Sophie’s storyPosted: 07/11/2012
I’ve been wondering for so long if there was a way I could make contact with other people in my situation and to hear other stories. I am so glad to have come across this blog.
I am 23 years old and met my husband, a South African Citizen, almost 2 and a half years ago. He lives and works in Spain, and has done for most of his working life, and we met whilst I was out there in 2010. I returned to the UK but stayed in touch with him during my last year at University, chatting through Skype and Facebook. The following Summer we were reunited again as I graduated and moved out to Spain to live with him and work. Our relationship grew from strength to strength. He applied for a Visitors Visa so that he could come to the UK with me over Christmas and New Year and visit England for the first time. It was such an incredible experience to have him here with my family and friends, and I knew that we could be so happy living together in the UK.
At the beginning of this year we travelled to South Africa together. I had been given a 6-month voluntary placement at a school close to his family home in Cape Town. This was an amazing opportunity to visit his home, meet his family and spend time with them. We decided to get married and my parents flew out to Cape Town to be with us on our special day. It was the most incredible day of my life. From there, we returned to Spain to work another Summer with a view to settling down together in the UK by the end of the year. We had spent so much time studying the UKBA website page so that we were aware of the rules, that we didn’t check it again over the Summer. Of course, this is when all the laws changed, and having been out of the country for the whole year meant that we had no idea! I knew that I had to return to the UK to find a permanent job so we could begin the visa application, so I returned in September and began working as a Learning Support Assistant. It’s a job that doesn’t pay well at all, but a job that I loved.
Shortly after returning, I decided to check the UKBA website, just to see if there had been any updates. What I saw shocked and appalled me. Sitting in my room, reading through the new rules…I felt sick. I called my husband immediately but I just didn’t know how to break this news to him. It was so hard to process all this new information, but what was clear was that our dreams of being together, permanently, in the UK before Christmas were shattered. I knew that I had no choice but to start looking for another job. I began searching but had no idea how much chance I stood of finding something that fulfilled the financial requirement. I consider myself lucky that I am a Graduate and I live in the South East of England, and so after one month of searching, I was finally offered a job. Handing in my notice at my school and explaining why was embarrassing and upsetting, but thankfully everybody has been so nice and understanding. I am now in my final two weeks and set to begin my new job soon. Now, we must wait 6 months before we can apply for the Settlement Visa.
In an attempt to find a way to be together in the meantime, my husband applied for a Family Visit Visa which was refused on the grounds that he was not a ‘Genuine’ visitor and was at risk of overstaying and not returning to Spain. What I cannot understand is why on Earth would we break the law, knowing the consequences, when we are a young couple starting out our life together? and why it is not ‘genuine’ that a married couple might want to spend some time together!!! It just makes no sense. I was even more shocked to hear that the appeal process takes 6-12 months!!! So what’s the point? Now we are left with no choice but to be separated, probably for about a year (taking into account the time it can take to process the visa once we have applied). I will have to fly out to Spain as often as I can, wasting money that we could be saving towards a house and the extortionate cost of the visa itself!
I find the whole thing absolutely unbelievable and I realise that there are people out there who are affected by this in worse ways than us. My husband and I do consider ourselves lucky, with me managing to get a job and him living not too far way in Spain, but still…no married couple should have to go through this and live in separate countries, just so our Government can try and prove that it is tackling immigration. It is quite frankly disgusting.
Am I supposed to feel ashamed for marrying a non-EU citizen? Is this a kind of punishment for daring to marry outside the European Union?! It certainly feels like it.
My heart goes out to all those who have posted their story on this page and anyone who is facing this incredibly difficult situation. All I know is that our love will get us through anything and I would never, ever change my husband for the world.