The Immigration Minister Damien Green has today released a consultation on family migration to the UK. This consultation seeks to ensure that family migrants can better integrate into society and opens up a debate on the use of Article 8 (a right to a private and family life) of the European Convention on Human Rights in immigration applications. The Government are placing weight on circumstances where the public interest in removing someone from the UK should outweigh the right to a person’s respect of family life. Within this consultation Immigration Minister Damien 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 by-pass 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 right 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 tax payer to do it for you”.
The purpose of the consultation is to prevent abuse of the process, promote integration and reduce the burden on the tax payer. It is not known how the Government intends to introduce their ideas however they want to try and define more clearly what constitutes a genuine and continuing marriage to enable them to identify what is considered to be a sham or a forced marriage. They also want to introduce a new minimum income for sponsors or partners and dependants, to ensure that family migrants are adequately supported as a basis for integration.
At the moment there is a probationary period of 2 years in which a spouse has to live in the UK, before they are entitled to remain here permanently. They are talking of extending the probationary period before partners can apply for settlement in the UK from 2 years to 5 years, in order to test that relationships are genuine and also to encourage integration into the British way of life.
At the moment there is already a requirement for spouses to show that they can demonstrate that they have an understanding of every day English language to a certain level. They are considering increasing that level when people are applying for settlement on the basis of family relationships to show that they have a good understanding of the English language, again to promote integration.
The Government is also talking about giving authorities the power to delay a marriage where they may suspect that the marriage is a sham. They are intending to work closely with Local Authorities to ensure that vulnerable people are not forced into marriage.
They are also reviewing the full right of Appeal for family visitor visas and are looking into whether there are circumstances in which an Appeal right should be retained. This 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.
If you are concerned about whether you can bring a family member into the UK, then get in touch with the Immigration Team.
Further information can be found on the UK Border Agency website about this.
Stephens Scown’s immigration team is the only firm south of Bristol to be ranked within the top tier of legal bible Chambers. It is described as “absolutely excellent” and “really plugged into the latest developments in the field.” If you have any immigration queries please contact an immigration solicitor on 01392 210700 or email firstname.lastname@example.org