Exile or Family Breakup
Last week in our American History lesson about the American Constitution I asked my children to make a list of 5 to 10 rules they would have if they were president of a new country. My son’s were slightly comical and a tiny bit rude, but were overall quite good. My daughter’s were very sensible and quite detailed. Number 9 on her list out of 10 states: “Everyone is allowed to move to a different country if they wish to”. She went on to explain that people should be free to stay in the country of their birth but also be able to move away somewhere else if they need or want to (just like her mother did).
OK so that’s from a 9 year old British, half American child whose world view is of innocence, fun, love and goodness.
What about when seen through the eyes of an adult, a politician? From July 9th, 2012 rule changes on family migration to the UK from non EU countries came into effect with one of the key changes being that the new requirement to sponsor a spouse is an annual income of £18,600 before tax (and property, assets and savings cannot be counted). And it’s higher if there are children. Another change is that the probationary period has increased from 2 to 5 years to prove genuineness of the marriage and applicants must pass a British language test before they move to the UK.
WOW. What is going on here??? What is wrong with these British politicians? Clearly they want to lock-down Britain and prevent non Brits from moving here to create a life with their British husband or wife, living here and contributing to the British economy. One of the purposes of this new legislation is to decrease the potential for non EU persons living here and claiming State benefits. Well from my point of view and from what I’ve seen in reality, the majority of people claiming State benefits are Brits! When I applied for permanent residency, my husband was not earning more than £18,600 before tax so I guess I wouldn’t have been able to stay here and contribute to the British economy.
In an article in The Independent, Isabella Sankey, of Liberty (National Council for Civil Liberties) was quoted saying “While a good command of English is clearly beneficial for someone settling in the UK with their partner or spouse, making this a prerequisite to entering the country is disgraceful. What happens to the happily married British citizen with a non English-speaking spouse who returns from abroad to care for elderly parents? Surely a common-sense approach would acknowledge how much easier it is to learn English once in the UK.”
A final thought, taken from a blog by Sarah Plaka “We are now looking at a future where low earners – often recent graduates, non-Londoners, young people and women – are forced into exile if they wish to remain married to a non-EU citizen.”
And here are some current headlines:
UK immigration laws spark Pakistan wedding boom
New immigration clampdown
Stark choice under new immigration rules: exile or family breakup
Immigrants to face English language test
What do you think about all this and will you be effected by these new family migration rules? I know many people who follow this blog live outside the UK and are either British nationals yourselves or are married to British nationals. Will this effect your cross-cultural family?
And by the way, my 9 year old daughter is outraged by this.