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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Athena Stavrou

How the new migration plan works and why foreign spouses could be told to leave UK

PA Archive

New plans announced by the Tory government on Monday will risk splitting up families living in the UK in a bid to slash migration.

The five-point plan unveiled by James Cleverly will aim to cut legal migration by 300,000 - but means Brits could see their foreign partners told to leave the country if they don’t earn enough.

No 10 said that households will now need to earn a minimum of £38,700 to qualify for a family visa, a significant increase on the current figure of £18,600.

Couples have been left distressed in light of the “disgusting” plan, which has been described as a tax on love.

However, Downing Street defended the policy, saying it was right that “if you are bringing someone into the country you are able to support them”.

But what exactly are the new plans? The Independent explains below:

Why are they being introduced?

The Government has justified the plans by saying net migration needs to be cut, after it soared to nearly three-quarters of a million in 2022.

They said the measures will end high numbers of dependents coming to the UK, increase the minimum salaries that overseas workers and British or settled people sponsoring family members must earn, and tackle exploitation across the immigration system.

James Cleverly also said the plans will make sure that migrants coming to the UK make a “fair financial contribution so that public services”.

What will change?

The plan will ban overseas students from bringing their families to the UK, unless they are on postgraduate research degrees.

Foreign care workers will also be stopped from bringing dependents into Britain following proposed reform to the health and social sare visa.

Controversially, those wishing to bring their spouse to the UK will now have to earn £38,700, a significant increase on the current figure of £18,600.

Foreign spouses already in the UK could be told to leave when their family visa is next up for renewal as the new minimum income for eligible households is also increased to £38,700.

The government will also increase the earning threshold for overseas workers by nearly 50% from £26,200 to £38,700 and the shortage occupation list will be overhauled to end a 20 per cent salary discount

Official figures from April show the median gross annual earnings for full-time employees in the UK was £34,963.

The changes are due to come into effect in spring and will apply when existing visas for foreign spouses come up for renewal.

What reaction has there been?

The plan has been met with backlash from both politicians and Brits affected by the changes.

Former Tory minister Gavin Barwell said it was “both morally wrong and unconservative to say that only the wealthiest can fall in love, marry someone and then bring them to the UK”.

Martha Cullen Close with her boyfriend Ysmael Paredes
— (Martha Cullen Close /PA Wire)

A British student said she is now considering leaving the UK because the government’s plan would prevent her boyfriend from moving to live with her.

Martha Cullen Close, 21, who is studying Hispanic law at Leeds University, said: “Obviously, that’s not my ideal situation. I don’t want to do that. I want to be able to work and live in England, but I can’t.”

The prime minister’s spokesperson defended the plans on Tuesday: “The family immigration rules contain a provision for exceptional circumstances where there would be unjustifiably harsh consequences for the applicant, their partner, a relevant child or another family member if their application were to be refused.”

No examples were given and the spokesperson said applications would be considered on a “case-by-case basis”.

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