London: The British government is planning to
increase the minimum amount that UK nationals must earn before
being allowed to bring a dependent foreign spouse to live in
the country, a move that is not likely to go down well with
immigrants from countries like India.
Families wanting to bring spouses or relatives to the UK
also face the prospect of having to pay a bond of thousands of
pounds in case they end up claiming benefits, according to
media reports here today.
The new proposals are being considered by the Government
as it draws up plans to toughen rules on migrants from outside
the European Union (EU) who wish to settle in the country.
But the move is likely to prove controversial with
immigrant groups from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh where
arranged marriages remain a strong tradition and could be open
to challenge in courts for discriminating against couples on
About 50,000 visas were issued to family members of UK
citizens and those with permanent residence in 2010. A sample
of 500 found that 70 per cent of UK sponsors earned less than
20,000 pounds a year after tax.
In 2007 Labour outlined plans for UK families sponsoring
relatives visiting from outside EU to pay a 1,000 pounds bond
to ensure that they returned home and did not work illegally.
A similar plan was put forward in 2000. Both were shelved
after protests from immigrant communities.
The Government also intends to look at new measures to
crack down on forced marriages making it a specific offence to
force someone to marry.
A consultation on family visas ended last week and
ministers are hoping to introduce tougher conditions from
Spouses or partners entering the UK will have to spend
five rather than two years proving that their relationship is
genuine before being allowed to settle permanently.
As part of a "Mr and Mrs" test the couple will have to be
able to speak the same language, know each other`s
circumstances, have a shared set of facts about the
relationship, such as when they first met, and have definite
plans on the practicalities of living together in the UK.