A new study out today finds that rules requiring a Brit to earn at least £18.600 to sponsor their foreign spouse have priced out some hardworking British citizens, including those in lower-earning parts of the UK, from being able to live with their spouse or partner.

The briefing, which draws on Office of National Statistics earnings data, reports that in 74 British parliamentary constituencies, less than 50% of employees have earnings at or above £18,600 per annum. £18,600 is considerably higher than the national minimum wage.

Constituents in 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 these regions.

Due to the significant differences in average earnings across the UK, someone living and working in Putney (London) is more than twice as likely to be able to meet the rules than a worker residing in Blackpool South.

Commenting, Ruth Grove-White, Policy Director at the Migrants Rights Network and author of the report said:

“This analysis shows that hardworking families outside London are bearing the brunt of the Government’s tough migration rules. Effectively, a price has been put on love – and those who don’t earn enough are facing indefinite separation from their husband or wife.

This is not just a problem in the immigration rules, it raises questions about the kind of society we want to be – one that respects the right of British citizens to live with their family or one that deems some too poor to have equal rights?”

Since their introduction in 2012 the family migration rules have affected thousands of families, primarily through the income trap. Almost 18.000 families are kept apart each year, including babies and young children indefinitely separated from a parent.

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