Theresa May’s UK visa changes spark outcry

- Posted in United Kingdom by Visa Bureauon 12 June 2012

In a statement to the House of Commons, Mrs May explained that changes would be made to UK visa processes which are aimed at tackling sham marriages in the country as well as further the Government’s pledge to reduce net migration from current levels to the 'tens of thousands' promised before the end of the current parliament.

The Home Secretary's plans, which were leaked yesterday, are mainly concerned with relationships between British citizens and foreign nationals. The changes include a salary threshold of at least £18,600, extending the waiting period for when a foreign spouse can apply for settlement and the 'Britishness' which was previously reserved for citizenship tests will now be extended to all foreign nationals applying for settlement.

Mr Vaz, who is chair of the Home Affairs Select, has expressed his disappointment in the new UK immigration rules, claiming they prioritise the rich and discriminate against low earners.

"I am shocked at the Government's new proposal," said Mr Vaz. "They will dramatically affect my constituents, settled British Asians, not illegal immigrants, tax payers who contribute to our country.

"What [Mrs May] proposes flies in the face of the Prime Minister's message at the launch of the Conservative friends of India only six weeks ago.

"A British Home Secretary has no place dictating who British citizens should choose as their spouses based on an artificial financial limit. This is unfair, unjust and unnecessary."

Mrs May's announcement has been met warmly by some, immigration watchdog MigrationWatchUK labelled the move "a very valuable step forward".

"We must do everything possible to ensure that new migrants are able to integrate successfully into our society. Integration is enhanced by economic well-being, a common language, and an understanding of UK life," said MigrationWatchUK spokesperson Kiran Bali.

"The measures will help communities to tackle these important and sensitive issues."

The UK Visa Bureau is an independent immigration consultancy specialising in helping people prepare for their UK Ancestry Visa application.