MP claims UK law separates families

family law

A “discriminatory” British immigration law is responsible for splitting up loving families, a Welsh politician has claimed.

This week Plaid Cymru MP Liz Saville-Roberts said that the wage requirement for Britons to bring their foreign spouses to the country “prejudices against” those who are less well off.

Under rules introduced in 2012, a British citizen needs to prove that they earn at least £18,600 per year or have savings of at least £62,500 before their partner can apply for a spousal visa. The law has been criticised by campaigners like the Migrants’ Rights Network, who claimed the financial requirement meant half of all Britons could not afford to live with a foreign partner.

The issue was brought to Saville-Roberts’ attention by one of her Dwyfor Meirionnydd constituents in north-west Wales. Hailey Aldirmaz married a Turkish man who was subsequently denied a spousal visa. The Home Office told Mrs Aldirmaz, a trainee teaching assistant, that she did not meet the financial requirement for her husband to enter the country.

Speaking to BBC Radio Wales’ Good Morning Wales show on Tuesday morning, Saville-Roberts said that this case involved “people who are working not on benefits” and have a “loving marriage”. The situation was affecting the couple’s children, she added, and there should be other ways to establish when people are in a genuine marriage. She pledged to raise Mrs Aldirmaz’s predicament in the House of Commons.

This case is not unique. Last year, the Children’s Commissioner for England claimed that the wage requirement had separated as many as 15,000 children from one of their parents.

Photo of Liz Saville-Roberts courtesy of Plaid Cymru via Flickr

Stowe Family Law Web Team

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45 comments

Andy - March 16, 2016 at 9:49am

Typical. Scary as it,is once visa has been granted they will disappear into the system.Never to be seen again..
Trouble is this is our joke government who dream up these ideas then back track when it all goes wrong…need I say any more…

JamesB - March 16, 2016 at 12:36pm

If this person and this party are not to be regarded as a joke then they need to come up with a viable alternative rather than whinging and whining on.

Specifically addressing reconciling the level of immigration with public services and community cohesion.

Letting everyone in as she and her party proposes, i.e. through selling peoples arses through spousal visas and EU membership is bloody silly politics and Wales deserves better.

Vote Leave.

Katy - March 18, 2016 at 9:52pm

Thousands of British citizens are being separated from their families because of this law! I’m American and I’ve been married to my British husband for 9 years! We have a 2 year old British daughter. We are not allowed to live in this country however, as we dont’ meet this financial requirement and we are not poor! We don’t need access to public funds, we work hard and we have paid thousands in tax to this country. My income is not even considered in their decision. People from the EU have more rights than British people. Surely you should support your fellow British citizens? Please read more about this law and how it is affecting Birtish people before you are so quick to judge. It is destroying British families.

Michael Marshall - March 19, 2016 at 1:07am

Immigration should be controlled…no dispute. But here we are talking about the spouse of a UK citizen… The UKIP manifesto imposed no restrictions on any BRIT wanting to marry a non Brit as long as marriage is genuine. Many ways to better guarantee this than using a sledgehammer to crack a nut.

JamesB - March 16, 2016 at 12:45pm

The arses comment is about sham marriages. An example might be a Turkish or Egyption waiter seducing a British (English, Irish, Welsh, Scottish person) to get in.

The other issue here – which if she were a decent person she would have raised, is how come EU people who don’t have this requirement get to bring people in regardless of this law.

So, a Portuguese or dual national Irish British can being in a Turkish Waiter to the UK without the earnings rule, but a UK person cannot. So many silly rules which kind of mean its time for the UK to work out if it wants to be in a superstate of Europe or not, I do not as I don’t see it working as I do not regard myself as European but British, then English, then European, although the way the Scots are I can see myself regarding myself as English then British then European.

Vote Leave.

Michael Marshall - March 19, 2016 at 1:11am

Because EU law supesedes UK law and UK can do nohing about other EU citizens…only screw its own. The EU believes in the sanctity of marriage and the value of the family unit…hmmmm…doesn’t the Tory party claim the same? Unless your spouse is Johnny foreigner of course (all the same these bluddy foreigners aren’t they?)

JamesB - March 16, 2016 at 12:48pm

The other issue is the economy and how if you let everyone in the economy sinks under the weight. Which has happened to countless economies over history and why borders were put up and why visas were introduced for British Empire and Dominion passport holders where previously about a billion people were allowed to live and work here and before that anyone. That was before easyjet though and travel was harder.

Michael Marshall - March 19, 2016 at 1:13am

Has anyone ever told you that you’re a fountain of knowldge? 🙂 ….

JamesB - March 19, 2016 at 2:01pm

I hope you are not making fun out of me Michael. I do have a non EU spouse and feel qualified to talk on this.

Katy - March 20, 2016 at 9:39am

You have a non-EU spouse but you don’t know anything about this law and how it is destroying British families, and you don’t care because you don’t have compassion for people the law is destroying. You only care about yourself. This country is a shithole run by a bunch of incompetent elitist bastards, I don’t really want to live here, at least under the current government, but my husband wants to be close to his family and elderly parents, but unfortunately this horrible government won’t let him. He also had three family members who gave their lives fighting for this country in World War I & II but that makes no diference to this heartless, government or people like you.

JamesB - March 20, 2016 at 7:53pm

Your comment is misplaced. I know the law inside out. I also propose leaving the European Union as I agree that the immigration rules are a problem. So, I am on your side, at least I was as now I am considering changing as you don’t seem to be listening to peoples viewpoints but going off on one with things like the people like you argument you just gave and the Hitler thing, which I also find insulting as, like most like me my relatives fought and died in two world wars against that sort of shite and I find racism from others. E.g. family friend comment ‘James only married her cause he couldn’t find a white woman’ (not true) also passive aggressive racism etc. like when people avoid conversations where they wouldn’t normally. I think this is all lost on you though. Like filling in the form and paying the NHS surcharge and so many inconveniences. So next time you have a go at someone perhaps think about if they are on your side or not first.

Katy - March 21, 2016 at 9:45am

You said British people should marry each other more…as if that’s a real solution to this horrible law. I think plenty of British people marry each other. I’m sorry your language does not indicate that you are on our side.

JamesB - March 16, 2016 at 12:55pm

p.s. I feel strongly for and have family connections with Wales.

Luke - March 16, 2016 at 11:29pm

The law is pretty fair in my view.
The reason is that the person coming in should not be a burden on the taxpayer – the bar is set very low and frankly if they are making that little money then bringing in somebody else to the country is irresponsible and unreasonable.
It also puts another obstacle in the way of the sham marriage trade.

Katy - March 18, 2016 at 9:53pm

You are obviously a very uncaring person and you should read more about it before you judge!!

Luke - March 19, 2016 at 11:54pm

No, I’m just realistic – government is often about making hard decisions.

Luke - March 20, 2016 at 9:29am

Why do you care so much about the country and who gets in if you don’t even stand up for your own people? You think it’s right that British parents are separated from their children and spouses? You think it’s right that people from the EU have more rights in this country than British people? UKIP is even against this law. We don’t have access to public funds, we pay an NHS surcharge, plus I have already paid taxes in this country, so we are not a burden on taxpayers. This law makes no sense and discriminates against British people.

Luke - March 20, 2016 at 4:30pm

The post by “Luke” above is not me – and I am in favour of leaving the EU, so no, I am not if favour of effectively ‘open borders’ to the EU either…

paulb - March 18, 2016 at 10:45pm

Burden on tax payer? Explain how they become one because non eu immigrants have no recourse to public funds stamped on their passport and the British citizen can’t claim anything on their behalf. Not even tax credits. Fair? Isolating almost 50% of the country, separating families and preventing ex pats from retiring to their own home country is fair? Lumping long term established marriages together with newly weds who seem seem suspicious of a sham marriage is fair?
We don’t want an open door policy to our issue. If you meet people in our situation you’ll quite often find very differing political views. We need strict immigration rules and we agree but we need ones that make sense! The non eu spouse rule makes no sense at all and needs changing.

Robert - March 18, 2016 at 11:44pm

Luke, they are not even allowed free nhs,let alone any welfare benefits, they have no access to public funds whatsoever yet they get accused of costing the tax payer and in the same breath this government are extorting British citizens who happen to be married to someone from outside the eu for thousands of pounds just to be able to be with their own kids, so do us all a favour and do some research or go and fuck yourself before someone like me who has paid tax all my life and who’s grand parents died in the war for this shit hole of a country yet is being forced out of his own country after being extorted for thousands just to be with my family, comes and kills you!!!!!, stupid fucking Cunt !!!!

Michael Marshall - March 19, 2016 at 1:01am

Just try putting yourself in this person’s shoes….would you think to check immigration policy before kissing, falling in love and marrying a non EU ? Non EU includes Australian, NZ, Canadian, American etc by the way ..You think it’s fair ??? On what basis? By denying any woman and child their husband (the HO does) they are going to be MORE dependent on the public purse as single parents. This particular woman is a UK citizen….are you seriously suggesting that only UK citizens above a certain income be allowed to marry who they meet and fall in love with? Are you famliar with the words of Niemoller?

Ella Bella - March 19, 2016 at 7:15am

You would not be responsible for them (as a tax payer) they are not entitled , so as a taxpayer you would be providing nothing for them, they also have to pay £1000 for their visa, so as a tax payer you would be providing nothing for them, please to all of the above you need perhaps to do a lot more research before commenting,

Richard - March 18, 2016 at 10:31pm

Luke, I agree the bar is not too extreme and I can see how people might view it as fair, but the ‘devil in the detail’ makes this law is anything fair. For many UK citizens wanting to ‘come home’ with their spouse or family, the process under this law also means the family splitting and the UK citizen coming back to UK and working for at least six months just to have the financial history that the Gov require. Following this, there would then be an additional application period of up to 12 weeks. And any small error in the hefty application process may see it having to be repeated. It could also eventually be refused. I agree that the system has to have filters. But many honest hard-working British people who only want to continue to be hard working people in Britain are being denied the opportunity to do it not because of their earnings but because it means separating from their family for a considerable period to do so. As mentioned above, anyone from any other EU country can bring their spouse/family to live and work in UK without restriction or any criteria to meet. This law is not only unfair. What it is doing to hundreds if not thousands of honest British citizens and their families around the world is in fact heartbreaking.

Jean - March 18, 2016 at 11:06pm

This evening, the news reported that salaries in Northern Ireland are £2500 less than the UK average. As a Northern Irish/British citizen the current government is requiring me to find a job earning £18,600 in my region, be in that job for six months while taking care of my British 2 year old, as a forced single parent before we can even try to attempt to bring my non-EU husband of 5 years (together for 8) to join us in the UK. Sham marriage? I am truly shocked by the narrow-mindedness and ignorance of the comments on here. Then again the government and the media never allow the stories of the real families all of this is affecting to make headlines. Cameron is forcing his own British citizens into exile just because the person they happen to love and choose to share their life with wasn’t born in Europe and if the referendum result is to leave the EU, then please try your best to not fall in love with anyone from Europe too, as this will all probably affect you too. Human rights anyone?

JamesB - March 19, 2016 at 10:18pm

If the result is to leave then it should allow some room in this area and to help some of the more deserving non EU rather than all billions of EU.

Michael Marshall - March 19, 2016 at 12:49am

What’s with the “claims” seperates families? It does – no dispute. I am so fed up with this situation is portrayed. As others have said it is not just people on ‘low’ incomes affected by this policy (people like me that have worked abroad are forced to spend SIX months apart before we can actually apply at a cost of near enough 2 grand inc NHS…then wait another 3 months for an answer – try to imagine NINE months forced apart from your family for no good reason)…and the bottom line for its offical justification is simply not exposed for the lie it is. How is directly making kids left with single parents reconciled with saving the public purse ?? How is leaving kids left with one parent reconciled with basic human rights and standing up for ‘family life’?? NO recourse to public funds is also stamped in the none EU passport…for six years minimum before UK passport.

Natalie - March 19, 2016 at 6:01am

You people are unreal. You don’t know these families. You don’t know the circumstances, yet you are quick to judge. Families are being forced apart because of this! Can you imagine to meet and marry the love of your life, only to be told, sorry, because you don’t earn a particular amount which is completely unachievable for half of the uk population, and because you don’t have 65000 pounds in the bank – who does??? – that you can’t be together!!! It’s disgusting! And by the way, the excuse that they don’t want the non eu to be a burden on the tax payer is complete and utter nonsense as the non eu has no recourse to public funds anyway! And nor do they even want it. They want to live with their families and build a life together. Yes, I understand, there are some dishonest people who just want to get access to the uk, I have seen it and it’s wrong. But what about those that are genuine? Surely they have a human right to be together with their spouse. You guys don’t have a clue and your attitude stinks.

Michael Marshall - March 19, 2016 at 8:04am

A more effective headline would be

” Immigration RULES (not law so could be changed tomorrow) discriminate against those living in South Wales who own their own home outright” !!!

There are no regional variations taken into account, nor what your rent or mortgage demands from your income !!! So a person earning 18,000 living in rural Wales owning an inherited property could not gain a visa for their spouse….but a person earnin 18,600 living in London with the punishing high rents can !! Also if you stupidly sell your house, put the money in the bank and rent then you can; otherwise you can’t. Further the minimum income requirement becomes a JOINT income once the non EU spouse joins you. The rules are plainly ludicrous and nothing more than a thin disguise to attempt to show a policy of being “tough on immigration” whatever the human costs and NON effective results on nett immigration figures. Political egos are all that stop this whole thing being reversed

JamesB - March 19, 2016 at 10:26pm

There is also an issue with Pakistanis marrying their cousins in UK and moving the whole family over which is not addressed by this law. Especially the way their extended families move the money around to navigate the law.

I would rather have non EU immigration than EU immigration but the amount currently is so high which is why the Government put this law in. My wife is Asian I am English.

I think we should leave the EU and have a points based system and with no arranged marriages or marrying cousins from abroad.

Michael Marshall - March 20, 2016 at 8:32pm

Again it is not a law…only a rule. It could easily be changed to be more fit for purpose by somebody who actually cared to do so. All the supposed ills of the EU with its ‘push and pull’ free movement of its total population could be resolved by total convergence on equal tax, benefits and immigration policy. Bring on a United State of Europe, a truly democratic European parliament (none of this FPTP nonsense) and an end to Tory, bash the weakest, self serving rule …….rather rule by Merkel than Cameron any day. Yippee.

JamesB - March 19, 2016 at 10:28pm

P.s. Yes marriage would give points.

I also know a German man who has keeps his Filipino boyfriend in this country both on low wages.

JamesB - March 19, 2016 at 10:31pm

The law does not apply to all other EU passport holders in this country other than the UK.

JamesB - March 19, 2016 at 10:36pm

The non EU Doctors and Nurses denied visas is also bad too.

People upset by lack of non EU visas should vote to leave EU.

JamesB - March 19, 2016 at 10:55pm

We’ve increased population by about ten million non English language speaking people over last 20 years. Leaving the EU is better than that. It is too many.

Would be nice is British people got on with each other and married each other more also.

Katy - March 20, 2016 at 9:59am

Your wife is Asian and you’re advising British people to marry only British people!? Wow. Is that a joke because it sounds like something Hitler would have said!

JamesB - March 20, 2016 at 8:07pm

Another example of Godwins law. As otherwise I find the accusation insulting and wasn’t what I said. i did marry British woman and three of my four children are by British people (British is not racist term anyway). My comment was that girls and boys should play more nicely rather than going off and giving up on each other more, not as a rule. Anyway I don’t know why I bother replying so I will leave it there. Perhaps because I do care for this country. I have done the home office thing three times now inc. nhs surcharge etc.

One thing I found interesting here is how the people unable to get spouses in slagged off the country bit of an eye opener that one. Is interesting how people say we need to cut down on immigration but then don’t back leaving the EU. That makes them not too clever in my opinion as its a contradiction. I also don’t like EU immigration in such levels as I find it racist. I would rather we had the black Somalians from Calais than the Romanians for instance. All this white Christian immigration nonsense I have heard (from family members before I went off with a non white) I find distasteful, like your Hitler Nazi comment. I had to correct my son on him recently also, no Hitler was not a nice person. No, the Germans over the last 105 years do not have a good record. No I do not want political unification with Romania and Croatia and Germany. That the people moaning on here to let their spouses in don’t agree with voting to leave the EU concerns me as they should be campaigning for that and saying so on here as it is the thing that would help them most. Also, speaking as someone who has done the forms, I cannot understand the technicalities of some of the arguments. I don’t see why they couldn’t borrow the 65k necessary and put it in savings to qualify for FLR and LR. Must go now. If anything else comes up here my position is the same as Luke and I agree with him. Except I am not a Tory perhaps. The point about lumping all people you don’t like in a big category the same is the same thing you are complaining against and we need to be together on fighting it I suggest you get involved in the leave campaign. Regards to all.

JamesB - March 20, 2016 at 9:08pm

Katy, I suggest you work out if someone is on your side or not before you take the p out of them. I was actually on your side. My original post was that Plaid Cymru are wrong to support EU and non EU immigration into the UK and that we should be able to help people bring in people on spousal visas more rather than unrestricted EU migration. I am not sure where you are coming from either as you have not commented on EU membership or not despite me going on about it and asking.

If you are arguing supporting this MP then I would like to hear your argument on how many people the UK can take as I, like Luke, think we need to start to stop unrestricted EU immigration and that way we can have better nurses to help look after my father, and a better NHS and all would be roses. Well perhaps not, but it would be a start and I hope you get my point, although to be honest I am not sure if you are pro or anti all the unrestricted EU immigration please advise. Must go now, best regards to all.

Katy - March 21, 2016 at 9:50am

It is hard to tell if you are for or against this law as you say things like you think British people should marry each other more and you don’t understand why someone shouldn’t just borrow £62,000 for awhile… Most people don’t have this kind of money or access to it. You also said you agree with Luke who said he thought the law was fair so that leads me to believe that you support the law. I’m sorry if it is very difficult to determine what side of things you are on.

JamesB - March 21, 2016 at 3:20pm

I believe we should vote to leave the EU and that doing so will help the government to ease such restrictions which I think are over the top. I also believe that if we stay in that the government is compelled to put in place such bad measures which I regard as unfair as the weight of immigrants is so high.

Perhaps you can now advise on if you will be voting to remain in the EU or leave the EU in June now please. I will be voting to leave.

My point was in my first post and throughout that it makes no sense to me for people to want these visas granted and for the UK to remain in the EU at the same time as this politician does as that amounts to an open door policy and would result in a massively over populated country with reduction in standard of living and community cohesion and the things I mentioned earlier.

A and E departments and schools are really struggling currently. Last time I heard at non peak hour the average waiting time at my local hospital a and e was six hours. I doubt you will answer the EU question I have asked you and the others on here a few times however I hope you will please and then I will probably be in agreement if you are into leaving the EU or not in agreement if you don’t think you will vote that way.

JamesB - March 22, 2016 at 11:16am

The situation in Brussels also suggests it is time to leave the EU. The lack of integration of non white non Christian non EU people into the Schengen area is another good reason to leave. I believe in a pluralist society not a third reich headed by Angela Mercle or someone similar.

I am pleased my son’s battlefields trip to Belgium and France starting today is still going ahead on advice of home office. Annoyed with the EU’s failure to have a constructive policy to the middle east and the excessive migration across its borders many other things.

Luke - March 20, 2016 at 12:41am

If somebody cannot meet such a very low financial bar then they are likely to have to take one of the following options when they get here:
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(1) Low paid employment.
(2) Work on the black market of some kind – or worse.
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The latter is obviously bad – the first one makes the lives of our resident poor harder (yes, I know most people don’t care about them) and just benefits the chattering classes who employ them, this has already been happening.
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It is not as though we have a population shortage – quite the opposite. England – where most migrants tend to move to already has a population density of about 1,100 people per square mile, it is ridiculous and the country is full – this figure is MULTIPLE times the population density of other European countries and one of the highest in the whole world.
There are already projected to be another TEN MILLION people in the country over the next couple of decades – and at least half of this will be net migration.
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Some think stopping people who can’t meet the criteria (which as I said before, is very low) is unkind – well where do you stop ? I know for a fact that there are tens of millions of people in countries like Nigeria (which I know something about) who would love to come to the UK given the opportunity – the UK is a magnet for migration. Many have relatives here – why shouldn’t they all come if that is your position ?
My question to you is why should the resident population of England have their quality of life (in their eyes) reduced by forever increasing population if they don’t want it.
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Sham marriages are a major problem and the criteria we have REALLY helps stop that – but the truth is that the UK is overcrowded anyway and if we are going to have to take people through marriage we need them to be able to significantly (not marginally) contribute long term and not be a burden once they start having children of their own and start wanting to use the UK facilities over time.
That surely has to be the minimum requirement.
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I know that people with a vested interest won’t like this point of view and I understand that, but that doesn’t make it wrong and I think the majority of the population would agree with this view as well.

Katy - March 20, 2016 at 9:50am

Sorry, but that is a very simplistic view of a very complex issue. My husband has his own business, and he was the primary carer of our child for the last 2 years. I was the primary wage earner and I made over double the requirement, however, my income is NOT considered under this law. We are not low wage earners. There are also other British people who make a lot of money but work freelance on a per project basis and don’t get regular income every month for six months as the government requires, like this British TV producer in Sydney who is also exiled from the UK. theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/jul/09/uk-australia-spouse-visa This law is very unfair and it discriminates against British families of many socioeconomic levels and backgrounds. This government doesn’t care about people or their individual cases however.

Luke - March 20, 2016 at 3:34pm

I agree it’s complex but that’s inevitable in this situation.
If your husband is running his own business and is not as you say a low wage earner can he not make the £18,600 threshold ? If his business makes so little or so unreliably can’t he save some money – or perhaps he could do something else in the short/medium term ?
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If you are earning double that figure outside the UK why can’t you have saved money which will bring that £18,600 figure down still further ? People who are freelance (i.e. don’t have reliable work) can also pitch their savings into the equation.
Would it not be possible for you to get a job offer in the UK if you are highly skilled ? If you are legally working in the UK then your earnings can count.
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I don’t think what the government is asking people to do is unreasonable.
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The TV director you mention says this about why he can’t fix his situation :
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“But I will not be apart from my wife and sons for what could be months.”
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OK, but then that’s just tough – my father in his employment when I was a boy used to be away for months on end REGULARLY – it’s what he had to do to keep his job. Many many people have to do the same, this guy has nothing to moan about.
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BTW, this is just one of many articles on the sham marriage epidemic – all sorts of scams like this are taking place:
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mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/exposed-6k-time-sham-marriage-7043395
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Imagine how much easier to do and worse the situation would be if the rules were relaxed and you could do it from anywhere ?

Michael Marshall - March 20, 2016 at 7:59pm

Have you read any of the postings about how absurd and discriminatory the present rules are.. …or are you just full of your own self-importance? An arbitary “minimum income” applied so rigidly without consideration of anything else is certainly far from “inevitable” as a policy. It’s barmy…… As for your father working away from home regularly, you can’t beat a little bit of ‘what’s good enough for the goose is good enough or the gander’ can ya? It of course has done nothing but good for you: making you a well balanced, empathetic, considered, ideal, erudite individual.

Katy - April 5, 2016 at 9:45pm

Well said Michael, thank you.

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