Emma’s story

Dear FIA,
Finally I have found a blog where I can voice my story!
I met my husband in Indonesia in 2001 whilst on holiday. I returned in 2002 and we travelled around Indonesia together for 2 months after which I returned to the UK as I was working in London. We kept in touch via post and email over the next 7 months, and I went back again in 2002 and we got married in Jakarta. We applied for his visa to the UK and he got it within 4 days and he moved to London with me. We had our daughter and our son in the UK, my husband worked and I worked and we never claimed anything from the state.
My husband became home sick and we decided to give living in Indonesia a try. We moved to Indonesia in 2007 and lived with his parents initially, until we set up our own little business and were able to rent our own home. Life proved to be difficult over there as the business didn’t sustain our family and we faced poverty. We decided to move back to the UK where I thought I could get a job within 3 months of returning and our children could start school. But we were in for a real shock when immigration refused my husbands returning residence visa as he had stayed out of the UK for 2 months over the 2 year period you are allowed to return as a resident. We were advised by the British Embassy in Jakarta to apply for a returning residents visa as it was only 2 months over and it would be ok. But it was not, and we wasted money we didn’t have on this visa. We were then advised to apply for a new spouse visa, which was £800, and this was refused on the grounds of me the sponsor not having a job to come back to, and the unlikelyhood of me finding a job in the near future due to the current economic climate.
The immigration officer advised us in the refusal letter that I return to the UK and make provisions for my husband to return, ie, get a job, a house adequate for family life in the UK. I returned to the UK with our 2 children, found rented accommodation, settled the kids into school and started job hunting. As my son was only 2 when we returned he was only in pre-school part time, and so due to childcare commitments, I couldn’t secure full time work, and I couldn’t afford child care costs even if I did find a full time position. I had several interviews for graphic design jobs, as I am a professional graphic designer with 15 years + work history.
Now, I have been on Income Support, and now going onto Job Seekers Allowance in October, still searching for work, and even set myself up to freelance as a designer from home to create an income. I wrote to my local MP explaining the situation and that it was so ironic, because if my husband was allowed to be in this country, our child care problems would cease to exist, and we could both have the shared time to work and care for our family without having to claim any benefit from the state. His reply was unhelpful, expressing his sympathy for our situation, and stated that even another MP had his wife’s visa refused entry to the UK, and that it was difficult for everyone! I then wrote to the Prime Minister, and I got a standard letter expressing his sympathy, and had enclosed the rules of immigration! Like I didn’t already know that! I was on the front page of my local newspaper LEP, as I had painted a mural at my son’s school, and the teacher had contacted the paper about that to promote my artist work in the hope of future commissions, and when I was interviewed the paper was more interested in my immigration story, and so combined the two and made front page news on a Saturday! I had people stopping me in the street asking me how the situation was progressing and couldn’t believe my story and how, still 3 years later, we have not seen my husband.
My husband came into some money in April 2012 and applied again for a visa (3rd time), only for it to be refused on the grounds he hadn’t done his English test. We knew he had to do this test, but the embassy in Jakarta told him he would do it in the UK. We lost another £820. I contacted a lawyer and had had a free consultation chat, and she immediately said we could not appeal as it is a requirement of the visa to do the English test. I told her my husband was wrongly advised by the British Embassy in Jakarta, but she told me they do not see it like that, they expect you to find out for yourself what you are supposed to do. In my eyes, asking the British Embassy what to do regarding a visa IS seeking advise for yourself, but they are allowed to misadvise and get away with it, and steal your money in the process.
Now my husband has done his English test, and we are still waiting for the results, he took it 20 July, it’s now 26 September! Apparently it has gone to America to be marked and he will hear by post, but they can’t say when. By this time money is running low, and now they have changed the rules again, so I have to be earning 18600 before he can join us here in the UK. Job prospects are bleak, I don’t see how we will ever overcome this. It may mean we return to Indonesia, where we will have to live with his family, face poverty, and I will have to home school. The government has to change these laws for foreign spouses, it’s criminal and against our human rights, mine, my husbands and my childrens, to live together as a family!

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