"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, 30 January 2013


“It's about love. It’s about respect. And it's about responsibility.”

Clara is a British citizen. She has been living in the UK for over 12 years. She worked for the British
government, paid her taxes and never claimed a penny in benefits. Clara wants the right to live with her Australian parents, who have no other family there.

Clara is happy to provide financial guarantees to the government. She is happy to provide a bond. She is happy to take out private healthcare cover for her parents to reduce their reliance on the NHS. Her parents would bring their assets to the UK as well, if they were going to live here, thus boosting our economy.

Clara’s parents would not be entitled to a UK pension nor would they be entitled to any other benefits. (incidentally, Clara has never claimed a penny in benefits). Despite this, the government will not allow Clara to live with her parents. But this isn’t about money. At least, it shouldn’t be.

It's about respect for those who gave us life, education and opportunities so we could have a better life. It's about love. And it's about responsibility.

Clara will not dump her parents in an old people’s home, halfway round the world, when they need her the most; where she can’t even meet them once a month let alone more frequently. And she will not let this government force her into abandoning her parents – nor will she be forcibly exiled from her home.

“If they didn’t want my parents here, they should have told me 10 years ago and I'd have planned
accordingly, rather than suggesting they could join me here they were 65. Doing it at this stage, blocking the route off so spectacularly and suddenly (when the route to retired people of independent means has also been closed off), when I have worked so hard, invested everything in the UK, bought a house and made a life here is not acceptable.”

The New Rules

The new rules are such that your parents have to be completely alone – no family and friends in their home country. They also have to be so incapacitated that they can’t dress, wash or cook for themselves. But even that’s not enough. To put it bluntly, if a British citizen earning a very good salary had a parent who was paralysed halfway round the world, they would still not be able to move their parents to the UK to look after them. So if your parents are healthy, they’re not welcome; if they require help to do basic things, again they’re still not welcome. If you’re well off, they’re not welcome. If you’re not well off, they’re not welcome. If they’re well off, they’re not welcome.

An example response Clara received from Mark Harper, Minister for Immigration, cites the cruelty of the rules:
“A person (aged 85) lives alone in Afghanistan. With the onset of age he has developed very poor eyesight, which means that he has had a series of falls, one of which resulted in a hip replacement. His only son lives in the UK and sends money to enable his father to pay for a carer to visit each day to help him wash and dress, and to cook meals for him. This would not meet the criteria because the sponsor is able to arrange the required level of care in Afghanistan.”

Clearly, there is NO value placed on the peace of mind that comes with being able to look after your parents, giving them company when they need it most, seeing them regularly, taking care of them yourself.

There is no respect allowed for those who often are the ones responsible for these Brits being here and contributing so fantastically to the economy and society.

Despite Clara having made several requests to various politicians, not one has been able to give an example of a situation where someone satisfies the criterion under the new rules, yet is physically able to get on a plane. The rules have been designed so that no one qualifies.

Those with a foreign spouse have a seemingly arbitrary income threshold of £18,600 to satisfy. On an income of five times this, a British person could now sponsor a foreign spouse and over 20 of their children to join them in the UK. But it’s somehow not enough to bring in ONE parent.

It’s absurd, insulting and rude. It’s discriminatory, ageist and racist. It’s an indirect method to force first generation British citizens to leave the UK.


The need to manage immigration is understood by Clara. But penalising British citizens who have never claimed benefits, just because they are first generation British, is not okay – and having criterion in place that even this government can’t give examples of anyone satisfying is certainly not acceptable.

This government did not do any research in coming up with these rules – indeed they ignored the advice in the Migration Advisory Committee’s report when it comes to parents of British citizens – a report they quote to justify the £18,600 income level for spouses. They just selected bits from the report to suit them, not considering alternatives, such as:
a) Mandating private healthcare insurance for parents;
b) Requiring the sponsor / parents to pay a bond to be held against the parents accessing welfare benefits, similar to the system in Australia;
c) A quota system, limiting the number of people a citizen can sponsor every X years. Australia has this in place for the sponsoring of a foreign spouse, to prevent abuse;
d) Reserving the right to sponsor parents as one for British citizens only, rather than just residents;
e) Requiring financial guarantees from sponsors that they will look after their parents;
f) Having a minimum income criterion for the sponsor.

What is required
g) Clarification of situations – case studies showing how someone can satisfy the rules to sponsor their parents who are still physically in a condition to get on a plane to come here.
h) If the intention is to prevent parents from coming here altogether, amend the policy so that this is clear, so there is no farce or pretence, and explain why.
i) Explain why we British citizens have fewer rights in our own country than the non-EEA spouse of an EEA citizen, who can bring in their parents, siblings, children, grandchildren and grandparents, and even aunts, uncles and cousins, without any guarantees or private healthcare cover. Yet, these rules have been brought in that completely close off the route to a Brit having their non-EU parent here, even where guarantees are provided. It's preposterous that this government has placed we
British citizens in a situation where we are second-class citizens in our own country!
j) Disclosing information on the consultation and research carried out to show that amending the rules in this fashion is justified, and this would address the concerns of NHS and social care costs that can't be met by other alternatives.
k) An explanation of why £18,600 is considered sufficient for a spouse with a few thousand more for each kid, while even a salary of five times that – which under the new rules allows UK sponsorship of a foreign spouse and over 20 children – isn't sufficient for a British citizen to sponsor one parent. How does the research carried out – if any – justify this?
l) Explanation of why British policy on parents is so different from other countries with a similar way of life to ours: Australia, New Zealand, USA and Canada. The government’s response cannot be that they don’t comment on policies implemented by other countries, as the rules in place in other countries for foreign spouses were used to justify the income threshold brought in for the spouses of British citizens.
m) Why isn't reciprocity with countries like Australia, the USA and Canada considered? More British
parents move to these countries than the other way around.

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