Nathan’s story

I am a 42 year old full blooded Englishman who’s grandparents played active roles during WWII in the RAF. Unfortunately my grandfathers have passed away along with one of my grandmas though my remaining 91 year old grandmother is as strong as an ox and still has the humour of a young woman!!

I was given the opportunity to work overseas at the young age of 22 and have seen, lived & worked in most countries the average UK citizen can only dream about. I have been very fortunate to see a lot of the world and also broaden my mind with all the different cultures I have been involved with.

That being said, being tired of living in rented accommodation for the past 20 years we made the decision to move back to my home country at the beginning of this year with my Thai wife of 13 years marriage and our 12 year old son who is also a British Citizen and currently studying in my former UK Secondary School we have been hit by the mighty UKBA and our governments ‘so called’ immigration policies!

Being completely naive to the current immigration situation I applied for the spouse visa on behalf of my wife in January and quite frankly made a complete mess and kissed goodbye to approximately 1000GBP application costs. Bearing in mind that directly after Xmas 2013 we enrolled our son into his current UK school thinking that we would follow soon after.

I then sought professional advice whom advised me to make a fresh application, so to avoid the risk of a 2nd rejection we applied for only a visit visa which was rejected by the UKBA Abu Dhabi within 48 hours as the case officer ‘assumed’ due to the rejection of the spouse visa that my wife would overstay and remain in the UK illegally!!! How absurd and who gives this case officer the power to call my wife an untrustworthy person?

My wife has held 2 previous visit visas, both of which were honoured as per the immigration requirements. We have never even been asked for a meeting to prove that we are a real family??

I have rented my grandmas house for the past 6 months and shall have completed the purchase in October, I have full time employment and earn an above average salary, my wife has private medical insurance and quite frankly we need nothing from the UK government only permission for my wife to remain living under my roof taking care of our son whilst I continue with my career which unfortunately means spending several weeks away from my family.

We now find my 60+ year old mother & father taking care of my son and our pet dog for the past 8 months whilst this mess is ongoing. All of our furniture has been shipped from the Middle East to the UK. Our local MP Sir Peter Tapsell after 3 separate meetings performed a U-turn via letter to our lawyer suggesting that ‘the boy should be educated in either the fathers place of work or mothers country of residence!!! Our son is an Englishman and has every right to be educated in his country, he also has every right as a human being to have his mother with him during his studies!

I am currently based in Saudi Arabia (not a nice place for a 12 year old boy) and my wife is staying alone in Thailand (also not the best place to be at the moment with the poor political situation) which leaves me only to ask the UKBA if I/we are not welcome in both my and my sons own country then could they advise as to where we can live and will they pay the travel costs for my family to visit us including my 91 year old grandma who loves to see my wife and remembers her name every time!

Whilst on this rant I note that any EU citizen is free to come to my country and also can bring along their spouse who may not be from within the EU and they need only to show a marriage certificate and a passport. No other questions, formalities or documents are required and the visa will more than likely be issued free of charge, within 10 days and cannot be refused??????

I feel I am a second-class citizen in my own country and totally disgusted by how I/we as a family are being treat.

The world is a mess at the moment with everybody killing each other yet the UKBA has split my family thus stopping us from living our normal lives together as a family in my own country!!

I see from your website that I am not alone and feel extremely content with getting my story out there.

Kind regards,

Nathan

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Wayne’s story

I’ve haven’t seen my wife and daughter since 2009, because of a visa issue.

After six months of constant chatting, I hopped on a plane to meet Gerlie, who is also 39, in the Philippines.

We both clicked and I, not wanting to say goodbye, decided to extend my two week trip.

In September 2007 we were married then, just months later, Gerlie found out she was pregnant.

When baby Adam, now five, was born he kept on getting sick – there was a lack of clean water and basic medication.

After two years together, we both decided it would be best for our child’s health to move to the UK. The plan: I would go first with Adam, find a house, and start my wife’s visa application

With the family together, Gerlie would then look after the children while I found another job in technical support. It seemed like the perfect plan, but quickly fell apart …

Just before I flew home in summer 2009, Gerlie found out she was pregnant again. It meant I missed the birth of Angela, who is now four.

Then came another blow … For Gerlie’s permanent visa, I had to prove I had £18,600 in the bank.

As my child’s sole carer, and with no one else to help, it was impossible for me to return to a full-time job.

Feeling desperate, I contacted my local MEP and even Downing Street. But I’ve received no help.

I’ve now spent nearly FIVE YEARS trying to be reunited with my family … And to meet my little girl for the first time.

It’s only recently, with Adam starting school, that I have been free to look for work.

I’m currently completing an ICT training course to ensure my technical skills are up-to-date. But even when finished I’ll have to work around my son’s school day. It means it will be years before I have the money to get my wife’s visa … If ever at all.

For the time being, Adam and I chat online to Gerlie and Angela every day. We’re a virtual family.

Little Adam has only ever met his sister through a computer and can barely remember the touch of his own mum. He regularly asks about Gerlie and when he can see her.

I’m stuck. I can’t get the money I need without my wife with me. But I need the money to do that.

It’s frustrating. There’s a list of countries whose citizens can just come to the UK and stay visa-free, but my wife can’t. My family is literally split in half because of it.

It looks like we’ll never be together, and it’s heartbreaking to think I may never meet my daughter. But despite everything, we’re still in a very happy relationship. Nothing can split that up.

Trying to get someone to sponsor her to come to UK I think is the only way, as I’m unable prove any savings either.


I’m just another statistic – Rene’s story

I’m also battling under the new immigration laws. I have not seen my husband and children for three months. My daughter’s are 11 and two. 
Here’s my story:
I am a South African born british citizen by decent. Things in SA are definitely rocky so my husband and I (we have been married for 12 years) decided that it’s time to get a better life; if not for us, for our girls. We heard of the financial requirement law so decided that I would come to the UK and look for work. To make matters worse my children aren’t even with their father in south Africa because he works 12 hour shifts. They are with my in-laws so my children have LOST BOTH PARENTS. So here I am in the UK three months down the line and just got a job working for KFC. What I need to do now is work seven days a week on the minimum wage of £6.31 an hour, 12 hours a day, to earn 
£25441.92 per annum. This is so I meet the £24800 financial requirement needed when you have two non-EU children. And this I have to do for six months. One is not supposed to work more than 48 hours a week, but I need to work 84!
I have seven years graphic design experience working for a newspaper and magazine publication. But in the last three months I didn’t get one interview because I have no degree or diploma. I thought Britain was better. I thought my children could flourish and one day also contribute to the UK economy because of the great education system. My 11 year old needs to start school in September how am I going to get that right . My husband has worked 12 hour shifts for 16 years of his life in South Africa. Does the immigration authority really think a man of that determination and stature is going to come sit on his bum in the UK and live off of public funds? No, I don’t thinks so. Well I gotta sleep now to start conserving energy, because from Monday my seven day a week job starts. My heart is breaking.


Divides and Rules

Recently the family immigration campaign has circled around a debate about the fairness of the rule changes in comparison with other migrants.fia12.png

Immigration is a political issue, and a divisive one at that. There are those that want restrictions increased to relieve perceived pressure on the state and job market, and those that think they are ineffective and unhelpful for Britain’s economy and culture.

Family immigration I have always viewed as a unique area in this debate – since the main thrust of the campaign against the rule changes is a moral one; not identified by economic or cultural arguments. Indeed, the economic arguments used in justification for the rule changes we have repeatedly dismissed as pointless in light of ‘no recourse to public funds’.

But to criticise other sorts of migrants as somehow responsible for the axe falling on British sponsors is to bark up the wrong tree. A statement being often repeated, socially and now in the media, is that other European citizens have a greater right to family life here than British citizens. While this is true, it certainly isn’t their fault, and it is extremely important not to interpret this as foreign citizens being favoured over British citizens. It’s a point that I believe risks undermining and distracting attention from our intentions, towards one of EU membership and reducing the rights of citizens and non citizens to the lowest outcome – that if ‘we’ can’t have families then ‘they’ shouldn’t either.

Before July 2012 we all had a right to a family life, qualified in different ways. Then, that right for  British citizens became qualified beyond all practicality – while the government was unable to affect change on the rights of EEA nationals. But it would be an act of extremely misguided faith to suggest that withdrawal from the EU, and subsequent restrictions on EEA nationals would bring back the right to a family life to British citizens. One must remember that with ‘no recourse to public funds’ already a criteria for family sponsors, it is only the desperate act of saving face that is driving the rule changes, so the government can claim to meet it’s manifesto pledge on reducing net migration. Diminishing the rights of EEA nationals (by withdrawing from the EU or otherwise) would only help them preserve their reputation; not exchange one group’s rights for our own. This is not least because the government plans to abolish the Human Rights Act itself – locking out even further human rights protections, than the ones sponsors are denied already.

The truth is, family reunification has been a staple part of the EU’s human rights framework for decades. The European Convention on Human Rights is the bedrock of domestic human rights protections in the EU’s member states – including Britain. It strikes me that if the EU can sustain protections for a private family life, even while it bears down on its own borders, then there is no reason why British citizens should not be appealing to this higher principle – that we are Europeans too (like it or not), we have these rights in other member states, so why not in our own country? – It’s a far more rallying cry to me than ‘if we aren’t allowed a family life, then they shouldn’t be allowed one either’.

Our campaign simply cannot be allowed to fall into camps over European nationals – their rights haven’t changed, it’s ours that have. As such, European nationals represent the standard that we are striving to restore – by arguing that we should attempt to strip European nationals of their right to a family life, is to consign our own struggle to redundancy; since we will all then be eligible for a means-tested non-EEA relationship in the UK.

In my view, it’s precisely the obsession with sovereignty over home affairs which has resulted in such unfair measures being exacted against sponsors; while all other European nationals have better protected rights, derived from a European level.

The greatest disservice we could do to our fight and to other sponsors and families is to start carving up migrants as the deserving and undeserving – and with such laudable aims, it would be dangerous to leave ourselves vulnerable to divide and rule within the wider immigration and EU debates. We all have the right to a family life under the UN Declaration of Human Rights; one which needs to be realised fully for British citizens and residents too. Pointing the finger at others won’t strengthen our argument, but merely chip away at the credibility of our cause.

Finally, one thing we lack is optimism, and understandably so. When cheated out of a family by your own government, it’s easy to scorn others who have not. So I want to appeal to EEA nationals to join the campaign to restore the right to a family life for British sponsors too, 1) because tensions between Britain and the EU may recoil onto your rights too, and 2) because you demonstrate and exercise a standard of rights we once shared, and long to have back.

Chris

FIA


Transnational Families Documentary

Hector Ulloque, documentary filmmaker from Colombia, based in France, is looking for participants for a documentary about transnational families.

This project is produced by the Medio contención producciones (www.mediodecontencion.com), a Colombian production company in which directors and researchers share their professional and academic experiences.
We are looking for families that would like to participate in our documentary project. Families scattered in geography, living in different countries due to the migration of one or more of its members. Families separated by thousands of kilometers, but that succeed in having a constant communication and sharing their family rituals through several media, especially by Internet.
We had the opportunity to see your blog. We want to make contact with women and men belonging to transnational families in different parts of the world and eventually to invite them to participate in the project.

If you would like to know more about our project don’t hesitate to get in contact with us.

Hector Ulloque
hector@mediodecontencion.com


BBC2 Documentary

I’ve been contacted by Alexandra Stokes at Firecracker films (alexandra.stokes@firecrackerfilms.com) who is looking for participants for a BBC2 documentary about weddings.

While for many of us on here our day of bliss has been mired in visa processing, for those who have not yet been married, this is an opportunity to contribute to a documentary which aims to learn the perspectives and views of those who have recently moved here and explore different cultures in the UK.

More information is in this poster: Married In Britain Poster

Chris

FIA


Family Immigration rules announced

The government has announced its plans to adopt the Migration Advisory Committee’s proposals on family immigration, taking effect on 9th July 2012. The Family Immigration Alliance, as an organisation formed around the needs of families and sponsors, has a clear objection to the government’s adoption of these proposals.

The proposals constitute a severe erosion of civil liberties for huge numbers of working sponsors, whereby the right to a family life has become conditioned beyond practicality at £18600; without recourse to public funds. While recognising the need to demonstrate support, the FIA considers the threshold of these proposals an act of obscene discrimination not only against citizens/residents with non-EU spouses, but against ethnic minorities, poor, young and disabled people. To deprive access to family members and the individual income they bring to a household presents the most vulnerable in society with an ominous future. More worryingly, it sets the foundation for a deeply stratified society, where finance extends beyond your quality of life, into your freedom to have a family at all.

The government has opted for a view that economics alone should be the benchmark for immigration rules across all categories. In the opinion of the FIA, this fails to recognise the non-economic motivations behind family immigration and indeed reveals how piecemeal the government’s efforts to support family life in the UK really are. This we find to be morally unacceptable and a shameful digression from the values of British society (not to mention their manifesto) – values that migrants across all categories are forced to prove their knowledge of for settlement purposes.

This has become an issue which starts with a supposed clamp down on a distracting minority of criminals and ends with the relegation of innocent UK sponsors to a second class of citizenship; dictated by personal finances.

The Family Immigration Alliance was set up to not to let sponsors be quietly reduced to collateral damage and will continue to campaign – now to restore the once equal rights of sponsors.

There are a number of blogs covering the details of this further, and some with damning parody!

Please also sign the e-petition in opposition to the new Family Immigration rules and vote here on Ian Birrell’s concise criticism of them.

For sponsors there is of course no better time to speak up about this injustice. The FIA is here to voice your concerns. Please email familyimmigrationalliance@gmail.com with your stories and reflections.

Chris

FIA