"I have never welcomed the weakening of family ties by politics or pressure" - Nelson Mandela.
"He who travels for love finds a thousand miles no longer than one" - Japanese proverb.
"Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence." - Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
"When people's love is divided by law, it is the law that needs to change". -
David Cameron.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Labour Party outlines view on UK family migration rules

The following is an email sent to a BritCits member from the Labour Party frontbench email address. BritCits has subsequently liaised with Shadow Immigration Minister David Hanson's office, and has been informed that although sent from an official email address, the content of the email is not an official Labour Party statement.

David Hanson's office has, however, confirmed that Yvette Cooper’s statement (see below) is representative of Labour’s current view on immigration rules in the UK:

Good evening,

Thank you for your email regarding family visas. For help with specific cases, please get in touch with your local MP.

At a time when our national finances are hard-stretched, it is only fair that anyone wanting to bring someone new to this country should be able to prove that they can provide for themselves, and not be a burden on the state. But Labour is concerned that the Government’s policy, of requiring an income upwards of £18,600 before a spouse or dependent can move to Britain, will not achieve what it hopes. We are also worried that the Government have rejected other options that could provide better protection for the taxpayer, and be fairer too.

We are living in an increasingly globalised world, where more and more people are travelling abroad and developing relationships across borders. There is a danger that the Government’s policy could be unfair on people with modest incomes who genuinely fall in love overseas, perhaps with someone whose income does not meet the Government’s criteria. And in the current climate, even someone earning £40,000 today could find themselves out of work and earning nothing tomorrow, so simply relying on income as a guarantee may be a mistake that can still leave the taxpayer exposed.

That’s why there might be other ways of doing it, including greater flexibility giving the income of the person who is entering as well as the person who is here. Or it might be fairer and more effective to insist that anyone sponsoring a partner to come to this country should deposit a financial bond, to be used to meet any unforeseen costs, and which would be redeemable after a fixed period. Yet the Government didn't even consult on this option.

The system for legal migration needs to be much more effective. For example, huge delays for visitor visas mean that British families’ overseas relatives end up missing weddings and funerals. And we know the quality of decision making on family visitor visas is simply not good enough, as almost half of the decisions are overturned on appeal. That is why Labour opposes the Government’s plans to abolish the appeals process for family visitor visas.

The Government’s net migration target isn’t targeting the right things, and illegal immigration is getting worse as a result, with fewer people stopped, more absconding, fewer deported and backlogs of cases not pursued. There needs to be a mature recognition that there are different kinds of immigration – immigration that works and immigration that doesn’t, both for immigrants and for the country. We won't engage in an arms race on immigration rhetoric, we want a sensible debate on policies to make sure immigration works for all.

You can play a part in shaping our policy programme through Your Britain, Labour’s online home of ideas and policy development. If you have views on this issue you would like to share, please submit them to our Stronger, Safer Communities Policy Commission.
To see what else we’re talking about, follow Your Britain on Twitter.

With kind regards,

On behalf of the Labour Party

David Hanson's office has confirmed that the following is representative of Labour’s current view on immigration rules in the UK:

The shadow home secretary, Yvette Cooper, called for a swift review of the policy. “When people bring family back to this country they do need to make sure they can support each other,” she said.

“But the government were warned that the inflexibility of their system would lead to unfairness and injustice. For example if a British citizen is working part-time or at home looking after children they can be unable to bring a spouse back to Britain even if they are earning far more than the threshold and could easily support the entire family. The real problem is that Theresa May's net migration target treats all migration the same and doesn't distinguish between different types of immigration or look at the impact.”


  1. The point is that British citizens are being discriminated against. How can it be fair that any European national can live and work in the UK with their non-European spouse without meeting these financial restrictions and without needing to go through the time consuming and costly visa process but a British person may not?! Discriminated against in my own country, made to feel like a 3rd class clown for trying to do things the right and legal way! If I win the lottery I'll buy UK citizenship for my spouse!!

  2. I absolutely agree with the comment dated 31 January,
    It is ridiculous that I have worked all my life, paid taxes and NI for the past 48 years, I am now retired (63) my pensions do not meet the criteria laid down by the Conservative party, I get £600 per month in pensions.
    I am living in the Philippines with my wife, I desperately miss my family my children my grand children, it is totally unfair.
    What makes it worse is anyone from a European country can just enter Britain with their non eu spouse without meeting any financial target.
    I miss UK so much, I miss my family even more, why can we not just sign a declaration staing we will not claim a benefit for our non EU spouse,
    Falling in love with a Non EU person has caused so much pain but I would have married her whatever because I married for love.