Since 2012 only those who earn at least £18,600 a year can sponsor visas for a spouse or partner from outside the EU.Over half of British women do not earn enough to meet the current threshold, according to the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford. Research found 55 per cent of British women and 53 per cent of those under 30 are excluded from bringing a spouse or partner to the UK.The study also found that 41 per cent of British nationals working in full or part-time jobs could not afford to sponsor their partner’s visa.
London residents are more likely than the rest of the country to have salaries allowing them to sponsor a spouse from outside Europe. Nearly three quarters (73 per cent) of people living in the capital meet the threshold, according to the study. Under the rules a migrant applicant’s overseas income cannot count towards the threshold.The rules have been repeatedly criticized, with a report by the Children’s Commissioner for England saying at least 15,000 children are separated from one of their parents because of the system. Dr Carlos Vargas-Silva, senior researcher at the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford, said: “In some respects, the current family migration rules prioritize couples in which the UK partner is the main breadwinner.That is likely to make it easier for men to sponsor their wives rather than vice versa.” He added: Dr Vargas-Silva said: “There is no magic number defining the level of income at which a family is expected to make an economic contribution. And, of course, economic factors are not the only ones that are relevant when deciding whether people should be able to bring their partners to the UK.”
The visa sponsor threshold rises to £22,400 for families with a child, and a further £2,400 for each extra child.The issue is expected to be examined in the Supreme Court next month.
A Home Office spokeswoman said: “We welcome those who wish to make a life in the UK with their family, work hard and make a contribution. But family life must not be established here at the taxpayer’s expense.That is why we established clear rules for British citizens looking to bring their non-EU spouse to this country, including a minimum income threshold, based on advice from the independent Migration Advisory Committee.” This policy has been approved by Parliament and upheld by the courts.
“All cases are carefully considered on their individual merits, in line with the immigration rules and based on evidence provided by the applicant.”