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.


A wife’s story

I am a wife. I love my husband. I am American. He is British. The UK government thinks my husband needs to earn £18,600 so I don’t sponge off the welfare state, while the average UK worker earns about £13,000. They do not care how much I earn. They do not care that I have health insurance and doctors here in the US. They do not care that I own my own business and work as a freelancer, so my presence in the UK takes zero jobs away from UK citizens, it only allows me to spend money on their economy and contribute to their society through my taxes and just generally being a good person. They do not care that I have a Masters degree from one of the finest universities in the UK. They do not care that I have friends and a life and a home in the UK. They do not care about me. They do not care that I applied honestly and truthfully and with good intent. They care about the £660 pounds we don’t have to make that threshold. My family’s happiness is for sale and it costs £660. I did not factor into this decision at all, nor did my character, or my relationship with my husband. A number did. And that number has told the UKBA that I am undesirable. I am smart, I am kind, I am educated, I love, I work, I adore my husband and miss him and our home. But that doesn’t matter now. Because I am an undesirable. And I am devastated. The right to have a family life has been denied me. I am unworthy even of that. Because of a number. I am not a number. I am a wife who loves her husband. And I am angry.

Lisa’s story

My name is Lisa.
I met my husband to be, an American citizen, in 2008. In June 2010 we married in the States.
We are now approaching our 3rd wedding anniversary, (and we haven’t been together for any of them so far) and my husband and l are still living in separate countries, he’s in the US and I’m in the UK, even though we have been together for nearly 5 years.
I have read the testimonials of so many other people in my situation and frankly it makes me sick! I cannot believe that the government has the right to keep families apart simply because they don’t meet their criteria!!! Who made them Gods? Who gave them the power to decide who has the right to live as a family and who should live apart??
My husband lives in Palm Springs in the US with a good job, l don’t earn £18,600+ a year, but l own my own property with a mortgage, am able to pay all my bills, but according to the UK Border Agency rules, this isn’t acceptable!! Time has shown that this is a genuine relationship; we are both Christians and believe that marriage is sacred and that the marriage vowels are sacred. But this situation is putting a strain on our marriage, as if life isn’t stressful enough.
I have spoken to an immigration lawyer and he himself is sickened by the laws in this country.
What American would choose to swap Palm Springs for the UK without a legitimate reason?? I have 3 children from a previous marriage, they have a strong bond with my husband and miss him like crazy, every time he goes back to the States after spending time with us, they get really upset. My husband is also 8 years younger than me, and yet he is willing to give up his country and family to be with me and the children, all incredible values that you don’t find today, but in the eyes of immigration in the UK, this isn’t good enough, they’re only interested in a family’s finances, it’s so wrong, especially as they’ve opened the floodgates to people who don’t have money. I really hope with all my heart that they re-think these rules and treat everyone as an individual with feelings, rather than a statistic that has to fit in and comply with their rules or live unhappily apart from the ones they love because they don’t meet their requirements. I think it’s absolutely appalling and l truly sympathise with everyone who is living away from their spouse simply because they met and fell in love with someone who didn’t come from the EU.

James’ story

My US citizen wife and I married in October 2009 and after applying for a spouse visa, she entered the UK in December of 2009. She lived and worked here until March 2012. Her spouse visa was up for renewal and she was needed to go back to the US to help care for her mother who had kidney failure. We chose not to apply for the Indefinite Leave to Remain as we assumed we’d have no concerns with obtaining another spouse visa when she was ready to return. As her mother’s condition improved, we sought immigration legal advice in order to extend her expired spouse visa or apply for a new one. Little did we know the new changes would force us to endure such sadness and hardship in order to live together as a family. As we don’t qualify for the spouse visa at this time due to the financial requirements, my wife is attempting the work visa route. My wife has had several job offers but unfortunately all are from independent opticians or high street opticians that are not on the work visa scheme with the government.

While previously in the UK, she earned an income of £40,000+ and paid a substantial about of tax and national insurance. She provided a vital service of optometric eye care to the areas of Berkshire and Hampshire counties. During her time here, my self-employed income profits before tax were below or just at what is now considered the minimum threshold of £18,600, most notably over the last year as I was travelling to America to see my wife and her poorly mother. Never once during that period were we trying to access public funds in any such way. And yes, we could live in America away from my young children. But my wife and I, despite the hardships of this new immigration struggle, wish to have her return to this wonderful country that became her new home and is home to the ones she loves.