Britain Hiking Earning Amount For UK Nationals Wanting To Sponsor Foreign Brides

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LONDON – The British government is planning to increase the minimum amount that UK nationals must earn before being allowed to bring a dependent foreign spouse to live in the country, a move that is not likely to go down well with immigrants from countries like India.

Families wanting to bring spouses or relatives to the UK also face the prospect of having to pay a bond of thousands of pounds in case they end up claiming benefits , according to media reports on Monday. The new proposals are being considered by the government as it draws up plans to toughen rules on migrants from outside the EU who wish to settle in the country.

But the move is likely to prove controversial with immigrant groups from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh where arranged marriages remain a strong tradition and could be open to challenge in courts for discriminating against couples on low incomes. About 50,000 visas were issued to family members of UK citizens and those with permanent residence in 2010. A sample of 500 found that 70% of UK sponsors earned less than £20,000 a year after tax.

In 2007 Labour outlined plans for UK families sponsoring relatives visiting from outside EU to pay a £1,000 bond to ensure that they returned home and did not work illegally. A similar plan was put forward in 2000. Both were shelved after protests from immigrant communities . The government also intends to look at new measures to crack down on forced marriages making it a specific offence to force someone to marry. A consultation on family visas ended last week and ministers are hoping to introduce tougher conditions in April.