THE Tories have been accused of acting without “rhyme or reason” over plans for spousal UK visas – which would bar the vast majority of their own Home Office staff from bringing a partner from overseas to the UK.

Last month, the Conservatives brought in a “minimum income requirement” of £29,000 for people wanting to bring a partner from overseas on a UK family visa. People who are earning less than this figure will not be able to act as a visa sponsor.

The Tories have plans to raise this income requirement to £34,500, and finally to around £38,700.

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SNP MP Deidre Brock asked the UK Government how many Home Office staff earn below £38,700 – and was told a massive 37,096 out of some 40,000 total.

Brock further asked how many earn below £34,500 and was told 31,936, while 10,819 earn below £29,000.

The SNP MP said the Tories’ rules meant that around 90% of their own Home Office staff would be “unable to marry an overseas partner once [the minimum income requirement] goes up to £38,700”.

“Means-testing your right to marriage is bad enough, but setting the salary bar so high that even their own staff could be blocked from settling with spouses from outside Britain is just ludicrous,” Brock (below) said.

The National:

Caroline Coombs, co-founder and executive director of Reunite Families UK, which helps people navigate the spousal visa process, said the figures were “shocking and reveal once again the classist and discriminatory nature of the minimum income requirement and the wider spouse visa rules”.

Coombs went on: “The government seems to be saying to one-quarter of its own Home Office workers that unless they meet a threshold of £29k they are not providing a positive net contribution to the economy nor can they establish a family life here in the UK with whoever they choose.

“Amongst our members, we have civil servants who whilst forbidden from speaking out are worried of what it means for them and their partners and families.

“When the threshold increases to £38,700 it would impact the majority of their own Home Office staff and 70% of the working population.”

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Brock, the SNP’s House of Commons business spokesperson, said: “Home Office staff had better hope they don’t fall in love with someone from overseas because the government they work for just won’t have it.”

She went on: “No government should be in the business of splitting up families but this UK Government seems determined to lead the world in nasty draconian policies.

“There is no rhyme or reason to increasing the level of minimum income needed for a spousal visa to 29k, let alone 38k. It’s being done simply to look tough on immigration – they’d throw their own staff under a bus just to throw a small bone to the Tory right-wing.

“The minimum income requirement won’t impact the rights of the wealthy elite in the Tory party, of course – they can live and love as they choose. It shows how little value and respect this government holds for everyone who works hard on a lower salary, including their own civil servants.”

Brock rebutted Conservative arguments that someone would need to be on at least £29,000 in order to economically support a partner, saying that, if so, it “has serious implications for public sector pay levels and the Home Office should start by reviewing its own salaries”.

She added: “We know this harmful policy was never about saving money from the public purse, it’s all about saving this Tory government from the wrath of their right-wing – blaming immigrants for the failures of their own party policies.

“With such a small proportion of migrants coming to the UK through this partner visa route it will, at best, only mildly massage the statistics – at the expense of ripping apart thousands of loving families.”

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The Home Office pointed to comments from Home Secretary James Cleverly, who said when the minimum income requirement was put up in April: "We have reached a tipping point with mass migration. There is no simple solution or easy decision which cuts numbers to levels acceptable to the British people. 

"Whether it was words unsupported by action, unfounded optimism or just plain wishful thinking that migration would fall on its own, indifference of any kind is never going to work - only determined action, backed by strong resolve, will deliver needed change. 

"I promised action and we have delivered at remarkable speed. We’ve acted to cut unsustainable numbers, to protect British workers and their wages, to ensure those bringing family to the UK do not burden taxpayers, and to build an immigration system fit for the future – and one the public can rightly have confidence in."