Family reunification in the UK: ‘Keeping families apart’ – MRN briefing on family migration policy

by , under Enrique

Ruth Grove-White

The MRN (Migrants’ Rights Network) campaign on family migration releases a new briefing paper showing that a higher income threshold for family migration could shut out 50% of the UK working population from bringing a spouse or partner here – with ethnic minorities, women and children particularly hit.

Since last summer’s public consultation we have been waiting for the government to announce its final decision on changes to toughen up family migration policy – during which MRN has been producing regular analysis of the proposals which you can access here, here and here.

But a waiting game provides opportunities – until the announcement is made there is still time to have an impact on the final policy announcement. It is likely that, in the coming weeks, the home secretary will make an announcement about her decision on the reforms to family migration. Over the coming weeks, in the run-up to her announcement, MRN will be stepping up our campaigning through a series of meetings and campaign work on the issue of family migration.

We are taking this work forward by releasing today’s briefing paper on the proposed income threshold. This change would prevent up to 50% of the UK working population from bringing foreign family members here as a result of a new, higher income threshold requirement.  If you are interested in organising a public meeting on this issue in your local area, taking part in joint advocacy work or would like to speak out about how you might be affected by this change in policy to the UK, please get in touch.

There are plenty of other issues raised by the family migration proposals, which will also be the focus of MRN activity in coming weeks. Key measures proposed by the government last year included increasing family insecurity by preventing foreign spouses and partners who are in the UK from applying for settlement for an additional 3 years, increasing the bar for language testing at the point of applying for settlement, and introducing tough enforcement measures aimed at tackling ‘sham’ and forced marriages, including a new pre-entry ‘attachment requirement’ and wider in-country enforcement activity.

Many of the proposals put forward by the government, if introduced, could interfere with the right to a family life of many people in the UK. In analysis of the proposals last summer the Brussels-based Migration Policy Group (MPG) reviewed the impacts of new family reunion requirements in the small number of EU states (in particular Denmark and the Netherlands) where similar restrictions to those planned in the UK. An MPG policy briefing on new family reunion tests and requirements in relation to migrant integration concluded:

“These policies have a disproportionate impact on the most vulnerable groups: the elderly, young adults, the less educated, … and to some extent, women. … Making family life harder or even impossible can negatively impact on the well-being and future integration of the entire family”.

A MIPEX analysis of the UK government’s plans exposes the fact that key policy proposals, if enacted, would put the UK among the toughest of European countries on family migration.

So there is plenty of evidence, from policy groups to community organisations, which shows that tough changes to family migration rules in the UK could have the effect of alienating both British citizens and recent arrivals in the UK who have family overseas. Now we need to marshall it into arguments which make the case for a better deal for families in the UK.

Please keep an eye on the website for more info and analysis in the coming weeks – we hope you will get involved.

  1. Sasu

    UK could have the effect of alienating both British citizens

    Hyym eikö se ole jo tapahtunut. Miten tämä voisi pahentaa tilannetta joka on jo paljon pahempi kuin Suomessa. Värilliset britit ovat rakentaneet oman yhteisön vastausena valkoisten brittien haluttomuuteen asua samassa yhteisössä. Suomen värillisten pitäisi ottaa mallia.

  2. BlandaUpp

    I have a Danish friend who wanted to move back to Denmark with her American husband and their daughter to be close to her dying mother but couldn’t because she didn’t have a job in Denmark yet so they were forced to stay in the US. Her husband’s company was bought by Google about 2 years ago and now Denmark will never see that money.

  3. Analyysi


    Are you saying that Denmark is refusing its own citizens of moving back? Or is it just because she did not have a job? Then, why don’t she dhe get a job, or perhaps they both get a job?

    What money doesn’t Denmark see?

  4. BlandaUpp


    Danish citizens can move back to Denmark whenever they want. Her American husband would have had to stay in America, thereby breaking up the family. Her husband was just starting up a company and couldn’t start a new job just for the sake of it. He was making enough money to take care of the family and would have moved the company to Denmark if they were able to get him a residence there. She didn’t have a job in Denmark because she’d been out of the job market for some years because of her kids and would have had to start doing interviews in person in Denmark in her field of work.

    Denmark won’t see the money her husband got from selling his company.