The UK Government's intention to decrease the migration levels in the UK has driven a series of major reforms to the Immigration Rules since 2010. It has to be noted that the restrictive policies can have wider and sometimes unintended consequences.
A report launched on 10 June 2013 by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Migration, has highlighted the impacts of recent rule changes on a group who would not previously have expected to be affected by tough immigration rules - ordinary British citizens hoping to build a family in the UK with a non-EEA husband, wife or partner.
The new rule which came into effect last July, of minimum earnings of £18,600 a year, rising to over £22,000 if the sponsor wants to bring in a child or children as well as a spouse, has meant that thousands of British citizens, including people with full-time jobs, have been unable to bring their non-European partner to live with them in Britain. Furthermore, only the income of the UK sponsor can be counted for most applications at the initial stage, and the permissible assets and savings sources of the couple are strictly limited.
The former Liberal Democrat children's minister, Sarah Teather, said the UK Government was far from meeting its pledge to support family life in Britain: "During the course of the inquiry we heard from many families in which British children are being made to grow up away from a parent, or where families had been forced to move overseas in order to be together. Whatever the objective of the policy, children shouldn't suffer as a result. Now is the time to take another look at the policy."
If these are not the consequences that were intended by government, then it is time to look again at the rules to ensure that the balance is right in this area. If they were intended, then perhaps it is time to put the wider objective of cutting net migration under proper scrutiny.