A family picture
UK families from overseas with foreign national partners could face more hurdles as the UK Home Office makes announces new family visa salary requirements. Unsplash/Hoi An

The co-founder of a not-for-profit organisation that supports UK families in distress like separation due to visa rules has voiced concern about recent changes introduced by the UK Home Office.

Reunite Families co-founder Jane Yilmaz warned about the effect of the new visa rules on UK children who have a foreign national parent. According to Yilmaz, the new family visa salary requirements are having a profound impact on UK families with mixed national parents.

Yilmaz drew attention to her own family to drive home the point. Her 13-year-old daughter Ela had suffered from anxiety attacks twice because of the couple's separation due to UK visa rules which prevented Ela's father from returning to the UK from Turkey for two years.

Earlier in December, the UK Home Office announced a change in visa rules which makes it mandatory for foreign nationals to earn at least £38,700 to live in the UK. To understand the impact of this on UK families, Reunite Families asked parents if their child's mental health was affected by their separation, and 92 per cent said yes.

Yilmaz forecasts a rise in the percentage of affected children as the new family visa salary requirement comes into force. The visa changes will require a steep £18600 increase in salary, making it difficult for UK citizens with foreign partners to return home.

Jane Yilmaz said: "A lot more families will be separated because they just won't be able to meet the requirements."

She expressed concern about single parents who are "trying to hold it all together", explaining to their children that "daddy does have legs, he doesn't live in an iPad".

"A young child can't understand why daddy can't just get on a plane with you, just like all other families," Yilmaz added.

Since the announcement of the new visa rules, Yilmaz's organisation has received twice as many requests for membership as most UK families are about meeting the new visa requirements.

Yilmaz revealed that most of the people whom she encountered are "well qualified and have good jobs" but they are anxious about the new visa rules and don't want to be separated.

The process could be a tedious one, resulting in six months of separation or longer as nobody knows when they would meet the family visa salary requirement. This warning comes at a time when more than 250,000 UK families led by 40 organisations have sent petitions to Downing Street to change the visa rules.

UK families from overseas struggling to settle down in Britain

Yilmaz who went through the visa process while returning from Turkey revealed the harrowing experience they faced. The family had to return to Britain as her six-year-old daughter couldn't continue her schooling in Turkey in 2016 because of a military coup. Yilmaz's father also passed away that year.

However, the crisis escalated as Yilmaz's husband wasn't allowed to return to the UK and the family was separated. Yilmaz had hoped to find a teaching job in the UK and her husband could join her within six months. This separation caused anxiety in her six-year-old daughter who turned 13 in 2023.

"I came back and faced all kinds of difficulties with my daughter settling into school in a new country and mental health issues she suffered with," revealed Yilmaz

The mother explained how severe was her daughter's anxiety as she lost both her parents - one stuck in another country, another stuck at work in the UK. Yilmaz was a full-time mother in Turkey but in the UK she had to work to earn the visa salary requirement. This was around the same time when UK families earning £70,000 said they were struggling financially in 2017.

Her daughter Ela collapsed twice due to the anxiety of her parent's separation, including the day before their return to the UK. The situation further worsened when Yilmaz's former husband couldn't join them in Britain for two years, resulting in their separation.

When her husband relocated to Britain he struggled to adjust to life in Britain and their marriage.

"We had been married at the time for six years. We had a pretty solid relationship in Turkey but I think after two years of separation and coming here and trying to relocate to a new country it was very difficult for my husband," said Yilmaz.

Meanwhile, a Home Office spokesperson has called the new family visa requirement essential to cut down on the number of migrants by 300,000 a year.

"The Minimum Income Requirement ensures that families are self-sufficient instead of relying on public funds, with the ability to integrate if they are to play a full part in British life," said the Home Office spokesperson.