Home Office and Immigration
Minimum Income Requirement
This issue was raised in Home Office Questions on the 1st April 2019, you can see the Minister’s response below.
Over a third of my constituents do not earn enough to sponsor a visa for a family member from outside the EEA. Will the Minister consider revising the minimum income requirement, to provide a pathway for minimum wage employees to be reunited with family members?
The minimum income threshold was set after consideration of advice from the independent Migration Advisory Committee. The Supreme Court has endorsed the lawfulness of that approach and agrees that the minimum income requirement strikes a fair balance between the interests of UK citizens wishing to sponsor a non-EEA spouse and of the community in general.
I object to this Bill and did not vote for it.
First, I happen to believe in the free movement of people, and I have yet to hear anybody advance a single argument why the free movement of people has been anything other than good for this country—not one solid argument advanced.
Secondly, the Bill does not provide the surety to EU citizens already living in this country that it should.
Thirdly—many would say that this is the most important point and main failing of the Bill—it contains Henry VIII powers giving unbelievable, and simply unacceptable, powers and measures to Ministers.
I am saddened that for so long we have not made the positive case for immigration in our country. Not surprisingly, we have found ourselves in the situation that we are in, where mythology, rhetoric, misinformation and downright lies have been spread by all manner of people to support their own ideological, short-term vision, with absolutely no foundation and at a real cost for our country and its future. I also take the view that the majority of people in this country are good and they are tolerant, but too many of them have been told these lies.
I have additionally signed cross party amendments to this Bill ahead of its return to the House of Commons which seek to end indefinite detention.
MPs Not Border Guards
The Home Office makes millions of decisions each year that profoundly affect peoples’ lives, and for the most part it gets these right.
But you are right that recent events have shown that the Home Office needs to give a human face to how it works. I have raised this issue in Parliament and told the Home Secretary that Windrush was a natural consequence of a system that has as its default position an assumption that a person is here illegally, with the onus being on the applicant to prove that they are here legally. Too often in offices, as a result of policy—let us not shift the blame—the default position is that the computer says no. I have asked the Home Secretary to undertake a radical rehaul of all these policies so that we shift the onus back on to the state to prove that a person does not have a right to be here.
To ensure that events of this nature do not happen again, I am pleased that the Home Office is conducting a Lessons Learned review, with independent oversight and challenge. The review will seek to draw out how members of the Windrush generation came to be entangled in measures designed for illegal immigrants. The review will consider the experiences of those involved and wider reflections on Home Office culture as a whole.
MPs commonly report concerns raised by their constituents with their consent and at their request. All information passed on to the Home Office is considered on a case-by-case basis. MPs themselves will often not be in a position to form a firm legal view on an individual immigration case which they have passed on to the Home Office at the request of a constituent.
However, equally, I suspect constituents would expect MPs to report what appeared to them to be clear criminality – including activity linked to organised crime. Like any member of the public, an MP may decide to contact the Home Office to report suspected immigration offences. I believe there is an expectation from constituents that MPs report crimes of which they become aware. I should add that cases such as these are very rare.