Downing Street protest planned over UK spouse visa threshold

11 Aug 2014 | Posted by Carl Thomas

A British woman who married a Moroccan man is helping to organise a protest in London against the financial threshold for spouse visas.

Jessica Benchrifa, who has a baby son with husband Hicham who she married last year, will be among the protesters at Whitehall on August 23. The group is angry that UK citizens who marry people from outside the EU must show they have an annual income of at least £18,600 a year before their spouse can live with them in the UK.

The Benchrifas meet the financial requirements, but Mrs Benchrifa said that the rule, in place since July 2012, means many families are not so lucky.

“Meanwhile 4,000 spouse visa applications are set to be refused on the basis that the UK spouse does not earn £18,600, with many more who are not applying because they know they stand no chance of getting their partner a visa,” she told the Newham Recorder.

“Families are being split up, children separated from a parent - or the British-born spouse is forced into exile abroad.”

The policy was also criticised by Ukip member Dan Oxley, who stood in the local council elections in May in the Royal Docks ward, where the Benchrifas live.

He said that the threshold showed the Government considered UK immigration to be a problem rather than an opportunity to welcome talented people who could benefit the British economy.

Mr Oxley said: “They seek to impose an income threshold of £18,600 on those seeking to sponsor a non-EU spouse. The Government calculates that no major benefits or tax credits will be due, which would exclude 40 per cent of the working population.”

Instead, he supports a points-based immigration system similar to that used in Australia to decide on which non-EU migrants should be allowed to settle in the UK.