UK POLICY TARGETING ABUSES IN FAMILY MIGRATION
On our blog post of yesterday, we commented on the legal lacuna in domestic Irish law causing marriages of convenience to be lawful in the State. We called on the government to take immediate action to amend this situation and actively target the abuses in the EU Treaty Rights process.
Yesterday, the UK Minister for Integration, Damien Green, also addressed this topic in a speech to the Centre for Policy. He referred to the UK governments on going consultation process in respect of reforming family migration to the UK, which had been launched in July 2011. He indicated that this consultation group are working towards tackling abuses in the “family migration route”. The Minister referred to the following proposals that are being considered;
- define more clearly what constitutes a genuine marriage for the purposes of the immigration rules to help identify sham and forced marriages;
- introduce a minimum income threshold for those sponsoring family migrants to ensure they are supported at a level that helps integration;
- extend the probationary period before spouses and partners can apply for settlement in the UK from 2 years to 5 years to test the genuineness of relationships and to encourage integration into British life before settlement is granted; and
- require spouses, partners and adult dependants aged under 65 applying for settlement to be able to demonstrate that they can understand everyday English.
It is frustrating, but not surprising, to see the repercussions arising from a minority abuse of the immigration system in the UK, which then leads to a more difficult and restirctive application process for the genuine applicants.
By way of comparison, it is very difficult to understand how the Irish government can allow the current position in respect of the non criminalizing of the “marriage of convenience” to stand. By not addressing the problem by way of criminal legislation, the fraudulent industry of surrounding this area can only prosper, and the Gardai’s hands are tied. Both legislative amendments and active policy making towards targeting marriages of convenience is essential in Ireland. However, restricting family unity rights for genuine family members is clearly not.