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Family Rights

Volume 626: debated on Monday 3 July 2017

14. What steps she is taking to protect the family rights of UK citizens married to non-EU citizens. (900129)

The requirements we have in place promote not just family values but integration, while also striking the right balance to ensure that we take into account the burden on the taxpayer as well, so we have a fair balance between family, integration and the taxpayers’ position.

My constituent Paul McMillan, a medical student from Port Glasgow, is unable to be with his American partner because of the minimum income requirement on spousal visas, which stands at £18,600 and is due to rise. He has decided that because of the UK Government’s increasingly hostile attitude towards immigrants, on completing his studies he will emigrate from Scotland to be with his partner. Scotland will lose not only his future medical expertise but the expertise of his partner, a qualified social worker. Considering Paul’s situation, will the Home Secretary abandon plans to increase the minimum income requirement?

If the hon. Gentleman wants to write to me about any specific case, I will be happy to have a look at it. As a general point, however, it is right that we look at making sure that everybody across the UK has the same position to deal with, so that the system is fair and that it is also fair to taxpayers, so that someone bringing a member of their family to this country can afford for them to be here. I also point out to the hon. Gentleman that the figure of £18,600 is several thousand pounds below the median wage in Scotland.

Under the freedom of movement rules, EU citizens are currently not obliged to meet that minimum income threshold if they wish to bring in family members. However, UK citizens do have to meet a minimum income threshold, which the Supreme Court has said causes hardship and ignores the rights of children. Is it not therefore fair to say that this new regime proposed by the Government means that EU citizens will lose their current rights to family life and that it represents a levelling down?

I think the right hon. Lady has slightly misunderstood the situation. If somebody from the European Union and their family are here, they will have that ability to have settled status. If they have not been here for five years but they stay for five years, they will be able to attain that right. I also point out to her that family life cannot be established here at the taxpayers’ expense. That is perfectly right; family migrants must be able to integrate. That is what our family immigration rules achieve, and it is an approach that the Supreme Court has endorsed.