From the start we’ve enjoyed the support of BritCits, a well-established and vocal organization also fighting support those affected by the 2012 Immigration Rules.
To help us better explain the Rules, below is an extract from the introduction to our book, written by BritCits founding partner Steven Green .
On 9th July 2012, the government introduced new immigration rules which, consequently, wound up dividing families of British citizens and instituting unprecedented intrusions into the privacy of both citizens and their loved ones.
The most significant change is represented by a new income requirement: £18,600 per annum to bring a non-EEA spouse or civil partner into the UK. The requirement rises to £22,400 for a spouse and non-EEA citizen child and by £2400 for each additional child after that. The onus is on the British partner to demonstrate this income; the spouse’s income is not considered.
As a result, there are British housewives, househusbands, and retirees living in de-facto exile across the world despite the fact that their partners earn more than £18,600 per year, and this includes families with British citizen children.
Third party sponsorship is no longer allowed. Young people starting their careers can no longer get help from kind parents, whereas savings can be counted – the requirement totals £62,500.
The evidential requirements, especially for self-employed and contract workers, are almost opaque and considered onerous at best. Retired people, who do not need to work, cannot use property they’ve paid off as a reason to escape the net.
The process itself is prohibitively expensive and entails a minimum of six to twelve months of separation between families. Those with experience liken it to a trial by ordeal.
The impact of the law has been studied. Oxford University’s Migration Observatory has found that the income requirement alone disqualifies 47% of the employed UK population. Of that population, 58% are between the ages of twenty and thirty – the age when people are most likely to form lasting relationships. There is a disproportionate affect on women: 61% of women in employment fall outside the requirement. In Scotland, 48% are under the minimum. That number rises to 51% in Wales, 52% in Yorkshire, and 53% in the north west of England. Even in the wealthiest city in Europe – London – 29% fall short of the requirement.
But, the income requirement is not the only mitigating factor. The language requirement for indefinite leave to remain has been tightened; the Life in the UK test has changed its content yet again, and a pass is required in addition to the language test. The time required for indefinite leave to remain has increased from two to five years, with a check after thirty months. Significant fines on employers have lowered the likelihood of partners gaining employment, slowing the UK economy and placing undue pressure on families.
People are forced to become single parents. Women are trapped in abusive relationships while their immigration status is uncertain. We’ve seen horrible stories of depression, stress, people forced into poverty, and pregnancies being terminated. Legal aid is under attack, so ordinary people cannot challenge the mistakes of an overburdened system.
The route for elderly dependants has, essentially, been closed. A response to a parliamentary question indicated that just one elderly parent visa had been granted in the six months since the rules were introduced. This aspect of the rules affects higher earners too; we know of doctors and other professionals forced to leave the UK to care for their parents. It causes unintended damage to institutions such as the NHS, which depend on the work of migrant doctors and nurses.
The human cost is enormous, yet there is an economic cost as well as people’s partners are forced out of the economy. There is a public health cost as people are reluctant – fearful – to access health care. Ultimately, there is a moral cost to Britain, which has compromised its reputation as an example of goodness and decency.
The campaign that became BritCits began with two friends – Sonel and Steve – meeting for the first time in August 2012. In direct response to the new rules, we decided to take action. Each day, we come face to face with the impact of these rules; we see husbands divided from wives and parents from children. It is hard and painful work, but also rewarding. We believe it’s important.
The salient theme is that these rules affect all British citizens. The effect on one group – migrants – has translated into a compromise of the rights of all British citizens, from working class to middle and high earners with overseas partners.