Couples who have been separated from their partners and children by the Government’s minimum salary requirements for a UK spouse visa have staged a protest outside the Home Office.
They included Ian Pineda-Andrews, who met US-born wife Jackie while they were both students at Edinburgh University. The couple are among around 33,000 people who have been prevented from living with their spouse in the UK because of the salary threshold, introduced three years ago.
Mrs Pineda-Andrews told The Guardian: “University is a time when people start falling in love, start finding themselves. But it’s also the time, and in the years afterwards, when you are earning the least.”
The demonstration was organised by the Migrant Rights Network and the group BritCits, which was set up to support couples affected by the minimum salary rule.
Migrant Rights Network said research from Middlesex University shows that if those spouses
denied access to the UK had been allowed to live and work in Britain, they could have contributed more than £850 million to the UK economy. In contrast, the Government claims the policy has saved £650 million being paid out to support the non-EU born spouses.
The high court found the threshold of £18,600 to be too high in 2013 but this was overturned at the court of appeal. The supreme court is due to make a final ruling on the issue in September.
Many couples, including the Pineda-Andrews used the ‘Surinder Singh route’ which set a legal precedent that allowed UK citizens to work in another EU country and then bring their spouse to Britain. In such cases, EU law – which is less strict than the UK policy – took priority over the British salary demands.