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Nichols: policy is ‘anti-family’

20 December 2013

PA

Afloat: the Rt Revd John Arnold, RC Bishop of Westminster; the Bishop of Croydon, the Rt Revd  Jonathan Clark; Simon Hughes MP, Rob Flello MP; Sister Margaret Baxter; Sarah Teather MP; and Pat Browne, on the river Thames in Westminster in central London, on Wednesday, to mark United Nations International Migrants day, in a north African people smuggling boat 

Afloat: the Rt Revd John Arnold, RC Bishop of Westminster; the Bishop of Croydon, the Rt Revd  Jonathan Clark; Simon Hughes MP, Rob Flello MP; ...

THE RC Archbishop of Westminster, the Most Revd Vincent Nichols, has condemned changes to immigration rules that may split up almost 18,000 families a year.

Archbishop Nichols, writing in The Guardian on Monday, said that the rule forcing non-resident spouses of British citizens to earn at least £18,600 a year if they wanted to live in the UK was an "anti-family policy".

The House of Bishops' lead on immigration, the Bishop of Newcastle, the Rt Revd Martin Wharton, said that he agreed with Archbishop Nichols: "The new regulations . . . bring a further degree of inhumanity into our immigration system."

Last year, the Government introduced the new procedure, under which the non-British or European Economic Area (EEA) spouse of a British citizen can live in the UK only if he or she can prove an income of at least £18,600.

Archbishop Nichols said that the Government's own estimates suggested that the number of family visas issued would drop by 17,800 after the rules were tightened. Some 47 per cent of the working population would be unable to meet the requirement, he said. Under EU regulations, spouses living in EU countries are free to join their British husband or wife with no conditions.

He urged MPs to correct these problems in the current Immigration Bill, which is coming up for its Third Reading in the House of Commons shortly.

Benefits clampdown. The Prime Minister said on Wednesday that, from 1 January, EU migrants would have to wait three months before being eligible for out-of-work benefits.

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