"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.

Tuesday 9 July 2013

How new UK spouse visa rules turned me into an Englishman in exile.

A great article by one of our supporters.


Think of exiles in modern history, and you think of people forced to live away from where? Castro’s Cuba? Franco’s Spain? Apartheid South Africa? Well, now you can add David Cameron’s UK to that list. And no, that’s not a typo – nor am I about to make a leftie jibe about people who can’t bear to live under the Tories or another series of Downton Abbey. I’m talking about real exiles; people who cannot go back to their homeland. People like me.

Today marks the first anniversary of draconian changes introduced by the British government to visas for foreign spouses brought in by home secretary Theresa May. There are two key features of the new rules: first, the Brit (and only the Brit) has to have an income of £18,600 before the visa can even be applied for; second, the probationary period before permanent residency is granted ("indefinite leave to remain"), increased from two years to five.

The changes are barring thousands of British expats around the world from going home. In my own case, my Australian wife and I planned a 2013 return to England with our two sons after almost five years in Sydney. But when we looked into getting her a visa earlier this year – something I’d always assumed would be a simple formality – we discovered it would be impossible...


High Court delivers the final nail to the Government’s absurd £18,600 minimum income requirement.


...The Court noted that it was a fundamental domestic law right for a British sponsor to reside in the United Kingdom without let or hindrance and that it is unreasonable to expect him/her to have to leave the United Kingdom solely in order to live with their spouse or family (even where such a move is perfectly possible).  To expect a British citizen to relocate amounts to a serious interference with the right of residence which the judge described as “considerably more intrusive interference” than ‘colossal’.  A Refugee, by virtue of the very status, does not have the ability to relocate to their home country or a third state in order to live with their spouse or family.

Further, the Judge noted that to set the figure significantly higher than even the £13,400 gross annual wage at minimum wage levels effectively denied young people and many thousands of low-wage earners in full time employment the ability to be joined by their non-EEA spouses from abroad unless they happen to have wealthy relatives or to have won the lottery.  This frustrates the right of British citizens and Refugees to live with their chosen partner and found a family unless such modest earnings could be supplemented by any reasonably substantial savings, third party support of the future earnings of the spouse seeking admission.

The Judge further criticised the minimum income provisions for excluding in its calculation verifiable third party support, future earnings of the incoming spouse and any savings below £16,000.

The decision is a huge national and international public importance and will affect and impact lives of many British Citizens who have been affected by the rule changes.

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