Ben’s Story

20130810 Ben Goodier

Ben and his family

My name is Ben Goodier, and my two children and I are British citizens. I was born in Prestatyn, North Wales in 1973. However, my wife is Indonesian and this has led to my current predicament. My wife’s application for a settlement visa has been put on hold as we don’t meet the current income requirement threshold. Even though I, her sponsor, have forty thousand pounds in savings and have stated my intention to secure employment upon my return to the UK.

I have spent the last eight and half years teaching English in Indonesia and promoting the virtues of Britain and British society, including its laws, customs, diversity and sense of decency and fair play. Now upon deciding to return to my homeland to spend more time with my parents and for my children to learn and experience more about the UK I am faced with an unenviable decision. As my working visa for Indonesia will end in a few weeks I must return to the UK. My eldest child, a daughter aged six, will have to return to the UK with me as she is already enrolled in a local primary school in the town of my birth.  My wife, whose visa application is on hold due to the legal case and appeal currently in the High Court will not be able to join us. Our youngest child, a son aged two, will stay with his mother. Therefore not only will husband and wife be separated also brother and sister.

If my wife’s application is refused solely because we do not meet the income threshold requirement, do I decide to return the UK permanently with my daughter but without my wife and youngest son, therefore splitting up a happy and loving family. Or do I decide to return if it’s possible to Indonesia never to be able to live in the country of my birth again and therefore be denied the right to spend time with and help my parents as they grow older. Both of these decisions are abhorrent to me, and I wonder why I am forced to choose between my country and parents and my wife and children. Is it such a crime to fall in love with someone from another country?

I started part-time work at the age of 13 and since I started full time employment in 1995 I have never received or requested any help from the state in regards to unemployment or housing benefit. I have always paid my own way without recourse to public funds. I left the UK in 2005 to teach in Indonesia, a country I knew very little about and didn’t know the language. In the last eight years, I have risen from Teacher to Head Teacher and then to Director of Studies in a busy and successful private language school. I fell in love and married and we were blessed with two lovely children. During this time I have supported my wife and children without any government help. However, I must say that throughout my stay in Indonesia, the British consulate in Jakarta have been extremely helpful especially when I had to register my children’s births.

I do not intend to ever ask for unemployment or housing benefit upon my return to the UK as this goes against the ethos I was brought up with as a child, that one must work hard and pay one’s own way in life. I would be willing to sign any document that the UK Border Agency would like to produce waiving my right to unemployment or housing benefit, if this would placate their worries and enable my wife and youngest child to join me and my daughter in the UK.

I fully understand that there are rules that must be abided by, but surely common sense would dictate that after looking at my personal history that I am not the sort of person who plans to sponge off the state. Surely, someone who can make a successful life in a foreign country where he had to learn the customs and language from scratch, would be able to replicate that in his home country where he is familiar with all and has support from family.  My parents live in a property that is paid for and are willing for my family and I to stay as long as is necessary.

I hope that common sense and decency will prevail and that my family will not be split up and that we will be allowed the right to enjoy a family life like any other UK family. Surely, that is the least to ask for and be granted.


Jade’s story

I am a British Citizen and live in the UK with my 16 month old son, my husband has missed out on over half of our son’s life. We are married and have been together for over 5 years. After a visit visa to the UK we applied for a settlement spouse visa; this whole process took 6 months and I even appealed in court. I was told my rights to a family life were not being interfered with as I could take my son and go live with him abroad.

Is that the answer for all British Citizens with foreign partners? It must look good for statistics and bring down the number of foreigners entering the UK if we (the partners) all just left! I am not giving up a fight. This is our life, but just an application in a pile at an office. I will continue to support migrants rights as my family is affected. One rule for the rich and another for the rest of us.

The figure: £18,600 …. Is that the price to put on a family life?