After the fiasco of the raised age limit for non-EU spouses (it was set at 21, ostensibly to prevent forced marriage), which was struck down by the courts on human rights grounds, the Government have proposed yet another social engineering measure that tells British citizens who they can and can’t marry. This time, they will be requiring the British partner to have an annual income of at least £25,700 (more if the foreign spouse has children). As the report says:
Immigration welfare campaigners say that the move will exclude two-thirds of British people – those who have a minimum gross income of under £25,700 a year – from living in the UK as a couple if they marry a non-EU national. They estimate that between 45% and 60% of the 53,000 family visas currently issued each year could fall foul of the new rules.
Ministers have also been considering extending the probationary period for overseas spouses and partners of British citizens from two to five years and introducing an “attachment test” to show that the “combined attachment” of the couple is greater to Britain than any other country.
The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants has published a page attacking the new policies, including a dossier of case studies (PDF) in which shows how people will be adversely affected by the changes, with parents of British children being forced to live abroad and children in some cases ending up in orphanages. The government also wants to block the use of the Article 8 exemption for convicted foreign nationals facing deportations to “rare and exceptional cases”, meaning that their British family will be forced to move abroad if they are to remain a family.
The Daily Mail’s version of the story (which underestimates the necessary salary at £20,000) claims that the new rules “are designed primarily to combat claims that some foreigners are marrying Britons to take advantage of the UK’s generous welfare system” (as if most British people want to be used as someone’s ticket into the country). This sounds like a preposterous reason to change the marriage visa rules. There are two major complaints about the supposed ease of getting a marriage visa: one being that foreigners enter into bogus marriages so as to settle in the UK, not necessarily to use the welfare system (a fairly easy scam to detect), the second being that too many Asians marry people from the village back home, leading to generations who are brought up isolated from “mainstream” (i.e. white) society and do not speak English. This is blamed for every social ill associated with that community: terrorism, riots, poor educational achievement, and latterly the grooming and sexual abuse of young white girls.
Currently, no such rules affect people bringing spouses from other parts of the EU, many of which are much poorer than some countries outside it, such as the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, all of which (except the USA) have welfare systems, so people have no more need to come here to “sponge off the state” than EU nationals do. These countries are included simply because it would be impossible for the government to legislate specifically for India and Pakistan, and people originating from those places, without giving rise to accusations of racism. But these must realistically be the biggest single group of people bringing in spouses from outside the EU — they cannot be middle-aged white men bringing in Thai brides. However, we live in an interconnected age in which people are better able to form relationships with people in other countries than they were 20 years ago, and not everyone who has access to the Internet, and who can afford to travel, earns £25,000. And British people mostly speak English, and most English speakers outside the UK live outside the EU.
It does appear obvious that the target for this is the Asian community, and specifically the working-class element of it — the bit about demonstrating attachment to this country makes that obvious. There is, however, no reason why any other British citizen who has genuinely formed a relationship with a foreign national and wants to marry them and settle down in this country should be prevented from doing so, unless the Government actually wants to force working-class British citizens who marry foreign nationals out of the country (not inconceivable given the likely electoral results). It is yet another unjust, media-targeted immigration clampdown and should be exposed as such and resisted by all means necessary.
Image source: Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants.
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