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At last 15, 000 children have been separated from one parent in the UK due to a policy that bars the UK entry of a non-EU parent if their British spouse earns less than 18,600 pounds a year.
Anne Longfield, a childrens commissioner for the UK said ‘Skype families’ are being created for those forced to be apart.
The rule has been barring entry of the UK spouse since 2012, the level rises further to 22,400 pounds if the child is not a British or European Economic Area (EEA) citizen and goes up again by 2,400 pounds for each subsequent child.
The rule came about as an attempt to control immigration outside of Europe, UK ministers say that the rule would ensure that no income families would not be a burden to the tax payer. While the Home Office says the rules are lawful and compatible with rights Ms Longfield said the policy had created families in which children could speak to one of their parents only online – leading to suffering and distress. “We are not talking about having unrestricted access but we need to put the heart back into this policy and consider the profound impact the rules have on this group of British children and their families,” she said.
The Home Office said: “We welcome those who wish to make a life in the UK with their family, work hard and make a contribution. But family life must not be established here at the taxpayer’s expense.
“The level of the minimum income threshold reflects the income at which a British family generally ceases to be able to access income-related benefits.
“The policy has been approved by Parliament, and upheld by the courts as lawful and compliant with our legal duty to safeguard and promote child welfare.”