Home secretary James Cleverly
James Cleverly’s new migration restrictions mean UK workers will soon have to earn at least £38,700 before they’re allowed to bring a spouse to the UK.
The crackdown comes after official stats revealed net migration hit a record high of 745,000 last year.
That led to pressure being piled on Rishi Sunak to come up with a plan to bring that number down closer to the Tories’ election manifesto target of 225,000.
So on Monday, Cleverly unveiled a new five-point plan which he said would reduce net migration by 300,000 a year.
This included increasing the minimum salary threshold for foreign workers from £26,200 to £38,700.
In addition, any UK worker wanting to move foreign family members to Britain will also have to be earning at least £38,700.
That specific part of the crackdown has prompted outrage from critics, including senior Conservatives.
Theresa May’s former chief of staff and ex-Tory MP, Gavin Barwell, slammed the proposals on X (formerly Twitter), writing: “It is both morally wrong and unconservative to say that only the wealthiest can fall in love, marry someone and then bring them to the UK.”
It is both morally wrong and unconservative to say that only the wealthiest can fall in love, marry someone and then bring them to the UK https://t.co/DuF7VGnK2A
— Gavin Barwell (@GavinBarwell) December 5, 2023
The required salary which entitles you to bring a spouse – £38,700 – is above the median salary for both men and women last year.
Amount you need to earn, to be eligible to apply for a spouse visa, under the new proposals - £37,800
Median salary in England last year:
Men - £35,658
Women - £29,699
Absolutely grim - anti-family, anti-love, anti-humanity. We're all just economic units to these people. pic.twitter.com/k8TJPS7jcg
— Ruth Stokes 🧡 (@ruthstokes) December 4, 2023
It’s also twice the national minimum wage (£18,964) for people aged 23 or older and currently working 35 hours a week.
Many British citizens will be unable to live legally in the UK with their spouses. This is twice the national minimum wage. A lot of people simply cannot afford it, no matter how hard they work. https://t.co/WzUoe4oef6
— Colin Yeo (@ColinYeo1) December 4, 2023
Others pointed out that this will have knock-on effects for the NHS.
Although Cleverly has granted salary exemptions for health and social workers, they are still banned from bringing dependents to the UK, and they still have to pay a "surcharge" for using the NHS.
People argued this would act as a deterrent at a time when the health care system was in desperate need of extra workers.
So: Please come to the UK to work in one of the 300k health & care jobs we’re so desperate to fill - but no, not with your loved ones, we don’t want you that much. Oh & pay £1035 a year to use the NHS that relies on your labour. That’s just what we think of you immigrants 🤷♀️
— Rachel Clarke (@doctor_oxford) December 4, 2023