The immigration issue is still creating ructions between the members of the British Coalition Government, and a recently leaked letter from the Home Secretary to the leader of the Liberal Democrats will see it continue.
Home Secretary Theresa May wrote to Nick Clegg in a letter dated 14th March 2012, expressing her intention to propose a dramatically higher minimum income requirement for anyone wishing to bring their foreign spouse, partner or dependent to the UK from outside the European Economic Area (EEA).
The current threshold for sponsorship of a spouse, partner or dependent stands at just £13,700 pa, with no specified increased for those intending to bring children too. Mrs May tough new proposal takes this minimum figure up to £25,700 pa, increasing to £37,000 pa for couples with one child, £49,300 for two children and £62,600 for those with three children.
Mrs May’s letter added, “The package which I propose to implement from June 2012 will reduce the burden on the taxpayer, promote integration and tackle abuse.”
With regards to tackling abuse, the Home Secretary also takes this opportunity to highlight the need to ‘differentiate between genuine and non-genuine relationships’, with a clear nod to the Government’s concern that many marriages connected to the UK immigration process are bogus, and the importance it places on reducing such cases.
In order to achieve this, Mrs May also proposes that the current probationary period of two years from which couples can apply to live permanently in the UK should be increased to five years, with additional requirements for certain levels of English language also to be introduced.
While the Liberal Democrats have long been considered softer on immigration issues, particularly with regards to the fact that their 2010 general election manifesto suggested that there should be an amnesty on all illegal immigrants already in the UK, the fact that the Conservatives have been loudly promoting their aims to cut immigration, with a clear focus on reduces those that ‘abuse’ the family route, means that a compromise is likely to be reached.