In that time, a cross-party investigation looked into the impact of these changes, and the final report was published last week. I made a contribution to their investigation, and I believe some other expat bloggers did the same, expressing our concerns about families potentially being split in the event of having children, or needing to attend to elderly parents or sick family members.
The report agrees that the measures implemented by the UK government last year seem overtly harsh, and are prohibitive to many families. If the UK citizen is not the chief breadwinner in a family, or if a couple doesn't have six figure savings, then living in the UK is not an easily achievable option for transatlantic families. The report even goes to far as to say that almost half of all Brits currently living in the UK would not qualify to sponsor a foreign family member to move to the UK.
You can read the full report online, but if reading government reports doesn't turn you on (I guess you didn't study politics like I did!), then I thought I'd include a some of the personal evidence they included. I think you'll agree that they are very powerful:
“I served in the British Army for 9 and a half years, have a First Class Honours degree and my husband is also degree educated and currently earning more than I do [overseas]...I am antagonised by the fact that citizens of the EEA face none of these obstacles when bringing their non - EEA spouse to the UK, yet I, a British citizen and former member of the British Army, am not entitled to the same rights in my own country.” (Individual submission, Yorkshire)” page 21
“If £18,600 is considered a minimum income for an adult to survive on, why as a clinically skilled NHS Aux. Nurse am I only earning £14,153 p.a. in my full time post? ... I am paying my taxes/rent without help/public funds.” (Individual submission, West Midlands) page 22
“a British sponsor living on a UK state pension, or a small company pension, can never bring his wife to the UK” … "casework suggests that this limit is preventing elderly couples from being able to live together in the UK." page 23
"My parents are elderly but not completely dependent, with my father hospitalised with Alzheimers. They are in the UK, I am in Australia. I am British and have been considering a return to the UK with my Australian husband to be nearer them and to provide more support and be part of the load sharing my other siblings currently undertake... [But a] return is currently not possible as my spouse and I do not meet the minimum financial requirements.” (Individual submission, Australia) page 27
"The mother is a non-EU citizen who is currently abroad and her husband and two sons, aged just five months and 18 months, all British citizens, are in the UK. The separation means that the mother has had to stop breastfeeding her five - month - old baby” page 28I'll stop there, but there are more in the report. I think you'll agree that these stories are heartbreaking, especially if you're navigating a long-distance relationship, or have traveled the visa journey route yourself.