Migration rules 'causing anguish'
British citizens are being separated from partners and children from outside the European Union (EU) by new migration rules that are "causing anguish for families", a group of parliamentarians has found.
A breast-feeding mother separated from her British baby was among the cases the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Migration heard during its inquiry into the rules that came into force on in July last year.
A minimum earnings requirement for Britons wishing to sponsor a non-EU spouse is one of the key changes that is "tearing British families apart", the cross-party committee found.
Liberal Democrat APPG member Sarah Teather MP said: "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."
The committee's inquiry looked at the new minimum income requirement of £18,600 for British nationals and permanent residents seeking to sponsor a non-European Economic Area spouse or partner. The figure is £22,400 to sponsor a child and a further £2,400 for each further child.
In more than 175 submissions from families affected by the rules, 45 claimed their inability to meet the income threshold had led to the separation of children, including British children, from a non-EEA parent.
Coram Children's Legal Centre, a charity specialising in laws that affect children, reported the case of a non-EU woman who was abroad while her British husband and two sons, aged five months and 18 months, were in the UK. The mother had to stop breastfeeding her five-month-old baby.
The committee heard from a number of UK sponsors in full-time employment at or above the national minimum wage who reported that they were unable to meet the income requirement.
Wider evidence suggested that nearly half - or 47% - of the UK working population last year would fail to meet the income level to sponsor a non-EEA partner, the committee said.
An APPG is an interest group that has no official status within Parliament and is not accorded any powers.