Why pushing up maintenance requirements would be a bad idea

We thought up a few ideas over breakfast as to why the Government should not follow MAC’s recommendations  (made of course on the basis of the Government’s instructions to it rather than its own capacity).

You can contact your MP if you like to voice your thoughts about the possibilitiy of increases in the amounts of money you’d need to have to sponsor family members given that the Government will be considering the report in the context of its reforms to family migration.

1. Human rights

International human rights law and principle says that the right to respect for family life (Article 8 European Convention on Human Rights) should not be be interfered with unless this is necessary on specified public policy grounds.

Pushing up the maintenance requirements for spouses/partners (and other family members) in circumstances where they are already not entitled to access the welfare state on arrival, and are required to show that they have adequate accommodation and funds (roughly £13, 000 per annum for spouses), and where other alternatives are also available is inconsitent with this.

2. Rights of British Citizens

Pushing up maintenance requirements to bring spouses, partners and other family members to the UK will mean that many British citizens will either be forced to live apart from family for longer periods, or will effectively be exiled from their own country (as they may have to move to another country to live with their loved ones). It also means that British citizens will enjoy less extensive rights to family reunion and residence than European nationals in the UK.

3. Discrimination

It’s a fact that women in the UK on average earn less then men. It’s fact that they’re often responsible for bringing up children when relationships breakdown, and it’s a fact that about two thirds of spouse based migration consists of women. It’s also a fact that disabled people, and certain ethnic groups on average earn less. What about younger workers? It’s also a fact in any economy that there are a number of low paid workers. And it’s also of course  a fact that these thresholds will not be applicable to spouses of EEA nationals.

Why should British citizens, young people, women, disabled people and certain ethnic groups  enjoy less extensive rights to family reunification?

4. Irregular migration

Making it so hard to bring your spouse or family into the country so that about two thirds of applicants can’t get in, is just going to encourage people to use other  dangerous clandestine, irregular means to do so. If we’re serious about stopping irregular migration we need to think about making sensible immigration laws.

5. Integration

Delaying the ability of families to reunite hinders their ability to integrate in British society. Think about it, and think about the experience of Bangladeshis in Tower Hamlets. In the 70-80’s difficult Immigration Rules and practices meant that it took absolutely ages for kids and spouses to join their families. Instead of being over here, learning the language, and integrating into society they instead were stuck in Bangladesh and were, and were only able to come over to the UK when theywere a lot older. As such their acqusition of English, and labour market skills relevant for this economy was delayed, andthey became dependent on their sponsors. This was not helpful particularly in terms of economic integration.

6. Other social costs

Research shows that there are externalities that arrise from measures that make it harder for people to reunite with, or continue to reside with their families. The pressure caused by living apart in come cases causes ill health and psychological problems thus reducing productivity in the work place. It also forces people to stay in jobs in undesirable situations e.g. where they’re being subject to unlawful harassment at work etc.

7. Bad economics (and even worse politics)

Think about it. Pushing up the maintenance requirement for family members by several thousand pounds really isn’t going to have any statistically significant impact on the state of the economy, or the welfare state given the existing protections that are already in place. It is however going to have a significant impact on the ability of families to live and enjoy life together.

About jcwi

Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants is a key campaigning voice in the field of immigration, asylum and nationality law and policy. It is completely independent from government funding, remaining entirely free from government influence. View all posts by jcwi

5 responses to “Why pushing up maintenance requirements would be a bad idea

  • Muhammad Junaid

    This is utterly unlawful. What about wealthy british nationals living abraod if decided to move to UK? this policy means that a citizen will have to first come to the UK, generate an income despite of the fact that he / she can be maintained or accomodated through their own healthy savings for the entire duration of visa and more and yet they are just being forced to do something whether UK economy is in recession or not… SUCH A STUPID POLICY DOCUMENT

  • Carole

    Citizens of the UK have no restrictions – they can come and go as they please.

    By contrast, anyone seeking to enter the country on a visa needs to show proof of accommodation and the ability to live without recourse to public funds. Exactly how is that unlawful?

  • A. MacDonald

    Carole, it’s discriminatory because it’s saying that British citizens, unless they make over a certain amount of money (an amount higher than the average wage in most of the UK), aren’t free to marry and settle in the UK with whomever they like.

    EU citizens residing in the UK have, basically, carte blanche to bring their spouses/families to the UK.

    Well-off Brits will also have no trouble.

    But working-class British citizens, and particularly women, ethnic minorities, disabled persons, or simply anyone living in rural areas (where wages are typically lower) will have to choose between marrying the person they’ve fallen in love with, and remaining in the country of their birth. And that ‘choice’ is something of an illusion as well, as people with lower incomes or with disabilities, etc., may not be able to afford to relocate to be with their family abroad.

    In short, it places an undue, unconscionable burden on people’s right to family life, and this burden is disproportionately placed on those who are of a lower economic class, or members of other vulnerable or minority groups. That’s kind of a textbook example of discrimination, and discrimination is illegal.

  • Kathryn Jones (@thick_marmite)

    Carole, needing to show proof of accommodation and funds is not the point. Of course that is necessary. The point is that they’re considering numbers that would be unrealistic for many and in some cases, depending on cost of living, unnecessary (but still required of them).

    I don’t know if you’re British, but if you are, do you really want your right to bring a foreign spouse over to be LESS than that of an EEA national, to whom these thresholds wouldn’t apply? Would you want a national of another country to have an easier time to bring a foreign spouse over to your own country than you would?

  • Young bear brunt of migration policies « Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants

    […] Government is currently considering what will effectively amount to a raise in the income required to sponsor family members. This also […]

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