The UK’s spousal visa regime, some reflections

by Chris Bertram on March 8, 2017

I have a blog piece with Helena Wray and Devyani Prabhat at the University of Bristol Law School Blog. The final para:

Family and spousal migration is only one part of migration policy, and there is the broader issue of what values migration policy should serve generally. In recent political argument in the UK, three sets of voices have been prominent, virtually to the exclusion of all others. First, the proverbial “taxpayer”, the net contributor to government spending. Second, the needs of “business” for skilled and not-so-skilled workers. Third, the “legitimate concerns” of so-called “ordinary people”, constructed as the “white working-class” worried about cultural and demographic change. Largely absent from the discussion have been the autonomy interests that all citizens have in being able to have a valuable set of life-choices available to them, about being able to live, work and settle where they wish, and in being able to make their life with a partner of their choice and maybe start a family. Rather, those interests – that ought to be of central political concern for a liberal society – have been crowded out of the migration debate. This has meant that many of our fellow citizens and their partners have been thwarted in their pursuit of central life goals or forced to pursue those aims through compliance with arcane rules and at the mercy of an unfathomable bureaucracy. If we aspire to the values of a liberal society – as is the official consensus position of all major political parties – our policies ought to reflect them.

{ 4 comments }

1

ترول 03.08.17 at 5:00 pm

Great conclusion – thanks for this.

2

Meredith 03.09.17 at 6:13 am

This may not get posted, but I don’t know how else to communicate. Why are comments closed on earlier posts (by others)? Posts of just a week or two ago? This site’s delay in posting comments suggests a more measured rhythm is being encouraged, but the early closing of comments suggests, get in there early or not at all, and we don’t want conversations that linger. That policy change at CT some months ago just isn’t working. I used to visit here regularly, sometimes commenting, many times just reading and learning. Now this site seems rigid, unfriendly, tight-assed. I miss CT — the old CT.

3

Matt 03.10.17 at 3:30 pm

It’s a nicely written piece, Chris. I was a bit surprised to see that, with the declining value of the Pound to the Dollar, that the UK requirement of about 18,600 Pounds/year for a couple is only a few thousand dollars more than the US requirement of (I think) $19,450/year for a couple. (That’s 125% of the poverty level for a family of the relevant size.) Do you know if the UK has an option to meet this with “affidavits of support” from others? When I sponsored my wife, about 14 years ago now, I thought I’d have to get such an affidavit from my parents, but as it turned out, my grad student stipend barely met the requirement at the time. (It was a bit lower then.) That method is a bit tricky to make use of in the US, but does help address some of the issues.

More generally, you talk about the requirement being too onerous. That seems possible to me, and a potentially good criticism. But, does it mean that you’d accept that some level of support is acceptable, or that some limit on access to public benefits might be acceptable, or is this more of a tactical argument here? Would your considered view be that no level of support should be required, and also that access to benefits should be immediate? I’d be interested to hear.

4

Steve Williams 03.12.17 at 5:12 pm

I realise I’m a bit late to this and that the site has moved on to other issues, but since I’m currently in the middle of experiencing this process I thought I’d add my two cents.

The first thing to say is that I’m lucky, in that I meet the financial requirement (not by a lot, and I’d be in big trouble if they raised it, but I do meet it). So immediately my situation is better than thousands of others.

I stopped living with my partner overseas in August 2015 and we have since lived separately in our own countries. In order to meet the financial requirement, I have had to:

– study for and take a professional qualification (4 months and many thousands of pounds)
– find a job (2 months)
– get promoted from a zero hours contract which was hard to prove met the financial requirement to a permanent position (4 months)
– work in that position for 6 months (6 months)
– gather evidence and documentation to support my wife’s visa application (3 months)

We have lived apart, in separate countries, apart from one week (when we got married), another week (my sister-in-law’s wedding) and a two-month period of ‘holiday’ for her where she had to give up a job in her country.

Needless to say, I don’t have a very favourable view of the system, yet I’m also well aware, as I mentioned at the start, that I’m one of the ‘lucky’ ones.

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