Foreigners banned from retiring to Britain
Pensioners oustside the EU will be banned from moving to Britain to retire, it has been disclosed.
By Urmee Khan
Last Updated: 3:22PM GMT 05 Nov 2008
The current legislation allows non European Union residents, aged 60 or over, to retire to Britain if they have a net disposable yearly income of at least 25,000 and are able to accommodate themselves and any dependents without needing public funds.
They are not required to have worked or paid taxes in the UK and are entitled to free healthcare on arrival.
After five years they have full access to the benefit system and are also entitled to apply for settlement and a British passport.
The Home Office is set to change the rules, saying the policy did not fit in with the idea of 'earned citizenship'.
“It is difficult to reconcile the existence and entitlements of this route with the Government's conviction that citizenship should be earned and that migrants must demonstrate certain requirements in order to progress on their journey” according to the new guidance.
“Although the migrants need to be self sufficient, the amount of disposable income that these migrants must demonstrate may not match the demands they may place on public services,” it added.
However, there are concerns that countries like New Zealand, Australia and America will retaliate by imposing similar restrictions of their own, affecting thousands of Britons.
As the rules do not apply to EU citizens, there is no risk of countries such as Spain – where thousands of Britons retire to every year – putting in place reciprocal arrangements.
A UK Border Agency spokesman said the government was conscious of the burden migrants may place in future on public services. Although only a small number of non-EU currently retire to Britain, the policy was to change.
She said: “We welcome all those who can make a positive contribution to our society.”
Under the same guidence on immigration rules, the minimum age at which foreigners can come to Britain to get married has also been raised in a new bid to tackle forced marriages.
From the end of this month, both the intended bride and groom will have to be 21 up from 18 before a marriage visa can be granted.
Immigration Minister Phil Woolas said the Government had a “firm conviction that no-one should be pressurised into sponsoring a marriage visa”. To avoid breaching equality laws, the age for civil partnerships will also be raised to 21.
Shadow Home Secretary Dominic Grieve welcomed raising the age limit. But he added: “The government is still failing to address the crucial issue in this area. Will they now adopt our policy of having an annual limit on non-EU immigration?”