UK Government rows back on £38k family visa earning threshold hike
UK Government ministers have rowed back on plans to hike the earning threshold needed to bring foreign family members to live in the UK to £38,700.
Instead, the Government has confirmed plans to increase the threshold to £29,000 in the spring.
Home Secretary James Cleverly had announced the increase from £18,600 to £38,700 as part of a package of measures to curb legal migration.
But the move attracted criticism as it threatened to tear families apart, with many having their future thrown into doubt as the Government considered the details of the policy.
Home Office minister Lord Sharpe of Epsom confirmed the change of plans in answer to a written parliamentary question on Thursday.
The minister said that the current threshold of £18,600 allows 75% of the UK working population to bring their foreign family members into the country to live.
He added that increasing the threshold to £38,700 would limit the same right to 30% of the working population.
Lord Sharpe said: “In spring 2024, we will raise the threshold to £29,000, that is the 25th percentile of earnings for jobs which are eligible for Skilled Worker visas, moving to the 40th percentile (currently £34,500) and finally the 50th percentile (currently £38,700 and the level at which the general skilled worker threshold is set) in the final stage of implementation.”
The minister said the threshold would be “increased in incremental stages to give predictability”.
However, no date for when the threshold would rise beyond £29,000 was given in Lord Sharpe’s answer, nor did one appear in a Home Office paper published on Thursday detailing the plans.
The Prime Minister previously told MPs the Government was looking at “transitional arrangements” for changes to the thresholds to make sure they are “fair”.
The Liberal Democrats suggested the planned £38,700 threshold was “unworkable”.
The party’s home affairs spokesman Alistair Carmichael added: “This was yet another half-thought through idea to placate the hardliners on their own back benches.
“James Cleverly needs to put down the spade and stop digging. Decisions like this should be made by experts and politicians working together.
“He should also publish the advice from the Treasury and OBR (Office for Budget Responsibility) about the impact that his package of changes will have on the economy.”
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