Leonie’s storyPosted: 14/08/2012
Dear Family Immigration Alliance,
I would like to add my story to your ‘testimonial’ page and also to thank you for providing a platform for people to share their experiences.
I am a British citizen and met my Trinidadian partner at university while we were both doing our Masters degrees. He returned to Trinidad and found work as a government research scientist while we prepared for our wedding, which was planned for March 2013. We had aimed to be sensible and ensure that our finances were secure before getting married and he made the move to be here with me in the UK.
I am a PhD student and I work 30 hours a week to pay for my studies. The new income threshold means that while we could still get married, we will not be able to live together unless I find work that pays above £18,600. Living in the Midlands my wages come nowhere near this level, and in my current job I would have to work a 55 hour week in order to meet it. The fact that my partner’s income is not taken into consideration means that in order for him to live with me I either have to find a full time job that pays £9.50 an hour (and consequently neglect my studies) or give up my doctorate in order to move to Trinidad (which recently underwent a 3 month state of emergency and curfew due to the incredibly high murder rate and on which the Foreign Office advises: ‘You should be aware that there are high levels of violent crime, especially shootings and kidnappings. British nationals have been victims of violent attacks, particularly in Tobago where law enforcement is weak”).
My partner is a highly skilled microbiologist and there is no reason to think that he would struggle to find work in the UK, having worked (and paid taxes) here while he was studying. However we will not be considered an exceptional case and so the painful choice is to either be apart for years or to throw away the hard work and money I have invested in my doctorate. Under the old rules we would have been fine, I intended to support us (with no recourse to public funds or benefits since this would not have been allowed anyway) while he found work, after which time he planned to support me while I switched to full time study. And we would have being paying tax into the system all the way.
The government reforms to the income threshold are unnecessary, draconian and are forcing us and so many others into ridiculous positions. I recognise that we are not in as bad a position as others, since we are both highly skilled and could theoretically find work that meets the threshold, but at what price?
I have worked and paid taxes all my life, and yet I feel that I am being held prisoner in my own country. No one should have to accept the state interfering in their choice of partner, especially when love is given a monetary value. People’s lives are being ruined for the sake of ideological point-scoring that actually will have little effect except to limit the chances and choices of those who fall in love with a non EU citizen.