United Kingdom

22 Feb 2017
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Income before love UK Supreme Courts decides

Income before marriage, money before love. This is the decision of the United Kingdom Supreme Court about the issue that came up concerning marriages between UK citizens and out of the European Economic Area (EEA) citizens and the ability of non-UK citizens to relocate to the country if their spouse’s income isn’t above a specific limit. The Supreme Court decided today in favor of that rule.

The rule says that if the UK citizen, husband or wife, doesn’t have an income above the threshold of 18,600 pounds, he or she is not going to be able to bring their spouse to the UK. This law has caused numerous problems for families that simply can’t live together. This happens because UK doesn’t issue visas if the economic standards are not fulfilled. Responsible for the legislation of this law is the previous UK government which sought a way  foreign spouses from relying on taxpayers. But even in the case that the foreign spouse has considerable fortune abroad or he has a prospect of working for a larger income than his British spouse, UK law totally ignores it.

The law has been described as draconian from various organizations that have to do with people’s rights. Saira Grant, a member of the Joint Council for Welfare of Immigrants, told BBC that the artificial barrier is an obstacle for a normal family life and that it is very ironic that 41% of UK citizens earn less than 18,600 pounds. The law is becoming even more strict when there is a child in the family because the income minimum threshold rises to 22,400 pounds and continues to rise by 2,400 pounds for each subsequent child.

There have been many cases where a father, who is not British, has never seen his child and couples are splitting because someone doesn’t have the right passport. Strong criticism has risen because of the fact that almost 15,000 children have been separated from their parents according to reports. Today in London  the Supreme Court decided to uphold this immigration rule but it also gave  hope for a solution on the matters of children. Judges said that the law doesn’t violate any human rights legislation but it also doesn’t take into consideration the interest of children and fails to address the issue of a possible alternative income.

Some advocacy groups expressed the opinion that an important victory was achieved on the matters of children although the income threshold was preserved. Lawyers noted that this decision might be leaving some hope for improvement in future and believe that it would be better to return to the pre-2012 situation when one had only to prove that he could support his spouse and a visa was issued.

The immigration law is not only causing problems for people from Asia or Africa. It fails to tackle issues concerning the everyday life of  couples that are citizens of the Commonwealth. In The Guardian couples that have one British citizen and one from Australia, New Zealand etc. wrote how difficult it is for them to be together because of this harsh system. Many of them decided to leave the UK so they could find an easier life somewhere else.