UK income threshold plan for British-French families called ‘cruel’

People who left the UK to live in France may not be able to return with their family if British visa minimum income levels double, says campaigner

The minimum income for a UK ‘family visa’ is set to rise from £18,600 to £38,700; Clarissa Killwick, from Brexpats Hear Our Voice, says increase is unjustified
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Plans to more than double the income levels required for foreign family members of British citizens will affect British-French couples looking to live in the UK and have been called “cruel and short-sighted”.

Savings can help reach threshold

The income needed for a ‘family visa’ is set to rise from £18,600 to £38,700.

The £38,700 threshold would also apply to foreigners wanting to work in the UK. They currently need £26,200, which has already stopped many lower earners.

Savings can help, including those of the spouse, if over £16,000: a family needs £16,000, plus £2.50 in savings for every £1 that their income is below the threshold.

The threshold rises if there are non-British children.

Visa fees and a health surcharge, amounting to several thousand pounds extra, are also payable.

Read more: UK’s new immigration plan would bar many UK-French families

Regular income like rents or pensions can be considered

For work income to be considered, a Briton would need to move back first and find work, or obtain a UK job offer.

Their EU spouse would then apply for a visa to join them and only UK work income can be taken into account.

Other forms of regular income, such as rents or pensions – including those belonging to the foreign partner – can be considered.

There are rare circumstances allowing some flexibility where the effects would be “unjustifiably harsh” but a UK immigration expert said they are marginal and alternative means of support, such as from other family in the UK, are usually required.

‘Who will care for elderly relatives or grandchildren?’

Clarissa Killwick, a spokeswoman for Brexpats Hear Our Voice, a large support and campaign group for Britons in the EU, said: “They haven’t justified such an enormous increase.

“It just goes to highlight how we were protected when we were in the EU, as this minimum income requirement has existed [previously for non-EU family members] since about 2012. It’s a cruel policy and it’s the UK punishing its own people.

“People left the UK with a set of rights and things have now changed and a lot can’t go back. It is short-sighted as people may want to go back to care for their elderly relatives or look after grandchildren, and if they can’t, then who will do it instead?”

‘Income requirement ensures families are self-sufficient’

A UK Home Office spokesman said the current levels of immigration are too high, and it is necessary to “decisively” cut this.

“We have a long-standing principle that anyone bringing dependants to live in the UK must be able to financially support them,” he said.

“The minimum income requirement ensures families are self-sufficient and do not need public funds.”

Government sources say it is possible for a Briton’s spouse to come under another kind of visa if they qualify. Then, if they are in the UK with permission to work, their work income can be accounted for in considering a swap to a family visa.

UK net migration has climbed significantly in recent years, though net migration from the EU last year was negative.

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