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OPINION - Visa rules: I love my partner but the UK's cruel new wage threshold threatens our life together

Passengers were delayed for several hours at airports across the UK as self-service passport gates stopped working (Steve Parsons/PA) (PA Archive)
Passengers were delayed for several hours at airports across the UK as self-service passport gates stopped working (Steve Parsons/PA) (PA Archive)

Over 150,000 people signed petitions to cut the upcoming visa changes — you might think the Home Office would reconsider this massively impactful decision. Unfortunately, it’s becoming glaringly obvious that anyone who tries to make themselves heard is just screaming into the void.

I am not from the UK. This means I have to earn the privilege of living here by proving my worth through my contributions to society. I think this notion is reasonable.

My partner, on the other hand, is a long time resident of this country. When you meet someone, should the stages of getting to know them also include a passport check?

About six months into our relationship, we were certain that we didn’t want to live apart. Could I have ever known that I would want to spend the rest of my life with a stranger who flirted with me at a department store?

From moving into our tiny flat in Camden to flying all the way to India for an official family introduction, everything seemed to be going great. I’m no fan of romantic films but I did feel like I was living in one. And I didn’t hate it.

That was until the Home Office decided to make some changes. Their plans seemed to put a huge obstacle in front of us: what happens if we can’t get my spousal visa approved? Where do we live? How do we decide if the love we have for each other is worth upheaving the life my partner has worked so hard to build for himself?

It will cost me a total of £4153 just to submit this application

When it was first announced, the jump in the minimum salary threshold from £18,600 to £38,700 seemed atrocious. This meant that if you don’t make an income that meets the requirement, you can’t sponsor your partner or family member’s visa and they can’t come live with you in the UK. This news caused a huge wave of panic for many people. As this increase put the family/spouse visa salary threshold far higher than the average UK salary for those in their mid to late twenties, the uproar was justified.

Everything that my partner and I had put down in our 5-year plan (yes, we have one of those) seemed to be destroyed by the same establishment that is supposed to help him see it through. We went from saving to put a down payment for a house and being dedicated to building durable local careers to feeling like we were sitting ducks. Now we just wait for the next bit of bad news to roll in and drag us further from the lifestyle we dreamed of.

I’m sure these changes have been driven by some supposedly justifiable reason. For one, the insinuation that immigrants risk overusing public service is quite presumptuous. I’m coming up to the end of my second year in London and have been successful at accessing NHS services a total of zero times. Of course, I am far from the only one struggling to get healthcare when needed with 250 patients dying every week due to long wait times.

It’s jarring to think that is the case when not only do I make contributions every month to national insurance, which are taken straight from my paycheck, but I also had to pay a whopping £2070 NHS surcharge to get my post-graduate visa application approved.

All this for a service that isn’t even wholly available to me? It just proves that the argument that public funds need to be protected from immigrants, who pay such a ghastly amount to even be allowed into the country, is nothing but right-wing cant borne out of contempt for anyone who cannot buy the government’s support.

Today, the threshold will officially reach £29,000 but as of 2025, which is when I will be switching over to the spouse visa, it will go up to £38,700. Oh, and did I mention that it will cost me a total of £4153 just to submit this application?

When talking with others my age, it’s almost a unanimous belief that there seems no end to systems that only further the divide between the rich and poor. No wonder Gen Z is going through a hell of a mental health crisis.

Costs continue to go up, wages remain stagnant and people’s love lives are now also being dictated by a Home Office that just doesn’t listen. They ought to have a “What citizenship do you hold?” section on dating apps now.