The minimum salary for UK spouse visa sponsorship and sponsorship of other dependents for citizenship should be increased, according to recent recommendations from the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC).
MAC called for a minimum salary of between £18,600 and £25,700 before tax for UK residents before they are permitted to sponsor a UK spouse visa for their partner.
At the moment, there is an annual income threshold in place of £5,500 after tax, excluding housing costs, which equates to £13,700 before tax and including housing costs.
The suggestion follows requests put to MAC by the Home Office to determine a salary that would prevent any sponsor, their spouse or their dependents from becoming a burden on the state. This request formed part of the review of family migration routes as the government aims to reduce immigration as a whole.
Indeed, increasing the threshold would substantially lower settlement in the UK through the family route. Raising the threshold to £18,600, the minimum proposed, would cut settlement by 45 per cent, according to MAC estimates. Meanwhile, raising it to the maximum of £25,700, would reduce settlement by around 63 per cent.
Professor David Metcalf CBE, chairman of MAC, commented: “The current threshold of £5,500 seems low considering the government's desire to ensure new migrants settling in the UK are not a burden on the state.
“Our recommendations are made on a purely economic basis and we recognise that family migration is not determined by economics alone. However our analysis suggests there is justification for raising the pay threshold.”
The UK Border Agency (UKBA) is now set to consider the recommendations and confirm its decision next year.