Families to pay for migrant relatives

Stefan Rousseau / PA

Families who want relatives from overseas to settle in Britain may be forced to pay an upfront bond.

This is the announcement David Cameron is expected to make in his major speech on immigration today, enforcing the message that those who move here must be "financially independent."

The payment would be aimed at ensuring migrants did not become a "burden on the taxpayer" by claiming benefits and not working, he will say. It is also reported that he will condemn forced marriage as "little more than slavery" and launch a crackdown which could see it become a criminal offence.

According to the Daily Mail, Mr Cameron will say: "We need to make sure – for their sake as well as ours – that those who come through this route are genuinely coming for family reasons, that they can speak English and that they have the resources they need to live here and make a contribution here – not just to scrape by, or worse, to subsist on benefit."

Last year around 50,000 visas were granted to family members of Britons and those living here permanently. Under currently rules, anyone wanting to bring in a relative – known as the sponsor – must earn at least what they would if they were claiming benefits.

Now this minimum is likely to rise substantially to prove they can support their relatives, Mr Cameron will say. According to the Mail, a Home Office analysis of 500 family migration cases found more than 70% of sponsors earned less than £20,000 a year after tax.

Mr Cameron will say: "We're going to look at further measures to ensure financial independence: discounting promises of support from family and friends, and whether a financial bond would be appropriate in some cases."

Mr Cameron's second speech on the issue of immigration acknowledges that it remains a major issue of concern for voters. He will also acknowledge abuse of the family system and the problem of sham marriages. The Home Office has already announced language tests and 'Mr and Mrs' style quizzes for visas to ensure relationships are genuine.
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