Cameron gets tougher on spouse 'visa cheats'

 

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The Independent Online

The Government is planning to increase significantly the minimum amount that UK nationals must earn before being allowed to bring a dependent foreign spouse to Britain.

In a hard line speech on immigration today David Cameron will also announce plans to lengthen the time that couples have to be together before they can settle in this country.

Mr Cameron is expected to announce the partial results of a Government inquiry which found that 70 per cent of UK-based sponsors had post-tax earnings of less than £20,000 a year. He will say that current levels of earning are not enough to ensure that married immigrants will not become dependent on benefits: "We need to make sure – for their sake as well as ours – that those who come (to Britain)... have the resources they need to live here and make a contribution here – not just to scrape by, or worse, to subsist on benefit.

"And we're going to look at further measures to ensure financial independence: discounting promises of support from family and friends, and whether a financial bond would be appropriate in some cases."

Mr Cameron will also announce new measures to cut back on "sham" marriages. He will cite the case of a Pakistani national who applied for a spouse visa on the basis of his marriage to someone settled in the UK. The man obtained indefinite leave to remain but then divorced his UK-based spouse and returned to Pakistan, re-married and then applied for entry clearance for his new spouse.

"We simply cannot sit back and allow the system to be abused in this way," he will say. "So we will make migrants wait longer, to show they are in a genuine relationship before they can get settlement. And we'll also impose stricter, clearer tests on the genuineness of a relationship, including the ability to speak the same language and to know each other's circumstances." Mr Cameron will also announce that he intends to look at new measures to crack down on forced marriage – including the possibility of making it a specific offence to force someone to marry, describing forced marriage as "little more than slavery".

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