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Monday 11 June 2012 saw the announcement of the long awaited response to last summer’s consultation on family migration, and the message from Government is clear: if you want to bring your loved ones to the UK, show us your money.
Minimum salary levels, extra applications, each carrying an increasingly expensive application fee, and onerous documentary requirements will no doubt prevent many British nationals and settled persons from bringing partners, children and elderly dependant relatives to the UK.
Not only do the UKBA want to see more money but they are specifying who can earn it. If the migrant partner is the breadwinner and the couple are proposing relocating to the UK, they will NOT be able to rely on the migrant’s prospective employment, disqualifying further families from travelling together to the UK. Where the current or proposed employment does not satisfy the new stringent guidance, cash savings of up to a massive £62,500 will need to be shown, clearly not an option for the majority of prospective applicants.
The intentions behind these changes as expressed in the preamble to the original consultation were ‘stopping abuse, promoting integration and reducing the burden on the taxpayer’. The reality, of course, is that the Government has pledged to reduce net migration to the tens of thousands, a task which is impossible without placing restrictions on the family route (used by almost 50,000 people in 2010).
For a Government that has emphasised the importance of supporting the family (a promise in the 2010 Conservative manifesto was to ‘make Britain the most family friendly country in Europe’), these new Rules can only properly be understood if viewed in this context of drastically reducing net migration (at page 21 of the same manifesto).
Reducing migration is viewed as a vote-winning policy in politics at the moment. However, the Government may struggle to maintain public approval of these changes, which infringe upon the rights of British Citizens to have a family of their choosing in the UK.
The new financial threshold is higher than many in the population are likely to be able to meet, including many working in the NHS, in office administration and recent graduates. The impact will also be felt most keenly by British and settled women who are statistically likely to be earning less than their male counterparts and are more likely to be in part-time employment.
Whether these new Rules can stand up to the legal challenges, which will undoubtedly ensue following their introduction on 9 July 2012, remains to be seen.
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