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Family Friendly? The impact on children of the Family Migration Rules: A review of the financial requirements

Globalisation has made a profound difference to our lifestyles. We travel more, we work abroad more, and we holiday outside of our own countries and more people from other countries of the world travel to our country, as visitors, students and workers. When we carry out these ordinary modern-day activities, extraordinary things sometimes happen – we fall in love with the person we want to share our lives with. And sharing a life will mean for most people having children together and raising them in the family.

Having the good fortune to be brought up in a loving and caring family is a basic human right that we all can understand and relate to. The bonds we establish with our parents are integral to our upbringing and shape every aspect of life to come. Our parents are role models that have an unparalleled influence on how we develop through childhood and throughout life. For these reasons, the United Nations has agreed that the family is entitled to protection by both society itself and the State. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights secures the right for men and women of full age, without limitation due to race, nationality or religion to marry and found a family.

The changing patterns of our lives have brought challenges for governments seeking to implement their responsibilities. On the one hand to respect the inalienable rights of citizens and those settled in a territory to found a family, and on the other, to ensure that rights enshrined in policy and law are upheld. The experience of children and families in this report suggests the balance is not right currently in the UK.

The evidence presented in this report shows that at the current time a significant number of children and families are not able to live together in the UK because of a recent change in Immigration Rules which requires families to demonstrate income levels far higher than was previously necessary, and far higher than is viable for many. As a consequence, thousands of couples committed to building a family life together are being kept apart and thousands of children, mainly citizens of the UK, are being deprived of a parent or, where forced into exile abroad, deprived of their wider family in the UK.

This report highlights the experiences and voices of these families and their children who are suffering as a result. Part of my role as Children’s Commissioner is to ensure that children’s experiences, voices and interests are brought to the attention of governments and policy makers. This report does so powerfully. Having considered those voices, it also makes recommendations to maintain necessary border controls but ensure that the best interests and human rights of children and their families are fully respected and realised.