UKBA announces new consultation on family migration

On 13th July, the Government launched another consultation on restricting immigration, this time family immigration.

The proposals in the “Family migration consultation” are presented as aiming at “preventing and tackling abuse, promoting integration and reducing burdens on the taxpayer”…and at delivering “better migration, which is fair to applicants, local communities and the taxpayer.”

However, many will not share the government’s definition of “fairness” and “better migration”.

(CC) Image: Tricia Wang/Flickr

The proposed changes would affect various forms of family migration into the UK:

Those of non-European nationals wanting to come, stay in or settle in the UK as fiancees, proposed civil partners, spouses, civil partners, unmarried or same-sex partners, dependent children and adult and elderly dependent relatives of a British citizen or a person settled here.

The proposals would also affect family members of workers and students under the Points based system, family members of refugees as well as family visitors.

Migrants’ Rights Network provides an overview of the key proposals:

  • Introduce a new definition of what a ‘genuine and continuing relationship’ is. This will likely introduce new testing for couples, and could include a new ‘attachment requirement’ similar to that in Denmark – and likely to prove extremely controversial here. This would mean that couples would need to show that their combined attachment to the UK is greater than that to any other country, before being granted a visa or leave to remain based on their relationship.
  • Make it more lengthy and difficult for spouses and partners – and Points Based System dependents – to apply for settlement here. In particular the government proposes extending the time before spouses and partners, and PBS dependents, can apply for settlement from 2 years to 5 years. This would effectively postpone their access to non-contributory benefits by three additional years. A new tougher national minimum income threshold could also be introduced for sponsors of spouses and partners, as well as an increase in the language requirement to B1 level, for spouses and adult dependents under the Points Based System at the point of applying for settlement.
  • New measures to tackle sham and forced marriages. Measures under consideration include a possible combination of the role and functions of registrars and UKBA in the future and introduction of new powers for the UKBA to delay suspected sham marriages whilst they are investigated. Current UKBA interview arrangements for sponsors will also be reviewed, with a view to reducing forced marriages.
  • Restrictions on other family members, in particular dependent children and adult and elderly dependent relatives. In particular the government is considering a new minimum income threshold for sponsors of dependent children. Indefinite leave to enter for adult dependents and those aged 65 or over may be ended – it would be replaced by a new 5 year probationary period after which adult dependents would be expected to meet a B1 language threshold in order to apply to settle here. Both dependents aged 16 or 17 and adult dependents aged 65 or over may have to meet a basic A1 English language threshold when applying to enter the UK.
  • Consider restricting the right of appeal under family visit visas, in certain circumstances.
  • ‘Opening debate’ on Article 8, in particular how to manage ‘the balance between the individual’s right to respect for pricate and family life and the wider public interest in protecting the public and controlling immigration’. (Read more about this on Don’s recent blog here.)

 

You can find the full consultation paper here (UKBA Website).

Deadline for consultation responses is 6th Oct 2011. Voice your concerns loud and clear!