A spouse’s story

My partner and I would like to get married and settle in the UK, but because of the family migration rules we are not eligible for a fiancee visa. My partner has accepted a new job doing supply teaching to give him the freedom to work on a new business that he’s set up (I also invested in this company and I am a shareholder). The problem is that we were told by a lawyer that he needs to be employed for 6 months before we can even apply and it wouldn’t matter if he took an income out of our business because that wouldn’t count either. This leaves us in a difficult position. Also, we were told that my savings, income, and property (which totals up to about $225,000) does not count at all. I’m frustrated because, while 6-8 months may not seem like a long time, I have to plan my life around the government. I am not able to have children and so we need to adopt and will likely have to be married for two years before we can even apply to do that. I was also told that financial help from parents is discounted. This whole thing is just crazy. I’ve read time after time about known terrorists that can not be deported from the UK based on their human rights and yet I can’t marry my partner because I wasn’t born in the UK (I am a United States citizen). Isn’t not being able to marry who you want a violation of human rights?

A sponsor’s story – Christmas 2012

For British/non-EEA families and couples, Tuesday the 25th will mark the first Christmas under the new family migration rule changes – and a painful reminder of what is missing most this festive season. For our contributor, Christmas 2012 is another separate experience from her son.

Here’s hoping 2013 brings about progress in the courts for a genuinely happy new year.

– Chris, FIA

Christmas is a time for family, a time to be happy but mine serves as a reminder of the six years that I haven’t seen my son. People wish me a happy Christmas and I smile and wish them a good one as well but I know mine will be filled with worry and a sense of helplessness. What mother fails to provide for a child she brought into this world. I would give anything just to hold my son in my arms again. I have missed the milestones in his life and it breaks my heart. I find it difficult to sleep everyday because I can’t stop thinking. It’s after 01:00am and even if I tried I couldn’t sleep. Friends and family ask me to look after their kids while they go to work or run errands and I say ok for the company but its a catch 22 situation as their kids just remind me of the time I am not spending with my son. I pray everyday for a miracle that one day the home office will say you are a free person and you can work and provide for your family. This year the UKBA has really shown me who is boss, I have to sign on exactly on Christmas Day, I thought England was a Christian country, but i can’t think about going to church because I am supposed to be at a police station signing on. All my life I have lived a straightforward life but now I feel like a criminal, I feel like a prisoner even though am not actually in prison. I am worse off than a prisoner because at least they know when they will be free. Sometimes I cry but then I dry my tears again. Should I leave my husband and just move back home so I can see my son, if I do that I bet that’s the last time I will be seeing my husband again because he doesn’t earn enough to sponsor me to come back here. I can’t ask him to leave his job and son and daughter here to come with me when I don’t have a job in my home country. I have a bachelor of science degree but now I am now just a housewife . I have nothing against housewives but I just thought my life would be different from my mum because my mum was born in a generation where it wasn’t deemed important or necessary for a woman to have a carrier. I pray that my anguish will stop because I fear for my sanity. I look fine on the outside but I am burning inside. I pray for a miracle otherwise I don’t know how long I can take this pain for.

A positive signal

Here is a really useful and concise research briefing of the family immigration rule changes for MPs, published today in the House of Commons library: http://www.parliament.uk/briefing-papers/SN06353

It covers the details of the changes, rationale and motivations etc to date. Most encouragingly the role of the FIA in promoting the experiences of sponsors has been acknowledged as part of the civil society response to the changes; and the view of the FIA, during the announcement of the changes in July, is even quoted at length within.

After a year of campaigning on these rule changes, it’s a sincerely positive signal that the objections of sponsors is becoming a recognised part of the discourse on this issue. And although as a blog and campaign we seem to have missed our first birthday (30th November…!) this acknowledgement stands as anniversary enough for the leaps and bounds made by sponsors in opposition to the rules, in just 6 months since they came into force.

For the scale of the task ahead of us, the work being put into the campaign is beginning to pay off. So please continue to post your stories and updates, and ask others you know suffering under the rules to share their stories here, and submit them to the Brit Cits pack of case studies being circulated to MPs and the media; as the attention they’re receiving is on the rise.


A sponsor’s story

My wife, applied for her marriage visa in August this year after we got married in June in North America. Originally the plan had been to apply from the UK before the July 12th changes came into force. This would have been possible as at the time as my wife was on a work visa and therefore had the ‘right’ to apply from within the UK. However, when passing through immigration on our way back form our wedding, we were told that her visa had been cancelled and she would not be allowed in on her working visa. Effectively she was only able to get into the country because she is from North America and therefore can visit for 6 months without a visa. However, with regards to the marriage visa this changed everything as now she would have to leave and apply from North America and there was no way we could do this in time to beat the new July 12th regulation changes. My income at the time was £18,000 a year gross, so effectively I was £50 a month short on meeting their threshold. We were told to try and apply anyway, as we would me among the first people trying to get in under the new regulations and there maybe some flexibility, especially in a case where it is so obvious that once she returns my wife would be more than able to support herself (on top of having a degree in Design Engineering, she has access to more than enough funds to meet the savings threshold of £16k+, but as these are her assets and not mine they could not be included in the official visa application). So at great expense to ourselves (well over £2,000 and counting) we sent off her application from North America. On 15th October (a day I will never forget) we got the awful news we had been dreading, the visa was rejected on financial grounds. Personally I have never felt so emasculated in all my life. Some people I had never met were telling me that I was £50 a month short of being able to support my wife, the woman I had promised to make everything right to and someone I have loved for years! These people made me feel worthless, I had let everyone down and especially my wife. I had never experienced proper depression before in my life, but in the weeks after this event I lost well over a stone in weight and felt utterly useless to my wife, my family and my friends. This however, does not scratch the surface of the despair affected upon my wife, 8 years she has lived, worked and studied in the UK and she is on the brink of losing everything.

In the time between my wife making her initial application and the rejection, I had saved some money and was able to visit her for a week in September, which was fantastic. After a period of enforced separation like we had experienced after spending every day together prior, any time together, no matter how short was priceless and we enjoyed every moment together. But on my return to London we were landed a double blow, firstly I lost my job through redundancy the Monday after my return and we were given a month to find a new place to live. I had to find a new job and somewhere that I could effectively move 8 years worth of life in London all at the same time. By working tirelessly night and day for the best part of a month, together (me in London and my wife in North America) managed to find both. The day I accepted both the offer of a new job as well as finding a new place to live also happened to be October 15th. What should have been a moment of joy and excitement for both of us was once again, shattered by UKBA.

The appeal process.

To bring you up to date on our story so far, after the initial application was rejected we decided our next best thing to do was launch an appeal against the decision as this was our right and it was painted and a quick and easy step to take. Wrong! Nearly 3 months into the process and we have only just found out that they have accepted that we even made an appeal and it may take up until 1st of April for them to make a decision on the first stage on the process. Based on all our previous dealings with UKBA I have fullest confidence they will use every one of the 19 weeks they are entitled too, with scant regard of the damage they are doing to our little family. Our appeal is based on the the fact that my father was topping up what my gross income was with a £100 a month cash allowance (supported by his bank statements showing where and when these withdrawals were taking place) as well as a copy of my new contract which showed that I will be earning more than the £18,600 required to sponsor my wife.

All in all this has been the most devastating, hurtful and depressing 6 months of my life and at the moment there appears to be no end in sight. All the while I know that whatever I feel I have lost during this time my wife feels like she has lost 10 fold as the entire life she has spent the last 8 years building hangs by a thread. However, even with all of this hanging over her she has remained a beacon of strength for both of us, she has never flinched from the challenge once and it is undoubtedly fair to say that I love this woman more now that ever before. All we want is to live a quiet life together in the East End of London and I can not for the life of me understand why this is such a threat to Mr. Cameron and his cronies. Thanks to the measure put in place by his government, my wife has not been able to set foot in our new home once.