Foreign Spouse Income Limit Poses Hardships for Families; Children's Welfare Should Be Prioritized, Critics Say
Feb 23, 2017 10:04 AM EST
The Supreme Court rules that the income barrier halting thousands of British citizens from being united with their foreign spouse in the U.K. remains lawful. However, judges believe this foreign spouse income limit will bring on “significant hardship” for thousands of couples.
As enacted in 2012, British citizens should earn over £18,600 or around $23,160 before their spouse from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) can be brought to and settle down in the UK. According to BBC News, critics of the foreign spouse income limit claimed that nearly 15,000 children have been kept apart from their parents due to such barrier. The policy was brought in when Theresa May still assumed the Home Secretary position.
In an interview with The Independent, Britons said they opted to go abroad and move permanently to be with their families due to the policy on foreign spouse income limit. The court’s decision to stand by these rules indicate that thousands of relationships are yet to be carried out at a long distance. However, it has been determined by the judges that the regulations behind the income barrier do not conform to the laws relating to the children’s welfare.
“The fact that the minimum income requirement may cause hardship to many does not render it unlawful,” they noted. “It has the legitimate aim of ensuring that the couple does not have recourse to welfare benefits and have sufficient resources to play a full part in British life.”
However, there is a need for the rules to be altered in a way that addresses the legal duties of safeguarding children. According to the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, the rules of the foreign spouse income limit were a harmful cause of family separation and posed threats to the welfare of children.
The judgment made on Wednesday still offered hope for families due to the court’s statements on the policy’s ineffectiveness in protecting young individuals. “This judgment confirms that the Government’s position is now untenable and they must now take immediate steps to protect the welfare of children in accordance with their legal duty,” chief executive Saira Grant said.