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15,000 children to spend Christmas away from families

FAMILY BREAK UP: Immigration rules mean that British nationals cannot bring loved ones to the UK unless they earn at least £18,600 per year

UP TO 15,000 children, many of them black, will spend Christmas separated from their families because of immigration rules.

The alarming figures were released by campaign group The Joint Counsel for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI), who believe growing numbers of African and Caribbean families are being adversely affected by the Government’s minimum income requirement (MIR).

JCWI have launched a new awareness raising initiative called Bring Them Home, to highlight the issue facing families. The amendments to the Immigration Rules in July 2012 have meant that British nationals cannot sponsor their husband or wife to join them in the UK unless they earn at least £18,600 per year.

Satbir Singh, chief executive at JCWI, commenting on the disturbing figures, told The Voice: “These immigration rules are very likely to disproportionately impact people from black and minority ethnic communities.

“The economic data that is available reveals that these groups are less likely to meet the £18,600 requirement, even if they work full-time. Black and minority communities earn less and have reduced access to the professions that provide higher salaries.

“We hope our campaign will help educate the public about the suffering this Government has deliberately inflicted on British families. Whatever a person’s position in the immigration debate, it’s very hard to justify the separation of families.

"We hope that in 2018 the Government will see sense and bring them home. Though not part of the hostile environment strategy, these rules create a hostile environment for British citizens and many find they are unable to remain in the UK.”

As part of the campaign to raise awareness, a carol service was organised at St. Martin in the Fields, on December 2. Those who participated in the service were families from across the country, who have been adversely affected by the Government’s immigration rules, known as “Appendix FM”.

Speaking about the event Singh said: “Those participating included a number who have seen their lives fall into chaos because of a cruel policy. It was also a welcome opportunity for families to meet one another and to remind themselves that they are not alone.”

The £18,600 threshold excludes 42 per cent of the British working population, including 55 per cent of women, from bringing a foreign spouse to live in Britain.

The immigration ruling means that millions of nurses, teaching assistants, factory workers and those working on zero-hours contracts will never be able to bring their husbands, wives or civil partners back to the UK.

The MIR increases to £22,400 if there are one or more non European- born children in the family. Sponsors who meet the MIR requirements are often hit by complex rules that limit what types of paper- work count as proof of income or validate relationships.

Fees charged by the Home Office for applying are also proving too expensive for many. A single application can cost between £1000 and £2000, with no guarantee of success. Thousands applying to sponsor their spouses have also complained about extensive delays, up to a year in some cases, or incorrect decision making by the Home Office.

In February, the Supreme Court said the immigration rule was incompatible with the right to a family life under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

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