|Note that Theresa May's favoured minimum income requirement in order |
to obtaina spouse visa is significantly higher than the international norm.
Theresa May had tried to set the new minimum income requirement for a British "sponsor" applying for the right to be joined in the UK by their foreign-born husbands, wives, partners and their children will be between £25,700 - £46,260, astonishingly high figures that looked set to exclude up to 60% of all applications.
In the end, the figure was reduced to a minimum of £18,600 under pressure from Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats, but this figure still accounts for 71.3% of the average UK salary, meaning that tens of thousands of low-mid income British workers would be forced to choose between their country and their loved ones.
This £18,600 sum is not the worst of it, the financial obligation rises to £22,400 for families with one child, and a further £2,400 for each extra child.
Does it really benefit Britain if an individual is working in a job that pays £22,000, is forced to quit their job and leave the country so that they can live together with their husband or wife and their child? How does it benefit their employer, who must hire and train up their replacement?
It seems quite obvious that this policy is more of a malicious act of class warfare than a coherent attempt to reduce net migration into the UK.
Theresa May's preferred income rules of £25,700 would have been set far higher than anywhere else in the World accounting for over 98% of the average wage, meaning that the right to bring a foreign spouse to live in the UK would have been restricted to a minority of wealthy individuals. Even the reduced figure of £18,600+ eclipses the requirements to bring a spouse to the United States (which is notorious for strict immigration policies) where the income level deemed necessary in order to support a spouse is set at a much lower level of 45.3% of the average wage. On page 22 of the Tory consultation document the immigration rules in several other states are outlined, yet Theresa May tried to set the immigration bar far, far higher than the other states mentioned (see diagram), and the Lib-Dem reforms still leave the British system as the most economically discriminatory immigration system in the World.
Rather than tackling immigration these immigration reforms look more like a brazen attempt to attack the rights of low income British citizens, than a coherent policy aimed at significantly reducing immigration.
Another glaring problem with this delusional Tory immigration plan is that it does nothing to address the fact that the European door is wide open to people with absolutely no connection to the UK other than a desire to work there. Setting ever more stringent conditions for the minority of non-EU immigrants who are married to British citizens when anyone can come in from the rest of the EEA without any English language skills or proper means of supporting themselves is an exercise in futility and cruelty against ones own people. When the Tories try to claim that all they are trying to do is ensure that "a spouse or partner must has a genuine attachment to the UK, be able to speak English, and integrate into our society" they are being utterly misleading. What better way is there to integrate into British society is there than marrying a British person and raising British children?
At a time when economic migration within the EEA is set to rise dramatically due to self-defeating austerity measures causing socio-economic havoc across the Eurozone, the Tories are busy chasing away people with genuine attachments to the UK because their spouse happens to earn less than 71.3% of the average salary.
Another factor that this barmy Tory policy glosses over is a piece of European legislation 2004 / 38 / EC - Right of Union citizens and their family members to move and reside freely within the territory of the Member States which states that "All Union citizens have the right to enter another Member State by virtue of having an identity card or valid passport [and] family members who do not have the nationality of a Member State enjoy the same rights as the citizen who they have accompanied" and that "under no circumstances may an expulsion decision be taken on economic grounds". This means that a non-EU citizen that happens to be married to a Pole, and Irishman, a Greek or an Austrian must not be prevented from entering the United Kingdom on purely economic grounds.
So there we have it; the Tories will continue to allow rich people to keep bringing their non-EU spouses into the country, they will continue to allow hundreds of thousands of European migrants with no connection to the UK to keep coming in and they will continue to allow European migrants to bring their non-EU spouses and children in with them. The only people they are concerned with blocking are non-EU citizens that have married below average income Brits.
If there is anyone still out there that hasn't noticed the Tory contempt for ordinary working people, this is about as clear a demonstration as you will ever get. In a futile effort to juke the immigration stats and pretend that they are actually doing something about immigration, the Tories have brought in an immigration system that discriminates against British working people who happen to have foreign spouses whilst allowing the rich to buy their way around the system, and not even applying the same stringent conditions to the families of immigrants from elsewhere in the EU.
There are a few things that you can do to get around this incompetent and grotesquely unfair setup. If you are a low-mid income person with a non-EU spouse, the most important thing for you to do is to determine whether you have any right to claim citizenship from another EU state (through an Irish grandfather or an Italian great-grandmother for example) and apply for it, because if you claim to be a foreigner from another EU state who happens to live in the UK, this Tory led government cannot kick your spouse out of the country on purely economic grounds. Under their rules, they can only do this to your family if you are 100% British.
If the Tory immigration rules are preventing your husband/wife from living with you in the UK are making you fear that you can only live together if you go back to their country of origin (which may be some terrible war torn place like Afghanistan, Palestine, Syria, Iraq or wherever) this is not the case. Even if you have no right to claim citizenship of another EU state, remember that as an European citizen you can claim the right to settle your family in any other country in the EEA as long as you can find a job there. As long as you have a British passport, you are a European citizen and have the right to settle with your family anywhere else in Europe under the terms of 2004 / 38 / EC Freedom of Movement legislation.
It is unbelievably harsh that Theresa May is determined to make many tens of thousands of low-mid income British citizens choose between their country and their loved ones, but at least under European law they can settle elsewhere in Europe rather than having to live in exile in whatever country the love of their lives happened to have been born in.
In the opening paragraph of Theresa May's consultation document on immigration reform the claim is made that "this government is determined to bring immigration back to sustainable levels and to bring a sense of fairness back to our immigration system".
The fact that the European door is being left wide open to economic refugees from austerity stricken economies such as Ireland, Greece, Portugal and Spain, whilst the government attempt to chase away immigrants from outside the EU who have demonstrable connection to the UK (by being married to a British citizen or having British kids) suggests that they will ultimately fail in their first objective of "bringing immigration back to sustainable levels".
The fact that rich people will still still be allowed to bring their non-EU spouses into the country whilst low income people will be denied that right, and that immigrants from other EU states will be able to bring their non-EU spouses and families into the UK without complying with the same stringent economic conditions that British citizens have to, clearly demonstrates that Theresa May and the Tories have already failed in their second aim of bringing back "a sense of fairness back to our immigration system" by making the system even more unfair than it already was.
Update - September 2013
In July the High Court described Theresa May's bonkers immigration rules as "onerous" "unjustified" and "disproportionate" but stopped short of declaring them unlawful (it seems it is perfectly lawful for the UK government to openly discriminate against UK citizens like this). A report from The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Migration stated that Theresa May's grotesquely unfair immigration rules are “tearing British families apart”. The Tories don't give the faintest damn about the thousands of UK citizens that have been left with the terrible choice of tearing their families apart, or living in exile from their own country. I mean, to the Tory hierarchy the only people affected are a minority of piss-poor plebs after all (it costs £50,000 a year to become a member of David Cameron's secretive cabal of wealthy Tory party donors called "The Leaders Group").
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