Today, I hosted a debate in the UK Parliament about the UK Government’s spousal visa rules.
Since July 2012, UK Government rules state that for a UK citizen to bring a spouse into the country from outside the European Economic Area (EEA), then they must have a minimum income of £18,600 per year or £62,500 in savings. The income requirement rises by £3,800 for an additional child, and £2,400 for each subsequent child.
Research from the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford estimates that around 41% of people in Scotland are ineligible to bring a spouse into the country under the current rules. The Home Office estimates that their policy is preventing up to 17,800 people from entering the UK every year.
The spousal visa rules, which are currently being challenged at the Supreme Court, have led to the rise of ‘Skype families’, because some children have only been able to maintain contact with one parent through the online messaging program Skype.
When people contact my office about spousal visa rules they usual assume that as UK citizens it’s a straight forward process to bring their spouse into the country from outside the EEA.
Sadly this is not the case and the UK Government’s unfair financial rules are punishing UK citizens for marrying Australians, Americans, Canadians and other citizens of non-EEA countries.
UK citizens should be entitled to live in their own country, with their own family, regardless of where their spouse or children were born. I do not agree with the UK Government that the right to a family life should only be reserved for those with the most money.
I am regularly contacted by constituents whose families have been damaged by UK Government spousal visa rules and I will continue to call on the minister to remove these unfair financial restrictions.