Family visit visas: The emerging crisis for Brits affected by the minimum income requirement

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This Christmas, many British people will remain separated from their loved ones as a result of new immigration rules. The inability to obtain even a short term visitor visa means that hundreds of families won’t have the chance to spend the holidays together.

A new briefing from the Migrants Rights Network draws on evidence from over 60 families to show that overseas partners from a wide range of countries, including Commonwealth and US citizens, have been prevented from visiting family members in the UK since July 2012.

theresa mayyAmong the findings of the briefing are:
Refusal of a visit visa has prevented some non-EU partners from attending important family occasions in the UK, including funerals and the birth of their children.
In a small number of cases, American and Canadian partners (who do not require a visit visa for the UK) have been placed in immigration detention upon arrival, before being removed.
Over half of the families who reported their circumstances to MRN involved non-EU partners who had been unable to secure a spouse visa as a result of the £18,600 income requirement.

Ruth Grove-White, policy director of the Migrants Rights Network, said: “As if the £18,600 income requirement introduced in 2012 wasn’t bad enough, it now seems that some Brits aren’t even being allowed to see their husband or wife for a short visit in the UK. This is yet another injustice for families who are being unfairly separated as a result of the new rules”.

There has been a sharp decline in the number of entry clearance visas granted to non-EU partners for temporary residence or immediate settlement in the UK since July 2012. Non-EU partner entry clearance visa grants fell from 32,764 in the year ending September 2012 to 24,665 in the year ending September 2013 – a drop of 8,099 (25%).

Case study 1:
David lives in Wales. Dee, his wife of six years, is a Canadian national who is seeking to live with him and his daughter in the UK. Dee made a spouse visa application in March 2013, but withdrew her application as she needed her documents for a family wedding.

Dee decided to visit David in the UK instead and, as a Canadian national, she didn’t need a visa to visit him in the UK. However, when she arrived at Gatwick in October 2013, Dee was questioned by immigration officers, who did not believe that she would leave if she entered as a visitor. After holding Dee in an immigration detention centre for 48 hours, she was returned to Canada.

Case study 2:
Rosie, a British citizen, married Hasan, a Turkish citizen, in Turkey in 2012. Rosie became pregnant and returned home to the UK, intending that Hasan would soon join her, but because of the new rules he couldn’t.

The couple is now expecting another baby in early 2014 and Hasan recently applied for a UK visit visa to be with Rosie and her family during the birth of their child. Hasan was told that he was considered at high risk of overstaying his visit visa in the UK, and his application was refused. Hasan will now miss the birth of his second child.

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