire, an oil tycoon, or another low paid worker whose income would bring you over the threshold, but still deemed unable to support your family without recourse to benefits under the new rules.

This rule change is extremely concerning and seems to be an attack on the fundamental Human Right to have a family life for low paid workers.

These changes were recently debated in the House of Lords and this debate gives a useful overview of this issue.  

Helen Martin

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