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It mostly covers my work as UNISON Scotland's Head of Policy and Public Affairs although views are my own. For full coverage of UNISON Scotland's policy and campaigns please visit our web site. You can also follow me on Twitter. I hope you find this blog interesting and I would welcome your comments.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Immigration rules


The UK Government has introduced new immigration rules with effect from 9 July 2012. These changes will affect non-European Economic Area (non-EEA) nationals applying to enter or remain in the UK under the family migration route. It means that people earning less than £18,600 are unable to get visas for partners from non-EU countries. British citizens who previously would have been granted a spousal visa are forced to choose between ending their relationship, splitting up their family or attempting to live abroad.

In addition, from October 2013, all applicants for settlement have to pass the Life in the UK Test and present an English language speaking and listening qualification. This is particularly challenging for very elderly relatives. Scottish examples of this have included a hospital consultant who is leaving the NHS to work abroad, in order to care for his mother.

The Independent newspaper gives other examples. Don Flynn, director of the Migrants' Rights Network said: "Being able to start a family in your own country should not be subject to the amount of money somebody earns. These measures create a two-tier system: those who are rich enough to live with whom they choose and those deemed to be too poor to live with somebody from abroad."

Scottish Labour MP Ann McKechin has been campaigning on this issue at Westminster and has been collecting a range of Scottish case studies. We have also had a couple of requests for advice from UNISON members who are concerned that they will be impacted by these new rules. These examples show how the rules are not only unfair on the individuals concerned, but also impact on our public services in ways that may not have been intended. For example, NHS Lothian this week quoted immigration rules as one of the causes of paediatric doctor shortages that may result in ward closures.

It is a common misconception that immigration rules only apply to foreigners. But these rules affect British citizens and often leave them in an impossible position. There have already been legal challenges and we can expect more. The government should have an urgent rethink.





1 comment:

  1. Thanks for raising awareness of this important issue. This issue which many people are unaware of will hit home as it affects more and more working class people as time goes on.

    Families are being broken up, couples are being torn apart, a generation of children are being brought up by single parents – all reminiscent of ethnic cleansing.

    According to Oxford University's Migration Observatory (source: http://www.migrationobservatory.ox.ac.uk/sites/files/migobs/Briefing%20%20Family%20and%20Dependents_0.pdf ), these changes will mean that, of British taxpayers (and voters) in employment :

    - 47% will not qualify to bring in a family member.
    - 61% of women will not qualify to bring in a family member (showing the sexist nature of these rules).
    - 51% of people in Wales will not qualify to bring in a family member.
    - 48% of people in Scotland will not qualify to bring in a family member.
    - 46% of English residents will not qualify to bring in a family member.
    - 29% of Londoners will not qualify to bring in a family member.

    It is shocking how badly thought through these new rules are and there are already cases of people falling foul of the rules, families and couples being broken up, children being forced to be without one parent....

    I urge you to look at the following and judge for yourself :
    http://migrantsrightsscotland.org.uk/?p=3454 - “As British citizens we have fewer rights in Britain than our EU friends and their non-EU partners… ”
    http://www.economist.com/node/21556926 - 'Sons and lovers'.
    http://www.thisisstaffordshire.co.uk/Milton-mum-fights-deportation-split-family/story-16920571-detail/story.html - 'Milton mum fights deportation'
    http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/home-news/graduate-forced-out-of-uk-for-not-earning-enough.19001472 - 'Graduate forced out of UK for not earning enough'
    http://maxdunbar.wordpress.com/2012/06/10/deport-my-heart/ - 'Deport my heart'
    http://kraion.wordpress.com/2012/06/17/a-letter-to-theresa-may-guest-post-by-jenny/ - An open letter to Theresa May
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-20207357 - 'How immigration laws are splitting families apart'
    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/new-immigration-rules-accused-of-splitting-up-families-8324254.html - 'New immigration rules accused ot splitting up families'
    http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/scottish-news/newlyweds-spend-first-year-on-opposite-1453476 - 'Newlyweds spend first year on opposite sides of Atlantic'
    http://www.fenlandcitizen.co.uk/news/latest-news/uncertain-future-for-family-1-4627960 - 'Uncertain future for family'
    http://www.politicshome.com/uk/article/68972/gmb_gmb_calls_for_urgent_review_as_changes_to_immigration_laws_cause_confusion_and_harm_families.html - 'GMB: GMB calls for urgent review as changes to immigration laws cause confusion and harm families'

    Maybe more heartbreakingly, the YouTube video 'Skype Mummy' addresses the plight of one family broken up by these appalling rules :
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vhHpaq4KBxY

    We at the BritCits campaign have prepared a pack of case studies of people and families affected. We are in touch with some 40-50 families at present but we expect this to grow and grow as the rules bite.

    - Steve Green, BritCits

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