The UK Government has bowed to pressure to cut a financial requirement that UK citizens with foreign spouses wanting to live in Britain needed to earn a minimum of £38,700 annually. This was up from the previous £18,600 – regardless of how long a couple had been married.
On December 21, the Home Office announced the Minimum Income Requirement (MIR) threshold would now rise only to £29,000 in “initial stages”, nearly £10,000 down from the original announcement a couple of weeks ago.
The move was welcomed by those affected and others within Parliament.
The governing Conservative Party had faced criticism across political parties, including from its own members, over the initial hike of more than £20,000.
Critics said the policy would cause detrimental effects to thousands of families, without stopping any immigrants arriving in the UK by small boats across the English Channel.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has promised to bring about a decrease in “small boat” arrivals as a primary aim in his Government’s fight against illegal migrants.
One Conservative MP told UK news portal PoliticsHome the original policy risked making the party look “opposed to love”.
Earlier in December, Brussels Signal highlighted the Government’s shock decision to vastly raise the Spouse Visa financial requirement, noting that the median average annual salary for UK citizens stands around £34,500.
Under the previous new rules, that meant 73 per cent of UK workers would not qualify to live with their married partners in Britain – unless they had at least £62,500 in savings instead.
“I am greatly relieved by the move, it provides people like me with the realistic opportunity to live with my wife in my own country,” said Brussels Signal chief sub editor Chris Nelson, who is among those affected.
“We are not illegal immigrants, we are simply a long-term married couple who have worked abroad, where we met years ago, but who want to spend our remaining time in my homeland, the UK,” he added.