The Indian Workers’ Association (GB), ever since it was established in 1938, has been working nationally and internationally for an equal and just society. Indian Workers’ Association have been raising concerns about Immigration Laws founded on discrimination. This time, IWA (GB) is taking up the unfairness in the Income Threshold Rule, Probationary Period Rule and increase of Home Office fees discriminating British citizens and settlers. Indian Workers’ Association requested the support of immigrant community and the public to raise their concerns to the Houses of Parliament and particularly,the Home Secretary Theresa May.

Income threshold rule for sponsors of non-EU citizens was introduced in July 2012 by the last Conservative / Liberal Democrat Coalition Government that has affected all communities in Britain. Since then thousands of British Citizens and settlers have been unsuccessful in their attempts to bring their spouse and children into Britain. Applicants earning just £20 less than the required earning have been turned down; Indian Workers’ Association believe this is a disgrace. By the Home Office’s own statistics; 17800 applications are turned down every year.

The Income Threshold Rule requires sponsors to show the following annual earnings:
1. £18,600 for sponsoring a spouse
2. £22,600 for a spouse and a child
3. £25,000 for a spouse and two children and
4. It goes up by £2400 for each additional child.

When the minimum wage for over 25’s is fixed at £7.20 per hour from April 2016 for adults, this will calculate a gross salary of £14,976 per year. This means the National Minimum wage is considerably lower than the Government requires sponsors to be earning before submitting a sponsorship application. People on low income from all communities are affected by this rule. Statistics indicate that 43% of the British working population earns less than £18,600. Furthermore, there are gender, race, age and regional income divides making it comparatively harder still for some groups of British people to sponsor a family member. In order to meet the condition of Home Office Income Threshold Rule, potential sponsors are often forced to take more than one job or to move to another EU country where immigration policies are not so divisive and are fairer compared to those in Britain.

Hence, British citizens and those who are settled in the UK are denied the right to family life that the British Government is arguably trying to promote. However, Nationals from other EU Countries living in Britain are protected by EU Laws therefore the Income Threshold Rule does not apply to them. They are free to sponsor a spouse and their children from a Non-EU country. The Home affairs Committee Chairman, Rt Hon Keith Vaz, called the Income Threshold Rule ‘FLAWED’. During a committee meeting on February 10, Mr Vaz said, “Two people living in identical houses next to each other – one who happens to be British born or a person with indefinite leave tried to bring someone from India, they have got to show their £18,600 income. However, the next door neighbour who comes from Slovakia, who has settled in Leicester, and who wants to bring her spouse in, doesn’t have to show that income. That’s unfair isn’t it?”

The then Home Office Immigration Minister James Brokenshire admitted that the rule was unfair and agreed with Rt Hon Keith Vaz stating, “he was correct to raise the issue.” He further pointed out, “I do not find this situation acceptable and it’s something that quite clearly needs to be addressed.”

The Indian workers’ Association (GB) strongly believes that;
1. The Income Threshold Rule divides families and deprives them from having a family life that is a fundamental human right.
2. The rule deprives children to lead a normal childhood with love and care of both parents.
3. It discriminates Non-EU nationals and those who have a partner from a non-EU country.
4. It is unfair, unjust and simply irrational.
5. This rule causes misery, suffering and financial hardship to families. In order to maintain some family contact, family members in Britain regularly travel abroad. This contributes to educational disruption for children.
6. Moreover, the Income Threshold Rule violates the EU Human Rights Convention that Britain has signed up to.

Recognizing the misery to the couple who wish to live together to enjoy family life, many organisations and individuals including religious leaders, churches and many MPs, have condemned this rule as well as many other Immigration rules. Among these are Indian Workers’ Association, Joint Council for Welfare of Immigrants, Immigrants’ Rights Network and Southall Black Sisters. It is widely accepted that though this may be legal in terms of legislation, but is definitely immoral and unethical to set income limit expectations higher than the national minimum wage.

This Policy has been challenged in the appeal court by three applicants. The court gave judgement in favour of the applicants that was, unfortunately, overturned on appeal by the Government. However, the applicants have been permitted a Supreme Court hearing to be held from 22nd – 24th February 2016.

Here, The Indian Workers’ Association demands:

 Abolition of the income threshold
 To lower the income threshold in line with the national minimum wage or
 Raise the national minimum wage in line with the income threshold
 Potential wage of the foreign spouse should be calculated in the Income Threshold Rule
 Immigration policies should always be non-discriminatory

Probationary Period Rule

This rule is a replacement of Primary Purpose Rule of Nationality Law 1983 that required applicant to prove that the purpose of marriage was not to settle in Britain. The rule was implemented in such a discriminatory way that it resulted in an extensive campaign across Britain demanding it to be abolished. Unfortunately, the replacement of PPR with the Probationary Period Rule has failed to remove the hardship, misery and suffering that was ever present during the days of the PPR. Under the Probationary Rule Non-EU spouses is granted a temporary visa for five years. The non-EU spouse is subject to no recourse to public funds or eligible to social housing. They are requires either to be supported by their sponsor or support themselves by working. Because of fear of destitution, homelessness and financial hardship, many continue to live mercy of their sponsor often in a violent relationship.

Following the completion of the 5 years’ probationary period the couple are required to evidence that they have been enjoying conjugal life in Britain. If the Home Office is not satisfied with the evidence presented, the application for indefinite leave is turned down and the spouse from abroad is classed as an over-stayer and is vulnerable to deportation. Due to family rejection, stigma (due to divorce or separation), lack of financial independence and lack of state protection; these immigrants, especially women cannot return to their country of origin.

Indian Workers’ Association notes that the Government have introduced some changes to the ‘No Recourse to Public Funds.’ This enables women applying for indefinite leave under Domestic Violence Rule (Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004). However, Indian Workers’ Association believe these changes do not go far enough to protect the rights of new spouses. They are deprived state protection from violence, financial independence and right to life in Britain.

Indian Workers’ Association strongly believes that this rule discriminates Non- EU nationals, it is unfair and unjust and it denies them equal rights. We call the British Government to repeal the Probationary Period Rule enabling all legal immigrants to enjoy the same citizen rights as the rest of the UK.

Increase of Home Office Fees announced by UK Visa and Immigration

Indian Workers seriously note the 25% increase in Home Office Fees. The Home Office announced “These increases will allow us to reduce taxpayer contributions towards the border, immigration and citizenship system and ensure that by 2019–2020 the system is self-funded by those who use it”. These increased fees will come to force from April 2016. Indian Workers Association would like to point out that those who use the service also are tax payers. The proposed increase will contribute to financial hardship to lower income families who are already struggling to make ends meet. This is another attack on Black and Ethnic minority communities. The Indian Workers’ Association opposes this proposal.

IWA(GB) invited Hon.MPs, representatives of immigrant and domicile organisations, activists and general public to join the meeting organised at the House of Commons on 10th February 2016 starting at 15.30 – 17.30. In this meeting we will discuss the impact of the Income Threshold Rule and other matters.The Indian Workers’ Association (IWA) demands the British Government to repeal this rule or bring the Income Threshold to the level of the national minimum wage enabling couples to enjoy a normal conjugal life.