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.
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.