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The Home Office has this week announced a major immigration clampdown on family migration. From 9 July 2012, if you want to marry a foreigner (non-EEA European Economic Area nationality) and live in the UK together you must earn £18,600. 

The UK Home Secretary Theresa May has announced a new immigration clampdown this time on British citizens who marry foreigners.

Under the proposed changes Brits who want to marry a non-EU citizen will have to be earning at least £18,600 a year if they want to bring their spouse to live with them in the UK. 

In cases where the foreign-born spouse has children, their British partner would have to earn £22,400 or more, plus £2,400 for each additional children.

The government wants to change the immigration rules to prevent lower-paid Britons from bringing in husbands or wives who will effectively be dependant on state benefits as soon as they arrive in the UK. 

The new measures could force some Brits to emigrate if they wanted to live with a loved one from overseas.

Speaking on BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, the British home secretary said: 

“I think it is important that if people are bringing people into the UK to create a family here in the UK that we say that you should be able to support yourselves and not be reliant on the state.”

Conservative MPs welcomed the move but opposition Labour Party spokesman Chris Bryant said: 

“These new measures have more to do with Theresa May’s abject failure to live up to her promise to cut immigration than fairness. 

“It seems very unfair that a poor British man or woman can fall in love with someone from America or Thailand and be prevented from getting married and making a home here, while a rich person can.” 

Bryant said that a better way to deal with the problem would be to insist that Britons who marry foreigners and settle here provide a bond worth ‘a substantial sum’. 

Although Mr Bryant did not explain how someone earning less than £18,600, or £10 per hour, would be able to come up with a substantial amount of money or how such a scheme would be administered. 

The minimum probationary period for settlement for non-EEA spouses and partners will be extended from two years to five years, to ‘test the genuineness of the relationship’.

The government has pledged to slash immigration from the hundreds to tens of thousands. 

International students and Tier 2 work permit holders have been already targeted and those sponsoring family members and partners are next on the list.

Cynthia Barker, of Immigration Advisers Bison Management, has dealt with thousands of dependant visa applications and appeals and feels the new rules will mostly exclude first generation migrant workers who usually earn lower wages than similarly qualified native workers.

‘The rules will particularly hit Senior Carers and some Nurses earning less than £9.00 per hour who want their partners and children to join them in the UK. 

‘Traditionally, one family member will emigrate to the UK on a work permit and get established with a secure job and housing before applying for their dependants to join them. 

‘But after years of working and paying taxes without ever claiming benefits they could find that they can no longer sponsor dependants because of this new rule.’ 

Cynthia’s advice to those who wish to sponsor their dependants is to ‘act sooner rather than later’.

The government will be unable to prevent those marrying EU citizens from applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) and settling in the UK under EEA Rules.

Theresa May is already on a collision course with the judges over the rights of foreign prisoners and visa overstayers to avoid deportation on Human Rights grounds, such as a right to a family life.

Last week May said she would bring in primary legislation if judges failed to implement new rules and guidelines expected to be introduced.

Hundreds of people on student visas, some of whom have overstayed their visas, have managed to stay in the UK because they had established a ‘family life’ or relationship in the UK.

See also: 

New appeal regulations on family visit visa confirmed


UK Home Secretary heading for Human Rights showdown with Judges

Visa and Immigration Appeals on the increase

Full right of appeal removed for UK family visit visa

If you need any immigration advice on applying for or renewing visas, sponsoring dependants, or have been served with a removal or deportation order, or need advice on an appeal against a refusal please email: or visit

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