The planned changes mean lower-paid Britons would be forced to emigrate if they wanted to live with a loved one from overseas.
And if the foreign-born spouse had children, their British partner would have to earn £30,000 or more, depending on how many children they had.
They will also have to pass a strict new ‘combined attachment test’ to prove they share a genuine loyalty to Britain, not another country, and they will remain on probation for five years instead of the current two.
The proposals, to be announced by Home Secretary Theresa May, are expected to cut immigration, currently standing at 250,000 a year, by 25,000.
They are designed primarily to combat claims that some foreigners are marrying Britons to take advantage of the UK’s generous welfare system.
Speaking on The Andrew Marr Show yesterday, Mrs May said: ‘I think it is important that if people are bringing people into the UK to create a family here in the UK that we say that you should be able to support yourselves and not be reliant on the state.’
Tory MPs last night welcomed the move but Labour spokesman Chris Bryant said: ‘These new measures have more to do with Theresa May’s abject failure to live up to her promise to cut immigration than fairness.’
He claimed the idea was ‘poorly thought out’, adding: ‘It seems very unfair that a poor British man or woman can fall in love with someone from America or Thailand and be prevented from getting married and making a home here, while a rich person can.’
He said a better way to deal with the problem would be to insist that Britons who marry foreigners and settle here provide a bond worth ‘a substantial sum’. If the immigrant went on to claim benefits, the money would be deducted from the bond.
And immigration campaigners are expected to denounce the measures, claiming the new curbs would effectively give low-earning Britons who fall in love with foreigners the choice of indefinite ‘exile’ – or breaking up their family if they want to stay in the UK.
The Home Secretary also issued a warning to judges today that their powers to block the deportation of foreign criminals on human rights grounds must be curbed.
Mrs May said she would be seeking the backing of Parliament for new guidelines for the courts spelling out how the courts should apply the European Convention on Human Rights in such cases.
In particular, she said she would be making clear that the right to a family life enshrined in Article 8 of the convention – used by some foreign criminals to appeal against removal from the country – was not absolute.
She complained the judges were not taking account of the wider public interest in the way the convention enabled them to.
And she warned that if they ignored the will of Parliament, she would bring in new legislation to ensure that it was enforced.
‘This is not an absolute right. So in the interests of the economy or of controlling migration or of public order – those sort of issues – the state has a right to qualify this right to a family life,’ she said.
‘What I am going to do is actually set out the rules that say this is what Parliament, this is what the public believe is how you balance the public interest against the individual’s interest.
‘We are going to ask Parliament to vote on this to say very clearly what constitutes the right to a family life.
‘I would expect that judges will look at what Parliament will say and that they will take into account what Parliament has said. If they don’t then we will have to look at other measures and that could include primary legislation.’
Read more: Daily mail