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Government Reduces Salary Thresholds For Foreign Spouses

Rishi Sunak (Alamy)

3 min read

The Government has watered down on its plans to increase salary thresholds for foreign spouse visas, cutting the newly proposed fee by almost £10,000.

The Home Office confirmed further details of new migration plans on Thursday which showed that while the Minimum Income Requirement (MIR) on the family migration route would ultimately increase to £38,700, as had already been announced, in initial stages the threshold would only rise to £29,000. The current threshold is £18,600. 

Government had not previously said that the policy, expected to come into effect in Spring 2024, would be introduced incrementally, and a timeframe has not been given for when it will reach the full amount. 

Since the announcement earlier this month, Government has faced criticism from across political parties that the policy would have a hugely detrimental effect on families. 

One Conservative MP told PoliticsHome on Thursday the original policy risked making the party look opposed to "love", and said they were particularly concerned about the impact it could have on members of the armed forces who met their partners while serving overseas. 

Earlier today, PoliticsHome reported that the Liberal Democrats vowed to fight the Government's plans with the party warning that it is already having "devastating" consequences for "countless" families.

Alistair Carmichael MP, the party's home affairs spokesperson, said wedding plans had already been "thrown into disarray" as a result of the new policy, and that people were being forced to consider leaving the UK in order to be with their families.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Home Secretary James Cleverly came under pressure from Conservative MPs to reduce immigration and tighten the rules after net migration soared. The increase is believed to have been caused by new post-Brexit rules which have made it easier for international students and foreign care workers from outside the EU to come to the UK. 

Sunak has previously said legal migration was "too high" and claimed his Government was taking "radical" action to reduce the numbers.

Increasing the wage threshold for spouses was at the front and centre of his plan to cut net migration, along with banning overseas students from bringing their families to the UK unless they were on postgraduate research courses. 

Lord Garvin Barwell, a former Tory MP who was chief of staff to ex-prime minister Theresa May, said it was “morally wrong and unconservative to say that only the wealthiest can fall in love, marry someone and then bring them to the UK”.

In response to the government's update, Carmichael said the original policy idea had always been "unworkable" and was a "half thought through idea" to satisfy right-wing Tory MPs.

"James Cleverly needs to put down the spade and stop digging. Decisions like this should be made by experts and politicians working together," he said.

"He should also publish the advice from the Treasury and OBR about the impact that his package of changes will have on the economy.” 

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