Government Family Migration Policy: Please respond by 6 October 2011
Government launches consultation on family migration
www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk, 13 July 2011
The government has today announced proposals to crack down on sham and forced marriages, as part of a new consultation on better family migration.
The consultation also seeks to ensure that family migrants can integrate into society, and opens up debate on Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights and the circumstances where the public interest in removing someone from the UK should outweigh the right to respect for family life.
Immigration minister Damian Green said:
'This consultation is about better family migration - better for migrants, communities, and the UK as a whole.
'We welcome those who want to make a life here with their family, but too often in the past the family route has been abused as a means to bypass our immigration laws.
'That includes too many times when we have seen Article 8 used to place the rights of criminals and illegal migrants above the rights of the British public. That balance must be redressed where there is a clear public interest in removing someone from the UK.
'Our message is clear - we will not tolerate abuses. And if you cannot support your foreign spouse or partner, you cannot expect the taxpayer to do it for you.'
The consultation focuses on stopping abuse, promoting integration and reducing burdens on the taxpayer. Its key proposals include:
- defining more clearly what constitutes a genuine and continuing marriage, to help identify sham and forced marriages;
- introducing a new minimum income threshold for sponsors of partners and dependants, to ensure that family migrants are adequately supported as a basis for integration - the independent Migration Advisory Committee has been asked to advise on what the threshold should be;
- extending the probationary period before partners can apply for settlement in the UK from 2 years to 5 years, to test that relationships are genuine and to encourage integration into British life;
- requiring partners and adult dependants aged under 65 to demonstrate that they can understand everyday English (B1 level on the Common European Framework for Languages) when they apply for settlement;
- exploring the case for making 'sham' a lawful impediment to marriage in England and Wales, and for giving the authorities the power to delay a marriage where sham is suspected;
- working closely with local authorities to ensure that vulnerable people are not forced into marriage; and
- reviewing the full right of appeal for family visitor visas, and inviting views on whether there are circumstances (beyond race discrimination and human rights grounds) in which an appeal right should be retained.
In 2010, 48,900 visas were granted to people on the family route. Of these, 40,500 were granted on the basis of a marriage or civil or other partnership, and 8,400 were granted to other dependants.
At present, anyone who is refused a family visitor visa has the right of appeal. In 2009/10, these appeals - which were often based on new information which should have been submitted with the original application - made up approximately 40 per cent of all immigration appeals and cost around £40 million.
To reduce the financial burden on the taxpayer, and deliver an appropriate system for applicants, the government is reviewing this right of appeal. Appeals based on grounds of race discrimination and the European Convention on Human Rights will continue to be allowed, but the government is inviting views on whether an appeal right should be retained for family visitor visas in other circumstances.
To read the consultation document and take part in the family migration consultation, see the Consultations section of this website.
The consultation was announced by Damian Green this morning in a written ministerial statement, which you can download from the right side of this page.
The consultation is part of the government's major overhaul of the immigration system. It follows the changes that have already been made to the work and study routes, and the ongoing consultation on settlement rights
Open date: 13 July 2011
Close date: 06 October 2011
This consultation sets out the government's proposals to reform the family route. It focuses on preventing and tackling abuse, promoting integration and reducing burdens on the taxpayer. It seeks to deliver better migration, which is fair to applicants, local communities and the taxpayer.
Family migration still accounted for approximately 17 per cent of all non-European immigration in the year to September 2010.
The consultation paper concentrates on the family route: non-European nationals entering, remaining in or settling in the UK on the basis of a relationship with a British citizen or a person settled here. This includes fiance(e)s, proposed civil partners, spouses, civil partners, or unmarried or same-sex partners, dependent children and adult and elderly dependent relatives.
But the paper also looks more widely at all forms of family migration, including the family members of workers and students under the points-based system, refugee family reunion, and family visitors.
You can respond online to the consultation at: http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/family-migration-consult (opens in a new window) (opens in a new window) (opens in a new window).
UK Border Agency
1st Floor Seacole
2 Marsham Street
New immigration family proposals
.jcwi.org.uk, 13 July 2011
UKBA has today issued its worrying consultation on reforming routes for family migration. This is just a consultation at this stage which we'll be encouraging you to respond to. It closes on 6 October 2011.
We'll being doing a lot more on these proposals and teasing out the finer detail but we've had a very quick preliminary read through (for the full detail see here) and have set out a summary of the key proposals below. We'd welcome any comments you have.
- the introduction of a specific minimum income requirement (for maintenance and accommodation purposes) for British and settled sponsors to bring family members over – MAC is to advise on the level
- an extension of the probationary period for spouses so that they will wait five instead of two years before they are able to settle
- the introduction of a more specfic definition of what constitutes ‘a genuine and continuing relationship”
- pushing up the language level requirements for settlement purposes from A1 to B1 level
- requiring the production of more substantial documentation to substantiate marriage applications
- examining interview arrangements for sponsors
- the ending of the possibility of immediate settlement for those who have been married for 4 years and are living abroad- it is proposed that such individuals will also have to complete a 5 year settlement period
- restricting the ability of those sponsored as a spouse to sponsor another spouse or partner from within 5 years of settlement
- the possibility of a requirement to take out medical insurance for certain family members (the detail of this will be in a consultation by the Department of Health)
- introduction of powers to delay marriages which are suspected of being ‘sham' marriages and greater work with the European Commission to address this
- combining some functions of the registrar of the UK Border Agency and marriage registrars
- legislating to make forced marriage a criminal offence
Other family members
- the introduction of a specific income threshold for sponsors of dependants for maintenance and accommodation – MAC is to advise on this
- the ending of indefinite leave to enter for adult dependants and dependants aged 65 or over and the introduction of a 5 year settlement period
- the introduction of a more exacting requirement for dependence in the case of parents/grandparents aged 65, and the possibility of increasing the age threshold
- the introduction of pre-entry language requirements for dependants aged 16 or 17, or aged under 65 (level A1 standard)
- introducing changes to the length of leave granted to 17 year old dependants nearing their 18th birthday
- the introduction of more exacting settlement language requirements at B1 level for the above groups
PBS family members
- increasing the probationary period from 2-5 years- with only time spent in the UK counting towards this
- the introduction of a higher B1 English language requirement for dependants who wish to settle in the UK
Family visit visas
- limiting thre grounds of appeal in relation to family visit visa decisions only in ECHR/race discrimination cases