The Children’s Commissioner for England has launched an investigation into family immigration rules.
Two years ago, the government introduced stricter criteria for family members seeking to move to the UK. In particular, anyone who wishes to sponsor a spouse born outside the EU to come and live in the UK must have a minimum income of £18,600 per annum. This income threshold rises to £22,400 for a child born outside the EU.
But Commissioner Maggie Atkinson claims she has received “significant amount of moving correspondence from parents” and believes the rules may keeping families apart unfairly and depriving children of contact with their parents.
“On the evidence I have seen, I consider that the family migration rules need to undergo a thorough and formal review in order to ensure that the best interests of children are a primary consideration.”
A first stage consultation with families affected by the rule changes will close on 1 September.
A spokesman for the Home Office said the government would consider the Commissioner’s findings when the report was published. He added:
“We welcome those who wish to make a life in the UK with their family, work hard and make a contribution. But family life must not be established here at the taxpayer’s expense and family migrants must be able to integrate if they are to play a full part in British life. The minimum income threshold is achieving those objectives.”
Last year, the Home Office was found to have broken the law when it refused to grant foreign children living in the UK permission to remain permanently, despite having previously given them temporary leave.
Photo of the Home Office building in Marsham Street, London by stevecadman via Flickr