UK Politics

Spouse migration rules 'unfair' to UK citizens, admits minister

UK Border Agency official Image copyright PA

Home Office Minister James Brokenshire has admitted UK-born citizens who want to bring their spouses into the UK from outside the EU are getting a raw deal.

Since 2012, only those who earn at least £18,600 a year can sponsor their non-European spouse's visa to ease the cost to taxpayers of migration.

But the rule does not apply to citizens of other EU countries who have settled in the UK.

Mr Brokenshire said he would make an effort to close the loophole.

Thousands of Britons have been unable to bring a non-EU spouse to the UK since July 2012, when the minimum earnings requirements were introduced.

When the policy was launched, the government said only British citizens, or those with refugee status, who earn at least £18,600 a year can sponsor their non-European spouse's visa.

This rises to £22,400 for families with a child, and a further £2,400 for each extra child.

But Home Affairs Committee chairman Keith Vaz said there was a loophole which had been highlighted by a constituent of his in Leicester East.

"Two people living in identical houses next to each other - one who happens to be British born or a person with indefinite leave tried to bring someone from India, they have got to show their £18,600," he said during a meeting on Tuesday.

"However, the next door neighbour who comes from Slovakia, who has settled in Leicester, and who wants to bring her spouse in, doesn't have to show that income. That's unfair isn't it?"

Mr Brokenshire said the Labour MP was "right to highlight" the issue and he planned to raise it with Britain's EU partners.

"I don't find that acceptable and it something that needs to be addressed," said the minister.

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