Subscribe to the View from Westminster email to receive insightful analysis directly in your inbox.
Receive our complimentary View from Westminster email.
Proposed legislation aimed at reducing the annual number of migrants by 300,000 could potentially result in the separation of families currently residing in the UK.
According to No 10, British citizens may face the possibility of their international significant other being required to depart the country when their visa needs to be renewed, if their household does not meet the income requirement of £38,700.
The decision is a result of the goal to decrease net migration, which reached almost 750,000 in 2022.
However, experts cautioned that the proposed crackdown is causing distress for a large number of individuals.
The Downing Street administration justified the practice, stating that it was appropriate for individuals to provide support for those they bring into the country.
On Monday, the proposed changes state that individuals desiring to bring their partner to the UK will need to make at least £38,700, a notable rise from the current amount of £18,600. This has been criticized as a fee for love.
Former Conservative Party member Gavin Barwell expressed his belief that it is unethical and not in line with conservative values to suggest that only the wealthy are entitled to fall in love, get married, and bring their partner to the UK.
In addition to affecting future immigrants to the UK, the government has confirmed that the increased number may also have an impact on those who are already residing in the country.
When inquired about the application of the policy to partners during visa renewals, Number 10 clarified that the change would not be applied retroactively but would be relevant for future renewals.
At this juncture, individuals would be required to fulfill the current visa criteria.
The spokesperson for the prime minister stated that individuals have a specific duration for their visas and will be informed when their visa expires, but there is no guarantee of being allowed to stay in the country.
According to No 10, the income level has not been revised in the past decade.
There are exemptions, but these will be on a case-by-case basis, and it stressed that the amount could be spread across the household.
Madeleine Sumption, the head of the Migration Observatory at Oxford University, stated that the modifications would position the UK as an exception compared to other Western countries.
She stated that this approach is undoubtedly distinct from that of any other affluent nation.
Josephine Whitaker-Yilmaz, a member of the migrant rights group Praxis, expressed her concerns for families who are faced with difficult choices as a result of the changes.
The modifications will take effect in the spring and will be applicable when current visas for foreign spouses need to be renewed.
On Tuesday, the spokesperson for the prime minister stated that the regulations for family immigration have a clause that allows for special cases where denying an applicant’s application would result in unduly severe consequences for them, their partner, a dependent child, or another relative.
The spokesperson stated that applications would be evaluated individually, but did not provide any specific examples.
According to official data from April, the average yearly income for full-time workers in the United Kingdom was £34,963.