I am one-half of a British-American couple. My wife would correct that statement and change the “British” to “Scottish.”
We were engaged in 2005 and married in 2006. During the course of our engagement, through the early years of our marriage, we navigated the complex American immigration system. At all times, we fully abided by the rules of American immigration law and paid any and all necessary fees. We were rewarded for our patience and diligence in 2012, when my wife because a naturalized American citizen and received her US passport. She now holds dual citizenship in both the US and the UK.
It was always our intention to return to Scotland someday and be closer to her family. However, in July 2012, severe restrictions were put in place in the UK for non-European Union (EU) spouses and their children to be allowed to resettle there. The British citizen must make a minimum salary of £18,600 (just over $30,000) or prove three times that amount to the UK government authorities in savings. The income threshold rises to £22,400 (roughly $37,000) for couples with a child and increases £2,400 for each additional child.
Meanwhile, as part of the UK’s membership in the EU (a membership Prime Minister Cameron now wants to “revisit” through renegotiation with Brussels or a possible referendum within the UK) spouses of British citizens and their children from EU countries are permitted to come and go, and yes, tap into the resources of the British social safety net.
It is just the latest in a string of bad policies crafted in London that reflect a blatantly out-of-touch conservative-led government with not the least amount of empathy or consideration for its constituents. It is that sentiment, along with many other things, that is making a Scottish referendum on independence scheduled for September 18, 2014 far closer than it ever would have been with a Labor or Liberal Democrat-led central government.
The rules have been appealled and upheld by the British High Court. However, while upholding the law itself, the court found the income thresholds excessive. The British Home Office appealled that finding in a challenge heard earlier this month. A decision is expected in the next few months.
It all seems quite nonsensical to my wife and me. I am a fluent speaker of English (albeit American English.) I prefer most aspects of the British culture to that of my own and fully plan to integrate into society in the UK if permitted to live there. My mother-in-law owns her own flat and my wife and I can certainly stay with her until the time comes when we will be financially independent. Yet, none of things are currently deemed as being relevant to our plight.
I am certainly able to concede that the UK is well within its rights to restrict who can come and settle in the nation. I also understand that many go there with no plan to contribute, but to take from the government at the expense of those who work hard and play by the rules.
However, their solution is equivalent to swatting a fly with a sledgehammer. My wife and I are fortunate in that we have a stable and steady income here in America. We have no children. We are in a far better place than many others affected by this unjust set of rules.
We, along with many others, will be watching for the High Court’s decision in the coming months. We will be hoping and praying for some realism to be restored to the UK’s Home Office.