Baroness Hamwee: Family migration rules have provoked outrage, puzzlement and anguish

Baroness Hamwee, the Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Migration’s Family Migration Committee yesterday led a debate on the issue in the chamber. It is time, she writes here, for the Government to review the year-old restrictions on family migration which are causing such “unfairness”

Baroness Hamwee
Baroness Hamwee

I got 10 minutes yestderday to urge the Government to review the rule on family migration introduced a year ago next week.  I could have filled 10 hours with the experiences I have heard – I don’t like to call them case studies as if people’s stories are of only academic interest.

The themes of the new rules were to stop abuse, promote integration and reduce any burden on the taxpayer.  Stopping abuse (sham marriages) – does that mean separating a couple who have been together for 12 years, but only she and their British-born daughter can come to the UK, and he and their foreign born son cannot?

Promoting integration – how they do so is beyond me.  And reducing the burden on the taxpayer – an attractive proposition, if it didn’t mean single parents looking to the state for support which would not be needed if both parents were together to look after the children.  In fact, an academic study, using government figures, suggests that the rules will cost the UK £850m over 10 years in lost economic activity.

A British sponsor of a non-EEA spouse or partner has to show an income of £18,600 (a level that getting on for half UK wage-earners could not meet), and more if there is a child.  It is now in effect impossible to bring in elderly dependents.

The separation of children from a parent is particularly worrying.  Early years are crucial developmentally as well as in terms of well-being.  The Children’s Commissioners of the four UK nations have supported the call for a review made by the all-party inquiry which I chaired.  And only this week, in another part of the legislative forest, we were discussing a clause in a government bill that the court is to presume that the involvement of a parent in the life of a child will further the child’s welfare.

The detail of the rules is worse than confusing, and the forms and evidence required are problematic.  Not much other than straight salary counts, so it’s difficult if the non-Brit is the main earner, or if the Brit is self-employed with a fluctuating income.  Savings can be counted in lieu – up to £62,500 may be needed – but only cash held for a period (it strikes me that anyone holding a lot of liquid cash is likely not to be handling his assets well).  Third-party support doesn’t count, which is felt particularly acutely by grandparents who would like to be part of their grandchildren’s lives.

And yet, and yet… if you are able to live and work in another part of the EU with your non-EEA spouse/partner, after a few months you can both come into the UK, settle and work here.

No surprise that the rules have provoked outrage, puzzlement and anguish.  British citizens and taxpayers not able to live with their families in their own country.  Of course the sense of unfairness is so evident.


Published and promoted by Tim Gordon on behalf of the Liberal Democrats, both at LDHQ, 8-10 Great George Street, London, SW1P 3AE.


6 thoughts on “Baroness Hamwee: Family migration rules have provoked outrage, puzzlement and anguish”

  1. I am grateful to Baroness Hamwee for championing this cause.

    I don’t understand how the new rules save the public purse since the spouse visa are, and always have been, marked no recourse to public funds.

    Secondly I don’t understand why the government is discriminating against its own citizens. Is very hard for a UK national to bring in a non EEA spouse but anyone else in the EEA wishing to do the same can just walk in. Why would a government discriminate against its own people?

    The lump sum alternative was not mentioned in the IMAC report and was added separately. It is calculated incorrectly because it uses gross rather than net salary. If the critera are met then a visa is granted for 2.5 years and calculated as follows.

    (£18, 500 *2.5) +£16, 000 = £ 62, 500
    If a person earns £18, 500 then their take home or net pay is the amount they have to live on. This net salary is the figure which should be used to calculate the lump sum. There is no need to add the £16, 000 as the visa is marked no recourse to public funds.

  2. it is not only the income test which is unfair to FAMILY immigrants but even more unfair is the language test introduced by Theresa May from 29.11.2010 ostensibly to promote integration but in fact to try and reduce net immigration numbers to enhance tory re-election prospects ( family immigrants are an easy target ! ) . I show hereunder an email to Mr Clegg who did not respond and it is self explanatory . So in addition to seeking amendments on the income test , can pressure be put on Cameron and May to abolish the language test for FAMILY immigrants ? Of course a language test may be necessary for people coming here to work but NOT for None EU fiancees or spouses who are not coming here to work, eg my lady who is 60 and who would be a housewife supported by me with no question of ever claiming benefits .

    dear Mr Clegg
    I felt sick when you said on radio 5 live that the Immigration Minister , Harper, was a good man ! This is the man who happily impliments the heartless , evil and inhumane rules brought in by Theresa May from 29.11.2010 SOLELY to enhance Tory re-election prospects irrespective of the heartache caused to genuine UK citizens and their NONE EU spouses or fiancees who do not and will never claim benefits ( Tory lies to mislead the Uk public and stir up anti immigrant sentiment !! ). You praise the man whom is instrumental in tearing families apart . Your wife is Spanish I believe and has the right to live here but why do you have no empathy for those who have a none EU wife or fiancee and are prevented from living together in this country just because of failure to pass an english test which is incredibly difficult for those who are used to different alphabet and especially if the NONE EU partner is middle aged or elderly .Any linguistic expert will confirm that it is much easier to learn a new language in a country where that language is spoken and with the help of the UK spouse and english lessons here at the UK spouse’s expense OF COURSE .
    I was a lifelong Tory for my sins but now realise they really are the nasty party . I and my friends had thought about voting Lib Dem at next election but having second thoughts after your comment about a man like Harper .
    I hope you will respond . My Tory MP, Sir George Young, seems not to have a modicum of compassion or basic human kindness and toes the party line religiously and will not even answer my questions on this issue or agree to meet me at one of his surgeries – so much for our so called democracy !!

    1. I am a British citizen with my own home and an income / savings above Ms May’s limits. In the 1980s I was working on the Arabian oilfields where I met my wife who is NON EU. She has a degree in Business Studies and worked for two international companies as a Stock Control Buyer.
      In Xmas 2010 we were in her country and returned to the UK to renew her visa. We sent off her application and her visa was refused. She had to return to her own country. Where I have no problem getting entry and staying.
      I have found that Ms May’s test – Pre Entry English and Life in the UK – are a complete farce that even British nationals are failing because they are set to deny NON EU citizens visas rather than to encourage integration!
      A neighbour who knows my wife is a retired Judge. He said to me ‘the UKBA was an open door to corruption’! We know the Home Affairs Select Committee, and Lord John Reid, found the UKBA ‘not fit for purpose’! The Home Affairs Select Comitttee also stated the UKBA had ‘misled Parliament’.
      UKBA Chief Insp John Vine has written numerous reports about the UKBA’s incompetences. But in office Ms May has never put these problems right.
      However Ms May has introduce her rules, many found unlawful in British Courts. It is a disgrace that in a so called democracy a Tory Home Sec can introduce her own rules that destroy the family lives of respectable hard working tax paying British citizens purely for political gain in the 2015 elections. British freedoms have been trashed by Ms May but the public are becoming aware and this Tory led Govt will pay the price for its policies!

      1. It should be noted that in Sept 2010 Matrix UK Rabhinder Singh QC and Aileen McColgan wrote a 13 page report for Liberty UK on the Pre Entry English Test to be introduced by Ms May. The report can be read on the Liberty website. The report concluded that the Pre Entry English Test breached ECHR Articles 8 and 14 as well as the UK Human Rights Act.
        Liberty asked to consult with the Home Office and were ignored. On 29 November 2010 Ms May introduced her Pre Entry English Test effective from 14 December 2010.
        Similarly the editorial team at the New Statesmen took the Life in the UK and fail. It was printed in the New Statesman the Life in the UK Test was designed as a ‘weapon against immigration and not a means of integration’. These tests do not apply to the NON EU spouses of EN nationals – but only the NON EU spouses of British nationals. Thus they are discriminatory and penalise only British citizens and their families!

      2. moderator why have you blocked my blog from allanledwith. Is it you don’t like the facts? The same facts are blogged on other websites no problem. All you do is show us how partisan you are and where your true interests lay. Now we know what is happening and you don’t believe in freedom of expression/ like the truth do you ?

  3. Brian Fenn,
    you make a good point about “no access to public funds ” and that was the case before Theresa May rules from 29.11.2010 . So it is just a red herring to deceive the UK public about the true reason for the new rules , namely to enhance Tory re-election prospects . On same theme , Damien Green’s false statement to Andrew Neil about “smattering of English” which went unchallenged but again said with aim of deceiving the UK public .

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