Petition Against New Family Visa Income Rules Gets Enough Signatures for Parliamentary Debate

| July 1, 2024
Petition Against New Family Visa Income Rules Gets Enough Signatures for Parliamentary Debate

A petition asking the United Kingdom (UK) government to review the higher minimum income requirement (MIR) for family visas has earned its day in Parliament.

The official petition lodged on the UK government website has earned 101,321 signatures.

The petition garnered enough signatures despite having to close early due to the upcoming national elections on 4 July.

The Standard reports that the number exceeds the minimum number of signatures needed for the Parliament to debate the issue.

It is more proof that many people believe the new MIR for family visas is unfair and makes it hard for families to be together.

New family visa income rules

Since 2012, a British citizen must earn at least £18,600 a year to bring family to the UK.

In April, the UK government increased the amount to £29,000 annually for one to be able to apply for a family visa.

According to the petition, most UK citizens earn less than this per year.

“We believe this policy punishes those who fall in love with someone with a different nationality,” it stated.

The new family visa income rule will still increase to £38,700 by early 2025. This is to match the same yearly salary threshold of a skilled worker.

The UK government stated that the previous amount was no longer enough to support a family in the UK.

The new MIR ensures families can support themselves without relying on public funds.

The Home Office assured that families can meet the amount through their income and savings.

It also clarified that there will no longer be a separate child element to the family visa income.

This ensures that British nationals receive equal treatment to skilled migrant workers, regardless of sponsored children.

Criticism and opposition to the new family visa income rules

The petition having enough signatures for a Parliament debate follows a high court challenge against the new family visa income rules.

Reunite Families UK (RFUK) applied for a judicial review of the new policy.

It argues that the law violates the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, as it separates kids from their parents.

The non-profit also said it disproportionately affects women, ethnic minorities, and lower-income individuals.

The House of Lords Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee also raised concerns about the new family visa income threshold.

It said that the new amount could disproportionately affect people in low-income areas.

For example, Londoners are more likely to meet the requirement than those in the North East due to income disparities.

The committee suggested that different income requirements could be set for various regions.

Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd stressed the importance of thoroughly assessing the effects of these new regulations.

Like RFUK, the committee said the Home Office’s new policy was enacted without proper analysis.

Others see the new rule as shortsighted, arguing it overlooks the potential benefits families bring to the UK.

They point out that many spouses prevented from joining their partners possess skills that could be valuable to the country.

It could deprive the nation of talented individuals who could contribute positively to society and the economy.

Petitions’ road to a Parliamentary debate

The petition’s more than 100,000 signatures means it should have been scheduled for a debate by the Members of Parliament (MPs).

However, Parliament closed down when the general elections were called for 4 July.

The MPs who lodged the petition may no longer be in office once the British public votes for a new government.

After the election, the new members of the House of Commons will appoint new committees.

The new government will decide whether or not to discuss the new family visa income rules in Parliament.

Still, the Petitions Committee typically agrees to hold debates for petitions with 100,000 signatures or more that couldn’t be discussed before a general election.

Families, advocates, and MPs hope the government will change the rule to allow more families to be together.

The situation shows the need for rules that balance financial concerns with the importance of keeping families together.

A Parliamentary debate will be a pivotal moment to address these issues and move towards fairer immigration policies.

If elected, the Labour Party has promised to review the new family visa income rule.

It will ask the Migration Advisory Committee to investigate the impact of increasing salary thresholds for bringing dependants to the UK.