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Britons earning under £38,700 face being unable live with foreign spouses in UK

James Cleverly said UK citizens must be earning at least £38,700 to sponsor foreign family members wishing to gain a visa (Alamy/PA)
James Cleverly said UK citizens must be earning at least £38,700 to sponsor foreign family members wishing to gain a visa (Alamy/PA)

Britons earning less than £38,700 face being unable to live with their foreign spouses in the UK under new migration rules.

Changes to the minimum income for family visas announced by the Home Secretary mean that people may be blocked from bringing their loved ones to stay in the country under certain circumstances.

James Cleverly said UK citizens must be earning at least £38,700 to sponsor foreign family members wishing to gain a visa.

There are instances in which Britons on lower salaries could bring their loved ones over if it is considered unduly harsh for a sponsorship to be denied, but this would be in exceptional cases, it is understood.

Median gross annual earnings for full-time employees in the UK was £34,963 in April 2023, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The policy, which is expected to be introduced next spring, was set out by Mr Cleverly as part of a package of proposals aimed at delivering the biggest ever reduction in net migration after levels soared to a record high.

He said the strategy, along with previously announced plans to limit relatives of foreign students entering the country, would bring down numbers by 300,000.

The change to family sponsorship is expected to cut the total by about 10,000 a year.

Mr Cleverly railed against “abuses” of the current visa system as he said “enough is enough” while unveiling the plans to the Commons on Monday.

“In total, this package, plus our reduction in students dependants will mean around 300,000 fewer people will come in future years than have come to the UK last year,” he told MPs.

The ONS revised its net migration figure to put 2022 at a record of 745,000.

Accounting for the difference between the number of people arriving in the country and those leaving, the figure for the year to June 2023 is estimated to have been slightly lower, at 672,000.

Labour’s shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said the strategy is “an admission of years of total failure by this Conservative Government”.

The Confederation of British Industry said: “Inflation-busting increases to minimum salary requirements and charges won’t address the shortages that are currently holding back business investment and growth.”