UK immigration rules “discriminate against the working class”


Thousands of British families will be kept apart after a court ruled that tough new immigration rules requiring a minimum income are “lawful.”

The rules, introduced in 2012, require British citizens to earn at least £18,600 (US$ 32,000) a year to bring a non-EU spouse to live with them in the UK.

Campaigners say the rules discriminate against low-paid workers, as almost half of all working people in the UK do not earn enough money to meet the requirements.

People in full-time employment on the national minimum wage receive around £13,124 (US$ 22,500) per year, falling far short of the requirements.

Last year, a High Court judgment found the rules to be “an unjustified and disproportionate interference with a genuine spousal relationship" and suggested £13,400 (US$23,000) as a more appropriate benchmark.

Three judges have now found in the government’s favour after its appeal against the High Court judgment. The government said it was “delighted” by the ruling.

According to a report by the Migrants’ Right Network, 47 per cent of British employees earn less than £18,600. The report, Pricing UK workers out of a family life, also said that the right to a family life is “subject to a postcode lottery”.

It showed that workers in parts of the north-west and south-west of England, as well as across Wales, are particularly likely to be affected due to lower than average earnings in those areas.

Ruth Grove-White, policy director at the Migrants Rights Network, told Equal Times: “Many UK residents and British citizens have had their lives put on hold for over a year, often with no chance of seeing their loved husbands, wives or children during that time.”

“These rules are a shocking infringement of the right to family life, as almost half of the UK working population earns below the required amount."

Gary Smith, who earns around £17,500 (US$30,000) as a refuse collector for a local council in Yorkshire, told the local press about his battle to bring his Cambodian wife and their four-year-old daughter home to the UK.

“This is destroying my family. I haven’t seen my daughter for a year. How do you tell a four-year-old that she can’t come over because we can’t get a visa?”

He said the salary requirement is “unfair” and “discriminates against the working class.”

“That goal’s unattainable for me. They’re out of touch, with that amount of money.”



The American wife of a British man told Equal Times she was “devastated” by the ruling that they are to be kept apart because her husband, a public sector employee, earns less than the required amount.

“If my husband was making the income the government’s own careers website says he could expect, I would be allowed a visa to come and live in the UK,” she said.

“I’m a university graduate, with a respectable CV and many skills, and I would be happy to pay taxes and contribute to a country that I have come to love.”

If her husband can’t find a better-paying job in the UK, his only option, she says, would be “to move to continental Europe, pay taxes there, and get a visa to bring me over.”

“The rest of the EU have much more reasonable and sympathetic rules. Perhaps they realise that families are being torn apart by the current laws in the United Kingdom,” she said.

The current or expected salary of the spouse hoping to come to Britain can’t be used to meet the requirements, and neither can financial support from friends and family, though this is possible in other visa categories.

Only those who can show they have savings of £62,500 (US$ 108,000) for six months are exempt from the rule.

Responding to the Court of Appeal’s judgment, Immigration and Security Minister James Brokenshire said: “I am delighted that the Court of Appeal has comprehensively upheld the lawfulness of this important policy.”

“We welcome those who wish to make a life in the UK with their family, work hard and make a contribution, but family life must not be established in the UK at the taxpayer’s expense and family migrants must be able to integrate.”

In an all-party parliamentary group report on an inquiry into the rules last year, MPs, peers and children’s commissioners called for an immediate review.

Baroness Hamwee, chairwoman of the inquiry committee, said the group had been "struck by the evidence showing just how many British people have been kept apart from partners, children and elderly relatives".

"These rules are causing anguish for families and, counter to their original objectives, may actually be costing the public purse," she said.

Following the ruling, the Migrants Right Network said it will keep fighting for the families affected.