London: In a move bound to create ripples,
Britain today announced a shift of focus in its immigration
policy which now seeks to welcome only those Indian and other
non-EU immigrants "who add to the quality of life" barring
others with a low income potential.
Two proposals outlined in a major speech by Immigration
Minister Damian Green are likely to affect Indian
professionals and migrants.
The government has already announced its intention to
scrap the Post-Study Work visa for non-EU students, which has
been popular among Indians.
Non-EU professionals whose annual income at the end of
mandatory five years work and stay in the UK is less than
31,000 pounds will need to return to their countries of
Only those with an income higher than this will be allowed
to stay here permanently.
Secondly, British citizens and residents who seek to marry
foreign spouses need to show an annual income of around 25,000
pounds before they can bring their spouses here.
The objective is to stop such foreign spouses seeking
financial support from the state.
The speech has already come under fire for allegedly
focussing on "wealthy immigrants", and preventing young
Britons with origins in the Indian sub-continent with limited
income from marrying spouses from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh
and other countries.
In the speech at Police Exchange think-tank, Green said he
wanted to build a "national consensus" around immigration,
adding: "Importing economic dependency on the state is
"Bringing people to this country who can play no role in
the life of this country is equally unacceptable".
He said he wanted anyone moving to the UK to join a
British spouse "to be able to integrate and be independent",
which was why a requirement to speak English was being
He said he was also proposing to set a minimum income
level for any sponsor seeking to bring in a foreign spouse.
The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants said
placing an income level before bringing foreign spouses would
be "hammer blow to the human rights of cross border partners
and their families".
Chief executive Habib Rahman said: "They`ve already been
hit with an age minimum (although we defeated that), language
requirements and ever increasing visa fees.
"Now they face what is likely to be an unreasonably high
income threshold. One might argue that this government has it
in for poor people who fall in love with anyone who`s not
resident in the UK".
Speaking to the BBC before delivering the speech, Green
said he wanted "to be much more intelligently selective about
who we let come here", and that anyone individual seeking
permanent settlement should be able to command an annual
salary of between 31,000 pounds and 49,000 pounds.
He said: "We need to know that you`re not going to be
living off benefits from day one of arriving here.
"We want people either to fill skill gaps we may have...
[or] we want to know that they are being offered jobs that are
genuinely at a skill level".
Green added: "Similarly with students, we want to make
sure that they are genuine student studying genuine courses at
a genuine institution".