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Threshold for spousal visas ‘too high’

13 February 2015


SELECTED MPs will today receive Valentine cards from members of a community action group in support of their campaign against an immigration rule that keeps families apart.

Citizens UK wants to lower the income threshold of £18,600 that a UK resident must earn before a visa can be granted for their partner or children to join them from overseas.

It points out that 43 per cent of British employees earn less than £18,600 a year. It wants the limit reduced to the Living Wage, currently £15,350.

Among those sending cards will be Suzette Ashley, who is separated from her Jamaican-born husband, Oliver, because her work as a health-care assistant pays less than the immigration threshold.

Mrs Ashley, who is also pastor at the Taste of Glory Apostolic Ministry in Camberwell, south London, said: "Everyone is talking about love and relationships this week, which breaks my heart. The most important date I have this Valentine's is with my MP to ask him to help us negotiate a change and give more people a chance at building a happy family.

"Even the Living Wage amount would be a struggle for me because of the sector I work in, but at least that figure makes sense."

The director of the East London Mosque, Dilowar Khan, said: "Many of our communities are built on spouses coming from abroad to support their families and children. It is a sad state of affairs to see many testimonies of families' being kept separated, because they are unable to meet the income threshold.

"Strong communities and families are the backbone of all civilised societies, and we need to ensure citizens are supported to keep their families together."

Victoria (not her real name) also faces possible separation from her husband. She arrived in the UK from the Philippines in 2002. In 2008 she fell in love with a British citizen, and they married last month. Her husband is medic- ally unfit to work, and her job as a cleaner pays well below the threshold.

The Vicar of St Barnabas's, Walthamstow, Canon Steven Saxby, where Victoria worships, said: "It is heartbreaking that this lovely couple could be divided because of the current spousal visa arrangements. I hope others will support Citizens UK's call for change and help keep couples like them together."'


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