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Couples feeling ‘stuck’ because of Government’s ‘cruel’ migration plan

Martha Cullen Close said her partner would be unable to move to the UK from Mexico under the Government’s new five-point plan to tackle net migration (Martha Cullen Close/PA)
Martha Cullen Close said her partner would be unable to move to the UK from Mexico under the Government’s new five-point plan to tackle net migration (Martha Cullen Close/PA)

A British student has said she feels “stuck” and is now considering leaving the UK because the Government’s “disgusting” plan to curb legal migration would prevent her boyfriend moving to live with her.

Another woman said the plan would have prevented her marriage to her spouse had it been introduced before now, and added that she believes it is “cruel and unfair to add even more barriers to an already complicated immigration system”.

Home Secretary James Cleverly outlined the plan to tackle rising net migration, which would increase the skilled worker earnings threshold – and the minimum income for family visas – to £38,700.

Martha Cullen Close, 21, who is studying Hispanic law at Leeds University, told the PA news agency her boyfriend, Ysmael Paredes, 24, was planning to move to the UK from Mexico but, that under the Government’s new five-point plan, he would be unable to do so.

In a bid to allay concerns, No 10 has clarified that the minimum income of £38,700 is for a “household as a whole”; however, Ms Cullen Close said she and her boyfriend would still be unable to meet that income together.

She said: “We had plans for him to come and move to the UK because Mexico is so dangerous… so he doesn’t want to live there anyway.

“We’ve planned to get married – his parents are really religious and we would have had to get married anyway if we wanted to move in together.

“Now we’re just stuck, I don’t know what we’re meant to do, really.”

Martha Cullen Close, left, said her boyfriend, Ysmael Paredes, had been planning to move to the UK from Mexico (Martha Cullen Close/PA)

Ms Cullen Close said her boyfriend would be unable to move to the UK under the new rules and that she is considering leaving England to live with him.

“Obviously, that’s not my ideal situation. I don’t want to do that. I want to be able to work and live in England, but I can’t,” she said.

“I think it’s disgusting, but it’s not surprising from the Government… it’s against human rights completely, stopping people from being with their families.”

Emily Chudy, a 31-year-old journalist from London, told the PA news agency her American wife would not have been able to live with her in the UK had the Government’s plan been in place previously.

She said the couple have “completed two visas already – a fiancee visa and spousal visa – costing thousands in fees” and “still have visas to complete before she’s eligible for citizenship”.

She added: “We’re both really worried about these changes, as I still don’t make enough to meet the threshold alone, although our combined income does.

“All this policy is going to do is tear families apart and mean that only the wealthy can afford to fall in love with a non-British citizen.

“It just seems cruel and unfair to add even more barriers to an already complicated immigration system, and it’ll definitely impact working-class people, women, people of colour, and disabled people disproportionately as communities who face pay and wealth gaps.”

Home Secretary James Cleverly arriving in Downing Street, London, for a Cabinet meeting
Home Secretary James Cleverly outlined the plan to tackle rising net migration (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

When contacted by PA for a response, the Home Office pointed to its Net Migration Press Notice outlining the Home Secretary’s proposals to bring the “biggest ever reduction” to migration levels.

Mr Cleverly said in the notice: “My plan will deliver the biggest ever reduction in net migration and will mean around 300,000 people who came to the UK last year would not have been able to do so.

“I am taking decisive action to halt the drastic rise in our work visa routes and crack down on those who seek to take advantage of our hospitality.”