Theresa May, imposed a new requirement that anyone wanting to bring a spouse and any children to the UK needed to earn a minimum of £18,600 a year. The policy was designed to ensure that family members brought to the UK did not become a burden on taxpayers, labelling their partner a “sponsor” who would, by their own earnings, pay for any benefits they qualified for.
As we head into a general election in which immigration numbers will play a key part, the Prime Minister will be attempting to paint this as one of her crowning achievements. But the policy simply doesn’t work.
First, it doesn’t make any practical sense. Migrants from outside the EU, children or spouses included, are not entitled to any public benefits. “Sponsoring” them to compensate taxpayers makes little sense; it is a cheap gimmick to fool those who have little understanding of our immigrants and benefits system. I should know. I am an immigrant, and my visa is incredibly clear: I am entitled to nothing.
The second problem is that this policy does not account for the wealth of an incoming spouse. If one worker earning £18,600 or more is sufficient to guarantee their family will put no further stress on the UK’s public services, why must that worker be British? If someone from the UK married a non-citizen as wealthy as Donald Trump, they are still considered a drain on the state. It’s a meaningless test of self-sufficiency.
The flaws in this policy have created real hardships for many British citizens who are married or have children with non-UK national
The Government claims its policy is necessary to address a public interest in reducing net migration. And that long-promised reduction is happening because these inhumane rules are forcing British citizens and their families out. Net migration figures are down by 49,000, but 54,000 extra British citizens chose to leave the UK. Is Theresa May really “getting it right” on immigration?
The Government is clearly desperate to reduce net migration and the public supports this general aim. But breaking up families and putting vulnerable women and children at risk is no way to improve public confidence in the Government or the Home Office and its ability to manage our borders.
Our immigration policies should support British citizens, not encourage more of them to leave their country and their Government behind. Theresa May, now is your chance to prove that you’re listening.