Skip to content

16 April 2024

Tightening the screws – making the UK even more welcoming

4 mins

Following her thoughts on the Skilled Worker changes which took effect on 4 April, Head of the Business Immigration Team at Bindmans, Tanya Goldfarb, comments on yet more restrictions being imposed by the government on visa holders – this time aimed at the family members of British Citizens.

Not satisfied with attacking the British economy through unsustainable and unconscionable salary threshold increases for businesses which sponsor overseas nationals to work in the UK, as well as demonising them as “cheap labour”, last week the government surpassed itself in using further hostile and inflammatory language as it sets to tear families apart.

Following the introduction of the first tranche of the new Minimum Income Requirement for family visa applications, on 11 April, the Home Secretary released a statement promising to deliver a system which “ensure(s) those arriving here do not burden the taxpayer.” Citing the government’s ongoing desire to reduce so-called net migration figures and reduce “unsustainable and unfair levels of migration”, these measures do little else except penalise British citizens and their non-British family members and exacerbate the disastrous roadmap that the UK has been heading down since Brexit.  

In claiming that the government is protecting British Citizens from “subsidising” overseas family visa applications, the Home Secretary’s statement disregards the visa fees and the health surcharge that applicants must pay, which ensure that British tax payers do not foot the bill! It also disregards the point: many of these overseas family members are joining British citizens who are themselves tax payers and voters and who find that the government do not support their right to family life. It also once again ignores the enormous and direct economic, social and community building benefits and contributions that the family members of British Citizens (and those with settled status in the UK) bring to the UK.  

The Home Secretary went on to declare that the government has “acted to cut unsustainable numbers, to protect British workers and their wages, to ensure those bringing family to the UK do not burden taxpayers, and to build an immigration system fit for the future – and one the public can rightly have confidence in” and that “migrants joining their family must integrate into society and play a full part in British life”.

Tanya comments:

The use of such pejorative and populist language only serves to demonstrate that the government systematically seeks to undermine the core of what a democracy represents. It seems that the government is content to characterise the family life of many of its citizens as being a burden on tax payers.  Is it a divisive approach to its citizens and all our rights to enjoy family life with our family whatever their nationality? It fails to understand and embrace the advantages and assets that overseas nationals – whether sponsored workers, students, entrepreneurs or family members – bestow to the UK.

The new Minimum Income Requirement (MIR) threshold (rising in three increments over a period of nine months or so from April 2024), up from £18,600pa to £38,700pa, not only disregards regional and sector salary variations but will also disproportionately impact women and minority applicants and their families.  The initial MIR increase raised the current threshold to £29,000pa – with idealistic anticipation it is hoped that a new government in the Autumn will abolish the future MIR increases; attempt to reverse the damage the new sponsored worker salary thresholds will wreak; bring back the ability of students to be accompanied by their dependents when attending university in the UK and keep the Graduate visa route in place (currently under review).

This lawyer can but dream and continue to lobby the government for sensible immigration policies and an immigration system fit for purpose.

For more information on our immigration services for individuals click here.

For information on our immigration services for businesses, please see here.

How can we help you?

We are here to help. If you have any questions for us, please get in touch below.