Are separated families on the rise in the United Kingdom? As a result of Brexit, thousands of spouses had to leave the country indefinitely in 2012. Numbers have only increased since Brexit was voted and that the rule was extended to non-European spouses.
In 2012, visa rules ordered British citizens to show their yearly salary is at least estimated at £18,600 in order to sponsor their non-European spouse’s visa.
While some heartbreaking examples have been shared across channels on how baffling this lifestyle could become for thousands of families, a recent poll showed that a third of Britons live ‘too far away’ from family members to celebrate Christmas.
“A veto on love”
30 years after Europe celebrated its first student exchange and that the Erasmus babies reached a million, the United Kingdom has decided to separate those who have crossed borders to build a home.
On December 19th, the British government released a new document that shook inter-European couples and families in the United Kingdom.
The “UK’s future skills-based immigration system” white paper was released on the official government’s page, explaining for the first time that: “The EU citizen makes an application with their British citizen partner acting as sponsor, subject to meeting the necessary criteria, including financial independence.”
Theresa May first announced the idea of a specific income requirement (Minimum Income Requirement (MIR)) in May 2012 so foreigners would not have to rely on “public funds”. She initially decided that the minimum earnings figure for UK citizens would be £25,700, before going down to £18,600.
While this rule implies that the British spouse should at least make £18,600 per year to support the family in order for the other spouse to be able to stay in the country, The Guardian published a story commenting that more than 40% of the British population earns less than this amount and called the white paper “a veto on love”.
A discrimination towards women
Another obstacle comes in the way for international families: with a withstanding gender gap pay, British female spouses are even less likely to be able to support their family and in turn cannot hold them together. On top of the minimum income for the British national, the government will require an additional £2,400 per year for every additional child.
Another upside of #brexit for the @The3Million. I think a lot of EU citizens will be horrified that they have no automatic right to be in the UK when they are married to Brits. I imagine their spouses will be too. Welcome to the #priceonlove https://t.co/3lIYeK4sd5
— Reunite Families UK (@ReuniteDivFamil) December 20, 2018
As the Guardian reports, many families whose non-British spouse is not European also face difficulties to stay together. At the moment, more than 15,000 children live with only one parent in the country because of this new rule.
While the law voted by May in 2012 only targeted non-European citizens, it is now including members of the European Union and experts predict that the number of separated families will only increase in 2019.
Read our story: “Is Paris Really Set To Triumph In the Post-Brexit Era“?
Gifts unwrapping on Skype
Holidays are not over yet, but thousands of families are waiting to know what will happen in the next few months. In the meantime, families have unwrapped gifts on Skype.
British national Becky Darmon, 23, and Moroccan Abderrahman Belafi, 25, made the headlines this year. Moroccan national had his resident visa application rejected when Becky was 33 weeks pregnant. Since then, he had to return to his home country and has only been able to see his child for three days in Casablanca, Morocco.
A policy that is counterproductive, illogical and destroys the family life of 1000s of British citizens. Any guesses as to who brought these measures in during her time at the HO? #priceonlove
Skype Christmas, thanks to the ‘minimum income requirement’ https://t.co/mxPEHQDhkn
— Reunite Families UK (@ReuniteDivFamil) December 28, 2018
“Will we ever be a normal family? Will he ever be able to pick her up from school? It’s putting our family life on hold in every single sense. It’s degrading and depressing.”, shared Darmon to the Independent.
Other heartbreaking stories of couples being separated for the holidays, despite paying high lawyer fees to obtain a visa only to be declined, have moved public opinion. Such as an American-British couple who spent nearly £7,000 to be together were ultimately rejected.
As a response, a Home Office spokesperson said to the Independent: that “All UK visa applications are considered on their individual merits, on the basis of the evidence available and in line with UK immigration rules”.