As the momentum of public opinion builds against the immigration rules relating to family migration, it appears that even some employees of the Home Office would not qualify to bring a foreign national spouse to UK.
A quick search of Civil Service job postings indicates that the UK Border Agency are not even paying their staff what they deem to be a sufficient amount to support your family. For example a Caseworker position in Manchester will draw a maximum salary of £17,377, over £1000 short of meeting the financial requirement. A Border Force Assistant Officer position at Gatwick Airport will be £57 over the threshold, if the employee is lucky enough to draw the maximum salary for this position of £18,657.
This demonstrates one of two things, either the Home Office staff aren’t paid enough or that the threshold to meet the financial requirement of family migration is too high.
As reported on the BBC regarding family migration, British Citizens who cannot meet the financial requirement are going to extreme lengths in order to get their non-EEA spouse into the UK. This means moving and working in another country within the European Economic Area for a period of time, at least a few months.
This is because under the landmark case of Surinder Singh, if a British national is exercising treaty rights in another country within the EEA, their rights as a European citizen will take precedence over UK immigration law. Therefore as members of the EEA are not required to meet the financial requirement to bring their spouse to the UK there is no longer a need to meet the earnings/savings threshold.
As stated in the article many British nationals are using this route, many working in whatever jobs they can find. A browse through social media such as Facebook and Twitter will show that British nationals in this predicament are coordinating to help one another find jobs in another country and even to share accommodation costs for the short period they will be away from the UK.
The Immigration Minister, Mark Harper, released a statement to the BBC in response:
“The EEA family permit is not a ‘loophole’. It reflects the current requirements of EU law and would not apply if someone went abroad to a member state for a short time just in order to circumvent the immigration rules. An application will be refused if it cannot be proved the British citizen was genuinely engaged in employment”
It is unclear exactly how many British nationals are forced into this charade in order to bring their spouse to the UK and many will argue they should never have been forced into this situation in the first place. Being able to bring your spouse to the UK should not be only for the wealthy. Further, to have a blanket income/savings threshold for the whole of the UK makes no sense when the cost of living and therefore wages differ dramatically in some areas in comparison with London. It makes even less sense when you consider the UK Border Agency differentiates between inner London and the rest of the UK for Tier 4 Student maintenance requirements.