As if the Prime Minister wasn’t under enough pressure campaigners have threatened a legal challenge against the government. Support groups have stated that harsh immigration rules are disproportionately unfair to children. The claim related to the fact that thousand of Britons have been prevented from bringing their non-EU Spouses to the country due to income requirements. This has created a group of around 15,000 so called “Skype kids” who are only able to stay in contact with the UK based parent via the computer.
Ministers had been ordered to make changes after the Supreme Court ruled against the Home Office for failing to protect the legal rights of the children involved. Campaign groups have also insisted that the Home Office has failed to set any guidance on how these changes are to be implemented.
The rules on immigration and minimum income are “designed to discriminate based on income” according to Oxford University’s Migration Observatory. Meanwhile, the Home Office has admitted that there is currently a backlog of around 5,000 applications from foreign based spouses of UK nationals. This comes after the Conservatives had promised to raise the minimum income of £18,600 in a move that was only likely to make the situation worse.
BritCrits, one of the leading campaigners on the issue insist that the Home Office continues to flout the rules, and believes there is pressure on staff to refuse as many applications as possible in order to bring migration figures down. They insist that there are lawyers assessing as to whether the Home Office has done enough on the issues and if not they are prepared to issue a fresh legal challenge on the subject.
The income thresholds for non-EU spouses of British citizens is £18,600. But if they have a child that rises to £22,400 and is an extra £2,400 per child. The Supreme Court accepted restrictions but ordered changes with regards to children. The Home Office had promised to revisit the subject and would take into account “credible prospective earnings” but campaigners insist this is nowhere near far enough.
The government insists that while it does have a duty of care to children, they intend to prevent immigration becoming a burden on taxpayers. They insist that they’re trying to build a system that works in the national interest. But campaigners are still not impressed and expect to see more being done with regards to these “Skype kids”. Whilst there is a clear need to have a credible immigration system it seems incredibly harsh that children with British parents will not be able to travel to the country to live because one of their parents doesn’t earn enough money. It remains to be seen how serious the Home Office is on improving the situation for these children, but support groups insist that they will keep up the pressure until the situation is improved.