In a recent change to immigration law, a British citizen must earn above a certain threshold before their foreign partner is allowed to live in the UK.
In this guest blog, Chris Mead of the Family Immigration Alliance explains why the organization is fighting to change the law.
"On the 9th July families with foreign spouses will be marking 'Divided Families Day'.
A year ago, the government introduced new requirements on British 'sponsors' (that is, the British resident in a relationship) to earn at least £18600 to have their foreign spouse join them in the UK. This increases by £22400 if the couple has a child, and another £2400 for each child after that.
To put this into context, 40% of the UK population earn less than £18600. And to make matters worse, neither the couple's parents, nor the foreign spouse, are allowed to contribute towards meeting this amount. The burden is entirely on the British sponsor.
Recently a group of MPs released a report on this issue, exposing the full severity of the rules. Evidence they received from Coram Children's Legal Advice Centre told of a mother, separated from 'her husband and two sons, aged just five months and 18 months, all British citizens. The separation means that the mother has had to stop breastfeeding her five-month-old baby.' There is growing evidence that this sort of separation is having a significant impact on the development of children.
Carol, a British citizen from Southampton is married to Ahmed, from Iran. They met at university and have a daughter. But Ahmed's application to stay in the UK was refused because Carol didn't earn enough to meet the threshold. She was 3 months pregnant when Ahmed had to return to Iran. Carol works for a law firm, but still does not earn enough to sponsor Ahmed's application. Their daughter is almost 1 now, and has still never seen her father.
Ahmed is also working and Carol's parents have even offered to contribute money to sponsor the application. The rules do not allow this though, leaving the burden solely on Carol to prove she can earn enough by herself, to have Ahmed live with her. Her story features in a video explaining the injustice of the new rules.
Research from Oxford University suggests that 47% of the working adult population of the UK would not be able to meet these requirements if they needed to. Worse still, the rules threaten to cost the tax payer more, by preventing foreign spouses from supporting their families - pushing some sponsors onto welfare benefits.
Emma's husband is Indonesian. She is a professional graphic designer with over 15 years of work experience. 'Due to childcare commitments, I couldn't secure full time work, and I couldn't afford child care costs even if I did find a full time position.
I have been on Income Support, and now going onto Job Seekers Allowance - [it's] so ironic, because if my husband was allowed to be in this country, our child care problems would cease to exist, and we could both have the shared time to work and care for our family without having to claim any benefit from the state.'
Because of the illogical rules for assessing whether sponsors can meet this income threshold, thousands of British families are being indefinitely separated. Could you face forced separation from your spouse or children because of rules like this?
If not, please do think about acting right now to help families like Carol's and Emma's. A coalition of groups called the Divided Families Campaign is holding a Day of Action on the 9th July to call on Theresa May to end the suffering her rules have caused.
This is a policy that is cold, callous and cruel. It's basically saying that only rich people can live with the person they fall in love with, if they come from a non-EU country? Even the tabloids who are anti-immigration surely never meant tragedies like these to occur? I cannot believe that this country can agree to such heartless legislation.
Please read our shocking report made by 35 self-sufficient British families torn apart by the new spouse visa rules - the findings are shocking - Extreme discrimination against women - 61% of full time working British women will not meet the financial threshold to be entitled to family life in the UK and women having children and so have to give up work have not been considered at all. Many MARRIED British women are being forced to give birth and look after their newborns alone - often indefinitely. Many cannot leave as they are also carers for elderly, sick or disabled British family. The new rules are a shocking abuse against British women and children: please read and share our report: http://www.scribd.com/doc/150780718/Report-On-The-Impact-Of-The-New-2012-Spouse-Visa-Rules-With-Recommendations
Being an immigrant is hard enough as it is, without adding to that cruel and unjust and unnecessary rules like that one. It serves no one, and create an absurd situation where instead of attracting good, hard-working people who wants to live here for the right reasons, you basically force people to use the same welfare money you don't want them to use... I think people forget or aren't aware how tough immigration is, I think most people don't uproot their kids and lives for nothing short of a better place, a better future and better chance. I also think that unless you've done it, you don't know how hard it is. Even if you love where you moved to. I wrote a post about it, if anyone wants to see it from the immigrants side - bit.ly/justanimmigrant
Thank you so much for highlighting this MN it is a subject that is very close to my heart.
DH is currently appealing his right to remain in the country so he can be a father to our 4 DCs. We are married and I am a trainee social worker so obviously don't earn anything as it is all NHS bursaries.
In order for DH to be allowed in this country as my husband I have to be earning £29600, even when I have qualified I am not going to be earning anything near this. Even if I was, DH would have to leave the country and return to Zimbabwe to apply to return as my spouse as you are not able to do this from within the UK This can take months and months and months.
So, if DH's appeal fails and he is removed from the country (which is a very real threat we live with every day) he would never be able to return. The children would be left without a father and I would have to stop training and start claiming every benefit available.
We would have to consider moving as a family to another European country, remaining there for 3 years and then we would be able to come home and live here together without a problem as DH would be considered ordinarily resident in an EU country!!
Our paperwork went in 6 months ago, we have heard nothing from them.
DH has lived in this country for 11 years, has 4 children aged 8, 7, 6 and 9 weeks. He has worked full time and paid taxes, never been in any kind of trouble and he has been an excellent stay at home Dad whilst I have been studying.
This is only touching the surface of the hell we are being put through because of the changes the coalition have/are making. How anyone can support this kind of madness is beyond me, how can anyone think it is ok to treat people this way!
This is shocking but there is hope that it will change. There's a demo on 9th July at the Home Office, Marsham Street, London at 4 pm. Also if you're affected send in your story to this blog and follow it