This is a statement on behalf of the whole of Samphire, it is made with deep concern and frustration regarding recent changes to the immigration policies that directly impact the fundamental human right to have a family.

The decision by our government to increase the minimum income threshold to £38,700 is shameful. This means that a sizable majority of people in the UK—60% of males and 75% of women—fall below the new threshold, making it impossible for their partners to join them here. The increase is significantly higher than the average salary in most regions and above the median average wage of a full-time employee in the UK, adding to the absurdity of the decision.

Part of the core work we undertake at Samphire is providing pro-bono immigration advice to individuals and local communities in South East Kent. Providing this service has given us a lot of insight into the different situations where this change in the minimum income requirement will have drastic effects. Some examples that encapsulate this are as follows;

One example comes in the form of a British national living in Cambodia with his wife and

their three children. The mother of the family being Cambodian whilst the children being

British citizens presented problems in coming to live in the UK. The reason for wanting to

come back to Britain was not trivial, growing tired of living in an authoritarian country and

wanting a good education for their British kids are more than valid reasons. To make

£38,700 salary per year in a country like Cambodia is near enough unattainable; the average

salary is £6100 a year, and the average wage for CEOs, managers, directors, and principles is about £14400. It is clear to see then that this bracket of needed income is completely

unattainable for the British national’s wife, thus, making it a choice of keeping the kids with

their mum in Cambodia or having a better and more prosperous life in the UK. Is this a fair

choice to force a family to make?

Another circumstance is that of a British woman who was a student midwife, she qualified

as a midwife and was offered a job at around 23-25k. She wanted to bring her soon to be

husband here from Belgium and faced many hurdles even before the increase in the

minimum income requirement. In a job that serves the British public, is it too much to ask

that she comes home to her husband at the end of the working day? It is clear that it not

only those who are not British citizens being hurt by the new requirements, but also the

British people.

There is also the question of whether expiring fiancé visas, partner visa extensions are going

to be held to the same minimum income requirements once their visa has run out. One

woman we supported joined her husband after coming here from Syria on a fiancé visa, this

expires in 2026. They are currently expecting their first born. If it is decided that he has to

now earn £38,700 within this time it will almost certainly break up the family and force her

to go back to Syria. She is now pregnant and will have to look after a child and her husband is a mechanic. To put such a high threshold on the income requirement on people in such

circumstances will make the renewal of the visa merely a wish.

We are writing this statement in order to bring attention to the dire need to oppose these new requirements, which will inevitably destroy families across the UK. It comes at a time where recent visa application fee increases and upcoming health surcharge hikes are already affecting families with the added problem of the cost of living crisis that our country is facing.

The decision will not only hurt families, there will also be repercussions for the country as a whole. The general secretary of the Unison union, Christina McAnea, said the package of measures would be ‘cruel’ and ‘disastrous’ for the social care sector. She expanded on this by saying, “I do want to know have they spoken to anyone in the sector about this before introducing these changes, have they spoken to anyone who commissions or provides or employs care workers? It is an utter disaster due to the message it sends to migrant workers who are basically propping up our care and health sectors by saying you’re not welcome here”.

In their 2019 manifesto, the Conservatives claimed that they would reduce net migration to less than 100,000, while also pledging to create 250,000 extra childcare places and increase the number of nurses by 50,000. In light of this, one must question why there is such an onus placed on the former rather than the latter? The government’s incompetency is evident within the measures, in that they are actively hindering the fulfilment of their own manifesto.

In conclusion, these actions are ethically repugnant and aim solely to burden those who are already struggling excessively. We implore all those who read this statement to write to their MP, urging them to voice their outrage in parliament and hold those responsible for this abhorrent decision to account

Yours faithfully,