Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The UK's Spouse Visa Regulations: the Conservatives at their worst

The government's rules on granting visas to non-EU spouses of British citizens seem to sum up pretty well all the negative aspects of the Conservative government.

An article in "The Guardian" returns to this sore issue, reminding us of what low depths that the Tories are capable of sinking of when dealing with their own people. The rules are so stringent, they make The UK's rules comparable with the immigration rules of some of the worst authoritarian regimes. Worse, they effectively make British people who wish to marry anyone from outside the EU (which obviously includes The USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand) exiles from their own country, simply for implementing a basic human right, unless they are wealthy.

Why were these new laws introduced in the first place? The official reason is to reduce "benefit fraud" and foreigners "living off the state", as part of Cameron's impossible-to-achieve "pledge" to reduce annual immigration to the "tens of thousands" (more on Cameron's broken promises here). But the rules now applied are more stringent (and nonsensical) than those in The USA or even Australia. The general consensus is that the rules that prohibit Briton's earning less than approx. £18,000 from bringing their spouses to The UK are really designed to reduce the disproportionate number of Brits of Pakistani and Indian descent from bringing over their cousins in arranged marriages from the subcontinent. That, and to discourage the perceived problem of Brits marrying "brides-to-order" (for want of a less un-PC phrase) from places like the Far East and the former Soviet Union.

Whatever the motivation for these changes, this rule is really about appeasing the Conservatives' party base, as well as the instincts of "The Daily Mail", when it comes to immigration. The facts of the matter are irrelevant; it's the perception of "a problem" that counts.

A system designed to destroy the family

Apart from the financial limits to the rules, there are other rules, also far stricter than other comparable countries, that compound the injustice.

There is also the rule about children, so that the salary base escalates with every child in the Briton's family.

There is also the rule that means that the salary measured must be earned by the "sponsor" (the Brit), rather than the spouse; there is no flexibility if, for example, the foreign spouse earns a higher salary to offset if the Brits' salary is lower than the threshold.
Furthermore, there can be no "co-sponsor" (like in The USA and elsewhere), such as wealthier parents, that can act as a form of financial "insurance" for the couple.

The British "sponsor" must also have paid employment in The UK when the couple live there (i.e. for some time before the foreign spouse arrives).

The British "sponsor" can only get around these rules if they have savings in their account equivalent to more than double (or nearly triple) the average annual salary in The UK.

Lastly, if the "sponsor's" situation changes during the two years the couple are in The UK (such as losing a job), this would effectively condemn any chance of their spouse staying in The UK after their initial two-year "probationary period".

Then there are the many rules designed to catch out the foreign spouses, but there isn't time to go into them all here. It's enough to say that from the initial application of a spouse visa, the Briton and their non-EU spouse are assumed guilty of deception until they can prove they are an honest (and well-financed) married couple.

Such an ordeal would test the strongest of relationships; it is not surprising that some would break down under the stresses of such a system. Children are deprived of their parents for months on end under such a system. Under the guise of defending Britain against "sham marriages", they implement rules that break the one of the most fundamental human rights in the world: the right to choose who you want to live your life with, and the right to live in your own country with the person you wish.

A Kafkaesque nightmare 

These rules display the Conservatives are their most heartless as well as their most nonsensical.

Some might say "a person can't expect the state the fund your relationship choices". Well, The USA and The EU don't have a problem with that idea, within reasonable limits. As mentioned earlier, The USA see that it is reasonable to maintain the coherence of the family unit, and allow a "co-sponsor" of a married American an a foreign spouse living the The USA.
The EU's attitudes are even more humane: according to EU law (which The UK government flouts to implement these nonsensical rules) any EU citizen cannot be denied the right to live in the EU without his spouse, regardless of where they are from. This is again to preserve the sanctity of the family; even more important if they are children involved.

It's because of these EU rules that there is a way around the UK government's rules. As any Briton is also an EU citizen, they can simply move to any other EU country (such and the Republic Of Ireland) and live there with their non-EU spouse. These are the Kafkaesque lengths that the Conservatives are pushing their own people to in order to be happily married.
This is just one of a catalogue of Conservative disasters committed while in government. And while Brits who marry anyone from outside the EU are subjected to these inhumane restrictions (creating a whole subset of British "marriage exiles"), any other EU family is free to move into The UK without any legal restriction.

Such a situation invites comparisons (if perhaps over-indulgently) to political and economic refugees. Certainly, no other Western developed country has such an inhumane and cynical attitude towards foreign marriage. While those in the developing world have been banished from their own countries for their political beliefs, thousands of Brits are being forced to live outside their home country for their relationship choices.

The UK government is effectively saying: "You Can Only Marry Who We Say You Can". If you don't, then prepare to suffer the consequences.

The government introduces these rules to avoid "marriages of convenience": and yet the government encourages Britons to marry only people who they consider "convenient" for themselves. When the government talks about "marriages of convenience", it simply means it objects to marriages inconvenient to its interests.

If there was one way for the government to encourage British people become more cynical in their relations towards each other, foreigners and the institution of marriage, this certainly would be one way to achieve it.

And this, from the supposed party of "family values".


  1. Taking a UK visa is a tough job now a days there it is working or permanent residence.The UK government have added some very complex conditions which looks difficult for people. Thanks for sharing good piece of article.

    Posted by ezekielztang | Permanent Residency Visa Australia

  2. This is not fair! How can British wives of Asian decent marry a Brit whom they love? Most Filipinos are not as rich as the citizens in the European country, I hope they will revise this law and be fair and grant UK Marriage Visa to them.