The Herald in Scotland reports on a story of an American, Mr Whiteley who has a degree in astrophysics from the University of St Andrews, and his British management graduate wife who will have problems returning to the UK as a couple because they do not meet the minimum income requirements. “Welcome the club” I hear you say.
The couple have been travelling since graduating this summer, but when they return to the UK in January Mr Whitely is likely to be denied entry because he is a US citizen and his student visa has expired. Even though he is legally married to a UK Citizen and intending to settle in Scotland, new UK immigration rules mean he cannot live in the UK unless the couple have an income of at least £18,600 a year.
Last October another US citizen, Dr Andrew Wilbur, and his Scots wife were forced to leave the country because they also failed to meet the threshold in the 12 months before application. At the time Mr Wilbur was studying for a PhD in human geography at Glasgow University and his wife’s employment was interrupted by family illness.
The cap on non-EU migrants settling in the UK was brought in by the Coalition at Westminster, led by Conservatives who were elected on a pledge to crack down on immigration and reduce net migration to the ‘tens of thousands’ by 2015.
The minimum income test is designed to reduce non-EU immigration and ensure those who arrive in the UK benefit the economy. But like hundreds of thousands of foreign students, Mr Whiteley and Dr Wilbur have already made a financial contribution through university fees and accommodation and living costs.
Mr Whitely paid £70,000 for his tuition, spent £16,000 on accommodation and also contributed £5000 in tax and National Insurance.
Tough new Immigration Rules on spouses were partly designed to deter marriages of convenience which are in no-one’s interest; unfortunately for couples such as the Whiteleys and the Wilburs, they have been caught by a policy which makes no allowance for young people starting out on their careers. The result is that decent working families are being torn apart.
The Herald argues that Westminster’s policies are not in the interests of a country like Scotland that needs talented migrants to settle here. Last week the latest census figures showed that although the Scottish population is at a record level, it is rapidly ageing, and the increase in the birth rate in the last few years is due to new migrants.
That was the rationale behind the Fresh Talent initiative, introduced by the previous Labour-LibDem administration in Scotland to persuade students to stay on after graduation and use their talents in this country. As The Herald has argued consistently, a one-size-fits-all immigration policy does not work when the conditions in Scotland are very different from those in the south of England. The cases of the Wilburs and the Whiteleys are examples of a policy that is not only unfair but sends out entirely the wrong message to the rest of the world.
Immigration Matters would agree with the Herald, but add that the rest of the UK also needs talented graduates who have the potential to earn far larger salaries than £18,600 and pay hundreds of thousands of pounds in tax and NI over their working lives. As Vince Cable’s wife said last week: Britain needs immigration.
Immigration Adviser Cynthia Barker has already seen cases where families are being forced to live apart.
” I’ve seen many examples of the unfairness of this blunt policy, such as a couple returning to the UK after the British citizen has lost their job or simply come to the end of a contract abroad.
“Under the new Rules, which will be the subject of a human rights immigration and High Court appeal in the near future, they cannot return to the British citizen’s home country and live as a couple.”
“But the real unfairness lies in the fact that a European EEA national can bring his or her non-EU spouse or partner into the UK without jumping through any of these ‘minimum income’ hoops – and there is nothing the British Government can do about it.”
If you have been detained, need any immigration advice or are worried about the new immigration rules or need help with Sponsorship or Tier 2, Tier 4, applying for university if your college has closed down, Visa, ILR, Settlement, Citizenship, Dependant Visa or an appeal against a UK Border Agency or British Embassy refusal, or if you have been waiting for a reply from the Home Office for longer than a year, please email:
Related Immigration Articles: