The government seems to have it in for British citizens who get on the Tebbit bike (or in their case a plane) and go and seek their fortunes abroad.
Woe betide them if they decide to come home, because they won’t get a welcome and a pat on the back for their initiative.
Bad luck to the low earning ex-pat who wants to return with their non-British life partner. The new financial requirements for a spouse visa are being challenged in the courts, but currently the Briton who wishes to sponsor their non-British partner will need an income of £18,600, and to show that s/he has earned that amount for at least 6 months, or have savings of £62,500. It is one law for the rich and one for the poorer.
The Immigration Act 2014 imposes a NHS financial levy on migrants without indefinite leave to remain. Someone applying for a spousal visa does not get ILR for five years, so if the NHS levy is going to be £200 p.a. then that’s another £1,000 on top of the existing fee of £1,500.
And that is just for sponsoring a spouse. If you also have step-children who are not British nationals, the income and savings requirements and the fees get higher.
If things don’t work out for the young Brit abroad and she arrives back in the UK without a penny to her name, well that’s her bad luck too, because the Coalition has decided to deny her any benefits for three months. This is to discourage undesirables from entering the UK such as skint British nurses, plumbers and electricians who might take a few weeks to get a job. And it doesn’t matter a damn how many years tax and national insurance they’d paid before they left.
These measures have been introduced by this government without altering the existing injustice of the frozen state pensions for British retirees in Commonwealth countries. This provides a strong incentive for brassic OAP ex-pats to return to the UK and not only get their pensions index linked, but avail themselves of the other supports of the NHS, free bus passes and means-tested benefits.
So to recap: If you are young, economically active and have the drive and initiative to seek work abroad, you will be discouraged from returning. On the other hand, if you are old, retired and poor, you are given a positive incentive to come home. Someone should make a poster to hang above Theresa May’s desk that reads “Remember — This is an Ageing Society”.
My own stint as an ‘ex-pat’ is about to come to an end. I’m not personally affected by the Coalition’s ‘reforms’, but I’m very aware of them as a result of taking part in ex-pat forums. Just today there was a query from a single mother in New Zealand who wants to return home, but wouldn’t have a penny to live on when she arrived until she found a job. For someone like her, the three month rule is devastating.