Up to 15,000 British children are growing up in ‘Skype’ families because the Immigration Rules introduced in July 2012 do not allow both of their parents to live together in the UK, according to a paper published today by the Children’s Commissioner for England. Many children are reportedly suffering from significant stress and anxiety from the separation of their parents as a result and relying on Skype to keep in touch with the stranded parent overseas.
Skype Families is based on research commissioned by the Children’s Commissioner for England from Middlesex University and the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, which examined the impact of recent changes to financial requirements of the Immigration Rules on the wellbeing of children and their families.
The researchers found that the UK has the least family-friendly family reunification policies out of 38 developed countries largely because families with only one parent who is a British citizen need to earn a minimum of £18,600 per year  to sponsor their partner’s entry into the UK. This is 138 per cent of the minimum wage and is preventing many families with children from living together in the UK.
Anne Longfield, Children’s Commissioner for England said:
The Family Friendly? research report which informed the Children’s Commissioner’s discussion paper was coordinated and co-authored by Dr Helena Wray Associate Professor of Law at Middlesex University. Co-authors were also Saira Grant, Legal and Policy Director, Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI), Professor Eleonore Kofman (Middlesex University) and Charlotte Peel (JCWI).
Co-author Saira Grant, Legal and Policy Director (JCWI) said:
Co-author Dr Helena Wray Associate Professor of Law at Middlesex University said:“Our research shows that the financial requirements are much more onerous than they need to be to protect the public purse and mean that British families cannot live together in the UK even when this is the only practical option. “The result has been the separation of parents and children, heartache and misery. Some families cannot see how they can ever meet the rules and separation may be permanent. “The rules urgently need to be made more flexible so that affected children, the vast majority of whom are British citizens, can grow up in their own country with both their parents.”
The Children’s Commissioner has outlined recommendations for the Government to address the issue of separated families.