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regular-article-logo Monday, 26 February 2024

UK’s Family Visa crackdown to impact many Indian family plans

The Family Visa category, under which long-term UK residents are able to bring their spouses and partners to join them, until now required the applicant to be earning at least GBP 18,600 annually

PTI London Published 06.12.23, 08:42 PM
Representational picture.

Representational picture. File picture

The UK government’s latest set of visa crackdowns to cut immigration figures includes a major hike in the minimum salary threshold for British nationals and permanent residents applying to bring family members to join them in the UK, a move expected to impact several Indian families.

The Family Visa category, under which long-term UK residents are able to bring their spouses and partners to join them, until now required the applicant to be earning at least GBP 18,600 annually.

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From March/April next year, this threshold will jump to GBP 38,700, inevitably set to have a significant impact on applicants from the Indian subcontinent – with Indians making up the second-highest cohort under the Family Visa in the past year (5,870) after Pakistanis (15,038), as per official Home Office statistics.

“We will ensure that people bring only dependants whom they can support financially, by raising the minimum income for Family Visas to the same threshold as the minimum salary threshold for skilled workers, which is GBP 38,700,” UK Home Secretary James Cleverly told Parliament earlier this week.

“The minimum income requirement is currently GBP 18,600 and has not been increased since 2012. This package of measures will take effect from next spring,” he said.

Analysts have flagged that this steep hike will have a wide-ranging impact on the family plans of those on lower incomes. Dr Madeleine Sumption, Director of the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford, said the decision to raise the family income threshold was the “biggest surprise of the day” and one of the parts of the latest visa package that could have the “most significant impacts on individuals”.

Sumption notes: “This threshold determines whether British citizens can bring a foreign partner to live with them in the UK, and the level has been more than doubled. Family migration makes up a small share of the total, but those who are affected by it can be affected very significantly.

“The largest impacts will fall on lower-income British citizens, and particularly women and younger people who tend to earn lower wages. The income threshold will also affect people more if they live outside of London and the south east [England], in areas of the country where earnings are lower.” An analysis she co-authored with fellow researcher Dr Ben Brindle reflects that it is unclear why the proposed thresholds for family migration and skilled work migration are the same.

“The income threshold will affect some groups more than others. For example, whereas around 60 per cent of men earn less than the new income requirement, this rises to more than 75 per cent for women,” they note.

The Opposition Labour’s shadow home secretary, Yvette Cooper, has also raised the prospect of many rushed weddings between now and spring 2024 by those desperate to circumvent the new rules.

“What we’re asking for is the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) to look at this. It looks as though the committee hasn’t actually been asked to look at this for over 10 years,” Cooper told the BBC.

“So, they should be asked to look at this very swiftly, and to look at what the best way to approach this is, because at the moment this seems to have come out of thin air with no plan at all and because there’s a possibility that actually what this will lead to is a big increase in rushed marriages and so on in the next few months because of the changes,” she said.

Meanwhile, the British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (BAPIO) – the UK’s largest representative body for nearly 80,000 doctors and 55,000 nurses of Indian origin – has written to the Home Secretary on Wednesday demanding clarity on exactly how the new clampdown on overseas care workers will operate.

The letter reads: “It was very concerning and distressing to our members to read about the plans to prevent overseas care workers from bringing their dependents to the UK.

“Stopping their spouses and children from accompanying them to the UK will have a significant detrimental impact on their mental and physical wellbeing resulting in a lower quality of care for patients and a reluctance for these skilled workers to either continue working or start new positions in the UK.” Under the new immigration crackdown, overseas care workers will be banned from bringing family members and skilled professionals must meet an annual salary threshold of GBP 38,700, up from the current GBP 26,200.

Indian industry and student groups have warned the Prime Minister Rishi Sunak led government of “unintended consequences” of the new measures aimed at curbing migration figures, which would lead to skilled Indians choosing alternate economies.

Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Telegraph Online staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.

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