Connie and Paul’s story

I’m an American who came to the UK in 2009 to broaden my horizons through a graduate art program. I earned a partial scholarship for the program, quit my soul-sucking job, and moved half-way around the world for a year. Despite being completely out of my comfort zone, transitioning into the British lifestyle clicked almost instantly, some of my fellow students ended up being close friends I’ll have for life. And despite my great reluctance, I fell in love for the first time, with a Brit. Paul was a part-time student in the same masters program; we bonded over films, American fast-food and British comedy. He was just the icing on the cake to this awesome experience I was having.

Fast-forward to the end of the program, I, along with a few cohort members, failed the last phase of the program. We weren’t given any warning or proper explanation as to why our projects weren’t “up to standard.” I fought long and hard with the administration, even opting to have the decision appealed. It was denied, simply because I hadn’t submitted a form, which was something the administration failed to tell me when I went to them for help about the procedure. I wasn’t getting my degree and more importantly, without the degree I couldn’t apply for a visa and would have to return home.

Saying goodbye to all my friends and Paul was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. Upon returning home, I had troubles picking myself up again and fell into a deep depression. The arbitrary and corrupt nature of the university left me feeling pretty hopeless and then when July rolled around, the new immigration rules felt like being kicked while I was already down. Combined with the recession, both here and in the UK, coming by work was (and still is) an uphill battle. So basically, we’re stuck indefinitely until someone can find work, and in Paul’s case work that pays above the pointless bar the Coalition has set.

The constant misinformation and attacks upon immigration are entirely counter to the history and strengths of both the US and the UK. Immigration has been a fundamental building block of the countries, both socially and economically, and to see politicians and media commentators refute this in the face of the facts they are presented with is disgusting and disheartening. For us, and for so many others, these actions keep us locked apart for petty and unsubstantial reasons.

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A parent’s story

Are British laws made for people with money?

 

Government law states that the new minimum wage is £6.31

Government law states that a working week should not be more than 48 hours.

United Kingdom Border Agency (UKBA) requirements for a British subject to bring their spouse into the UK are that they must be earning £18,600 a year.

Now £6.31 multiplied by 48 equals £302.88

£302.88 multiplied by 52 weeks equals £15,749.76

 

Therefore if someone was to earn the Government minimum wage even if they were able to work 48 hours per week for 52 weeks, they would still not be able to reach the UKBA requirements. (Note 52 weeks means no sick leave for casual workers no public holidays and no leave unless it’s paid leave)

 

It is the UKBA that allows students to enter the UK and although they cannot stop them from falling in love, young people seem to do this.

 

Such is the case for my son and his partner who are married.

 

A British student who leaves University in today’s economic climate finds it hard to get work so they end up being waiters or packers and therefore end up on the minimum wage and more often than not do not get to work 48 hours a week. If they are lucky they get 30 to 35 hours. Their foreign partner is not allowed to work more than 20 hours a week. So if the British subject is lucky enough to get 30 hours and the foreign partner gets 20 hours giving a total of 50 hours between them, this is still not enough. ((50×6.31) x52=£16,406)

 

The British student’s parents are prepared to house the couple and feed them but this is not taken into account by the UKBA.

In the case of these two students the foreign student’s parents are residing in the UK with right to remain but their support is not taken into account as well.

 

I would suggest that the UKBA stop all foreigners from coming into the UK as that is what they seem to want.

 

Regards

A very unhappy parent.


Emily’s story

My name is Emily and I am 22 years old. I graduated last year with top marks, I found a full-time job fairly soon and all the while have been supported by my wonderful boyfriend of 2 years.

My life now feels like I’m stuck in a nightmare. This is our story.

As I am half British, half Italian, I grew up in Italy, visiting the UK regularly as I have family here. In the summer of 2010 I got a job at my local Burger King here. It was there that I met and fell in love with Pukar, a Nepalese student from Kathmandu.

We got on right away, and when I moved back to Italy to continue my studies (I was currently completing my bachelor’s degree in Milan) we continued our relationship through social media like Facebook. I returned regularly to the UK to visit him, and he came to spend Christmas with me and my family in Italy in 2011.

It never bothered me that he was from Nepal and in an admittedly weaker position than myself, due to his visa status and ineligibility to have a full-time, higher-paid position. I loved him and he loved me, and we both stayed strong during those times when we were separated. We told ourselves that soon we would be together, and finally in September I moved to the UK to be with him. These months have been bliss, to be finally close and in the same country and to be able to have a “normal” relationship.

We made plans, we dreamt of our future, travelling, going out, living together, marrying, having children.

Two days ago, our application to extend his visa as unmarried partners was refused on the grounds of us not having lived together for at least 2 years. We knew this and we intend to move in together soon; we explained this to the UKBA but there seems to be no compassion or human understanding in their decision-making.

If he has to now leave the country because of his student’s visa expiring, what will happen to us? What will I do in this country without him, my reason for being here? How will we ever be together?

I am at my wit’s end. I am 22 and he is 24. This should be the time of our lives, not a horror movie. Our only crime is having fallen in love when he is not a British or EU national.

This is my mother’s country, but I had never realised how cruel a country it could be. What country is this, where two people in a genuine and loving relationship cannot be together because of the nationality of one of the couple? What place is this where people’s lives are ruined and destroyed over their choice of partner? I have read so many stories similar to our own, all equally sad and terrifying.

Why is this allowed here? What about the right to love whoever you wish to love?