London: A key UK Home Office committee has recommended setting a higher salary limit for British citizens and residents who wish to sponsor Indian and other non-EU citizens to come and live here as spouses or family members.
Called the 'family route' of migration, Home Office figures show that it is used the most to bring in people from India and Pakistan.
Just over one-quarter of the total visas granted 2010 in the spouse/partner category came from India and Pakistan.
Setting the higher income limit will mean that many people will not qualify to sponsor Indian and other non-EU spouses, as the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) on Wednesday indicated.
The MAC's recommendations are usually accepted and implemented by the Home Office.
The proposal is part of the David Cameron government's efforts to ensure that sponsors are able to meet the expenses of their non-EU spouses/partners, and that they do not become a burden on the state's finances.
The MAC recommended that the salary threshold for British citizens and residents allowed to sponsor non-EU citizens be raised from the current 5,500 pounds after tax per year to a figure between 18,600 and 25,700 pounds per year.
A salary threshold of 18,600 pounds per year would reduce settlement through the family route by 45 percent, the MAC estimates. A minimum of 25,700 pounds per year would reduce it by 63 percent.
Chairman of the MAC, David Metcalf, said: "The current threshold of 5,500 pounds seems low considering the government's desire to ensure new migrants settling in the UK are not a burden on the state."
He added: "Our recommendations are made on a purely economic basis and we recognise that family migration is not determined by economics alone.
However our analysis suggests there is justification for raising the pay threshold."
In 2010, 3,940 visas were granted to Indian citizens under the spouses/partner category, which amounted to 10 percent of the total visas under the category.
Pakistan accounted for 16 percent, with 6,460 visas.
After Pakistan and India, the United States is the third most heavily represented nationality for visas under the spouses/partner category, followed by Nepal, Bangladesh and Thailand, official figures show.
First Published: Wednesday, November 16, 2011, 21:49