More than 40 percent of British workers are too poor to marry a non-EU citizen and live together in the UK under government rules, according to new report from Oxford University.
The data revealed that women and young people are disproportionately affected by the £18,600 threshold. According to the university’s Migration Observatory, 50 percent of women and 53 percent of people under 30 are ineligible to settle a non-EU spouse in the UK.
Rules for non-EU spouse visas require that a British citizen’s income is sufficient to prevent migrants from placing a burden on the state, but critics have argued the system is negatively affecting some more than others.
The Supreme Court will review the policy and judge how the threshold affects British citizens looking to settle with non-EU partners in the UK.
“In some respects, the current family migration rules prioritise couples in which the UK partner is the main breadwinner,” said Carlos Vargas-Silva, senior researcher at Oxford University Migration Observatory said. “That is likely to make it easier for men to sponsor their wives rather than vice versa.”
Exact numbers on how many people the system has prevented from entering the UK legally are not known, but in 2012 the government estimated the figure at between 13,600 and 17,800 per year.
Those who did not attend higher education are less likely to earn enough to meet the threshold, with 53 percent of people ineligible. The Oxford University report also noted that a majority of people living in London (73 percent) meet the threshold, even if they are female (67 percent) or under the age of 30 (69 percent).