UK rows back salary threshold for family visas after backlash: Report

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Following widespread backlash, the UK government has rowed back on plans to hike the salary needed to bring family members to the country from GBP38,700 to GBP29,000, the BBC reported. An estimated 300,000 non-Britons, many of them Indians, were left in shock after the increase — from the current level of GBP18,600 — was announced earlier this month as part of a plan to reduce net migration.

The change of plan was confirmed by Lord Sharpe of Epsom in answer to a parliamentary question. He said the threshold would now rise to GBP29,000 in the spring, before then rising “in incremental stages” to give “predictability”. He added that the plan was for it to eventually rise to GBP34,500 and then GBP38,700, but no dates were given. Reacting to the u-turn, the opposition Labour said the change showed “Tory government chaos.”

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said ministers had failed to consult properly on the new threshold, adding: “It’s no surprise they are now rowing back in a rush”. The government had been under duress to cut arrival numbers after net migration — the difference between the number of people coming to and leaving the UK — climbed to a record 745,000 last year. A policy document said the new threshold could contribute a “low tens of thousands” cut towards the government’s overall target to cut legal migration by 300,000 this year.

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As per official statistics, 82,395 family-related visas were issued in the year to September — 79 per cent to partners, 13 per cent to children and 8 per cent to other relatives. Reunite Families UK, a campaign group on UK visa rules that threatened legal action against the government over the salary limit, said the new GBP29,000 threshold was still “very high for most families”. The group said the government’s decision to raise the threshold gradually was “baffling”, adding: “The process is already complicated enough without this too.”