Following Theresa May’s annoucement of draconian requirements for those wishing to live with their loved ones in the UK (needing to earn more than £18, 600 or £24, 800 if you have children and want to live with your non-EEA national partner or spouse in the UK; needing to prove an ‘attachment’ to the UK; a harder English language test; and a probation period increased from 2 to 5 years), the release of the government’s Statement of Intent on Family Migration revealed their plans in all their gory detail. You can download the Statement here; you may wish to sit down first.
While it is not year clear if the proposed plans could be enforced (they may breach human rights law), they signal all too-clearly how the government intends to meet it’s unachievable targets on reducing immigration. One of the most concerning areas is the intention that discretionary leave will no longer be granted for Article 8 claims outside of the immigration rules. Article 8 claims are already incredibly hard to win, as UKBA and the courts decide if interference with someone’s Article 8 rights to family and private life is proportionate, given the government’s permissable aim to operate immigration controls. The changes in the immigration rules (set to be introduced in July) will tear even more families and lives apart, particularly if deportation following a criminal conviction is involved. For an analysis of some of the proposed changes, see this Free Movement blog post and Civitas blog posthere.
And just in case those well-known Article 8 loving liberal immigration judges run amok and undermine the government’s pernicious proposals, another worrying development has emerged. The Sunday Telegraph initiated a witch hunt against ‘leniant’ immigration judges who did not deport certain foreign national prisoners. Inadequate research and dodgy statistics may be the mainstay of anti-immigration reporting, but this article goes even further. As the Free Movement blog rightly identified, it is “a shoddy exercise in politics and intimidation” with biographical details of the judges included.
But all is not lost! JCWI are co-ordinating campaigning against the proposed changes and have already recevied very encouraging responses. Find out how you join the movement here.
From UK Borders Agency website: Family migration changes announced – updated
13 June 2012
On 11 June 2012 the Government announced changes to the Immigration Rules for non-European Economic Area (non-EEA) nationals applying to enter or remain in the UK on the family migration route. The new Immigration Rules will also unify consideration under the rules and Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, by defining the basis on which a person can enter or remain in the UK on the basis of their family or private life.
Today (13 June 2012) rules have been laid in Parliament which will bring these changes into effect, along with an impact assessment, a policy equality statement and a statement on the compatibility of the rules with Article 8.
Most of these changes will apply to new applicants from 9 July 2012.
The changes are part of the Government’s programme of reform of the immigration routes and follow wide consultation and expert advice from the Migration Advisory Committee. The changes include:
- introducing a new minimum income threshold of £18,600 for sponsoring the settlement in the UK of a spouse or partner, or fiancé(e) or proposed civil partner of non-European Economic Area (EEA) nationality, with a higher threshold for any children also sponsored; £22,400 for one child and an additional £2,400 for each further child;
- publishing, in casework guidance, a list of factors associated with genuine and non-genuine relationships, to help UK Border Agency caseworkers to focus on these issues;
- extending the minimum probationary period for settlement for non-EEA spouses andpartners from two years to five years, to test the genuineness of the relationship;
- abolishing immediate settlement for the migrant spouses and partner where a couple have been living together overseas for at least 4 years, and requiring them to complete a 5 year probationary period;
- from October 2013, requiring all applicants for settlement to pass the Life in the UK Test and present an English language speaking and listening qualification at B1 level or above of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages unless they are exempt;
- allowing adult and elderly dependants to settle in the UK only where they can demonstrate that, as a result of age, illness or disability, they require a level of long-term personal care that can only be provided by a relative in the UK, and requiring them to apply from overseas rather than switch in the UK from another category, for example as a visitor; and
- restricting family visit visa appeals, initially by narrowing the current definitions of family and sponsor for appeal purposes, and then, subject to the passage of the Crime and Courts Bill, which was published on 11 May 2012, removing the full right of appeal against refusal of a family visit visa.
For more information about the changes that are being introduced and details of transitional arrangements, please see the Statement of Changes to the Immigration rules (HC 194), the Explanatory Memorandum, impact assessment, the policy equality statement and European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) memorandum on the right side of this page.