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.