New Clause 4 - Minimum Income Requirement: Family members of British citizens with a connection to British Indian Ocean Territory

Part of Nationality and Borders Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 12:45 pm on 4 November 2021.

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Photo of Tom Pursglove Tom Pursglove Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Ministry of Justice and Home Office) 12:45, 4 November 2021

I appreciate the positive intent behind new clause 4, which seeks to create a means whereby, in the future, British citizens who were born on, or descended from a person born on, the British Indian Ocean Territory will be able to bring their foreign national spouse or partner to the UK, without their being subject to the current financial and English language requirements for family migration.

I remind hon. Members that the minimum income requirement is based on in-depth analysis and advice from the independent Migration Advisory Committee. The purpose of the requirement, implemented in July 2012 along with other reforms of the family immigration rules, is to ensure family migrants are supported at a reasonable level so they do not become a burden on the taxpayer and can participate sufficiently in everyday life to facilitate their integration into British society. Family life must not be established here at the taxpayer’s expense and family migrants must be able to integrate if they are to play a full part in British life.

The minimum income requirement was set following advice from the independent Migration Advisory Committee, at £18,600 for sponsoring a partner, rising to £22,400 for also sponsoring a non-qualifying child and an additional £2,400 for each further such child. There is no flexibility in the level of the minimum income requirement, which must be met in all cases subject to the requirement; it is right and fair it should be consistently applied in all cases. Expecting family migrants and their sponsors to be financially independent is reasonable, both to them and the taxpayer.

In February 2017, the Supreme Court upheld the lawfulness of the minimum income requirement under the family immigration rules. The Court found the minimum income requirement is not a breach of the right to respect for a private and family life under article 8 of the European convention on human rights and is not discriminatory. The Supreme Court endorsed our approach in setting an income requirement for family migration that prevents burdens on the taxpayer and ensures migrant families can integrate into our communities. The Supreme Court agreed that it strikes a fair balance between the interests of those wishing to sponsor a partner to settle in the UK and of the community in general.

Being able to speak English is also fundamental to successful integration into British society.