Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has pledged to scrap the controversial minimum income requirements a British citizen must earn in order to be able to bring their overseas spouses to join them in the UK.
The cry of many families that have been torn apart simply because they are not 'rich enough' had fallen on deaf years in the Tory led administration over the years. The government argument remained that "if you are not earning enough money, how do you intend to take care of a partner, and how are we sure they won't become a burden on the state whilst here?"
The current rule require British citizens to earn a minimum of £18,600 before their foreign partner can join them in the UK on a spouse visa. The threshold is even higher when children are involved. For a couple with one (non-British) child, the minimum income requirement is £22,400 and then an additional £2,400 for every additional child. This means that for a family with two children, the British partner must be earning at least £24,800 if they want their family to join them in the UK.
Sadly, many Britons have had to leave the country to be with their family as they have been deemed not rich enough to have a family life with their overseas partner in the UK. In a survey carried out by The Independent, a significant number of Britons told The Independent that they have been forced to move abroad for family reasons as a result of this rule.
The government insistence on this stance created "skype families"; a term coined to describe the struggles of families trying to communicate against the backdrop of the minimum income threshold.
The good news came when a draft version of the labour party's manifesto leaked to public. Jeremy Corbyn in that manifesto argued that he does not believe that family life should be protected only for the wealthy. He however added he would replace the financial threshold with the removal of recourse to public funds.
Corbyn's labour manifesto in effect recognised the argument of the Tory that "if you are not earning enough money, how are we sure your partner won't become a burden on the state whilst here?". However we went a step further by solving the problem, he decreased the chances of them becoming a burden on the state by the obligation to survive without recourse to public fund. Thus with one stroke, labour's manifesto brought families together and still protect the economy.
The minimum financial requirement rule for spouse visa application was introduced by the Coalition government in 2010. At that time Theresa May was the Home Secretary. The government introduced it in a bid to reduce the burden on the tax payer.
Since then, there have been several legal proceedings against it. In a bid to overturn the rule as well as make the government see the human side of the rule. In February the Supreme Court upheld the policy after a legal challenge against it. In that proceeding, seven judges agreed that the income threshold was "acceptable in principle". However they criticised the lack of safeguards for the welfare of children.
The leaked labour manifesto points out a distinction between immigration based on family connections and economic immigration. Having British people suffer from undue family separation according to him was unfair.
This announcement was received with excitement by immigration lawyers working hard to make sure families are not broken by unfair rules.
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