NEW Tory immigration plans intended to cut the number of migrants by 300,000 a year could risk splitting up families already living in the UK.

People across the UK could see foreign partners told to leave the country the next time their visa comes up for renewal if their household does not earn £38,700, No 10 has said.

Home Secretary James Cleverly (below) announced a number of policies designed to cut migration figures earlier this week.

The National:

Many of them have faced strong criticism, including from both First Minister Humza Yousaf and SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn.

Downing Street defended the policy however, saying it was right that “if you are bringing someone into the country you are able to support them”.

Under the plans unveiled on Monday, those wishing to bring their spouse to the UK will now have to earn £38,700, a significant increase on the current figure of £18,600.

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As well as applying to those yet to come to the UK, No 10 confirmed the new higher figure risks affecting those already living here.

Asked if it would apply to partners when they came to renew their visas, No 10 said the change was “not retrospective, but it would apply to renewals in the future”.

At that point, people would then be expected to “meet the visa requirements of the day”.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesperson said: “People always have a set length of time for their visas and will be aware at the conclusion of the visa time that they don’t have a guarantee that they will obviously remain in the country.”

There are exemptions, but these will be on a case-by-case basis, and it stressed the amount could be spread across the household.

Experts are also among those to warn against the policy. Speaking to The Independent, Madeleine Sumption, the director of the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford, said the changes would make the UK an outlier among western nations.

She said: “This is definitely completely different to what any other high-income country does.”

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The changes are due to come into effect in spring.

Speaking on Tuesday, the Prime Minister’s spokesperson said: “The family immigration rules contain a provision for exceptional circumstances where there would be unjustifiably harsh consequence for the applicant, their partner, a relevant child or another family member if their application were to be refused.”