A storm has erupted following the UK Conservative Government’s move to ramp up the financial requirements Britons must fulfil if they wish to return to live in the UK with their foreign-born spouses, regardless of how long they have been married.
An official petition demanding the British Government reassess the UK Spouse Visa requirements has taken off. That comes following changes a few days ago that mean almost 75% per cent of Brits married long-term to foreigners cannot live with them in the UK should they now want to do so.
Within 48 hours of coming to wider attention on social media, the petition had hit 5,716 signatories. At 10,000 the Government must officially respond and at 100,000 signatories the issue must be debated in Parliament.
Under the new immigration regulations announced on December 4, British citizens wishing to apply to live in the UK with their foreign spouses must earn at least £38,700 a year, a leap of more than £20,000 from the previous threshold of £18,600.
The petition is specifically in relation to those who have already been married “long term”, according to the accompanying details at least six years. Although launched shortly before the Government’s latest announcement, it has garnered an accelerating number of signatories following the revelation.
The “long term” distinction is designed to bypass the issue of “marriages of convenience” letting “marriage migrants” enter and reside in the UK shortly after tying the knot. The “married couple” may have no genuine connections and can be betrothed simply to let one or the other take advantage of the UK’s benefits systems or such.
According to the BBC, an estimated 70,000 people came to the UK on Spouse Visas in the year ending June 2023. Even if all of them were stopped, the new rule would not reduce the overall migration figures by a great deal.
The UK’s Office for National Statistics’s provisional estimate of total immigration for year ending June 2023 is 1.2 million so, even if the new regulation had been in place, 1.193 million would still have arrived anyway.
The median average annual salary for UK citizens stands at around £34,500. That means, under the new regulations set to come in next April, 73 per cent of UK workers hoping to live with their long-term married partners in Britain will not now qualify to do so.
That is unless they happen to have at least £62,500 in spare change instead. The Government is consulting over whether to increase that amount also.
The petition closes on March 19.