Sent from my iPhone using GeoClicks
Sent from my iPhone using GeoClicks
I took the Life in the UK Test, as did my husband, and we both passed on the first try. There's a study app online, I just used it for 3-4 weeks on my commute to work every day before the test.
But I echo all of the concerns about bringing spouses over. We are Americans in the UK, we were planning to stay here before the transfer to HK. My husband became British but I did not want to, happy with the indefinite leave to remain visa. But we are going to HK for 3-4 years, UKBA says if I live outside of the UK for 2 years my visa will lapse and I will be thrown into the spouse visa process. By then who knows if a UKIP/Tory coalition just bans foreigners completely. So I am naturalizing as British, solely to ensure that I can return to this country in future where the home I own is!
We had a hellish time when we went through it. We saw the changes coming and applied for ILE while the 4-years-married-outside-the-UK rule was still in force, rather than going for a normal spouse visa to be converted to ILR, so that we could get my wife permanent residency before the rules became truly insane. We were hugely worried and stressed out for a very long time, though. Luckily, my wife passed the Life in the UK test on her first try, while we were on a two-week summer break in the UK. If we hadn't got ILE before the new rules, I couldn't have imagined how I (being Hong Kong-based) would have been able to prove a salary of GBP16k per year (plus I can't remember how much more for each dependant child).
Since the rules came into force there has since been a clarification to the effect that if you are returning to the UK and haven't got a job, you need to show that you have a job offer at the appropriate salary level. This doesn't completely solve matters, though, and we had to face the possibility that we might never be able to live in the UK. I was born and raised in the UK and all my friends and family are there. My wife and I are both qualified professionals and we're not exactly short of cash, but at every turn the language we encountered from UK Government agencies was hostile and unhelpful and made us question why we were even bothering to try. Were it not for those friends and family, we seriously might have just jacked the whole thing in.
The whole thing, from start to finish, really did make us feel unwelcome in the UK and my wife still dreads going through Heathrow because of the grilling she gets and the (admittedly somewhat unreasonable) fear that an official is going to find something wrong with her paperwork and send her back to Hong Kong.
I remember when they were discussing the salary level that a sponsor should have. They commissioned an expert panel to investigate the matter and report. Eventually, that panel recommended a level slightly about what you'd get on minimum wage. The release of their recommendations, however, coincided with a new political push to 'control' immigration and a separate committee suggested that by setting the minimum threshold higher (at 16k), they could achieve a bigger reduction in immigration. So in the case of that chap in the BBC report it's not entirely honest of people in officialdom to say that the policy under which he was to be removed had been put in place to ensure that immigrants did not become a burden on the state.
Last edited by M Khan; 19-01-2015 at 12:34 PM.
The minimum salary also takes no account of where you live in the UK, so in some cases people who are moving back are expected to earn more than the average salary for that area. The whole thing is summed up by the fact that the Border Agency states their mission is "reducing immigration". Political and media pressure to reduce it but of course they can do nothing about the majority of immigration so instead focus on the easy targets - students and people returning with overseas families. The fact that this (i) damages the UK economy and/or (ii) is against the right to a family life makes no difference.