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UK announces income limit for immigrants

ISLAMABAD, July 5: Changes to the British Immigration Rules, to come into force from July 9, will put more curbs on Pakistani nationals who wish to live permanently or remain in the United Kingdom on the family migration route.

According to an announcement made by the British High Commission here, the changes will introduce a new minimum income threshold of 18,600 pounds for people who want to sponsor their spouse, fiance or partner to join them to live permanently in the UK.

This threshold will increase to 22,400 pounds for sponsoring a child and an additional 2,400 pounds each for more children. From October next year, all applicants for settlement in the country will have to pass a ‘Life in the UK test’ and present an English language speaking and listening qualification at B1 level or above under the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages, unless they are exempted.

The new rules will extend the minimum probationary period for settlement for non-EEA (European Economic Area) spouses and partners from two years to five years.

The changes will allow adult and elderly dependents to settle in the UK only where they can demonstrate that, as a result of their age, illness or disability, they require a level of long-term personal care that can only be provided by a relative in the UK and without recourse to public funds.

The new migration rules provide for restricting family visit visa appeals, initially by narrowing the current definitions of family and sponsor for appeal purposes, and later, if the UK parliament agrees, removing the full right of appeal against refusal of a family visit visa.

The changes to be implemented by the UK Border Agency were announced in the British parliament last month.

Acting British High Commissioner Alison Blake said: “We welcome those who wish to make a life in the UK with their family, work hard and make a contribution but it is not fair if this family life is established at the expense of the British taxpayer.

“To play a full part in British life, family migrants from whatever country must be able to integrate, speak our language and support themselves without relying on public funds. This is fair to applicants, but also fair to the UK public.”

About the British visa operation in Pakistan, he said: “Over the past year, ‘Premium Lounges’ at the visa application centres have been introduced in addition to ‘Priority Visa Services’ for those who have travelled to the UK recently, and online completion of forms for all customers.”