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BritCits June 2013

BritCits June 2013

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BritCits pack June 2013
BritCits pack June 2013

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BritCits

BritCits@gmail.com

BritCits was founded by Steve and myself in 2012 in response to the government’s family immigration rules. We both have non-EU family and have had our right to family life threatened by the very people supposed to protect and represent us. So it’s not surprising that we’re extremely passionate about immigration. We understand an open-door policy isn’t practical. But we’re firm in the belief that immigration rules should be fair and clear and that the interest of a child should always prevail whatever the parents’ financial situation. Steve created and manages our website www.britcits.com which has been lauded in the media. Through the website, Facebook, Twitter, forums, networking & migrant groups such as MRN, JCWI, Family Immigration Alliance and Migrants Rights Scotland (all from whom we have learnt so much) we have established links with Brits who fell in love with a foreigner or have parents overseas – and wish to now simply live in UK with their family with no recourse to public funds. Cases are wide & varied; a son earning over £100,000 unable to sponsor parents because of rules which are impossible to meet and deemed a ban masquerading as a rule; a young mum with a second chance at love forced to choose between her kids from a previous relationship living in the UK and her husband overseas; a gay mum with twins unable to return to UK to have her civil partner’s status recognised for the security of their babies; debt-free pensioners forced into working for income they don’t need; armed forces personnel who risked their life for our freedom being denied a right to their family file; British ex-pats wanting to return to look after British parents find barriers to re-entry are too high if they have a non-EU spouse or child. We encounter Skype families trying to conquer long-distance & time-differences through a screen; Brits forced into exile - some with an intention to return under Surinder Singh route, others so disenchanted they’ve sold up & moved away for good. There’s women postponing having kids lest it be without their spouse by their side or in a country with poor health & education facilities; awful news stories of women having abortions to continue to earn a salary needed to sponsor their spouse. We come across a few unfortunate cases where the relationship hasn’t survived the upheaval & stress from rules designed to keep family apart. Where the cases fall clearly within the rules, UKBA mysteriously loses documents or the file is tucked away to join the rest of the backlog. This pack brings you face to face with the victims of these rules – survivors - fighting loudly for their rights. No political party denies – indeed some even claim – that families form the bedrock of a strong & stable society. Yet not one party has stood up against rules designed to disintegrate this bedrock - rules which treat Brits less favourably than other EEA nationals & international students in our own country. It’s not surprising this has caused resentment, albeit misplaced, towards migrants the government has been unable to prevent entering UK. The Conservative party’s manifesto, other than purporting to be family-friendly (which they have failed on several counts) also has a two-pronged net migration target; preventing foreigners & Brits overseas from entering to live, work, study, re-unite with family whilst also encouraging our citizens to leave UK. It’s therefore in this government’s interest to make our country as unattractive as possible. Bear in mind this is from a party we did not elect into government. Migration from within EU has been discouraged through media propaganda, resulting in a backlash from other member countries & loss of confidence from businesses with our EU future uncertain. International students keeping many of our educational institutions afloat & affordable for Brits have been treated as criminals. Complex financial & language conditions are set for those with a foreign spouse & children. Those wishing to look after ageing parents are being denied this right completely, regardless of financial & health conditions. Family members are from all over the world - unsurprising given the global nature of our lives. It’s not unusual for students to go & study overseas; take a working holiday to usual places like Australia & New Zealand, but now also Asia, America & Africa. Multi-nationals encourage staff to go on overseas secondments. Foreign languages, not just European ones, are taught in more of our schools. Internet has made other cultures less foreign; highlighting similarities between races, backgrounds, upbringing. Differences are celebrated. A deeprooted understanding that we’re all just human wanting to do what’s best for our family, is allowed to form. It’s not then unexpected when people fall in love with a country they are visiting, or someone they meet there. A bold statement perhaps, but I believe increased awareness of our ‘sameness’ can lead to a reduction in warfare; the world peace Miss World contestants crave. Having an island mindset only serves to isolate us from the rest of the world, doing untold damage to our economy, moral & family values and the very fabric of our nation. A spectacular own goal which the government should not be allowed to make at our expense. Sonel
@BritCits

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Table of Contents
britcits speak out: .................................................................................................................................... 4 Gratitude and media coverage ............................................................................................................ 102 Non-EU parents Alex ........................................................................................................................................................ 13 Anastasia & James ................................................................................................................................ 20 Chen ...................................................................................................................................................... 56 Ethan ..................................................................................................................................................... 59 Jenny...................................................................................................................................................... 24 Mahi ...................................................................................................................................................... 38 Sarwat.................................................................................................................................................... 46 Sattar ..................................................................................................................................................... 29 Shanika .................................................................................................................................................. 41 Sonel ...................................................................................................................................................... 62 Non-EU spouses and partners Aaron & Kano ....................................................................................................................................... 85 Aimie & David ....................................................................................................................................... 33 Aisha & Abraham .................................................................................................................................. 54 Alice....................................................................................................................................................... 58 Amanda.................................................................................................................................................. 61 Andrew .................................................................................................................................................. 22 Andy & Molly…Dylan & Devon ........................................................................................................... 39 Anne....................................................................................................................................................... 70 Asif & Hafsa .......................................................................................................................................... 96 Barry, Francisca…& Millie .................................................................................................................. 49 Christopher & Christine........................................................................................................................ 65 Damar.................................................................................................................................................... 32 David & Emelie ..................................................................................................................................... 72 David ..................................................................................................................................................... 82 Dee & Ozan ........................................................................................................................................... 27 Dell & Valery ........................................................................................................................................ 95 Douglas ................................................................................................................................................. 31 Emma ..................................................................................................................................................... 83 Emma, Driss…& Aymane...................................................................................................................... 51 Gerard & Vilai ...................................................................................................................................... 74 Jade & Luis ........................................................................................................................................... 42 Janice & Erdogan ................................................................................................................................. 87 Joel ........................................................................................................................................................ 50 John & Hayley ......................................................................................................................................... 9 Joyce, Clyde & Xu Dan ......................................................................................................................... 18 Juliet ...................................................................................................................................................... 34 Katie & Cliff .......................................................................................................................................... 15 Kelly ...................................................................................................................................................... 47 Kev &Barbara ....................................................................................................................................... 67 Kevin...................................................................................................................................................... 73 Kirsty & Karim ...................................................................................................................................... 69 Larissa & Nicolas.................................................................................................................................. 98 Laura & Mohamed ................................................................................................................................ 44 Les & Becky ........................................................................................................................................... 78 Lionel & Svetlana .................................................................................................................................. 16 Lisa ........................................................................................................................................................ 86 Lizzie & Alexander .................................................................................................................................. 6 Loz & Josh ............................................................................................................................................. 99 Lucy & Andres ....................................................................................................................................... 55

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Lyndsey & Paul ..................................................................................................................................... 80 Maliha & Bilal ...................................................................................................................................... 92 Margaret & Mustapha........................................................................................................................... 81 Mel & Mahmoud ................................................................................................................................... 93 Morris .................................................................................................................................................... 89 Naila ...................................................................................................................................................... 60 Neil & Emily .......................................................................................................................................... 11 Nicola & Tarik ...................................................................................................................................... 52 Nikki, Juan…& Jayden ............................................................................................................................ 8 Paul ....................................................................................................................................................... 64 Pete & Karima ...................................................................................................................................... 90 Phil & Amanda ...................................................................................................................................... 26 Rhys &Natacha ..................................................................................................................................... 48 Richard & Kate ..................................................................................................................................... 91 Rob ........................................................................................................................................................ 14 Ruth ....................................................................................................................................................... 88 Sandra & Aftab...................................................................................................................................... 77 Sandra & Ahmed ................................................................................................................................... 97 Sandra & Monaam ................................................................................................................................ 94 Sarah ..................................................................................................................................................... 10 Sean & Mari .......................................................................................................................................... 36 Sean ..................................................................................................................................................... 100 Sharon & Salah ..................................................................................................................................... 68 Sharon & Wade ..................................................................................................................................... 25 Sierra ..................................................................................................................................................... 76 Steve & Galina .................................................................................................................................... 101 Suzanne.................................................................................................................................................. 57 Wayne & Daisy...................................................................................................................................... 30 William & Noriko .................................................................................................................................. 37

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britcits speak out:
“I never thought the day would come when I was ashamed to be British...” “As British
citizens we have fewer rights in Britain than our EU friends or their non-EU partners.” “..I can’t just move to another country to be with my fiancé with three years left to complete my Masters degree...“ "If it’s impossible for us as lawyers to understand the rules, what hope is there for a layperson?" “I would never wish for my worst enemy to be in the situation I am in now. I feel like I am being told that I do not have the right to love whom I choose or to start a family when I want to.” “All I have left is the hope that, one day, these rules will be made fairer, so I have a chance at the family life we so desperately want.” “I served in the

British army, defended British lives and the British way of life, and now am kept apart from my own wife and child.” “My parents are much older than my
wife's and we wanted to be closer to them, so my wife, our son and I could see more of them and help them out in their old age. Not too much to ask, is it...?” “UK puts a price tag on love” “Expat in exile.” “As a result he missed the birth of his first-born child.”

“This government will be remembered as directly and indirectly attacking the most vulnerable in society....” “They rejected the spouse
application because of a technicality, knowing I wouldn’t meet the income criteria of the new rules, in another attempt to extort money.” “We're not asking for hand-outs, just the chance to live as a family unit.” “I am keen for my small family to be near my parents, to gain recognition of our family as a legal unit and be around to look after my parents as they get older.”

“My parents are living in the most appalling conditions, when I could easily provide them with a better life, living with me in London....” “I believe in my marriage vows, and am firm in my commitment to my wife.” “I
don’t know how anyone could expect me to be separated from my baby’s daddy ... until I get a job the UKBA agrees with, we miss out on special family moments and our baby misses out on his daddy.” “Why is it that there is one rule for Europeans and another for

“I won’t let myself be forced out of my own home, nor will I let this government keep my family apart.” “All we
British citizens, in Britain?” want is the opportunity to live together; we are a family” “What if my 92-year-old grandfather

dies, without ever having met my wife, and she can’t even pay her last respects at his funeral?!” “What married couple wants to spend twelve months – maybe more

– living in separate countries?” “In the Conservative pre-election waffle Mr Cameron
made a great deal about his views on the sanctity of marriage and family values.” “This is not how I expected my married life to be, a fight to be with my husband...” “Are these the family

values the government wants to promote? Keeping parents and children/grandchildren apart; breaking up marriages?” “I haven’t seen my
wife and son in nearly a year; my family in Britain hasn’t met or held my son.” “UKBA is happy

to take the visa application fees, and find spurious reasons to reject visa applications, in order to take yet more fees....” “The message we are getting from UK government

is that we are not rich enough to love... ” “I am being punished by my country for
exercising my right to marry who I want. I can’t be with my daughter and grandchild – I can’t look after my grandma and parents because of these rules.” “My wife is eminently employable;

she’d be a genuine asset to UK, yet we have to face choices no one should!”“When

you marry somebody you love for richer or poorer, it should mean

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just that...I shouldn’t have to choose between being a mum and granddaughter, and being in love.” “I am in despair. My family has been kept apart
for many years, despite playing by the rules...which the government keeps changing.”

“I am being pushed out of my own country by this government because I dared to fall in love, have a baby with and marry a woman who is Japanese”. “It is
ludicrous and unlawful to put a price on anybody’s marriage and love. We are human and deserve to be together with our loved ones.” “I have to fulfil my duty to look
after my mother in her 70s, and my 12-year-old son, so I have no choice but to fight for my partner to come to the UK. In the meantime I go out to see him as often as I can, nearly 20 times in 5

“How do you explain to kids that we don’t make enough money to be together as a family. We have tried to teach them the importance of family; more so importance of not judging people by how much money they make...” “My American wife is
years!!" “We live a simple life …yet I am being kicked out of my own country”

bemused. All visas for non-EU citizens are stamped with a clear ‘no recourse to public funds’. So she doesn’t understand why burden on taxpayer is an issue.” “My crime - I fell in love and exercised my right to do so.” “As a British student, I can’t live in my country with my wife, because she is American & I don’t earn £18,600 – how many British students do?!” “The government is separating me from
my wife and stepchildren, as I don’t earn over £24,800” “As a British Masters student, I can’t live in my own country with my partner, since he is Argentinean and I don’t earn £18,600. However, international students coming to UK can live here with their partner and kids, without needing to earn £18,600...”. “Despite being in a genuine loving relationship, the government has forced me into
becoming a single mother, juggling work, being a full-time mum and a wife. Family life is supposed to be a right, not a privilege...but it sure doesn’t feel like it!” “I hope one day I can be with the woman I love,

without that love having a price tag..”

“I just want to be able to look after my parents without recourse to public funds in the same way they’ve looked after me and my child”“We want to raise our baby together, in a country
where the culture and language are not going to damage my career as I need to financially support my family.” “Just when my son and I have found a wonderful man to give us the

family life we so desire, UKBA persists in snatching away our chance at

“It’s a shame the government is blind to common sense & so averse to doing the right thing, in the interest of massaging some numbers.” “I am under the £18,600 threshold by £6.40 a month.
happiness...”
I served 10 years in the British army, went to Iraq. Yet I have to spend another 12 months apart from my husband, because of £6.40 a month!” “They don’t see people behind the

figures; so they turn our lives into hell..” “I am desperate to return home to spend time with my parents in their final years..as they are both fighting cancer…but I can’t leave my wife! ” “England is my home; I thought I’d be
welcome here regardless of who I chose to marry..” “As a British citizen, my country wants
me to earn the right to live with my family..”

“The parents issue is the most important thing to me and I will move countries if I have to rather than abandon them…but I shouldn’t have to leave my home when I can guarantee to look after them with no recourse to public funds.”
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Lizzie & Alexander
“I’m angry, hurt and upset. I meet the financial requirements yet they rejected my husband’s application..this is clearly discrimination against women.”
Lizzie is a British citizen. Her husband Alexander, is a doctor from Ecuador. They have been living together for the four and a half years in Chile, married for two of these years. They married in June 2011 in UK, in Lizzie’s local church, before returning to Chile where Lizzie worked as a financial consultant and Alexander eventually as a consulting doctor. Their daughter was born in February 2012 following which they decided to relocate to UK to be close to Lizzie’s family and ensure their daughter benefited from a British education.

The couple on their last day together, their daughter’s 1st birthday in February 2012.

They submitted Alexander’s application in November 2012 and then…nothing. No emails, no calls, no news. In February 2013, Lizzie and her daughter returned to the UK expecting Alexander would follow not long after. However, in March 2013, Lizzie complained about the delay to WorldBridge. The response received further to the complaint was a refusal. The couple has been apart for several months already. Father and daughter have been apart for the same length of time. The family is missing out on sharing precious moments..precious ‘first’ moments. Stolen moments that will never return. What makes the situation worse is that Lizzie’s income in Chile combined with her cash savings in the UK, this family actually meets UKBA’s financial requirement. Yet UKBA was able to manufacture a reason to refuse the couple, stating Lizzie had not continued employment for the six month period prior to the application since her income was from maternity payments i.e. that maternity pay was not evidence of continuous employment. This is despite Lizzie having sent a certificate signed by her employer in Chile stating her continued employment. UKBA said Lizzie had not shown evidence of her savings. This despite her having submitted bank statements, although she admits they were a few months older – an ISA which only sends out statements on an annual basis and premium bond statements which were first sent to Lizzie’s parents home and then sent across to Chile. But the money was there and she did the best she could to obtain evidence of her UK savings UK from Chile, while also juggling recent motherhood. Lizzie is furious that rules which clearly discriminate against women are in place…rules which systematically penalise women, for having kids, for adopting the traditional role of homemaker, for sacrificing their career to care for their family...for being women who historically and statistically are paid less than men.

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Legal advice obtained has indicated that Alexander will not even qualify for a visitor’s visa now as he has displayed an intent to live in the UK. So the only way for this family to see each other again is for Lizzie to travel to Ecuador, on a 15+ hour flight with one year old. She cannot remain there as she is employed in the UK – she wants to ensure she does not jeopardise her income levels here lest she lose her appeal. So she is juggling childcare and employment. Yet Lizzie believes the real victim of these unfair rules – rules which should be illegal – is her daughter. The Geneva Convention was created to protect families from exactly this sort of abuse. Her daughter only sees her daddy through Skype for an hour each day and her mother is constantly stressed, tired and struggling. This is not how their little family was. They were so happy. Lizzie never thought this would happen to her. She never dreamed a British system could get things so badly wrong. Her faith in British democracy and justice has been misplaced; her family torn apart just so politicians can say they’re being "tough on immigration" whatever the cost. She is upset that families of British citizens are being used as scapegoats for a bemusing political agenda. She’s hurt that her country has let her down. She is angry that there is no one who is going to be held accountable for the misery caused. With a further 3-9 months separation Lizzie is having difficulty focusing on the light at the end of the tunnel. She is desperate for the rules to change – to change now, not after the next election.

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Nikki, Juan…& Jayden
“Despite being in a genuine loving relationship, the government has forced me into becoming a single mother, juggling work, being a full-time mum and a wife. Family life is supposed to be a right, not a privilege..but it sure doesn’t feel like it!”
British citizen Nikki is 32 years old and lives in Aberdeen, Scotland. She has a two year old son, Jayden, with her partner, Juan. Juan is Canadian. Nikki lives in Aberdeen with their son, while her partner lives in Canada. Nikki and her partner are in a genuine and loving relationship; they have been forced apart due to the Canadian support system letting them down. Since leaving Canada three months after their son was born, Nikki has been spending half her life in Canada and the other here; six months in Canada, six in the UK. Nikki’s partner was refused leave to enter to the UK in 2010 and therefore missed their son’s first Christmas. Subsequently, his application for a visitor’s visa and entry clearance were also rejected, despite their doing everything they were asked to – provided letters from employers, landlords, bank statements and showed their bank balance; but were still refused. Now Nikki’s partner has no right to come here to visit his son which has forced her into becoming a single working mother living on a part time wage and living between two countries. Nikki has to earn at least £18,600 a year and have a home for them to live in before she can apply. This is impossible as at the moment Nikki works just to live every day. Their lives are quite simple with simple goals – they want to work to provide for themselves and their son and to watch him grow. They want to be a family and do family things such as take him to Disneyland, enrol him in a good school and secure a future for him. At the moment they don’t see any of that. The right to live a normal life seem so distant – and living in two countries, they’re not even able to provide their son with stable life. Nikki’s parents live in Aberdeen and have done all their lives. They both have secure jobs and have an amazing relationship with Nikki and their grandson. The support and comfort Nikki gets from her parents is exactly what she wants for her son; but she also can’t deprive him of growing up without his father. A great number of fathers and even mothers choose not to be part of their child’s life. However, in this case they choose to love and stand by each other and be a family – yet they are being forced apart by politicians. Nikki and her partner do not want to live here illegally; they are not asking for handouts and they both have clean criminal records. They both want to work and pay their taxes. They just want to be a family. Every year, Nikki has to resign from her job so she can go to Canada for six months. Every year she has to watch her son’s bond with his father being cruelly broken. Every year, she hopes the next will be different.

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John & Hayley
“As a British citizen, my country wants me to earn the right to live with my family..”
John is a British citizen born & raised in Edgware, now residing in Texas, USA. John has been living with Hayley, an American, since June 2009. They both agreed that their long term plans involved moving to England and raising their children here. They married in August 2011 and welcomed their beautiful son, Ryan, a year later. Now they thought the time was right to move to England, wishing Ryan to be close to his 17 year old half sister, cousins, aunt and uncle who all live here. They want their son to have as good an education as possible, with English schools consistently ranked higher than their American counterparts. Indeed, they perceive English schools to be safer as well. Hayley has been working for four years for the investment bank JPMorganChase & Co, as an associate level supervisor. It is possible she could obtain a transfer to the corporate office in London if there were no visa issues. John is a labourer. He has 10 years experience working for Royal Mail in a job he enjoyed and hopes to return to it but positions that meet the minimum wage requirements for a partner visa do not come easily. Neither Hayley nor John are eyeing our streets paved with gold. Hayley is the higher wage earner in their family, earning about $10,000 more per year than John. They are aware it will likely be the same in England. She enjoys her work, and is very good at it. She is confident that she will be able to support the family if she were allowed to become a member of our community. Ryan is 6 months old. Right now John works evenings and Hayley works during the day. They share childminding duties around their jobs. Neither can imagine the pain it would cause John to miss Ryan’s first steps and first words because the land where John was born, the only place he has ever called home, wants him to earn the right to raise his family there. The way the rules currently stand this couple faces three options: a) Raise Ryan in America, while saving to meet the financial criteria - a process that will take years. b) Risk everything and enter England on a visitor visa while John applies for a job satisfying the income criteria, then leave the country in order to apply for a spouse visa. Risky and costly. c) Break up the family up for at least 15 months - Hayley remains in Texas working and raising Ryan on her own. John works 2 jobs to meet the wage requirements, after a year they would again be in the position of hoping and praying our application would be approved.

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Sarah
“As a result he missed the birth of his first-born child.”
Sarah is a British citizen from Bradford. Sarah met her husband in the UK, and they lived together as a family in England for 18 months before his visa expired. They should qualify for the right to live together under the Zambrano ruling but delays on the part of UKBA are keeping this family in limbo. Sarah has two kids from a previous relationship, and a child with her husband (this is her first marriage) who she is trying to sponsor to move to the UK from Turkey, so their family can be together. Her two eldest kids call her husband dad, even though he is not their birth father. That is how close this family is. Sarah does not satisfy the £18,600 income threshold. She is in receipt of benefits, including income support and child tax credit. However, this will change when her husband joins her, as once he is working (there is already a job lined up) Sarah will cease to be eligible for benefits which are means tested (although she will continue to receive tax credits in respect of the children).

Sarah relocated to Turkey with her family and eventually decided to move back to the UK for her children’s education. They applied for a visitor's visa for her husband, so that he could be here for their child’s birth, but the visa was refused on the grounds that because his family was in England they thought he may not return to Turkey. As a result he missed the birth of his first-born child. It has not been an easy time for Sarah, what with having to give birth alone, raise not one but three kids alone, and then have a faulty toaster set their house on fire. Sarah, her husband and the three children stay in touch using MSN, a webcam and Web chat every day. They have applied for a spouse visa for him; however, under the new rules, they may as well just donate more money to the British government which seems intent on tearing apart this family rather than understanding that being with her husband is what would be best for Sarah and her three children.

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Neil & Emily
“All I want is for the nightmare to end..and my family to remain together in my home country”
Neil's story highlights the nature of the attack on British citizens from both, the rules & how they’re applied to those who wish to exercise their right to live in their homeland without sacrificing core values of family relationships. Neil is a British citizen, married to Emily, who is from the Philippines. Neil first met Emily whilst working in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. They dated for several years and in October 2011, they got married. Not long after the wedding they received the joyous news that Emily was expecting their first child. Neil and Emily began to plan their future and looked forward to embracing the challenges and rewards of parenthood. They became the proud parents to Lucy. Neil and Emily made plans to introduce their daughter to their large family in North West England. They applied for a visitor visa for Emily and when the application was successful, booked their flights and returned home for a visit. Unfortunately, a spanner was thrown in the works when Neil lost his job after 15 years loyal service, in London and UAE. So this family – of two Brits – decided to relocate to Preston, Neil’s hometown. They hoped this would provide a stable, nurturing environment to raise Lucy in, benefiting from a world-renowned English education system the education system Neil was schooled in, in his homeland, as a British citizen. Neil with his extensive experience found a job in UK. He researched the process of returning to the UK and dutifully gathered together the relevant documentation needed. On 20th November 2012, they submitted a visa application for Emily, asking for leave to remain as the spouse of a British citizen. After nearly 4 months, they received a reply from UKBA – the application had been denied. The words “Decision to Refuse to Vary Leave to Enter or Remain” remain burnt in Neil’s mind as the wonderful future they had planned came crashing to the ground. Further reading revealed UKBA rejected their application on the following grounds: a) Neil and Emily’s marriage is not recognised as a valid marriage in the UK b) No evidence was provided of Lucy’s existence c) Emily was granted leave to remain as a visitor and therefore does not meet the requirements of E-LTRP 2.1 Neil regards all these reasons baseless on the following grounds: a) According to UKBA’s own website, Neil and Emily’s marriage is valid in UK: “In most cases a marriage certificate will provide satisfactory evidence that a marriage has taken place.” Neil and Emily’s marriage meets all the requirements for a legal marriage in UAE; with Emily’s application they submitted a marriage certificate which was verified, approved, and stamped by the British Embassy. UKBA has not yet returned this certificate. b) Neil has a birth certificate for Lucy, in English and Arabic; they had notified the Consulate General at the British Embassy in Dubai of Lucy’s birth. Lucy also has her own British passport. While Neil did not submit this information with his wife’s application, UKBA should have been able to locate this information given it had already been submitted to representatives of its own government. Or failing that, ask Neil for this information!

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On c) Neil is perplexed as according to the information available on UKBA’s website, they should have been able to switch categories of visas. It’s not surprising that this family fees that UKBA is just finding reasons to punish them. Indeed, even Citizens’ Advice Bureau has struggled to understand this third point of contention. UKBA has indicated they plan to ‘remove’ Emily wife from UK and send her back to the Philippines if they do not appeal against this unfair decision. They have also told us this family that should the appeal fail, Emily will not be able to return to the UK for another 10 years. Emily is my wife and mother of British citizens, who are now left at a loss..overcome the fear that by appealing an unfair decision they could lose and thus be faced with a 10 year ban, or accept an unfair decision and not be able to live in the UK! Neil must either accept that the family will be broken up by UKBA or their family unit will be forced to leave UK in order to stay together. All this family wants is for the nightmare to end. Neil and Emily are British citizens, and they should be treated as such. Their family and their values should also be respected and cherished - not dismissed. Neil’s story has also been covered in the local media http://www.lep.co.uk/community/shock-as-filipino-wife-faces-being-thrown-out-of-britain-1-5505434 It’s a sad day when two British citizens are made more welcome in the Middle East than the UK, just because their mother and wife is Filipino.

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Alex
“The parents issue is the most important thing to me and I will move countries if I have to rather than abandon them…but I shouldn’t have to leave my home when I can guarantee to look after them with no recourse to public funds.”
Alex is a British citizen from Kent, Dartford with Oxford University as his alma mater. A property investor and entrepreneur in the UK for 12 years and financially supporting his parents in Ukraine during this period as well. His parents are both 65 years old, living in rented accommodation in Ukraine because they sold their property with the intention to move to the UK and bring their life savings with them. They have no relatives other than Alex and his wife. They somewhat know the UK, having stayed here for a month or two every couple of years, but travelling is proving more and more difficult with age and its unavoidable symptoms. Alex has worked hard and is earning over £100,000 a year. He is not on benefits (indeed, he wouldn't even qualify). He wishes to have his parents with him here, to enjoy and share his success, after years of hard work and sacrifices made by them all. It's well overdue. His parents would not qualify for benefits in the UK, with a very clear no recourse to public funds stamped in their passport, but Alex is willing to sign a waiver, provide a guarantee and take out private healthcare cover to alleviate any such fears this government might have nonetheless. However under the current immigration rules this is still impossible. Now Alex is not just going to shrug his shoulders and say, "oh well" and think by sending money to Ukraine his responsibilities are fulfilled. No, that’s not how he was brought up and it’s not how he would want his children to treat him. So Alex is considering moving countries. Going to another EEA country for a year or so where he can have his parents with him and then using the Surinder Singh route to return to his home, the UK, with his parents. What is being denied to him by the UK is allowed to him by Europe. With his excellent credentials, he has already had job offers from Frankfurt and Zurich but does not want to leave unless forced to. For him though the parents issue is the most important factor at the moment and one for which he will move if he needs to. The point remains that he should not need to. With him will go his money for a year, the boost so sorely needed by our economy. Yes, Alex intends to return. But he might fall in love with his new home and never do so (supporters of Tory's net migration target with hands up in victory are oblivious to the fact that by encouraging exile of our citizens we are damaging our own future). Even if Alex does return, he won't forget what this government has done, and what the opposition has let them do. People never do forget when it’s their own family and family life that is threatened. And the saddest thing is - unless there's a change pronto, he won't ever trust the system in UK again, because it will have failed him.

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Rob
“They rejected the spouse application because of a technicality, knowing I would not meet the income criteria under the new rules, in yet another attempt to extort more money.”
Rob is a professional British musician, with a first class degree in music, and has taught music and performed at concerts. Rob has an eight-year-old son and lives in a detached house in Huddersfield. He worked hard for everything he has and hasn’t received help from the state in the form of benefits. However, Rob is not rich. Rob fell in love with an Indonesian woman, and married her. They believe they are each other’s soul mate. They made vows to each other, with God as their witness, to be together, for richer and poorer. Rob is a standard Brit, never having needed to worry about the UK immigration system. In battling for a spouse visa application, however, he realised how bureaucratic the process is, and indeed how unfair and weighted towards the rich it is, given the application fees. Rob and his wife applied for a spouse visa on June 26th, weeks before what he terms the ‘ethnic cleansing type rules’ came in. They submitted accounts for three years (he is self-employed – not rich but better off than many), bank statements, originals and copies, everything as requested ... no stone was left unturned. For over two months, the message from the Embassy was ‘Application under process at the British Embassy’, and then, in early September, they received an email asking her to take a SELT English test. The message in the email indicated that if she did not submit this within seven days her visa would be rejected. Despite the short notice, the managed it and this was submitted on time as well. About a month later, they received a message saying the application was ready for collection; however, it was refused because of the English test. This struck Rob as bizarre as his wife’s English is fantastic. Delving further into it, the authorities said she had passed the reading, writing and listening requirements but had not submitted the speaking part. Although they put in an appeal, called a lawyer and asked what to do, they were advised that the appeal would probably be rejected; and applying for a new visa would fall under the new rules requiring submission of another £900 fee. Rob was bemused - the authorities could have said, ‘..your application is ok, but you need to do the speaking test, we'll give you another week’? Instead they rejected the application due to a technicality, knowing Rob would be unlikely to meet the income criteria, in an attempt to extort more money. Rob’s uncle fought in Burma in WW2, fighting the Japanese for the UK. He himself has worked hard and paid his taxes. His great uncle was just a name tag when he came back from France in WW1. His great grandfather died from the repercussions of WWI, also fighting for the UK. Is this the UK that his family went to war for? Rob now very much has to come to terms with the fact that he will need to sell his house in the UK and relocate himself and his son to Indonesia. Another plus towards the immigration target but another loss for Britain, our economy and our people.

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Katie & Cliff
“What married couple wants to spend twelve months – maybe more – living in separate countries?”
Katie is a British citizen directly affected by the new immigration rules. Katie moved to Cape Town, South Africa, in February 2010 to be with her partner, Cliff, a South African citizen. He visited England on three separate occasions but has never lived in the UK. They got married in October 2010 in Cape Town after a 3-year relationship. Katie’s father passed away in April 2012 after a long hard battle against cancer. Katie and Cliff feel that now is the right time to move permanently to the UK to be with her mother, who is living alone in Norfolk and needs the support of her family. Katie is a qualified primary school teacher with three years full-time experience. She is also a qualified Health and Social Care worker, having gained an NVQ Level 3. Cliff has many years’ experience in the finance sector and has just gained his degree in Business Administration. They both have skills and experience to offer the UK. In the course of their in-depth research plus guidance from immigration consultants, they were shocked and saddened by the implications of the new rules. They meet all of the criteria for a settlement visa; however, they believe the financial requirements to be totally absurd and incredibly harsh. Katie already has an offer of employment in the UK and, as it is their intention is to live with her mother for the interim, there is no need to rely on any public funding. Katie has been working in Cape Town as an au pair for the past two and a half years, earning a reasonable salary. However, taking the fluctuating exchange rate into account and the fact that salaries are considerably lower in South Africa, it has not been possible for her to command an £18,600 gross annual salary. She is aware of the need for savings to cover the shortfall in salary but the amounts of money are totally absurd – how many people have tens of thousands of pounds lying around in cash that they don’t need to rely on for five years! Katie has been told by an immigration consultant that she, as her husband's British sponsor, must take full financial responsibility, a situation which seems totally hopeless at the moment. She has also been told that, under the current rules, she will have to work for six or more months in the UK in order to earn the required salary while her husband remains in South Africa. What married couple wants to spend six to twelve months living in separate countries? Where is the logic in these new changes?! Katie is livid that virtually overnight people are expected to have thousands and thousands of pounds in savings if they do not meet the annual gross salary requirement. These requirements are quite frankly ridiculous and will no doubt cause some partners and families to break up if they are forced to live separately! Update: Cliff’s UK visit visa is coming to an end so he will return to South Africa soon. The couple is dreading saying goodbye especially given the uncertainty around the period they will have to be apart and knowing they will be celebrating their birthdays, anniversary and other family events without the other. On some positive news, Katie has been successful in obtaining a job meeting the magical £18,600 criteria so they will need to wait for her to have 6 months of payslips, then apply for the spouse visa. It is likely they will be apart for about 1 year allowing for UKBA processing times. The couple is be optimistic that the rules may change following court hearings and that other couples won’t have to suffer the hardships they see coming up for themselves.

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Lionel & Svetlana
“In the Conservative pre-election waffle Mr Cameron made a great deal about his views on the sanctity of marriage and family values.”
Lionel, British by birth, married Svetlana in May 2010. He has been trying to have Svetlana join him in the UK, ever since. English Language – constantly changing requirements Soon after their wedding Lionel was made redundant, so they delayed the spouse application until he found a new job, by which time the English requirement had been introduced. This in itself wasn’t a problem as their intention had always been for Svetlana to take English lessons, and where better to learn English than in England?! Despite the change in the rules, his wife continued with her lessons and took a test at "Expert Language Schools" in Kaliningrad. It never even occurred to them that it would need to be taken at an approved centre as this wasn’t clearly indicated, and the immigration ‘expert’ they sought advice and assistance from, at considerable expense, didn’t tell them about it until an hour before Svetlana was due at the visa centre in Moscow. Needless to say her visa was refused because her B1 certificate was not issued by an “approved centre”. The only place in Kaliningrad that is approved to issue a certificate only supports the IELTS test. In March 2011 Lionel’s wife sat the exam, following some tuition. Since her previous test her use of English has been limited and she achieved an overall band score of 4. At the time UKBA website's Approved Partner list stated grade 4 was sufficient. However, the new list states for IELTS minimum is grade 4 in all disciplines; Svetlana achieved grade 4 in listening, grade 3 in speaking. The question for her speaking test was ludicrous, of an academic nature, dealing with politics. As Svetlana indicates, she could not have answered the question adequately in her native language, let alone in English, and Lionel believes he may well have struggled to provide a suitable answer as well, despite being British born and bred!! It was and still is the view held by Lionel that if a grade 4 is equivalent to level B1 then surely grade 3 is at least level A2., Now, because of this government, he and his wife are regularly forced to converse on Skype, in English, and they communicate without any issues at all. Svetlana is unable to study towards the English language requirements at present. She works from 9am to 7pm every day, only having Sundays off, to earn a meagre £350 per month. English classes are not available outside these times. Of course supporting two homes and visits to Russia has severely depleted Lionel’s savings as well, giving UKBA yet another reason to refuse.

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Insufficient funds Since the initial denial in early 2011, Lionel and his wife have been forced to have an online relationship apart from the times he has visited her in Russia. The expense of the initial application and the fact that he has since supported two homes, one in the UK and one in Russia, along with the cost of visiting his wife in Russia, has resulted in his savings being severely depleted which would now result in a denial on the grounds of insufficient funds to support her. They are being denied the right to be a family because of this rule. Lionel is being discriminated against because he dared to marry someone from outside the EU. While they have explored other options, they are being blocked every step of the way. They considered a family visit visa, where he would support his wife during her stay in the UK and enrol her on an English language course. Then she would return to Russia and make another application but – and there’s always a but – it is not permitted for Lionel’s wife to study while on a family visit or tourist visa. Manifesto a farce In the Conservative pre-election manifesto Mr Cameron made a great deal about his views on the sanctity of marriage and family values. This rule makes an absolute mockery of his views. It effectively prevents people such as Lionel and Svetlana from living together as a family. This rule is ludicrous; the majority of couples who are affected by this rule have every intention of learning English and studying for the Knowledge of Life in the UK test in order to apply for ILR. A better solution would be to make enrolment on an English language course, once in the UK, a condition of the visa. This couple done everything correctly; they considered the fact that Lionel was made redundant and decided it would not be correct to make an application until he had secured employment. Now, the government has implemented a minimum gross income which, fortunately, Lionel can currently meet. However, with future checks and current economic climate, there is no guarantee he will continue to meet it for five years. Family visit visa They applied for a family visit visa but were unsuccessful. Svetlana’s parents live in Russia and her daughter (Lionel’s stepdaughter) is studying at Kiel University; the UKBA felt that this wasn’t sufficient to guarantee that Svetlana would leave, and therefore refused her the right to visit her husband. As time goes by this couple’s only solution is to accept enforced exile and for Lionel to look for work in another European country. Yet another Brit being exiled from his country. This is what these UK politicians have brought this country to. Update: Lionel and his wife have moved to Germany. They are currently living in a hotel but hope to secure their own apartment soon. They have otherwise been settling in well and are liking Germany. Lionel has also been successful in obtaining a job there. Our best wishes to this lovely couple on a long, happy life together.

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Joyce, Clyde & Xu Dan
The story from a mother’s perspective
Joyce is a British mother from Yorkshire. Her family can trace their UK roots going back 500 years. No member of their family has claimed benefits for a duration longer than a few weeks. This is a proud and self-sustaining family with strong work ethics. Joyce recalls when she went against the norm, travelling around Europe. She ended up living and working in Brussels. She wasn’t surprised therefore when her son, Clyde – also a British citizen - was driven by the same adventurous wanderlust to travel. Clyde is quite shy, but found he could fuel his travel urge by teaching his valuable mother tongue – the English language – to others in the places he travelled to. In 2007 his travels took him to a mining town in southern China. He enjoyed the extreme differences he found between this town and England, but it wasn’t a place he could settle down for life in. However while there he met Xu Dan - a Chinese girl. They fell very much in love. Once the teaching contract ended, Clyde returned home, wanting to be with Xu Dan but knowing China wasn’t in his long-term plans. They stayed in touch via Skype, meeting during holidays. Their love survived the long distance and inherent hardships, but Clyde decided he’d move to Beijing with Xu Dan, where a teaching job would be easier to find. He first wished to introduce Xu Dan to his parents and so applied for a tourist visa to bring her to several family events in 2010. The visa was refused and the entire family was hurt, surprised and disappointed. UKBA gave no reason for the refusal, though it was too late to do anything as the events were imminent. The young couple spent a happy 18 months in Beijing with Clyde working in a teaching role. In 2011 Joyce and her husband planned to spend their own holiday travelling to China to meet Xu Dan. Incidentally, Joyce and her husband had no problems obtaining a visa from the Chinese authorities, with the process being more efficient and cheaper than the service provided by UKBA. As both Clyde and Xu Dan’s family would be together, it seemed a perfect opportunity to seal their relationship by marriage. Joyce travelled to Xu Dan’s home town, in northern China and together the two families celebrated an extraordinary set of events, a wedding party and the official administrative marriage declaration.

It was pure happiness for all involved. The united families walked around the Meihekou streets together, truly but naively believing, that it would now only be a matter of time before Joyce could welcome her new daughter-in-law to meet the rest of their family – including Joyce’s mum in her late 80s - and walk around the English streets with the same freedom. The family applied for a family visit visa for Xu Dan to spend Christmas with her new family. To their horror, it was refused again. UKBA didn’t believe Xu Dan would return to China after the visit. Joyce’s direct experiences with UKBA and various British embassies proved fruitless and she realised

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BritCits UK had abandoned her family. Joyce didn’t give up – she went to see an officially approved immigration legal advisor in Cambridge and they put in a successful, albeit expensive, appeal.

With happy hearts the family welcomed Clyde and Xu Dan at Heathrow on 18th December 2011. Xu Dan visited her grandmother-in-law as well, spending a fantastic Christmas, followed by a tour of UK where Clyde and Xu Dan met relatives from Shropshire, North Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire. Clyde longed to live in the friendly communities among the narrow boats moored on river Cam and used his savings to buy a boat. He received job offers from English Language schools in Cambridge. At the same time, Xu Dan left UK complying with the visa conditions and went to Belgium to be with her in-laws. It was only AFTER a settlement visa application was submitted and paid for (over €1000) that fine print indicated those with temporary residence rights in Belgium couldn’t apply for a settlement visa. So Xu Dan took her first solo plane journey back to China and after some complications, submitted the application. The visa was rejected - UKBA wasn’t satisfied Clyde would earn £18,600; though from his performance to date indicated he was set to earn at least £21,000. It is impossible to describe the distress & devastation caused to the whole family. The offer of support of Clyde’s parents was ignored, as was the rent-free accommodation in Joyce’s mum’s home; also ignored was the fact that Clyde owned his own residence i.e. the boat for which he therefore wouldn’t have any accommodation expenses. The income which could be earned by Xu Dan was also ignored, as a fluent Mandarin speaker. They immediately appealed in November 2012, though the hearing will take place after June 2013 at the earliest, which means the couple is separated for a further minimum 9 months. Joyce’s husband couldn’t cope with the constant issues surrounding Joyce and her family; he suffered from depression and felt neglected and subsequently left Joyce. This family is now completely broken because of UKBA’s farcical immigration rules. Joyce’s plea is for MPs – our representatives, to take a hard look at how your draconian immigration rules are affecting British citizens, rules which don’t contribute to supporting families nor stabilising society in any way.

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Anastasia & James
“As British citizens we have fewer rights in Britain than our EU friends and even their non-EU partners... ”
Anastasia is a British citizen and lives in Edinburgh with her British husband and British children. Anastasia has a wide and varied circle of international friends - Patrick from Ireland married to Jing from China, Andy a Scot married to Katarina from Poland, José from Spain married to Lisa from Argentina, and Mike from Netherlands married to Olga from Russia. Then there is Anastasia and James, both Brits. Indeed, Anastasia recognises, through her friends circle, that what makes Britain great is how multicultural we are. This is what makes our country rich. They come in all different shapes and sizes; José prefers coffee to tea and Jing goes for rice over potatoes. But when this group meets up, they have a good time together, comparing stories about families and experiences from around the world. Anastasia is reminded how small the world is and how we all share the same common wishes and experiences: the desire to give our children the best possible start in life, the longing to be together as a family and the heartache from being apart from your loved ones. There’s not much to tell Anastasia apart from her friends –until it comes to UK’s immigration rules. This is where Anastasia and James, both as British citizens are the odd ones out and therefore disadvantaged. Anastasia’s mum is a Russian citizen, living in Russia on her own since Anastasia’s dad died in a car crash two and a half years ago. Anastasia has no other siblings to help look after her mum. After many years of waiting, this summer Anastasia and James were fortunate to be blessed with twin girls. Anastasia’s mum retired from her job to come to the UK for six months on a visitor visa to help with the babies. Following the difficult years after Anastasia’s dad’s tragic and unexpected death, it was good to see her mum happy again and engaging with her granddaughters. Anastasia is therefore keen to have her mum live with them, with no burden on the State. Under the previous immigration rules this would have been possible and they were planning to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain; however, following the introduction of the new immigration rules in July this year, Anastasia is in total despair as the route has effectively been completely closed off. The situation is causing severe distress; instead of enjoying motherhood Anastasia spends most of her day desperately trying to find a solution.
James, Anastasia, her mum and the twins

The new rules have set the proof of dependency so high that it is actually impossible to foresee any circumstances whereby a visa would be granted to a parent of a British citizen. Should the sponsor earn a reasonable salary, it’s deemed they can afford to pay for care in the parent’s home country; if the sponsor doesn’t earn a reasonable salary, they can’t prove they can support their parent without recourse to public funds. So with money or without it, elderly parents are blocked from the country.

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As these rules apply only to UK citizens, within Anastasia’s circle of friends they are the only ones affected, because both her and husband are British. Even a non-EU citizen living in the UK with their EEA or Swiss spouse or civil partner can bring their family members (children, grandchildren, parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters and cousins) into the UK so long as their EU partner can show a family member is dependent on them. So, for example, a Russian citizen married to a citizen of France, Germany, Poland, Hungary, etc. can bring their Russian mother to live permanently with them in the UK, but Anastasia and James, as British citizens, are denied that same right, in their own country. To Anastasia, the situation in Britain today is terribly reminiscent of the forced exiles associated with Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia. In the 1930s her great grandfather’s family were forced off their land, had their property and belongings confiscated by the Bolsheviks, and were exiled to the north of Russia because they were a little bit richer than everybody else in their village. In 21st-century Britain, Anastasia is being penalised because she has a mother who is not British, and thus deprived of the right to live comfortably with her family in the country of which she herself is a citizen. Why? Since coming to this country Anastasia has studied, at her own expense, volunteered with several charities, worked hard and paid taxes; she has never claimed benefits. So, what has she done to deserve this? As parents, Anastasia and James want to stay in their own country and raise their kids to be British, but if they do this, then they are being told by the current government that they must abandon Anastasia’s mother and that she has to be vegetating before her entry to the UK can even be considered (and even then it would be rejected under the current rules). It is blatantly unfair that families in UK are being forced to make such choices, just because they’re British.

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Andrew
“What if my 92-year-old grandfather dies, without ever having met my wife, and she can’t even pay her last respects at his funeral?!”
Andrew, a British citizen, has lived in Spain with his South African wife for four years. They had a beautiful beach wedding and some members of his family from England attended the celebrations. Despite being British and South African, respectively, they did not encounter any problems with the Spanish authorities regarding issuing a family member spouse visa, and his wife is now a Spanish resident. She has had a residence card for 5 years, which clearly states on the back: “Family Member of EEA National”. With this card they are free to travel around the whole of Europe. They can even enter the UK's overseas territory of Gibraltar, where Andrew works. They just can’t enter the UK (the country of which Andrew is a national!) – and where the rest of his family is. EU law states in 2004/38/EC that any family member with an EU-issued residence card of more than 3 months duration does not require a visa to enter any other EU member state. But in direct violation of the law, UK government refuses to recognise EU-issued residence cards, insisting on its own residence cards. As such, in order for his wife to come to the UK with Andrew – even for a two-week visit! – they have to apply for an EEA Family permit. And thus the red tape, and the farce, begins. To obtain this family permit, Andrew has to prove that he is working in another EU member state. So if he was unemployed it would be impossible for his wife to visit the UK without applying for a regular visa at a cost of £250 for South African nationals. Fortunately he does work, and as such he is able to provide such documentation. The EU rules require that there be no prohibitive cost or process for the issue of an EEA Family Permit (indeed, it must be free), yet the UK tries to circumvent this legal requirement by referring to it as a visa. In the past, they have had to fill out a 12-page form requesting financial details, relationship history, 10-year address history, etc. Then they had to make an appointment at the British Consulate in Madrid – 500 miles away – necessitating a 7-hour drive and a hotel stay, i.e. substantial further expense. Given that the next available appointment was 2 months after filling in the visa application online, there was undue delay on top of the expense! Also, they charge €15 to return the passport and documents via DHL and it can take 3 weeks to process an EEA Family Permit, which is referred to as a “decision”. This might not seem too bad if that was it, and Andrew’s wife was then clear to enter the UK to visit as often as she wished. But no! After all this, she can only enter the UK as long as Andrew is with travelling with her, and the permit only lasts for 6 months. After this time, they have to go through the entire laborious process again!

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BritCits They wanted to visit the UK in August. By the middle of October they still hadn’t received the ‘decision’. They are determined to go for Christmas, especially as many of Andrew’s family have not yet met his wife, including his grandfather, a 92-year-old war veteran who is quite poorly and may not be around for much longer. And there are nieces and nephews who want to meet their new auntie too. Andrew is keen to show his wife where he grew up, his home town, his school, his friends. These are all perfectly reasonable expectations and something that he never thought would prove to be so difficult in his own home country, given that they were welcomed with open arms by the administration in Spain. The UK's policy of forcing them to apply for an EEA Family Permit falls well outside the Free Movement Directives of the EU, so much so that the EU challenged the UK to change these laws back in April or face court action. However, this UK government seems intent on remaining defiant and is willing to pay millions of pounds in fines. using taxpayers' money, rather than be a law-abiding government that has respect for its citizens, i.e. British voters. Update, end October 2012: Andrew’s wife was refused entry clearance and an EEA Family Permit. The UKBA’s view was that Andrew and his wife did not provide sufficient documentary evidence that Andrew was working or self-employed in another member state prior to returning to the UK and therefore the regulations do not apply. In fact, Andrew submitted: • letter from his employer, on a company letterhead, stating that he had been employed for the evidence of last 4 years permanent employment, with a salary over £30,000 • copy of his work contract; • payslips from preceding three months. It is likely the refusal was on the grounds that Andrew works in Gibraltar but lives in Spain – we don’t know. No explanation was given, and there’s no one to contact to clarify the reason for the refusal. Having checked with EU Commission, Andrew received confirmation that the UK government has acted illegally by refusing his wife a family permit. Will Andrew’s 92-year-old grandfather ever get to meet Andrew’s wife? Will this family be able to gather together for Christmas? Ask the British government. Update: Andrew’s wife did not receive the EEA family permit in time for their scheduled trip to the UK. Nevertheless, Andrew and his wife did get to spend Christmas with his family and his wife and grandfather were able to spend valuable time together.

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Jenny
“I just want to be able to look after my parents without recourse to public funds in the same way they’ve looked after me and my child”
Jenny from Kingston & Surbiton is a British citizen with South African parents. She works for a very reputable regulator with a secure, stable job. She has also been supporting her parents for several years, which she doesn’t have an issue with. After all, she’s in a position to do so only because they made sacrifices for her to be where she is. Jenny also now has a child, a British child. As she cannot afford to pay £1000 in childcare every month, on top of her living expenses - rent, bills, while also sending money to her parents, her parents have been visiting her regularly to help with the childcare. This may sound fine and dandy, but it's when you delve further you realise that parental sacrifices don't end even in old age. Jenny's parents take it in turns to visit the UK for 6 months at a time so they can help her with childcare all year round, and so that she can afford to pay their living expenses back in their home country. Jenny could, and will, never turn her back on her parents and stop supporting them as they are, due to unfortunate circumstances, unable to support themselves. So her parents are forced to take it in turns to visit their daughter and grandchild because they can only stay here for 6 months in a year. This raises several issues: 1) The parent who is in South Africa is alone, lonely and miserable for half of their life 2) The parent who is leaving the UK after 6 months has to regularly go through the heart-wrenching process of saying goodbye to their own family, knowing they're going back to an empty existence. 3) Jenny's parents barely see their own spouse because of their own financial obligations deeming dependency on their daughter necessary. 4) UKBA could at any point cease allowing the parent in even for 6 months. At any point. It has happened to other parents, with UKBA denying them entry and saying they need to apply for a settlement visa if they wish to visit their family in the UK regularly. Whether UKBA staff are or are not aware of the rules which make it impossible for any parent of an adult British citizen to qualify for the right to be here, is anyone's guess. Like others in this position, Jenny has considered applying for a settlement visa. She knows it will be rejected, but maybe then she could appeal, or take it to court where rules which make it impossible for anyone to qualify while charging £2000 a pop per application, will be overturned by our judicial system. While this takes time and money, her biggest concern is that by applying for a settlement visa she runs the risk of her parents never ever being allowed back in the UK, because their having expressed the desire to settle here will be interpreted by UKBA as an intention to live here, with a possible slapping of a 10 year ban on even re-applying. It is grossly unfair that Jenny is not able to allow her parents to make their home with her in the UK, without recourse to public funds.

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Sharon & Wade
“Living with my husband and my English family is proving to be an impossible dream..”
Sharon is a British citizen and married for over 4 years now to Wade, an American. Sharon and Wade are both in their 50s. Sharon returned to her home in the Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, with the intention that Wade would follow her after spending one last Christmas with his family in the US. Sharon set up a home for them and was successful in obtaining a job. Wade also had a job lined up for himself. However, months later, Sharon is now in the UK, living alone on antidepressants for the first time in her life. She is an emotional wreck, having been told she needs to be earning £18,600 per year for at least six months, before UKBA will consider Sharon’s husband joining her. She cannot see how she will ever be able to earn that amount of money on her own, especially now with her own health in a poor condition meaning she is going to be unlikely to work the several jobs it would take for her to earn that much. Wade was going to come visit her, cheer her up, however his visitor’s visa was rejected on the grounds that he hadn’t provided "sufficient proof that he had reason to return to the States". They have put in a second application (also at some cost), with supporting letters from his boss, family, bank statements, letter from Sharon inviting him here. The couple is now praying this time he will be allowed to visit his wife!!! Given their expenses and need to save, Wade can only afford to stay 2 weeks but even that is better than not seeing each other at all. Sharon is not well. Some days she just wants to crawl into a corner and die with the hopelessness of it all. She returned home to be with her family and to make a home here with her husband, but is finding it is increasingly an impossible dream.

Wade and Sharon

Wade and Sharon’s mum

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Phil & Amanda
“As a British student, I can’t live in my country with my wife, because she is American and I don’t earn £18,600 – how many British students do?!”
Phil is a British citizen who met his now wife, Amanda in Scotland. Amanda is American and was studying at Stirling University when they met, nearly three years ago. Their relationship survived a long-distance relationship when Amanda had to return home to finish under undergraduate degree in the US. She got in to the Masters program at Stirling University for postgraduate studies. She accepted this to be with her partner and on the basis that UK provided Post Study Work visas allowing those with degrees from recognised UK universities to work here for two years. Amanda started her course in September 2011. In April 2012, the PSW route was closed, not just to new students, but including those students who had come here on the basis of the PSW. Indeed, students who may have chosen to go to other countries over the UK if this had been made clear to them in advance. Facing a future apart, Phil knew the only way Amanda could stay in the UK was if she obtained a job. However work visas have all sorts of requirements (like the job has to pay £20,000 or more, etc). They became aware of the income requirement being brought in by the government for spouses; although not married at this point they realised that even if they did get married they would not be able to stay in the UK together. They did however get married in October 2011. Unfortunately, they cannot leave for America immediately as Phil is still finishing his degree; so they are facing months or even years apart, as students don’t tend to earn £18,600 (well except for those with rich parents). Because Phil fell in love with an American, he has to leave his family and everything he knows in the UK to be with his wife. They both understand the need to curb immigration, but it is absolutely ridiculous when the rules punish its own citizens to such an extent.
Amanda & Phil on their wedding day

Update: Amanda returned to USA in January 2013, and they are working on getting a visa for Phil to move to the USA to live. It’s likely it will be another year or so before this couple can live together however. Amanda underwent surgery in March 2013, and Phil was luckily able to be with her then to help her through that. It does however raise the issue that if the situation had been reversed, Amanda would have been unlikely to be there for Phil.

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Dee & Ozan
“He has supported me and my son through everything we have been through... He would die to be there for us.”
Dee is a British citizen living in Hemel Hempstead. She met Ozan, her husband, in May 2010 when he was working as a lifeguard. Dee quickly realised Ozan was a natural protector – the way he engaged with Dee and her son from a previous relationship. The three hit it off instantly; and the couple’s relationship developed to the stage that Ozan invited Dee to visit his home city, Istanbul. Over the next few months, Dee travelled frequently to Turkey, their relationship strengthening each time. In July 2011, Dee needed an emergency operation - a terrifying, sudden prospect. Every day, Ozan sat with her on Skype, providing support and helping to get her through this very difficult time in her life. During the hours and days they spent together, Ozan helped to guide her through the recovery. Their love deepened to the point they knew they wanted to spend the rest of their lives with each other. Once Dee recovered and was allowed to travel, she married the man of her dreams in Turkey. It was a beautiful wedding. The new family had to make a decision - where to live. Initially, they decided that Ozan was to apply for a visitor's visa to the UK, in order to decide if he could really be happy there. Unfortunately, devastatingly, Ozan's application was rejected - 'You have nothing to go back to', in the bureaucratic mindset of authority. Ozan's mother has cancer - Ozan most certainly does have a life and a family in Turkey, but his priority is his life partner, and his new family, as it should be. Very quickly after hearing the news of the visitor visa rejection, Dee made a joyous discovery. Dee and Ozan were pregnant. Dee’s lawyer advised her that Ozan should not appeal the visitor visa rejection, but should instead apply for a different kind of visa - a spousal visa. Dee started to gather all the requirements and documentation that are necessary for a spousal visa application. She was able to build up the funds for the application. Ozan sat his English language test, and passed first time. They were nearly there. Unknown to the family, and with very little warning, in June 2012 strict new immigration guidelines were announced. There was never a debate in the House of Commons on these new rules; and yet they were to be implemented only one month later, in July 2012, giving very little opportunity for anyone - even experts in the field - to react. Dee was having a difficult pregnancy spending large bouts of time in hospital – made even more painful by not having her husband by her side. Made worse by the letter from UKBA stating that she did not meet the income requirement. This is despite Dee earning an annual salary of £16,300 - above the living wage; indeed, her family income would be even higher if Ozan were with her, working, supporting and providing for Dee and his stepson. Pictures show the incredible artistic talent which would not go unrewarded in the UK. Of course, this would also mean Dee and her son would be less likely to ever be dependent on the state.

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BritCits The government claims that the measures introduced reduce the benefits burden on the taxpayer. Dee's example disproves that; a family together, with two earners, is far less likely to have to claim benefits - now or at any time in the future - than a partner who is effectively forced to be a single mother, supporting a family by herself). Since having their baby daughter, Dee has had to lower her hours at work due to childcare and says if her husband was in the UK, her tax credits claim would be lower as she could share childcare with her husband and Ozan would be working and earning good money too. There is however zero room in the rules for any discretion or use of common sense, despite the fact that median incomes vary considerably across the country; many people even on lower incomes prefer to live frugally – just as many despite being on higher incomes are in debt. The point remains that forcing a family apart is in fact more likely to push people onto benefits – adding economics to moral and common sense as reasons to make the rules fair. Dee’s daughter – also a British citizen - cannot be with her own father. Yes she talks to her daddy every day via a computer screen – very similar to the Skype Daddy video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bKrCUaKB4KM . Dee's son has a hard time too; he just doesn't understand why he can't be with the man he considers a father-figure, as family. Dee has no support except from extended family; she is working to support two children, and dealing with another upcoming operation, all by herself. Dee is very angry that her family has been divided through senseless rules and their ridiculous application. With good reason.

Dee, Ozan and their two children

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Sattar
As a rule, this pack contains stories from the perspective of British citizens, with very few exceptions. This is one of them as it brought home the desperation and the cruelty of rules towards people who especially deserve a level of respect that UK’s immigration rules prevent us from providing; people who have raised their children so that we, British citizens, can have a better quality of life.

Sattar is not a British citizen. Neither is his wife. He is however the father of a British citizen – Dr Faisal, living in London. The July 2012 rules introduced two conditions which prevent Sattar from continuing to reside in the UK with his wife and son. Sattar and his wife have been living in the UK for four years, initially on Sattar’s work visa. However tragedy struck when their youngest son living overseas died in an accident. It is not in the natural course of things for parents to have to bury their own child and the resulting trauma took its toll on this family. Sattar and his wife were devastated; it’s something they naturally found hard to come to terms with and experienced psychological issues as a result. Sattar was unable to continue his work as usual, becoming mainly financially dependent on Dr Faisal, living with him in London. Under the previous rules, Sattar would have been able to switch from his work visa to obtaining Leave to Remain under the family route, as parents of a British citizen settled in the UK as soon as he was 65. However, in July 2012 when the rules changed, Sattar was four months short. Four months. And now he’s facing a lifetime away from his family. A lifetime living in isolation, away from the son on whom he is dependent; the son on who he has come to rely on more and more because of tragic circumstances which no one could have foreseen. Sattar feels that these immigration rules fail to recognise the relationship between parents and their children...be the children adults themselves. As much as Sattar and his wife need their son, Dr Faisal himself needs the emotional support only his parents can provide. This interdependency is interestingly recognised and appreciated as far away as Australia – a country renowned for strict immigration rules…a country where parents of adult citizens and residents are encouraged to come join their family when they are younger, healthier and more able to integrate. Dependency between family members is much more than what is portrayed as a one way matter only . Unsurprisingly, Sattar states that if he or his wife were in such a precarious medical condition as required by the rules, to be already on their death bed, they would have no interest in immigration – if it was a matter of just waiting to die. They want to live…live with their son, support each other..all with no recourse to public funds. This is a classic example of the need to recognise that family bonds continue through grandparents, parents, adult children, grandchildren, and between siblings – the value of these relationships should not be obscured by portrayal as extended family of less significance.

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Wayne & Daisy
“I am forced to exercise my EU treaty rights to keep my family united; even though this means being apart from my daughter from a previous relationship for a long time.”
Wayne is a British citizen. He met his wife Daisy in the way many 21st century couples do..online. On their first meeting, Wayne knew Daisy was ‘the one’. At the time, Daisy was working in Denmark as an au pair. They soon became a couple but were even refused a visit visa. Daisy moved to Norway after receiving a job offer, when Wayne asked her to marry him. To his delight, she said ‘yes’! As Daisy owns land in her homeland, Philippines, they decided to build a house there. She returned home for six months to manage the wedding preparations (no mean feat!). They got married, lived together for the next six months and are expecting their baby at the end of September 2013. Wayne returned home to try and find work in Torbay. He wants his baby to grow up where he did. Although he doesn’t think he will be able to meet the £18,600 income requirement, especially in the area where he lives, he owns his four bedroomed - house outright – no mortgage! He doesn’t need a lot to live on unlike someone with a huge rent or mortgage. And he’s self employed. He contributes to the economy supplying valuable trade skill as a handyman, window cleaner and builder. Wayne works hard and so does Daisy. Wayne proudly told us, “Daisy is a college graduate midwife. She finished top of her class. She was also a sergeant major in her local reservists when she was at school. That one made me giggle as she is so small bless.” The UK is in desperate need of midwives. Wayne is considering exercising his free movement rights afforded to him by the EU, which would at least allow the family to live together in all EU countries, plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. They are considering Denmark as they both have connections there. However Wayne does not think it’s fair he has to live outside of his home country just because of its immigration rules. Wayne has a 13 year old daughter in the UK from a previous relationship; with Daisy not allowed here, Wayne would have to leave his daughter and the rest of his family. Daisy and his daughter would be denied the chance to get to know each other even better. Update: 1) Wayne’s mother was diagnosed with cancer. She is constantly in and out of hospital with complications and her wish is to be able to live long enough to be able to welcome Daisy and the baby into the family. 2) A very kind English lady visited Wayne after hearing of his plight and offered him and Daisy accommodation in her house in the French countryside, leading to a revision of their plans to
Daisy and Wayne’s daughter

move to Denmark. The family is now arranging their move to France to exercise their EU treaty rights in order to keep their family united.

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Douglas
“My wife and children are in Nigeria, denied entry because I am self-employed…the requirements are so onerous I am in constant battle with UKBA..”
Douglas is a British citizen living in Kent. He was brought up in England and has worked and paid taxes for the last thirty years. His time now is being spent battling UKBA to obtain a visa for his wife and two children, currently residing in Lagos, Nigeria. In his son’s first two months, Douglas has only seen him for 10 days. The application process for Douglas’s family is even more complex because of UKBA’s requirements for those who are self-employed, which is the case for Douglas, even though his wife has passed the language test and satisfied UKBA that their relationship is genuine. Items which Douglas has been allowed to deduct for tax purposes for his income, have been excluded from the income allowed towards the income threshold of £18,600 Douglas regrets missing out so much on his newborn son’s life: “I will never be able to get these moments back, such as missing his first smile.” This separation affects the wider family, not just Douglas. His parents are elderly and therefore incapable of making the journey to Lagos – so they are yet to meet their new grandson. Valuable savings are also being spent on travelling to Nigeria to spend time with his family..so Douglas is suffering from a financial strain as well. Having family overseas also means he is working less, because he has to take time off to go see them..which means his income and savings situation become more dire. It’s a downwards spiral he has found himself in, made all the more worse by Douglas having to support another household in Nigeria as his wife cannot work with a newborn and an infant child, Nigerian visa fees and private healthcare cover for his wife and kids. Douglas is being forced to support two households rather than the one, if his wife and children were allowed to be with him in the UK. Douglas is roughing it himself to make ends meet, renting out the bedrooms in his home and sleeping on the sofa bed in the living room. If Douglas were allowed to have his family here, he wouldn’t need to live like this, he’d have his family with him and his income would be spent in the UK, thereby making a greater contribution to the economy. The Entry Clearance Officer denied his wife entry into the, stating that there was “nothing stopping Douglas from living and working in Lagos”. However the officer neglected to consider Douglas's situation, as he also has a son from a previous marriage, which means he cannot relocate to another country else it would mean abandoning his first born.

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Damar
“I served in the British army, defended British lives and the British way of life, and now am kept apart from my own wife and child... ”.
Damar is a Hong Kong-born British national, a former Gurkha soldier and now an IT professional – and another victim of this government’s new immigration rules impacting on families. Damar lives in Hampshire and his initial plan was to move to UK with his wife and 10-year-old daughter, both Filipino nationals, earlier this summer. The said law, however, prevents this, forcing him to be apart from his family. A man who served in the British army, defending British lives and the British way of life, is now being prevented from having a life with his own wife and child. Damar and his family decided to build a future in Britain in response to the IT skills shortage and to provide his daughter with a better education. Damar has a science degree majoring in computing and networking (BScCN) and a Master of Science in Information Technology (MScIT). With over 12 years of IT work experience, and 9 years of exemplary military service before that in the Brigade of Gurkhas, part of the British Army, he is confident that he would be a net contributor to the economy and community. Damar is, and has always been, an asset not a burden, to UK. It’s clear this unacceptably harsh law will prevent British citizens, including some who have served in the British army, from settling in the UK. The pain of separation from his wife and daughter is indescribable and brings to the fore the ignorance of the Home Secretary – someone who does not, or chooses not to, understand the impact of the rules she has imposed and devastation being wreaked. The enforced separation has taken its toll on the physical and psychological health of Damar’s family, with insomnia and depression taking a toll on their health. This government, despite a manifesto claim, is neither family-friendly nor one with morals or common sense. Damar is aware of British public’s frustration with immigration abuse and sham marriages, but the Government has chosen to punish poorer and rural British citizens instead of genuinely targeting problem areas. All are shocked that this government places financial conditions on love, family and human rights. Damar is forced to maintain living expenses in UK and Hong Kong, two equally expensive places. To sponsor his wife and daughter in the UK, he has to find a job with a salary of at least £22,400 per annum. The Government is claiming the law is fair, pro-family, and beneficial to the British economy, reduces immigrant numbers by hundreds of thousands to tens of thousands, and upholds the principles of human rights. A complete farce. If preventing certain EU citizens – British citizens with non-EU spouses – from living together will reduce immigrant numbers to the level claimed, it’s wrong in principle and in its estimate of 'success'. Damar’s desire to live here doesn’t involve sponging on welfare benefits. It’s to work and provide his family with a better quality of life in the country he risked his life to defend. This law is an attack on human rights (including a fundamental right to family life), and the UK’s reputation as an advocate of human rights and open and fair democracy is fast being eroded. It has closed its door to its own citizens; it has, however, provided enough ground to be challenged in court, which it will be, and thus more taxpayers’ money will be frittered away. How do such rules safeguard taxpayers and the British economy, as the Government has claimed?

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Aimie & David
“..I can’t just move to another country to be with my fiancé as I still have three years left to complete my Masters degree. I cannot simply drop out of university and earn £18600, as I don’t have the work experience and would not have the qualifications without the degree, to earn that figure. ..“
Aimie is a British citizen and in the second year of her MSc (Chemistry) at University of Nottingham. She is 24 years old and engaged and married to David, a 25-year-old Masters graduate, recently majored in Advanced Computer Science, also at University of Nottingham. Aimie’s husband is very employable; he is fluent in English, has a master’s degree and has experience in his field of work of software development. He would not be requesting access to public funds, nor would he become a burden on the economy. Under the previous rules, the means to meet the financial requirement to demonstrate that they would not need to access public funds. However, new rules brought in requiring Aimie to earn £18,600 (regardless of David’s earnings) mean this couple is facing years apart. Because David is Colombian.
Aimie and David on their wedding day

Aimie has been told that for them to meet the financial requirement for her husband’s visa, she would have to have been earning a salary of £18600 for at least 6 months prior to the visa application. However, as she is a student, they have been relying solely on their part-time jobs and scholarships. Aimie feels the new rules for financial requirement are unjust as they don’t take into account individual circumstances. Aimie cannot simply move to another country for them to be together as she still has three years left at university. She also cannot simply drop out of university and earn £18600, as she doesn’t have the work experience and would not have the qualifications without her degree, to earn that figure. Indeed, on minimum wage she would earn approximately £12000, which is far off the threshold. To Aimie it’s nonsensical how £18,600 could be considered reasonable; as a student she receives less than half of that income, and is still able to pay her bills. The unemployed people on JSA are earning less than that figure and are able to live. Aimie does not need luxury items to love her husband.

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Juliet
“I am keen for my small family to be near my parents, to gain recognition of our family as a legal unit and be around to look after my parents as they get older.”
Juliet, a British citizen and a qualified teacher, lives in Thailand. She is hoping to sponsor her civil partner, a qualified chef, to return to live in the UK with her and their twins. The couple, who met in 2009, planned to live with Juliet’s parents in West Sussex, but are unlikely to be able to secure work in the area prior to arriving in the UK. Her family’s local MP is Peter Bottomley. “We had the most amazing year – finally, success in our attempt to become pregnant and our wedding in Hanoi, Vietnam. We had no idea about the new visa rules because we’d been tied up starting our new life together and supporting Great Britain in the Olympics. We never planned to raise this family in Bangkok – we were conscious that we could not be a legal and protected family here. After a year of trying to get pregnant, once it actually happened I felt very strongly that I wanted the twins to bond closely with my own parents. We discovered the
Juliet and her partner, with their newborn twins

impact of the new rules and felt like we’d been hit in the face with a sledgehammer. Absolutely devastating.” Juliet feels people – including politicians – simply don’t understand the implications of these new rules. She realises she is one of the lucky BritCits, in the sense that she is currently living with her spouse and employed abroad; but, despite her earning over the £18,600 threshold, it is unlikely they will be able to move to the UK as planned. This is especially problematic for them because, as a same-sex couple, they cannot stay together indefinitely in Thailand where their civil partnership is not recognised; with kids in the picture this is especially important – UK law allows for Juliet’s partner to register legally as the second parent of their children at birth, but not to live where these laws apply! For ex-pats, returning from abroad is a period of great adjustment and the arrangements can be time-consuming. Juliet was aware that, under the previous rules, she could return to the UK and allow herself some time to adjust to family life. Juliet and her partner would have been able to look for work with her parents offering support in the form of childcare and living costs. They would have been able to demonstrate no need to access public funds as the couple have modest savings of their own and a property in the UK. Juliet’s parents were more than happy to provide third party support if required and were delighted Juliet wanted to raise her children close by. They will also need Juliet close by to look after them, as they get older. All these plans were thrown out the window, however, with the changes on 9 July 2012. The new rules require a job offer to be signed and sealed in the UK before allowing a successful spouse visa application. As a primary school teacher with 9 years’ experience, in theory this poses no problem and just a slight change in the couple’s approach. But getting a job offer as a teacher from abroad is not easy – most schools will require lesson observations as part of the interview and give preference to those applying from within the UK. If Juliet wants to move to the UK with her family, her options are now: a) Find a teaching job in advance, not easy; b) Move with their children and look for a teaching job, facing at least six months apart from her partner during the twins’ formative years; c) Stump up £62,500 in cash and demonstrate she wouldn’t need access to it over the next few years. In the case of (a) or (b) this would mean a probable move to London, without support from her family; (b) would mean being a single parent trying to meet the £18,600 income criterion while looking after two children.

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London makes proving secure accommodation problematic. Are the couple expected to take out a rental contract on a London property they have never seen while they await the visa result, throwing money down the drain? Would they be penalised for applying while using the homes of friends with a spare room, or a couch for Juliet to sleep on, while she is job hunting? The 1985 Overcrowding Act states that living rooms DO count as bedrooms, but the rules’ qualification of ‘for their exclusive use’ may rule this out. Another example of the measures put in place for no reason other than to present an obstacle and prevent decent hardworking Brits from exercising their right to live in their own country. In London, Juliet would also lose the family support she moved home for and her parents would lose the support they will increasingly need from her. Additionally, she would have to spend half her salary on expenses such as childcare. In this case, she would qualify for working tax credits – benefits she would not be in need of if she were just allowed to be here with her partner!! How is breaking this family apart better for the British economy? As Juliet’s brother is in the same position – working in Tanzania, with a Tanzanian partner – the future is quite grim for Juliet’ parents, both British, both getting old, and both alone in the UK. For now, they can handle the long-haul flights to Asia and Africa, but this will become an increasing burden. They are being denied the right to see their grandchildren and being denied to have, in their old age, their own children around them. Juliet’s parents were tax-paying public sector workers throughout the whole of their working lives, until retirement. Why should they too be denied such basic rights by our politicians, who are being paid to look out for British people's interests? Juliet has been employed without a break since she qualified as a teacher in 2004, is a graduate with not one but two postgraduate qualifications, and worked in UK state schools for five years. Like many others, she is now being prevented from returning to her home just because she fell in love with a foreigner. Juliet’s partner is also a graduate and has also been gainfully employed or managing her own business for ten years without a break. Juliet says that if the rule changes had come with fair warning, discussion and publicity, she could have planned her life around them. She never imagined when she left on a two-year work contract in 2009 that she would be prevented from returning to her own country. The very core of fairness for all applications has been removed: assessment on a case-by-case basis of couples’ demonstration that they won’t need state help. Whatever the government says, people’s whole circumstances demand proper consideration. By their very definition, the new ‘Fixed Requirements’ are utterly unfair. Juliet suspects removing the use of discretion and assessment of individual cases results in a reduction in processing times, thus giving the impression of improved efficiency. Better for Britain? Better for MPs' propaganda! Tearing apart families causes untold suffering at the most personal level, and the welfare of innocent children should be properly prioritised. For children, the security and love of their family is of vital importance and destroying or interrupting them can cause irreparable damage. The Conservatives said this themselves in their pro-family pre-election spiel … but is it a qualified importance that can be disregarded on the most arbitrary technicality? What hypocrisy! What damage they will do! This isn’t a couple coming to the UK to sponge off benefits. This is a couple coming to the UK to give their kids – British kids – a better life, and to provide support and care for ageing British parents, to allow kids to bond with their grandparents. They are not asking for anything more than British citizens have a basic right to already.

Juliet’s parents with their grandchildren and her partner, in Thailand

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Sean & Mari
“I am keen for my small family to be near my parents, to gain recognition of our family as a legal unit and be around to look after my parents as they get older.”
Sean is a British citizen. He spent the first 19 years of his life in St Helen’s Merseyside, growing up on a council estate. When he was 18, by a stroke of luck, he came across the love of his life. One night he commented on an Oasis music video, something he did often. This time however, his comment led to a discussion on music with Mari, in Chile. They spent the next year talking online following which Sean managed to scrape together enough money to go visit her in Chile. It was a dream come true. Sean arrived in Chile on 12th August 2009 when he was 19 and had finished college. He has been living there since - Mari needed to finish university and Sean was supportive of her wanting to pursue further education. Sean and Mari married in January 2013. It was awful for Sean not having his family there – but they could not afford the journey. Sean lives with Mari’s family, for whom Sean is like a son. But living in Chile has not been easy. They experienced an earthquake measuring 8.8 on the Richter scale when their life flashed before them. And Sean knew home was where he wanted to be in the long-term. They agreed to move to the UK once Mari’s education was complete. Sean is not rich nor does he pretend to be. He hasn’t been in UK since 2009 – hasn’t seen his family since then. As Mari has now finished university, Sean and Mari are working together to save money for their life together, hoping this will allow them a head start when they return to UK. Sean has a dream. To see his family and have them meet his wife. He wants to have a small celebration in UK so his family can be part of his nuptials. He wants to spend time with his mum who recently had a heart attack. But when Sean found out what the requirements are for a spouse visa, it’s like his heart stopped and he hasn’t stopped feeling helpless ever since. Research he carried out showed the new rules prevent 40% of the British working population from sponsoring a non-EU spouse. Sean feels as if the rules allow only the rich to fall in love...a working class Brit dare not make that mistake. Most people in St Helen’s don’t earn anywhere near this amount. All Sean wants is to come and live in UK with his wife; to be close to his mum. This young couple will work and pay their way. Sean does not think it’s right that he has to leave his wife for likely over 12 months it will take for him to find a job paying over £18,600, working in it for 6 months and then having UKBA process the spouse application. He can’t be apart from her that long. When they married they promised each other to be together, to live together. Sean has received some positive response from David Ward, MP for Bradford East, who has told him: “It is cases such as yours which have encouraged me to challenge the income limit on spouse visas. I believe that these rules are unfair and that they prevent people in genuine marriages from being able to live happily with their partner. The limit effectively rules out large numbers of people (particularly in areas outside of London) from being able to afford to bring their partner into the UK. It effectively rules out people in certain professions from ever being able to bring their partners to the UK." Support from this MP is the only thing giving Sean hope that he’ll return to his home one day.

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William & Noriko
“We want to raise our baby together, in a country where the culture and language are not going to damage my career as I need to financially support my family.”
William is a British citizen, married to Noriko, who is Japanese. They live together in Scotland. They have a baby together, but Noriko’s visa expires in April 2013, raising uncertainty and marking the pure joy they should feel at their new arrival. William is a commis chef, on his way to furthering his career as a chef. At this stage of his career, it is not possible to earn £18,600, despite working really hard and putting in about 50 hours a week. They face two choices a) Exile from UK to go live together in Japan, but face worries over career, money and family. The language and culture are so different from the UK that William will be unlikely to actually make progress in his career. b) Break up their family Both William and Noriko believe parents should be together to give their baby the best upbringing.

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Mahi
“We just want to look after our mother and have the means to do so..yet we’re being told we can’t...”
Mahi is a permanent resident in the UK. This means she has earned the right to live here for the rest of her life, without any conditions attached. Mahi’s sister is a British citizen, also living in the UK. They are both married and well settled here. Mahi earns a decent salary, certainly enough to look after her family without recourse to public funds. Their mum is aged 54 and a widow. Two of her daughters – Mahi and her sister – live in the UK with their husbands and children. Her third daughter lives in USA. Mahi’s mum is completely alone. Yes she is relatively young and no, she doesn’t need help being fed, bathed and dressed. She is haunted by a loneliness. As she has always been a housewife, her life revolved around looking after her husband, her children and her home. Her children and grandchildren – her family – are all overseas. Her husband is no longer alive. She is completely alone. She is lucky though. Mahi has been supporting her financially. Mahi and her sister have had their mum visit them on three occasions now. Mahi’s mum liked being surrounded by her kids, grandkids..it made her feel younger, more alive, less lonely certainly and less depressed. Mahi and her sister want their mum to live with them permanently. They have the means to ensure she can live here without ever having to fall back on public funds. Yet they are being denied this and understandably bemused. They are not wanting to take their mother away from her home country, to dump her in an old people’s home..they want to look after her themselves, to ensure that they can return the favours that this mother bestowed on them…the favours that have allowed Mahi and her sister to make a better life for themselves, in the UK, providing services that we all benefit from.

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Andy & Molly…Dylan & Devon
“My poor boys. First their mummy leaves them and now their daddy. They don't deserve this.”
Situation: Married for 6 years, has 2 children with his wife, Molly. Doesn’t meet the income criteria, so having to be a single parent. A new job which would satisfy the income criteria means he is travelling a lot and therefore unable to live with his kids. What does this mean? A British husband apart from his wife and children. British children forced to live apart from their mummy and daddy... British citizen, Andy, has been happily married for six years, and he and his Chinese wife have been patiently waiting for him to find the golden job paying £18,600 so that they can once again be reunited as a family. This has proven to be extremely difficult, despite his qualifications and experience, and so this law abiding and devoted couple have been forced to separate, leaving Andy to act as a single parent to their two infant children in Somerset. There are no words to fully convey the stress this family has been under, with Andy trying to find a well-paid job that will, hopefully, reunite his family. During Molly’s last visit Andy wrote to MP David Laws asking if there was any way he could help extend Molly’s stay, because Andy stood more chance of finding a high-paying job if she were here looking after the children. David did not reply and so Molly returned to China, rather than overstay her visa. Two weeks later Andy received a letter from Mark Harper, Minister for Immigration, claiming Molly attempted to deceive UKBA by visiting her husband & children:
Andy’s family: wife Molly, and their sons, Dylan and Devon, the night before Molly left UK.

‘If the immigration officer at port of entry had known this, she would have been refused entry on this basis’. This is because apparently she should have applied for a spouse visa rather than a visitor visa; however, at that time, they were genuinely only intending to visit for a family reunion as Andy’s brother was visiting the UK at that time with his Canadian wife and their newborn daughter. Despite leaving UK within the six months allowed under a visitor visa, by applying as a visitor rather than a spouse, according to Mark Harper, Molly ‘deceived’ the UK Border Agency, and this alleged deception means that she cannot visit UK for ten years, even though she has proved she is not an 'over-stayer'. David Laws confirmed that Harper's stamp of deception would remain in Molly’s file, leaving this poor couple to face the reality that they would remain separated unless and until Andy could find a high paying job. They all miss each other so much and while there appears to be light at the end of the tunnel, with Andy receiving a job offer paying over the threshold (which should in theory qualify him to sponsor Molly six months down the line), it raises location and their children as major issues. So, the family faces further heartbreak over the next six months. The job is in Cornwall, 3 hours away from home in Somerset where the boys are settled in school and playgroup. As his job involves travelling, Andy would need a live-in child-carer. He can’t cope with

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BritCits the thought of another person taking the place of his sweetheart and the children's mummy – another woman the kids would be looking up to as a mum. Taking everything into account they have decided that the boys should stay with their grandparents temporarily, while Andy is working and until a better solution can be found. Andy will see them as many weekends as possible, but he won't be able to spend the school holidays with them, read them a bedtime story, tuck them into bed or be there to soothe away any nightmares. Andy’s job began in late October and so, exactly six months later, on his eldest child’s sixth birthday, the couple believes they should qualify to begin the application process for a spouse visa. By this time the family will have spent nearly 8 months apart; including Christmas, and all their birthdays. The children have already stopped attempting to speak Chinese and it breaks Andy’s heart that his kids are losing their heritage and that memories are being created without their mother being a part of them. If Molly was here, they’d be moving to Cornwall together, as a strong happy family, but instead they’re being split up in a scenario reminiscent of Australia’s Stolen Generation – a disastrous episode in that country's history. Have we learnt nothing from past mistakes? Andy is tired and desperately sad, yet somehow finding the energy to stay strong. “I miss my wife so much and feel so heartbroken for her having to explain to friends, family, neighbours and colleagues, why she cannot be with her loving husband and sweet little boys. She’s so brave, so patient and trusting that someday we’ll be reunited. I’m so very proud of her.” Who with a modicum of decency could break up this family? British MPs could and therefore do.

With the 8 hour time difference the boys only get to Skype their mummy at weekends. A clearly demoralised Andy says: “Devon (3) now calls us ‘Computer Mummy and Daddy’”.

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Shanika
“I earn over £100,000 - enough to look after my ageing & ill mum without recourse to public funds. Yet I’m told she doesn’t qualify. So who does?”
Shanika is a British citizen and earns well over £100,000. She doesn’t normally show off her income levels. But it’s necessary to point out that she is capable of supporting her mother in the UK; provide the care, attention and love her mother needs, without recourse to public funds. Something she is being told she is not allowed to do. Shanika’s mother is 68, living in Sri Lanka. Shanika has dutifully visited her, helping her receive medical attention for her worsening memory loss. Unfortunately, mental health issues are underdiagnosed in Sri Lanka, as they often are in developing countries...things that we take for granted the diagnosis of, are usually put down simply to old age, without any further therapy, treatment or care. Shanika however knew this wasn’t normal. She persisted and found a doctor who was willing to conduct a detailed testing. And they discovered that Shanika’s mother is likely due to Alzheimer’s disease, compounded by depression and a silent stroke, confirmed by an MRI scan. Her mother also has a history of high sugar & cholesterol - having had one stroke, she’s at a higher risk of another. However, her memory loss means she often forgets to take her medication, increasing the risk of heart failure, increasing the risk of another stroke. She cannot be left alone. She cannot cook as she often forgets that the stove is on. The doctor has recommended she not drive either, as even familiar roads are forgotten. Other cognitive functions are fine, but are expected to deteriorate. Shanika’s mother does not live alone. She is not a single parent, nor is she a widow. She lives with her husband. But a husband who is verbally abusive and unsympathetic of her medical conditions or needs. The situation has been escalating over the last 10 years; with both the parents residing in different rooms of a house…somehow feeling lucky if they have managed to avoid each other all day. This isn’t easy for Shanika to admit…to share with BritCits, our members and our readers. It isn’t easy for her to admit that her parents are only together because of cultural and social stigmas preventing them from seeking a divorce. It’s no doubt difficult for any child to face, however much of an ‘adult’ you become. However Shanika is facing it. She is an only child and while she calls her mother on a daily basis, she knows she is alone. She is lonely. She needs Shanika in the same way Shanika needed her years ago. Roles are reversed and Shanika won’t turn her back on the person who nurtured, provided, looked after and loved her. Shanika has looked into finding home-help. While it’s a temporary solution it’s not ideal. Home help is paid help. It’s people coming in to do a job..a job that can only really be done by family, a job that Shanika feels should be done by family. The situation with her parents also means home-help is difficult to find, because of the constant tension between her parents and the fear that outsiders will find out the details of what is an extremely delicate situation. Shanika knows that other than her daily phone call, her mother doesn’t get the opportunity to converse or interact with anyone. This lack of stimulation coupled with depression exacerbates her mental deterioration. Shanika is being forced to watch from the sidelines as her mother slowly deteriorates into a semi-vegetative state – a mother who she so badly wants to have return to her happy, active and vivacious self.

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Jade & Luis
“As a British Masters student, I can’t live in my own country with my partner, because he is Argentinean and I don’t earn £18,600 – how many British students do?! However, international students coming to the UK from elsewhere in the world can live here with their partner and kids, without needing to earn £18,600. The UK is slamming the doors on its own people, just because we accidentally fall in love with someone from outside Europe’s borders”.
Jade is a British citizen; 28 years old, a graduate and a former advertising professional from Greenwich, London. She is currently living in Argentina with her Argentine fiancé Luis. A couple years ago, she took some time off work to travel. Whilst in Argentina, she met and fell in love with Luis. Jade stayed in Argentina for ten months during which time Luis and his family financially supported Jade (she worked part time as an English teacher but it wasn't enough money to live on). They then travelled together, first living together in Rio de Janerio, Brazil for two months, then six months in London, where they lived with Jade’s family. Jade returned to her job in advertising where she earned £22,000 – over the £18,600 now required. As Luis was on a tourist visa, he did not work and instead, spent his time researching for his thesis. In September, they returned to Argentina for Luis’s graduation. For two years one or the others life has been put on hold, just so they could be together. In Argentina Jade can’t get can't work in a career progressing job, as fluent Spanish is essential and the language and cultural barriers also make it difficult for her to make too many friends (they live in a small city). Luis has a good job in an international winery. He put his university and career on hold to spend time in London because Jade was homesick, and now, Jade is putting things on hold while they are both in Argentina. It's a complicated life but they really love each other and are trying to make it work. Jade wishes to return home to study for a Masters in Sustainable Tourism; she has found the perfect course. However, this is only feasible if Luis can also come to the UK and develop his career, whilst supporting Jade in her studies. In Argentina, a good salary is about £500 a month. There is no way she could earn £18,600 a year whilst in Argentina, so it is totally impossible for me to meet that income threshold from Argentina. Neither Jade nor Luis want to get married if it means their marriage begins with a six month separation, while Jade returns to England alone, returns to an advertising career, just to make an arbitrary salary of £18,600. Jade feels that her mother country has closed the doors on her. She is feeling a mixture of anger and sadness; it’s scary to think that were she to fall pregnant, she would have to chose between pregnancy

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BritCits at home with family and friends around her, and the father of her child, the choice is difficult but obvious – she would have to stay in Argentina and therefore be forcibly exiled from the UK. Jade is aware that she could move to Spain where she and Luis would be welcomed with open arms, as part of the EU treaty. However this still means putting her life on hold; dreams of studying in the UK are postponed and she would continue to have to teach English as a foreign language for another few years. Indeed, it’s odd that as a British Masters student Jade wouldn’t be able to live here with her partner because she doesn’t earn the required income, but international students do not face the same restrictions! Jade just wants the UK to keep its doors open to her, welcome her back and not punish her for travelling around the world and accidentally falling in love with someone from outside Europe's borders.

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Laura & Mohamed
“I would never wish for my worst enemy to be in the situation I am in now. I feel like I am being told that I do not have the right to love whom I choose or to start a family when I want to.”
Laura is a 25-year-old British citizen, living in Scotland and married to Mohamed a 28-year-old Egyptian. They have been together for four years and married for two, but not been able to live together before now as they were both at university. Mohamed has a degree in Business Management and Laura has an Honours degree in Biomedical Science. Laura has worked very hard to be able to establish a career in science. Her plan has always been to stay, build a life and develop her career in the UK. She doesn’t rely on benefits nor does she ever wish to. Since finishing her degree in 2010, Laura has worked full time in a permanent position as a Laboratory Veterinary Scientist on £18,100, which in Scotland is at the upper end of those with similar qualifications/experience. Her salary is set to increase every year – with further scope for increases due to promotions. The starting wage in science is, in general, quite low in Edinburgh where she resides. Laura has also worked for and made contributions in science for the Scottish Government. Laura manages to save £600 every month after all outgoings, which she knows would be more than enough to support her spouse were he to be able to live with her in the UK. In addition, were Mohamed given the opportunity to work and contribute to the UK economy, their situation would be very much improved. Laura is also in the process of paying off her student overdraft to satisfy UKBA, so they don’t frown upon her debt when this young couple applies for a settlement visa. Laura visits Mohamed every few months, but her current job only allows for 11 consecutive days holiday, meaning they cannot see each other as often as they did before. The length of time and paperwork required for a UK family visit visa previously meant it was easier for Laura to visit Mohamed in Egypt. Mohamed has also visited Laura in the UK (on a family visit visa) for a period of 2 months, not overstaying on the 6 months permitted, in order to honour his own career commitments. Had they however been aware of the new rules, they would have maximised their time together, and Mohamed would have stayed for 6 months. This couple has tried so hard to do everything by the book – following the guidelines set by UKBA in order to be reunited and live together as husband and wife. They saved all their spare money for a spouse visa, only to come across a hike in the fees. So then, they had to save more. Laura has gone hungry some nights; she doesn’t go out socially, doesn’t shop for new clothes to save money for visas and flights to see her husband, while also paying off student loans. It is incredibly frustrating that the income requirement is such that even someone with a degree working as a Laboratory Veterinary Scientist is still unable to meet the required income level; it’s shameful that Laura has had to take on a second job, working in Pizza Hut, to reach the £18,600 level. When the government introduced the English language requirement, Mohamed sat and passed the exam in the UK - with distinction. They were so happy, thinking they had overcome the final hurdle – only to find that the government has now changed the requirements yet again, making it harder to harder to not only deliver on what this government wants, but even to understand what they want. It is not feasible for Laura to move to Egypt to be with her husband Mohamed. She has a degree and a good job with great prospects here in the UK. Were she to be forced to move to Egypt, everything she has ever worked towards would be taken away. Laura does not speak fluent Arabic, meaning it would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to find a job, especially in the science field.

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BritCits Laura wants to start a family in the near future. She has cysts on her ovaries, so fears kids may not be an option were she to wait very long. Concerns of poor education and conditions for her future children, things other British citizens have a right to, also make moving to Egypt undesirable. Laura would never wish for her worst enemy to be in the situation she is in now; she feels like she is being told that she doesn’t have the right to love who she wants, or to start a family when she wants to. She is being discriminated against for not having a “well enough” paid job and her life has been put on hold because of these changes. Laura is on anti-depressants to combat her depression and at times, suicidal thoughts as a result of her frustration at finding that each time she thinks they have satisfied the criteria the goal posts have been moved yet again. How many people will have to sacrifice their life before this government realises the devastating impact of these rules on British families?

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Sarwat
“As a doctor, I spend my life looking after other people’s parents and grandparents..yet I’m being told I can’t look after my own mother.”
Dr Sarwat is a British citizen and a doctor working on a geriatrics ward in an NHS hospital. She looks after old people…providing her patients with the best care possible at a time when they need support the most. As she helps other people’s elderly parents and grandparents, the one person she is unable to help is her own mother. The one person she regrets not being able to look after, hold the hand of, have a cup of tea with, support and see on a daily basis, is her own mother living alone in Pakistan. Here is someone who spends her life looking after our aged, and we are denying her the right to look after the one person who gave her life. Dr Sarwat is intelligent. She understands the rules now make it impossible for her to have her mother live with her…to have her mother live with her in the UK. She is intelligent. She understands the rules are forcing her to choose between her home country, albeit adopted, and her parent. She is intelligent. She will in all likelihood make the right choice. But at what cost to our country, our people, our patients and our beloved NHS?

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Kelly
“All I have left is the hope that, one day, these rules will be made fairer, so I have a chance at the family life we so desperately want.”
Kelly is a 27-year-old British woman married to an Egyptian man, with whom she has a son (British). They met in December 2009 while she was on holiday in Egypt, following which she spent a year travelling to Egypt for weeks at a time to see him, and to meet and spend time with his family. They got married in October 2010 and have just celebrated their second wedding anniversary albeit, sadly, not together this time. After they got married, they lived in Egypt, but it was a huge culture shock for Kelly; despite her numerous visits there is a big difference between visiting and living there. While they tried their best to make it a home for her, she just couldn’t fit in with the lifestyle and the culture there. Soon after moving to Egypt she fell pregnant; although she was extremely happy and excited about becoming a mum for the first time, she couldn’t enjoy the pregnancy as she would have liked. Thus Kelly and her husband decided she would go back to England to have the baby and her husband applied for a visit visa to be there for the birth. Unfortunately the visa was refused. At that point Kelly decided to stay in Egypt for the birth, as she wanted her husband with her for the birth of their first child. But in her seventh month of pregnancy she developed DVT and was hospitalised in Egypt. For her and her child’s safety, Kelly and her husband decided it would be better if she went to the UK, without him, for the birth to ensure she received proper treatment in case there were any further complications. Their son is now three and half months old and has yet to meet his father. It's a very hard situation to be in, knowing that not only is her husband missing out on their son’s life, but that their son is missing out on getting to know his father. Kelly would like to be reunited with her husband but is undergoing medical treatment and is cautious about raising her son in a place that she hasn’t been able to adjust to herself. Under the current immigration rules though, she’s finding it impossible to envisage a situation where she, her husband and their baby could live together. For her, a salary of £18,600 for her might as well be £186,000 it is so difficult to attain. It’s sad this family is torn apart because our government puts a price on being a family and Kelly dared to fall in love with someone from outside the EU; so now she is being forced either to live as a single mother, without her husband, or to move to Egypt where she doesn’t want to live, despite the fact that both Kelly and her son are British and thus, effectively, being kicked out of their own home and their own country. Kelly spends all day thinking of ways that they can be the happy family that she always wanted to have, but she is running out of options. All she has left is the hope that one day these rules will be made fairer, so that she will have a chance at the family life she so desperately wants and should have the right to.

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Rhys &Natacha
“All we want is the opportunity to live together; we are a family, even if it is just the two of us.”
Rhys is a British citizen, and Natacha, Canadian; together they are common law partners. They met whilst Natacha was studying in England as part of her undergraduate university degree; now they are both in Canada, Rhys is working there. Four years later, they are trying to figure out a way they can stay together in the UK to be close to Rhys’s family, who are desperate to have them move back here. Rhys has a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts and is working full time in Canada, whilst Natacha is completing a Masters degree in Sociology from Queen’s University. Of the two of them, Natacha has the greater earning potential; however, under the new rules, Rhys must be earning £18,600 for at least six months before his wife can join him, regardless of the fact that Natacha might earn much more. Indeed, Natacha was accepted by the University of Birmingham with a full fees bursary worth $20,000. If a leading British university sees Natacha as someone worth paying to have her in the UK, why does the British government see her as a burden? It strikes them as bizarre that Natacha’s earnings in the UK, and hence her taxes, are completely discounted, as is any help from their family. If the aim of the policy is to reduce the burden on the state, why not let Natacha’s earnings be counted too? Why not let them show they won’t be a burden on the state? Why not have requirements such as mandating private healthcare cover from migrants? This would boost the healthcare system and UK companies, whilst reducing the reliance on the NHS. Their view is that if the issue is about migrants being a burden on the system, then restrictions should be placed on work permits, rather than on British citizens wishing to live with their family. Rhys and Natacha are pleading with this government to understand and appreciate the difficulties these new rules are producing. All they want is the opportunity to live permanently together; they are a family, even if it is just the two of them.

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Barry, Francisca…& Millie
“Our family is on the verge of being separated due to UKBA rules”.
Barry is a British citizen, engaged to Francisca from Chile. They live in Scotland and have been in a loving relationship for four years. They were planning their wedding when UKBA sent Francisca a letter telling her and Millie, Francisca’s daughter, to leave the country – following which they took Francisca’s passport. They’ve since postponed the wedding. Francisca’s daughter, Millie, was born in UK. Francisca’s relationship with Millie’s biological father – a Spaniard - broke down due to violence. She is very grateful though that in Barry she has found the love of her life and a loving stepdad for Millie. Millie incidentally is a complete stranger to her mum’s home country. Yet UKBA dictated that she be deported to Chile too. They are bemused. Francisca studied & worked here, paid her taxes and never claimed any benefits – for long enough that she qualifies for the right of settlement. Her finances remain transparent and she was loyal to the UK. Although she had secured a well-paying job in an insurance company, UKBA refused to provide the right documentation to her now ex-employer (UKBA still had her passport) - so she lost not only her income but also maternity pay. Barry and Francisca are expecting a baby – a baby who by law is British. This has made their resolve to stay together as a family in the UK even stronger. So they appealed the decision, now awaiting for the appeal hearing to take place at the Tier 1 tribunals in Glasgow, when she will be 7 months pregnant. They hope it will be successful though shouldn’t have had to go to appeal as Francisca has attained right of residence, but were forced to UKBA chose to ignore this. Millie cries constantly and is undergoing therapy with Stirling Women’s Aid. She doesn’t want to leave the circle of her family union in Stirling – she is very attached to Barry and his family – they’re the only grandparents, aunties, cousins she has known, and she adores her school friends. How is it right that this little girl is denied access to her family..that she is forced into a strange country, unknown culture – away from everything she knows? Barry has no knowledge of Francisca’s mother tongue. He’s never been to Chile and it’s as unknown to him as it is to Millie. All his family live in Scotland and they are all looking forward to welcoming the new baby. Deporting Francisca and Millie will mean Barry stays behind in UK to provide for them, or they are forced to move to Chile where it will be very difficult for Barry to find any work. With Francisca will go their baby. Their British baby. UKBA is responsible for taking away Francisca’s income, and the health and sanity of this family. They are imploring for UKBA to consider their situation with common sense and assess the impact the rules have on families, couples and especially children.

Update: The tribunal hearing scheduled for 3rd June 2013 was cancelled at the last minute by UKBA who informed the family’s legal representative that they wish to withdraw the original decision for reconsideration. This isn’t the end, especially with no timescales provided, but it’s a step in the right direction.

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Joel
“My parents are much older than my wife's and we wanted to be closer to them, so my wife, our son and I could see more of them and help them out in their old age. Not too much to ask, is it...?”
British citizen, Joel, lives in Forest of Dean (in Gloucestershire) and his MP is Mark Harper, Minister for Immigration. Joel’s wife is American. They’ve been married for five years, with a four-year-old son, also British. As Joel’s parents are much older than his wife’s they decided to relocate from US to UK to be closer to Joel’s parents, spend time them with them, allow a bond to develop between their son and his grandparents and afford his parents the respect they deserve by looking after them in their old age. All these are noble intentions the government should encourage. Instead, Joel and his family are being penalised. Ironically, Joel used to work for UK government departments in various locations in the world as an Entry Clearance Officer. So he had sound working knowledge of the immigration rules, having processed thousands of visa applications himself. However, not having worked in immigration for over two years, it was only when they came to look into making an application for his wife that Joel discovered how drastically the rules had changed. Previously you had to demonstrate you could 'adequately' maintain and accommodate your spouse. It was a common sense decision that the Entry Clearance officer could make themselves. Third-party support (i.e. from parents, etc.) was perfectly acceptable; there was no statutory minimum income for the sponsor to earn (although it was very loosely based on the level of income support amount for a couple over 18, i.e. £111.45 a week). Also taken into account was the applicant's ability to find employment in the UK and ALL savings were admissible, not just those over £16,000. The new rules take all powers of discretion away from the Entry Clearance Officer. If you don't meet the rules, you get refused. Simple as that. Joel does not believe, in his extensive UK public sector service and immigration experience, that these rules are lawful, or understood by politicians themselves. Joel has had excellent jobs in the past, while his American wife has a post-graduate degree, an MBA in Finance, has worked as an investment banker and is currently working for the US government i.e. she is extremely well qualified and not someone who is going to switch countries to claim meagre welfare benefits. Clearly, her chances of getting a job in the UK, with these qualifications, are very good, and indeed she is exactly the kind of candidate we should be seeking to attract. But that's no longer taken into account. So, Joel has moved here with their son, and is living with his parents in Gloucestershire. Meanwhile, his wife is on her own in Washington DC. Joel is desperately trying to find a job that will make the required £18,600 a year. That's not a realistic amount to find easily in this area, so he is looking for work in London. But then he faces the problem of who will look after his son and elderly parents. If his wife were here, then the duties of looking after their child and his parents would be shared. The burden would be halved, and the family would not be torn apart. The ludicrous nature of this situation and the rule changes mean that, in theory, Joel could earn the required amount but probably end up spending a huge proportion of that on living in London and paying for care for his family. Yet he could find a job paying around £15,000 a year, live with his parents, wife and child and not have the carer expenses to pay for. And his wife could find gainful employment.

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Emma, Driss…& Aymane
“I don’t know how anyone could expect me to be separated from my baby’s daddy ... until I get a job the UKBA agrees with, we miss out on special family moments and our baby misses out on his daddy.” “My son deserves the best in life I can give him ... I hope I can give him his daddy as his first ever Christmas present.”
British citizen Emma is 24 years old, with a beautiful son with her husband Driss, a Moroccan citizen. Emma met Driss while working as a store manager in the international departures terminal at Eurostar. Emma signed up to a language course to improve her French, which is where she met Driss. Driss helped Emma with French and she helped him with English. Over time, they became friends and a year later, fell in love in Marrakech. Driss makes Emma feel secure and she recalls the night she realised she was in love with him, “ ..the night I fell in love was the world cup final. We were in a restaurant watching the match, when I fell ill. Driss took me home, staying with me until the pain passed. I knew then that any man who loves football yet would give up the final for me is special." They met regularly after that and finally, on Valentine's Day 2011, Driss proposed. In July 2011, Emma moved to Morocco and got married, with her family attending their wedding; they moved into a traditional house, without electricity or running water, sharing it with Driss’s family. Not speaking Arabic, Emma found it difficult to adjust. Driss bought Emma a puppy so she’d have some company while he was at work. Emma missed her family and returned home in January to visit her mum, and found out she was pregnant. Emma was advised against travel by the doctor during pregnancy because of the risk to her and her unborn baby’s health for various reasons (including the conditions in Morocco and Emma’s medical history). Emma accepted the medical advice and remained in the UK, trying to find a job so Driss could join them. However, she discovered that jobs were few and far between for a pregnant woman, especially in roles for which she had experience, i.e. store management positions. The pregnancy started to affect her health and Emma, terrified at the prospect of having the baby without her husband, had Driss come over for the birth. A few weeks later, they were blessed with a beautiful son, Aymane Ben. As any parent will confirm, on holding her son, Emma knew she’d give her life for her son in order to offer him the best upbringing she could. How could she raise her first baby in an environment she wasn’t happy in – wasn’t it her responsibility as a parent to give the baby the best of everything she could, to protect him? Emma isn’t sure she can quickly leave her baby to find a job paying £18,600 – at a time when a baby needs his mum all the time. Realistically therefore, this family is looking at a separation of at least 12 months; in his first year, baby Aymane is forced to be part of a single parent family because of this government. Weight gain during pregnancy put a lot of pressure on Emma’s legs; now, she can’t climb the stairs of her property without a helper and is dependent on him. Emma has also seen mental health workers who believe splitting up this family puts Emma at grave risk of post-natal depression. Emma and Driss are applying for compassionate leave to remain, for Driss to be here with the family. The solicitor they have hired believes they will be refused, despite the family staying together being what is in the best interest of the child and Emma’s health.

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Nicola & Tarik
“Just when my son and I have found a wonderful man to give us the family life we so desire, UKBA persists in snatching away our chance at happiness..”
British citizen Nicola met her husband Tarik, in 2008 while visiting her parent’s holiday home in Turkey. After returning home they exchanged emails, phone calls and chatted online. In early 2009, they began to speak more frequently as their feelings developed from just friends to something more. They made arrangements to meet in Turkey in May 2009, where they spent two weeks together. Nicola, Tarik and Nicola’s six year old son, MJ, were inseparable. It just felt right. Since then they have been in a long term relationship, with Nicola and MJ going to visit Tarik as often as possible. Tarik also came to the UK in June 2009 where he combined work with a visit to Nicola and MJ. He stayed in the UK for less than eight days – within the visa limit. Nicola is somewhat an entrepreneur. In October 2010 she opened a barber shop, making it more difficult to travel. So they applied for Tarik to come visit them in April 2011 to coincide with MJ’s school holidays, in order to all be able to spend more time together. However, the application was refused! UKBA deduced that Tarik was trying to deceive them, because he had not mentioned visiting Nicola during his 2009 visit. They assumed he had not met his business contact (even though he had). UKBA assumed because Tarik on his initial application said he was divorced then on the next one said he was single, meant he was trying to deceive them. UKBA threatened them with paragraph 320 (7A), mentioning any future applications could be refused under 320(7B) which could attract an automatic refusal of up to 10 years. Despite this, Nicola and Tarik re-applied and addressed the assumptions UKBA had made. However the application was automatically refused under 320(7B) with no reasons for the decision. UKBA stated that as he had previously been refused by failing to provide information, any future applications would automatically be refused for the same reason until 26/02/2019. Nicola felt like Tarik was being treated like a criminal. In July 2012 they heard that the rules had changed and that financially, Nicola would no longer qualify to have her foreign spouse living with her. In August 2012 Nicola found out she was pregnant.

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BritCits Nicola and Tarik are ecstatically happy to be expecting their daughter. They got married in September 2012 with all her family travelling to Turkey from Scotland. It was a wonderful time, despite the stress of knowing they would continue to be apart. They decided as a family to live in the UK to save any upheaval to MJ's life and education. Nicola continues to try and build her business while being a single parent to her son. They were hoping Tarik could join them for the baby scan and return in April for the birth. However, the family visit visa was refused. UKBA said they did not believe Tarik’s bank statement was accurate. They also did not believe that Tarik would leave the UK. It was also noted that as Tarik had the previous refusal under 320(7B), any future applications would also be automatically refused for the same reason. Nicola is bemused. She has planned her daughter to receive her first immunisation and then taking her to Turkey to meet her grandparents. She doesn’t understand how UKBA can make their own judgement and assume what their intentions are. Which brings us to where we are now. Nicola’s pregnancy is tainted with stress. She will need to take maternity leave, she will need to find someone to replace her to run the business while she is not working and she needs to be a single mum to her son. With her husband by her side, the burden would be shared and halved. Tarik and MJ have built a great bond even through the distance. MJ has been asking since the wedding, "when is Tarik coming?" "Can we put the Christmas tree up as a family this year" (last year they flew to Turkey on Christmas day). After the visit visa was refused telling MJ was heartbreaking. The ten year old was crying and sobbing, and not understanding why he could not be with his step dad, like the other kids at school. MJ rubs Nicola’s tummy telling his baby sister that it will all be ok when she comes. A ten year old child should not have to experience this worry and confusion. Just as he has found this family life he so desires, his step dad is not allowed to be part of his daily life. He was let down by his biological father, now when they both have a wonderful man in their lives, who wants to take care of them, they are denied the right to that family life by the UK government. Update: Nicola is due to give birth to her daughter without her husband by her side in April 2013. Nicola and her kids plan to visit Tarik in Turkey in June 2013 and allow Tarik’s parents to spend time with their newest grandchild. Nicola and Tarik will then relocate to Ireland with their children. While Nicola is finding the idea of moving to a new country with two kids daunting, as she says ‘..but it’s a way to live a family life together’.

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Aisha & Abraham
“I am so worried my husband will be killed by the Taliban in a place that’s too dangerous for British citizens, but apparently acceptable for the husband and father of British citizens! “
Aisha is a British citizen who in August 2005 met her partner, Abraham, in Birmingham. They were in their early 20s and fell head over heels in love. Eight and a half years and a son together later, they’re still having to battle for the right to remain together. Aisha worked as a full-time carer. She doesn’t know her mother well but is grateful to her grandparents for looking after and raising her. When this young couple met, Abraham lived in Birmingham, Aisha in Nottingham. They would visit each other often. He came from proud Afghan stock, from the Wardak region – a dangerous area with a strong Taliban presence. Abraham was seeking refugee status and Aisha was aware of this position. She however had faith in our system. While they were waiting for his case to be assessed, he moved to Manchester to live with his cousin, and then around to the homes of other extended family. Their love survived all the hurdles and they were married. Aisha fell pregnant and they had a son. Abraham is an incredibly proud Afghan man and believes it to be his duty to look after his wife and child. “I’m a man and it should be that way. I’m Afghan”. However, in 2010, when his mother fell seriously ill, in Afghanistan, Abraham applied to return to Afghanistan. Aisha begged him not to go, because it is so dangerous. But knowing how close he is to his mum, and how sad he felt about her relationship with her own mum, she relented. She let him volunteer to go to Afghanistan. He left the day after Eid in 2011. Aisha visited him in January 2012. They met in Pakistan. Abraham had lost weight and was very depressed. Aisha was desperate to make an application for him, but before she knew it the rules had changed. All of a sudden. An income of £18,600 is not something Aisha can hope to fulfil. A lot has happened since then though. The Taliban overhead Abraham speaking in English – though he was conversing with Aisha and so believed he is working for the soldiers, and therefore have shot at him. So Abraham hides in Kabul and Pakistan. However, with no Pakistani id, it’s difficult to find accommodation. And Aisha has experienced corruption at every step as the police assume she is rich just because she is from England when she visited him in Pakistan with their son. Given the Foreign Office has advised British citizens to refrain from going to Afghanistan, Aisha doesn’t understand how it’s acceptable that the husband and father of British citizens be faced with this danger.

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Lucy & Andres
“England is my home and I always thought I’d be welcome here regardless of who I chose to marry ..”
Lucy is a British citizen and a student in her final year at university in Newcastle, studying Spanish and Geography. She spent a year abroad in Colombia working for an NGO. An incredibly noble pursuit. Lucy is ambitious and on the path to success with international work experience under her belt even before she has completed her degree. She is exactly the kind of citizen we should be bending over backwards to retain in the UK. Instead, Lucy is aware that one day she may need to come to terms with the fact that she has to leave her home, only because she is in love with Andres, a man from Colombia. They have been together for two years, lived together for 8 months in Colombia and Lucy feels secure with him. They just ‘click’. When Lucy was in Colombia in Christmas 2012, Andres asked her to marry him. Lucy said no. Why? Because though she loves him, she can’t marry knowing she won’t be able to live with her husband. So they’ve settled on a Wills-&-Kate arrangement, where they’re engaged to be engaged. Lucy wants to get married in her hometown. With her friends and family able to celebrate her marriage. She doesn’t want an uncertain engagement – one which instead of being used to plan a wedding, is used to compulsively check the latest on the UKBA rules. An incredible amount of responsibility shown by ones so young. And an incredible shame, that young love is now being tainted by UKBA instead of being left to blossom on its own. Lucy is now intent on completing her degree so that she can begin her career here. Andres is working to improve his English (as Lucy speaks fluent Spanish, they haven’t actually needed to communicate in English previously) with Lucy giving him lessons over Skype several times a week. She is convinced that within 6 months of being fully immersed in British life, Andres’s English language skills would be impeccable. He is a fast learner. However, he is being denied this opportunity, even as a tourist, with UKBA having refused his application to visit. Lucy is however lucky, that on graduation she would likely be offered a position paying over £18,600..but that’s still over a year away, and even then, Andres may not pass the English language test, not having the opportunity to spend time in an English speaking country. Lucy is also keen to study further, and pursue a Master’s degree. However, this option has been snatched from her by the British government, because she fell in love with a foreigner. Because she isn’t rich. Lucy is aware that living apart from her future husband for an indeterminable amount of time isn’t feasible, and therefore the UK is not going to be a likely option for her future. However she is dreading the day when she has to come to terms with that. England is her home and she always thought she’d be able to live in her home, regardless of who she married. Indeed, it appears that after 4 years of study at a British university, the most valuable qualification this British citizen may have is a £45 Teach-English-as-a-Foreign-Language course.

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Chen
“My mother would not be a burden on the state…she has enough financial savings of her own to buy a property and pay for private medical cover in the UK. She just wants to not be alone any more.”
Chen is a British citizen. He moved to the UK in 2000 from Beijing as a student. His family supported him by paying for his tuition fees and living expenses for the entirety of his student years. Chen is one of the crème de le crème international students the government is keen to ensure continue coming to the UK – after graduating from university, Chen received a job offer which he accepted. After several years of working, paying taxes and NI contributions, Chen became a naturalised British citizen. Chen’s mother is alone in China. She is retired and wishes to join her son. An accident has left her disabled and unable to walk unhindered. Her ex-husband, Chen’s stepfather was abusive leading to their divorce. Chen’s mother has recently decided she’d like to no longer be alone and would prefer to live with her son – her only child. Chen understands people's concerns on the ever increasing public burden on NHS and other public sector facilities. However, this will not be the case for his family. His mum was a bookkeeper for a large state-owned company in China, with a great salary and fantastic benefits. As she never lived outside her means, she managed to have good savings. She even owns a property outright, without any outstanding mortgage. She's quite happy to sell her place and use the money to buy a property here. She is also more than capable of using her savings to sign up for private health care. She would not be a burden on the society as some people perceive. However, the new immigration rule sets up the criteria that simply nobody would qualify. Chen is frustrated that it’s because he is a British citizen he is being denied the right to have his mother join him in the country of his nationality. Non-EU elderly immigrants took up a miniscule portion of the total immigration number even under the previous rules and so denying people the right to look after their parents is not going to solve any of the perceived immigration ‘problems’ either. It’s clear to Chen that this is just yet another political manoeuvre that will serve to help no one, least of all Brits and our country.

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Suzanne
“UK puts a price tag on love”
Suzanne is British, with an American fiancée, living in the north-east of England. They’ve been together for nearly three years and planned to marry this year. Suzanne earns £16,600. She earns less than £18,600, a salary she is unlikely to earn for a long time, because the average wages in northern England are lower than in the rest of the country. Their only recourse is to try and save up over £20,000 in cash – a figure the government has plucked out of thin air, to make up for the £2,000 income deficit from the £18,600 per annum salary requirement. An amount that will take years to save, if ever. Suzanne cannot move to the US because the American government does not recognise same-sex unions. So, their lives are on hold, and their right to a private life is held in check by two countries with equally discriminatory laws. UK puts a price tag on love, and America has a gender requirement. Since they have no idea when they will be able to be together, the separation is slowing chipping away at their sanity as they struggle to stay on track; relationships are hard enough to maintain at the best of times. However, enforced distance results in additional frustrations, distress and depression.

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Alice
“We’re not asking for hand-outs, just the chance to live as a family unit.”
Alice is a British citizen living here in the UK, in Norfolk. She is 34 years of age, with an 8-year-old daughter from her first marriage. In May 2010 she met a lovely man who happened to be Tunisian, and more than two years later, in June 2012, they got married in Tunisia. They previously applied for him to come here for a 6-week visit in December 2011 and were refused entry, even though they had a guarantor (Alice’s reasonably well-off father) AND had savings to pay for the visit. The reason for the refusal was that the UKBA felt he did not have enough reason to return to his country following the visit! They subsequently decided to apply for a spouse visa following the marriage but missed the deadline for the rules changing. Alice lives in a small town in Norfolk where a salary of £18,600, particularly in retail – the industry she works in – is very difficult to obtain. The language requirement is not an issue – her husband speaks fluent English and even has a TEFL certificate. Alice is a single mother and has been using her savings to visit her husband in Tunisia (last year she managed three visits) because he can't come here, even for a visit!! Like countless other families affected by these rules, Alice spends most of her life on Skype and is regretfully beginning to accept that she may never be able to be with her husband, because otherwise it would mean keeping her daughter away from her dad. She is at a loss, she feels discriminated against by the British government. Alice is not asking for handouts, just the chance to live as a family unit. Alice, and hundreds like her, is exactly the sort of person we and UK politicians should be protecting.

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Ethan
“My parents are living in the most appalling conditions, when I could easily provide them with a better life, living with me....”
Ethan is a British citizen living in the constituency of Redbridge. He has lived in the UK for over 10 years, never having claimed any benefits. His brother incidentally is also a British citizen. He does however have two loving, if elderly and frail parents in Guyana. His only other sibling is a sister who lives in USA but does not have the means to support their parents. His parents are wholly, including financially, dependent on their two sons – sons they worked hard all their life in the hope of their having a better life than their own. Unfortunately, his parents also suffer from ill-health. Ethan’s dad is diabetic, and his mum has been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and high cholesterol. She recently suffered a stroke, luckily a mild one. Ethan is saddened that due to work and financial commitments, neither he, nor his brother can spend long periods away from the UK. And so he is being deprived from spending valuable time with his parents, who he is otherwise able to fully support in the UK from his own income..he does not need to claim benefits for himself, nor will he need to with them here. His parents are not alone in Guyana. They are living with Ethan’s aunt in a one-bedroom property. While his aunt is nice, she isn’t able to provide the care for his parents the way he could, would and should. Third party care in Guyana is extremely expensive and anything affordable would deem that without immediate family that is able to keep an eye on things, they won't be treated well. (Often enough we hear of our elderly in homes being mistreated..imagine that a long flight away!) How can you justify to your parents, let alone yourself, why when you are able to look after them in the UK, have them living with you while they still have time, you fob the responsibility for their wellbeing to someone else. It’s not just about sending money overseas. It’s about being able to sit and talk about your day. Have a laugh together. Hold their hand. Smaller things make the bigger differences.

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Naila
“This government will be remembered as directly and indirectly attacking the most vulnerable in society....”
Naila is a British citizen living in Bradford. She got married last year on April 29th and had to wait until she turned 21 to apply for a spouse visa. As she didn’t have a job here she moved to Pakistan to live with her husband there, rather than spend the time immediately after her wedding living apart. Naila is British. She was unable to adjust to life in Pakistan – the culture, expectations and rights of women are very different to what she is used to. So she returned to the UK. She is now working full time in a newsagent's, and has been doing so for the past three months, but then the rules came in requiring her to earn a salary of £18,600 for at least six months. So now she has wait even longer until she can apply for a visa. Under the new rules her right to live happily with her husband has been taken away from her. It seems to Naila that now, in order for a British person to marry someone from outside the UK, you have to be as rich as the government. Naila’s husband is hard working; he owns a sports shop in Pakistan and they intend that when he is in the UK, he will also work very hard here to support Naila. There is no way he will just sit back and do nothing – he would not qualify for benefits so that’s not an issue either. Naila has been married for nearly 16 months and still has not been able to apply for her husband’s visa. The new rules for Naila and others in her position are unrealistic and unachievable. They are just causing pain, misery and heartbreak across our country.

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Amanda
“Why is it that there is one rule for Europeans and another for British citizens, in Britain?”
Amanda is a British citizen who has been unlucky in love. Her brother died a couple of years ago, followed by her mum, auntie, grandmother and cousin. Her ex-husband was violent and abusive towards her. And now the government wants to keep Amanda apart from her husband. Amanda and her husband, Imed got married in a ceremony in Tunisia with her family and best friend in attendance. Imed is lovely and is very different from her ex-husband. Amanda earns £16,200 a year. £2,400 short of the magical £18,600 figure. So the government tells Amanda that she cannot live with her husband in the UK. Amanda understandably feels like she is being punished by her own government, for marrying someone whose religion and race don’t fit in with the correct ‘image’. She doesn’t believe that the stringency of the rules have anything to do with being in the interest of the economy. Indeed, it can’t have anything whatsoever to do with that, given the government and UKBA have stipulated that anyone from outside the EU has no access to public funds. Amanda’s husband is not asking for handouts. He has always worked, and worked long hours, for wages that some in the UK would not even get out of bed for. All Amanda wants is the right to live in the same house as her husband, in the same country as her husband...and for that she feels like a criminal. People have asked Amanda, ‘why don’t you go and live with your husband in Tunisia’? Her response – she has a home in the UK. She has two children who live with her. She has two grandchildren. She has a great job. It’s not right that she is being forced to choose between husband and the rest of her family, her home, her career. Especially not right when as a British citizen she is facing this choice in her own country, but those from elsewhere in the EU have no income criteria to bring their spouse, parents, grandparents, children, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles and even cousins to the UK.

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Sonel
“I won’t let myself be forced out of my own home, nor will I let this government keep my family apart.”
BritCit Sonel lives in the Reading West constituency (MP is Alok Sharma, incidentally also a migrant himself with Indian heritage). She was brought up in Australia by two wonderful loving parents who, as parents do, made sacrifices to ensure she had the best in life: great education, wonderful upbringing, holidays to exotic places. It’s a cliché but she truly wanted for nothing. She however “grew up” in the UK, going to university here and then even working for Her Majesty’s Government. She is very grateful to her parents for enabling her this opportunity. Her career has thrived, she owns her own home and most importantly, she has met the most amazing people – nearly all British but with a kaleidoscope of cultural backgrounds, from various parts of Europe to the Caribbean, from Asia to the tiny island of Mauritius. It’s no coincidence that many are from Commonwealth countries; a legacy left behind by the British Empire. As a second generation Australian she is also a proud first generation Brit – indeed, at times she has found herself cheering for England in the Ashes! Australia will always be a part of who she is, but it’s a part that was chosen for her. UK is her own choice and has been so for over 12 years - a significant portion of her life and certainly all of her adult life. She left Australia during the Olympics there and celebrated with pride the Olympics in her adopted city last year…a reminder of how quickly time flies and that we should celebrate global unity rather than putting up barriers. Because of work pressures, limited annual leave and the long distance, she has not been able to visit Australia, parents and friends very often. Luckily her parents – with no other family in Australia – have been able to visit her instead, allowing her to continue to pursue a career and pay taxes without shirking on her duties to her parents. However they are getting older and a 24 hour flight is beginning to feel longer and longer. It’s a journey they are not able to make as frequently, and she can foresee a time when given the natural symptoms of ageing, they won’t be able to make it at all. She is racked by a fear that one of them will fall ill, or worse; that she won’t be able to make it to Australia on time. This takes her back to a fairly standard childhood fear of parents dying. She recalls waking up from such a nightmare as a kid and going to their bedroom to make sure they were both still breathing. That nightmare is becoming more prevalent as she sees how they’ve aged. Everything is a bit slower, everything takes that much longer. They forget where they’ve put things. When they go out, they get tired more quickly, need to rest more often. Their religious beliefs dictate that once a person dies, the cremation must take place within a few hours. She cannot even imagine the damage to her own mental health if she were in the UK and they in Australia and she missed the chance to say goodbye and pay final respects because of these rules – the guilt would eat her alive. But she doesn’t just want to be there for a funeral. She wants to be there with and for them. She wants to look after them as they will increasingly need her to. She wants to be able to hold their hand, hug them, laugh with them. She wants to show off her country, get them to love it as much as she does…stand at Land’s End taking the touristy photos, gawk at the beautiful houses in Lake Windermere, walk along the white cliffs of Dover picking up French networks on their UK mobile phones..take the train up Mount Snowdon, watch some Shakespeare in Stratford, go punting, wave goodbye to the ships at Southampton..browse the markets in London...discover the hidden gems of this glorious nation. All while they are still able to enjoy and understand it. She loves both, her home and adopted country. But she loves her parents more.

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BritCits Sonel assumes most parents, like her own, just want to spend their golden years with family. They like the UK but are not particularly enamoured of it; the weather is not ideal for their creaky bones and making a new start is not the adventure it is for someone younger. But they’re willing to do this so that she doesn’t have to sacrifice her life, career, home, family, friends in the UK, for them. Parents are part of a very proud and endearingly vulnerable group. This is why even under the previous rules which were fair and easier only in so far as they weren’t impossible like the current ones, the number of parents joining their children in UK was around 1000 a year. Not a huge number. Parents only consider the UK when living alone in their own country is not feasible. It is not easy to leave all that is familiar and adjust to a new environment, new country. Sonel wants continuity for her parents. They would not be a drain on the system. She can look after them and they would bring their life savings to the UK. Her folks want to be part of a network, not fly half way round the world every few months. They want to be able to commit to a volunteering role, her mum wants to pursue the further education she had to give up because she had Sonel to raise. Older parents are now in a position where they are able to help their community with time, not just money; when they no longer feel the need to pursue business opportunities to provide for the family. Sonel feels it is her responsibility to ensure they can do all this while they are still physically able to, yet without abandoning them to live an isolated life. Yes they could continue to visit her and stay for a longer period..6 months at a time. But this does not allow them to be active in the community, nor does it offer continuity. On a visitor visa you are not allowed to volunteer, work or study. What’s scarier is the knowledge UKBA has indicated regular visits by parents is something they are clamping down on. A friend with a Russian mum was told by UKBA immigration officers at the airport that though they would allow her mum entry at that time, and despite the fact that her 10-year visa allows her to visit UK 6 months every year, if she visits every year she will be denied entry as she should otherwise be applying for a settlement visa. Sonel did look into applying for a settlement visa only to find the route is closed in all but name. She thought about applying anyway, thinking she would appeal and then would follow a lengthy court process which could take years. Time and money aside, the main issue would be that during this process, her parents would not be able to even visit her because they will have clearly expressed a desire to live in the UK, banishing them from future visits for at least 10 years. It’s a risk and something she understandably decided not to take. Immigration Minister, Mark Harper rejected Sonel’s offer of her paying a bond, providing a guarantee and taking out private healthcare cover for her parents who under UK’s immigration rules would have had no recourse to public funds in any case. She was willing to sign a waiver - as someone who has never claimed benefits, she was happy to waive her right to claim benefits for the right to have her parents with her. This was not enough for him. So she found the EU route was the only option left given their circumstances. Not an ideal route to family reunification – it is costly and inconvenient, and requires her to uproot herself for several months. But as she says, “..better I do so for a short period, than my parents having to do so for the rest of their life, else languish alone”. Interestingly, with all its drawbacks, this is a route with nil UKBA application fees; it doesn't require the British citizen nor the applicant to provide a bond or guarantees, continues to allow the applicants full use of NHS (which she had been willing to opt her parents out of) and indeed, even allows applicants to claim benefits in the UK. A spectacular own goal by a government with blinkers on, and an opposition which to date – with a few stellar exceptions in some legendary politicians in both House of Lords and House of Commons – has been too gutless to stand up for what’s right.

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Paul
“My life now is just about work, work, work ... and when I have time off, I am too fatigued to do anything but sleep... .”
Paul, a British citizen, married his partner in May 2012, in the Philippines. She is Filipino and the decision to marry was based on the assumption that having met the visa requirements they would be able to make a life together in the UK. Suddenly though the rules changed, leaving Paul and his wife devastated. The massive increase in the amount Paul had to earn before he could sponsor his wife has made it impossible for them to be together. He works full time in retail and doesn’t claim a single penny in benefits. Recently, he changed the branch of the store he worked in to reduce travelling costs, and is taking on as much overtime as possible, including working night shifts. Despite this, however, he cannot meet the income criteria. His life now is just about work, work, work ... and when he has time off, he is too fatigued to do anything but sleep and cope with the relapse of the depression he has suffered from, on and off, for many years. Paul is not asking for handouts, he just wants to be able to live with his wife in the UK. Paul’s wife is not entitled to any benefits, so the message being put across in the media by Theresa May that the presence of non-EU spouses would be a drain on the benefits system is intended blatantly to mislead the British public, as their rights are chipped away. Paul does not have a fancy accountant. He has paid his taxes diligently for years. It is Paul and others like him who have contributed to the system, and yet he is being told he cannot be with his wife as they are a threat to the system. MPs get a huge salary, they can claim all manner of household expenses ranging from food and their TV licence, to interest on their mortgage and rent payments (blatant abuse of expense policies) and yet they have the nerve to put restrictions on the lives of ordinary British citizens, and accuse us of being a threat to the British economy?

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Christopher & Christine
“I believe in my marriage vows, and am firm in my commitment to my wife.”
Christopher is a British citizen, 62 years old, father of three and grandfather of two. He was born in Brighton, and married for 39 years to Andrea, who passed away on New Year’s Day 2010 after battling multiple sclerosis for over 20 years. During that time, Christopher was her principal carer, their children and family, while also working for the Probation Service, within the Community Service team. Christopher shares his home with his daughters, Tara and Clare, and his beautiful granddaughter, Ebony. They designed the house to cater for the care of Andrea in 2006, which now, though partitioned into three living areas, is in fact one house. All three adults have their own private space, divided by one room, but they are all accessible to each other. A little quirky but it works very well for them. After a year spent in a state of adjustment, with lots of support from his family, Christopher joined an organisation "GVI – Global Vision International" and signed up for a year of volunteering in Kenya. The role involved teaching in a slum near Mombasa, in a place called Bombolulu. This was a life-changing experience in many ways. A young woman he came into contact with whilst carrying out this work was to change his life even more. Christopher had no intention of remarrying – he had settled in to teach English to the most enthusiastic bunch of children one could imagine, when he met Christine – funny, happy, intelligent and with a strong warm heart. Christine has a 6-year old son, Michael, who is an adorable little bundle of trouble. The birth father has never been in Michael’s life and knowledge of his whereabouts is known. Christine and Christopher became friends, then more. In August 2011 they married in Bombolulu. Christopher’s children, grandchildren and friends came to Kenya for the wedding along with all the children from the two local schools, 200 local friends and volunteers ... it was a wonderful wedding. Christopher carried on with teaching, until he fell ill and was advised to return to the UK. After treatment he returned to Kenya in the hope of bringing Christine and Michael home with him.

Christopher on his wedding day, with his family

Visa Application At some expense they engaged UK VISA and IMMIGRATION to prepare the visa application which was presented in Nairobi in January 2012. However, Christine was diagnosed with TB and thus followed six months of treatment. While the family is now blessed Christine has been given the all clear and is in good health, they face devastation under the new rules, as their new application in August 2012, was refused. Employment Christopher works for Enara Community Care as a domiciliary care worker. He cares for elderly in their homes, starting work at 6.45am and sometimes until as late as 9pm. His annual salary is c£15,500 which, combined with a pension of £3,746 from Probation Service, gives him an annual income of £19,246.

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BritCits He is considering employing a local solicitor who has indicated there is a case for appeal with fees over £4,500. Christopher’s savings are being depleted by having to finance life in Kenya for his wife and stepson, maintaining his life here and the additional cost of maintaining regular contact with his wife. Christopher believes in his marriage vows and is firm in his commitment to his wife. He is lucky to have a supporting family and friends who are praying for Christopher to be reunited with Christine and Michael. Like other BritCits, Christopher is realistic about why we have immigration rules; but he feels that the draconian way these have been imposed, without regional income tolerances or respect for British citizens being taken into consideration is just plain unfair. He believes the rules brought in make a mockery of the Conservative party’s manifesto commitment: “Strong families are the bedrock of a strong society. They provide the stability and love we need to flourish as human beings, and the relationships they foster are the foundation on which society is built – Britain’s families will get our full backing across all our policies … We need good, strong families to help our society work well. We will support families to stay together.”

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Kev & Barbara
“I never ever thought the day would come that I felt ashamed to be British, but that day has come.”
Kev is a British citizen, 68 years old, retired, living in Yeovil and in love with his American fiancée, Barbara, 65 years old and also retired. They met on a pen-pal site about 18 months ago, and soon finding that they had a lot in common, such as Barbara’s love of everything British, i.e. our history, castles, cathedrals, landscape and, indeed, us, the British people. Barbara has been to the UK a few times to visit Kev, each time staying with him. They fell in love and decided they wish to spend what remaining years they have together, as husband and wife. Kev and Barbara have been sensible. They haven’t rushed into marriage, they have assessed their finances; with a pension totalling £1,200 a month between them plus their savings, they have enough funds to provide themselves with an adequate standard of living without recourse to public funds. This was more than adequate to meet the Family Immigration Rules prior to 9 July 2012. So they decided to get married in late 2012 or early 2013. However, these new rules have played havoc with their dream of spending their retirement together, with the person they love. As a British citizen, Kev has worked here and paid his taxes diligently, yet now he is having his British and human rights stripped away from him. Barbara is finding it very difficult to understand how the British government can do this to one of their own citizens, after a lifetime of work. Indeed how they can do this is beyond Kev’s comprehension. Kev understands that we can’t have an open-door immigration policy; but restricting non-EU family migration in this manner is not acceptable, especially when it represents such a small percentage of all migration into the UK. The fact that EU citizens can come into our country with their spouse, children, parents and grandparents, even aunts, uncles and cousins, with none of the financial restrictions that are placed on Kev, has made him realise how this government has turned him into a second-class citizen in his own country. Although he never thought the day would come, he now feels ashamed to be British.

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Sharon & Salah
“UKBA need to understand that behind all they do to keep our borders safe, are REAL families – British citizens suffering as a result of ‘rules’ supposedly in place to protect us. ”
Sharon is a British citizen living in Wales, where she met her now husband, Salah. Sharon and Salah had a very happy life together, with Sharon’s daughter taking to Salah immediately. Legal advice they received indicated a spouse visa should be applied from Salah’s country of origin, so the family went to Egypt in September 2011 from where they put in the application along with the multitude of documents required – bank statements, payslips, English language certificate. All the documents had been certified by their solicitor. In January 2012 they heard back from UKBA, alas, with a refusal. The reason being that the rules had been changed so the English test that Salah had passed was no longer on the “approved list”. The British embassy confirmed the other documents were fine. So Salah re-took the test, passed again and they submitted the application a week before the dreaded rules came in, in July 2012. Yet again, 3-4 months later they received a response from UKBA, with yet another refusal. The reason for refusal this time was mystifying. UKBA indicated that Salah had been arrested and deported (not true), and that he only came to UK for money (he didn’t, but this is not relevant any way – UK workers don’t tend to work for free). The advice Sharon and Salah received was that they should go and exercise their rights in another EU country. Fine in principle, but Sharon was aware that UKBA knew – from documents submitted, that this route wasn’t possible for her given the rights the birth father of her daughter has. Sharon and Salah have now been living apart for a year with the stress of the situation affecting them. What our government doesn’t seem to understand is that enforcing separation is difficult at the best of times, the uncertainty that comes with not knowing when this separation will end is what causes physical and mental issues, leading to relationships and marriages falling apart. Indeed, Sharon and Salah are not giving up. They appealed the second refusal, with the British Embassy in Egypt required to respond by 3rd April 2013. Court of Appeals however indicated that the embassy did not respond and therefore now this couple is required to go to court – so another 2 months apart before there is any sort of progress. The money they have spent is significant – the two visa applications, legal fees, expenses for Sharon to travel to Egypt UKBA need to understand that behind all the paperwork they do to keep our borders safe, are REAL families – British citizens suffering as a result of "rules" supposedly in place to protect us.

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Kirsty & Karim
“This is not how I expected my married life to be, a fight to be with my husband… .”
Kirsty is a British citizen, married to Karim, from Tunisia. Kirsty and Karim have known each other for over 11 years, since childhood, having met at a family wedding. Over the years, they kept in touch and their relationship blossomed into something more serious; they were always aware of the uncertainty of distance long-distance relationship, knowing Kirsty did not want to live in Tunisia and it would not be an easy or cheap process to have Karim move to the UK. However, love triumphed and they married in July 2012, after accepting that they could not live without each other. At the time, they were unaware that the new rules recently brought into force would require Kirsty to be earning at least £18,600 per annum. Kirsty could not believe it – how could such rules be brought in so suddenly?! Upon meeting with two solicitors, Kirsty and Karim were told they had no chance –the visa would be refused again and again and again, until the government was taken to the High Court. They advised her they would help her fight the rules, but if they lost, the financial cost to Kirsty and Karim would be astronomical. So this young married couple are stuck. Their only option at the moment is to continue as they are, spending their spare money on visiting each other, not allowing them to save for their future, for a deposit. It is clear to Kirsty that this breaches her human right to a family life – the financial criteria discriminates against those hard-working taxpayers who earn an average salary, and as this law stands, she feels very much that when it comes marriage to someone from outside the EU for someone who wants to live in the UK, is now only for the rich or EU citizens who are not British. Kirsty feels frustrated – why is it that her husband’s potential income in the UK is not considered? Karim has international diplomas in engineering, as a technician and in mechanics, as well as speaking many languages, so he has a much better chance of getting a high-earning job than Kirsty. Karim speaks English perfectly and has passed an English test at the British Embassy. The couple has accommodation available from Kirsty’s parents, their aim being to live there to save up for their own place. But none of this is taken into account. Kirsty is angry. EU citizens can walk into this country and claim benefits even if they are unskilled and can't get work. Her husband, with diplomas and a strong work ethic, is not welcome in the UK, because he married a BritCit rather than a French, German or Polish citizen.

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Anne
“Are these the family values the government wants to promote? Keeping parents and children/grandchildren apart ... breaking up husbands and wives?” “It’s ridiculous that British people now have fewer rights in Britain than even those from outside the EU... ”
Anne is the British mother of a British son who, by this government’s account, should not have fallen in love, married and had a child with a lovely woman, because she happens to be American. Anne is also the British wife and main carer of a British man who is disabled. Anne recognises that, as she gets older, she will need assistance from her son, for herself and her husband.

Anne’s daughter-in-law, her son and the grandchild she has never met.

The rules in place mean her son is forced to live apart from his wife and daughter. They also mean that she is not permitted to be with her son and daughter-in-law and is prevented from spending time with her granddaughter. NOTHING is right about this situation. They are a proud, if not rich, family. They missed the wedding of their son to a woman who is now a much loved member of the family. While it was painful missing her son’s wedding, the financial and practical constraints of Anne’s husband’s disability meant they couldn’t travel. They do, however, expect their son to be able to live in his home country, with his new family. £18,600 is a lot of money for him and Anne, on top of the daily expenses of living and substantial visa application fees (we do not all have parliamentary salaries, generous expense accounts and cushy pensions – Anne pays for and travels in standard class). Anne’s son has been saving money for a spouse visa and paying rent in the UK while also maintaining and paying for accommodation for his wife and child. Babies are expensive, as anyone with a child will tell you. Yet he managed for a long time. Until these rules came in.

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BritCits The stress of being apart from his wife and child is, in itself, difficult; but the impact of the rules, which suggest to him that he may never be with them, were he also to be here for his parents, caused a meltdown, leading to the loss of his job. So, overall, this is now a worse situation for everyone, her son, his wife, their granddaughter, Anne’s husband, Anne and the entire extended family and community. They now can’t even afford to fly to America to see the child unless friends and family help. ARE THESE THE FAMILY VALUES YOU WANT US TO ADOPT? Meanwhile this whole situation is taking a very bad toll on everyone's health. Anne is now on antidepressants and blood pressure tablets. Their fifteen-year-old daughter is feeling the stress of the situation – she can't understand why she can't see her little niece and sister-in-law. Their other daughter has their son living with her as he has now also lost his home, so has no choice but to move in with family. The government needs to realise there are real people affected by these changes, not just government statistics. The rules were already hard to meet in the first place, the fees of hundreds of pounds were already a lot for the majority of mainly working people. Anyone from the EU can move to the UK with their spouse and children without having to satisfy any income criterion. Not only that, but they’re able to bring in their parents, grandparents, in-laws, siblings and cousins. Yet now British people, IN OUR OWN COUNTRY are being torn apart from their families!!! What has this government done to our country and why? Who will look after us as we grow old? Who will look after us when we have breakdowns? And who will answer the questions the next generation asks about why discriminatory and racist policies were allowed to be put in place, policies preventing Anne's son's children getting to know their father and grandparents?

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David & Emelie
“ I want people to know I am not a statistic affected by these new rulings, I am a person whose life has been ripped apart; I can’t see how there is going to be a future for me while these rulings are in place. Time is running out for me, I acknowledge I am not a young man anymore and this is my last chance of happiness. Why should it be cruelly snatched away from me?”
David is a British citizen, in his mid-fifties and from the East Midlands. He has been self-employed in the graphics industry, before which he worked for HM Forces. He also has a fiancée who lives in Manila, with whom he has been in a relationship for three years. His fiancée is a qualified accountant. David lived in Manila to assess the way of life there and its suitability for him. His fiancée visited the UK to see what life here would be like, should they decide to live here. They travelled to London, Scotland and the Midlands to give her a better idea, before she had to return to Manila and her job. With the current economic climate finding work has not been easy; David is seeking employment working in the graphic art or retail management fields. David lives in an area of the country where the average wage is nowhere near £18,600. He has signed up with over 30 job agencies spending hours each day on my laptop applying for vacancies paying the elusive £18,600. Until then, he is surviving on his savings. David has also been looking at jobs outside of his home area; any job, anywhere in the UK that will pay a salary that meets the criteria. Alas, it is hard enough trying to secure full time employment at his age without having to continually cut through red tape. David’s experience with his MP has not been successful. While his MP was initially sympathetic and seemed keen to help David with the situation, it eventually turned into a ‘rules are rules’ response. Letters he has received from Minister of Immigration and his MP have not been helpful – they simply state the rules with which David is already familiar. Not much help from those who get paid to represent us, their constituents and the citizens of this country they have an obligation to look out for! David has worked hard all his life; paid his taxes and national insurance (which he continues to pay even now). He just wants to be able to live in his home, with his fiancée – a qualified accountant working in the treasury department for one of the largest companies in the Philippines! She speaks English more eloquently than a lot of British people – surely, but surely, she would be an asset not a liability to this country? David has got to the point at which he doesn’t know which way to turn; this situation is destroying him bit by bit with each passing day. It is making him ill, he doesn’t sleep with all the worry…all he wants is to be able to lead a normal happy life with his partner. Indeed, David is at a disadvantage because he was born in the UK, rather than elsewhere in the EU, and fell in love with a beautiful woman from the South Pacific.

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Kevin
“I haven’t seen my wife and son in nearly a year and my family in Britain hasn’t met or held my son.”
Kevin is a British citizen who met his wife while travelling and they have been together for five years, though they were in no hurry to move to the UK. After being made redundant by his insurance-company employer, they decided to live in Asia for a couple of years. While in Hong Kong, they were blessed with a beautiful son. As Kevin does not have a degree, finding a suitable job in Asia proved to be near impossible, but with a child to look after it was imperative that Kevin have a good job and provide for his family. So Kevin decided to return to the UK and six months later he obtained a permanent job with a basic salary of £16,000. Two months into this job, however, the government brought in the minimum threshold, meaning that his target earnings would keep him way below the threshold. With bonuses the £18,600 may be achievable, but given the volatile nature of sales, there might be the odd month where he cannot maintain the annual average required, which means that his wife’s visa application would be rejected. Kevin has been living apart from his wife and near-one-year-old son for almost a year. He has already missed his son’s first Christmas; he will miss his first birthday, and he will only see his son’s first steps on Skype, rather than in person. Kevin is close to a nervous breakdown; whenever he sees a family together with a toddler his heart sinks and he is unable to put aside everything he is missing out on. Kevin’s wife’s family think Kevin has chosen to leave his wife and son in their home country rather than bring her to the UK. This has brought shame on his wife's family as well as embarrassment. Kevin’s immediate British family have neither met nor held his son. His son does not know his British family. The new rules are a prison sentence for Kevin and his family. Even if Kevin were to find a job paying £18,600, the visa process requires that he wait six months before applying for a spouse visa. This is far too long, especially when you have been living apart for a year already. This Tory government is demonstrating how out of touch it is with the people of Britain today. For the sake of everybody’s sanity, welfare, physical and mental health, these rules must be scrapped sooner rather than later.

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BritCits

Gerard & Vilai
“UKBA is happy to take the visa application fees, and find spurious reasons to reject visa applications, in order to take yet more fees....”
Gerard is a British citizen and 59 years old. He is a seventh child and grew up in a loving family. Gerard’s wife, Vilai, is a good woman, and Gerard, a good man, good husband and good dad. Gerard and his wife are being forced live apart, surviving on emails and phone calls. Paul does not need to work, having paid off his mortgage. Yet he works, yet he pays his taxes, and yet he is kept apart from his wife. To be together in the UK they must now embark on further unnecessary onerous bureaucracy to satisfy a cold heartless agency doing this government’s cruel callous bidding. Family friendly? Gerard and Vilai think not; to the UKBA they are just two more pawns contributing towards statistics showing what a good job 'they' are doing to protect ‘our borders’ and ‘the taxpayer’. But Paul too is a taxpayer. Vilai has never been married before, nor had any children. Thon would prefer they live in Thailand, near her mum and four sisters, but Gerard prefers the UK, where his home and children are. So Vilai is prepared to give up her family, friends and career so that Gerard doesn’t have to give up his. Gerard is very accomplished having attended university not once, but four times. He has been selfemployed most of his life, and was a professional photographer for about 25 years, in the Cumbria area. He has worked hard, worked long hours and made many weddings and other events memorable for many British families. Indeed, when his work expanded to include a letting agency renting out holiday homes in the Loire Valley, Gerard’s photos were even featured on the front cover of Chez Nous. The work was very successful and Gerard and his first wife contributed a lot in taxes to the British government. To help develop the business further, Gerard went to study French: conversation classes, A-level at night school, a BA at university starting at age 47, at every level he was encouraged to go further. He soon closed his studio and rented it out as half shop, half flat. All however wasn’t to continue smoothly. In 2002, two years into his BA degree, Gerard’s wife of 24 years admitted to an ongoing affair. He was shattered and subsequently diagnosed with severe clinical depression. As one must do, however, he learnt to move on, going to work in a BT call centre before completing his degree at university where, despite the upheavals, he succeeded in obtaining a 2:1, a hair's breadth away from a first. With his qualifications, he was offered work at a university in Brittany (France), as a language assistant. Gerard spent a year in France while also completing the divorce proceedings. Many of his students were the children of families from Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria, and all delightful students. He was able to retain his house and studio ... and a hefty mortgage; his other assets, including his share of the French business, went to his now ex-wife. Gerard knows all about beans on toast and no heat, better that than claim benefits. He is a proud man. Gerard went on to complete an MA TEFL course, again at university, just six weeks after burying his mum, aged 97 years. Both his uncles (John and Thomas) died in World War One, in 1917 (Ypres) and 1918 (between Arras and Cambrai), aged 21 and 20. Gerard completed the MA, along with students from Greece, Iran, China and Taiwan, for whom he did some proofreading. He worked so hard he got a distinction for his dissertation. Being over 50, he found obtaining work difficult. He spent some savings on renovating his home. In the summer of 2007, he worked as a postman for a short period, followed by some proofreading work. Then he spent several months helping his elder son renovate the house he had bought in north

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BritCits Manchester – hard unpaid physical graft. Gerard planned to sell his house, pay off his mortgage and perhaps move to France, but helping his son meant he got caught up in ‘the crash’, and missed the boat. So he rented out his renovated house and went to France on the off chance that some work would come his way. He succeeded in obtaining a language assistant job in Lille. As before, he paid all the deductions in France and living/ travelling expenses (not tax deductible), more tax on his French salary in the UK, and tax on his rental income. He came back to find the flat he had rented out trashed, not for the first time, and had to spend several weeks sorting that out. In late 2009 Gerard was fed up, lonely and disillusioned. However, finally, things were to take a turn for the better; the mortgage was nearly paid off and Gerard met his now wife, Vilai. They spent a lot of time together in Thailand and UK. Last year Vilai applied for a visit visa in Bangkok, but was turned down, with the usual ‘insufficient reason to return’, despite having a long-term job to go back to and proof of same. While querying the decision, Gerard contacted his MP’s office and other individuals. Mysteriously, the decision was reversed and no explanation was given. Gerard wanted Vilai to marry him while she was here, but she had promised her boss she would go back, and so she did. The plan in December 2011 was for Gerard to spend more time with Vilai, his fiancée, and proceed to marriage if and when they were both sure. She always was, he became so, despite and perhaps because of some cultural differences, and they got married. The intention was Gerard would return to UK with his wife, but they were hit by the English test requirement; it had to be taken and passed before applying for a visa, along with the health checks. Gerard firmly believes, in line with various studies, the place to learn English is in an Englishspeaking country, by immersion (acquisition), not just in a classroom. Soon it became apparent they wouldn’t be travelling together as Gerard had urgent matters to attend to at home. He did hope his wife would be with him in time for the Olympic torch through his village. Alas, it was not to be. Vilai sat the English test in March and passed first time, although it took until May for the certificate to arrive. There was then an IOM query over her TB test, and it took another two months for the allclear to be received. All these delays meant that they could not submit a spouse visa application before 9 July. Finally, in August, she was able to apply for a settlement visa, pay over £800 and wait up to 12 weeks for the UKBA to decide if this married couple could live together. Worse was to come. Vilai’s application was rejected as UKBA wanted a vast array of additional documents. No chance was given to respond. It was a rejection and probably another £800+ to be paid before they would reconsider the spouse's application. The UKBA appears to be happy to advise what they want after they turn you down; then, on subsequent applications, they may find something else, and so it goes on. They don’t ask for more information during the waiting period, which is scandalous. What does Gerard think of all this? He thinks it’s appalling. What should have been a happy joyous time after a decade of misery turned into an edelweiss trampled on by Douglasboots. HMRC is happy to accept the thousands he pays in taxes, meanwhile the UKBA is even happier to take the visa application fees, and find spurious reasons to reject visa applications, in order to take yet more fees. This government doesn’t care how long they keep married couples apart, they don’t care about British citizens and their spouses, they don’t respect marriage or family. Article 8 is just a thorn in their side. All British citizens hear about are scam marriages, terrorists, drug dealers and people-trafficking. They are choosing to ignore the many decent honest citizens who just want to live with their family.

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Sierra
“ The message we are getting from the UK government is that we are not rich enough to love... ”
Sierra is a British citizen married to a US citizen, and they are aged 21 and 25. They got married after two years together, in the UK, and then the world of immigration horror opened up to them. They believed that, being married, they would not be kept apart whilst arranging her husband’s work visa. They were wrong. Sierra’s husband became an overstayer on 2 July this year. They learnt that they would have to spend £1,500 on application forms, and on a lawyer's fees, to help them through this maze, applying for his Discretionary Leave to Remain. As a legal secretary, Sierra earns £12,500 a year, with her savings having been spent flying back and forth between the USA and the UK, and for the visa process. Sierra has never claimed benefits. As her husband is an overstayer, any potential application is likely to be declined. What however is this couple supposed to do? They saved up £1,500 for the application only now to be told, ‘No, it’s not good enough, you’re not rich enough to be in love.’ They are however lucky to have family members who have always been willing to help, monetarily, but now the rules even disallow co-sponsorship. They have nowhere to turn! Sierra is terrified that she is going to get a knock on the door in the middle of the night and be forced to spend months or even years apart until she is able to earn £18,600, or whatever the new higher income threshold might be. She feels desperate and that she is being punished for being in love, for daring to get married whilst being young and poor, despite not being on benefits. These new laws put a price on love and they are disgusting; they are inhuman and carry no respect for the sanctity of marriage. Theresa May should be thoroughly ashamed of herself for abusing her power and misrepresenting British citizens.

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Sandra & Aftab
“I am being punished by my country for exercising my right to marry who I want . I can’t be with my daughter and grandchild – I can’t look after my grandma and parents because of these rules.”
Sandra is a British Citizen, she married her husband Aftab, an Egyptian, in Bournemouth. Sandra and Aftab decided to try out life in Egypt; accommodation was organised and Aftab had work. However, Sandra did not fit into life in Egypt and she missed her daughter and grandchild, who were still in the UK. Aftab agreed to move to the UK – while home for him is Egypt, he liked the UK and wanted Sandra to be happy, understanding the importance of her family ties. Soon after Aftab enrolled on a business studies course, Sandra found out she was pregnant. They applied for a spouse visa for Aftab before 9 July, with £4,000 savings in the bank. Additionally, Sandra’s father provided a guarantee, acting as a third-party sponsor, with a healthy bank balance and proof of the deeds to his bungalow. Sandra and Aftab therefore had shown they had no intention to access any welfare benefits. Sandra succeeded in obtained a job in telesales, which was good as it did not put too much strain on her body. Shortly after, Aftab found work in a restaurant, though he could only work 20 hours per week because of legal restrictions. Between them, they earned £18,600 although this was not the requirement at the time of application. It became more and more important for the spouse visa to come through; Sandra was finding the pregnancy difficult. Further complications meant she could no longer work full time and sadly they lost the baby. It was a traumatic time for them both, but somehow, together, they managed to carry on. More bad news was to follow, with the spouse visa being rejected because payment from Aftab’s bank in Egypt didn’t go through. Sandra and Aftab were not given a second chance to make payment by alternative means; and so, because of a fault of the bank, Sandra and Aftab now have now moved back to Egypt. Sandra doesn’t feel she can earn £18,600 at this point and has been through a lot already, with the loss of the baby. She has secured a teaching job in Sharm El Sheikh at least. So their situation is this. Sandra cannot return to her own home with her husband because she doesn’t earn enough. She feels she is being punished just because she chose to marry someone ‘different’. She is being forced to choose between being a wife, and being a mother, grandmother, daughter and granddaughter. Sandra is pleading with whoever reads this to do what they can to change the current law to help British citizens. She is a British citizen but now she cannot live in her own country.

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Les & Becky
“My wife is eminently employable, and would be a genuine asset to this country, yet we have to face choices no one should ever have to consider in a so-called "civilised" country – or any country for that matter!”
Les is a British citizen married to Becky, an American and academic theologian with a PhD. They met in mid-2008, two years after she arrived in Scotland to study for her doctorate, quickly realising they wanted to spend their lives together. They clicked in a way neither had with anyone before. Les and Becky are best friends, lovers and partners in life. At the end of 2010, they moved in together and eventually married in February 2012. Becky submitted her thesis in July (ironically a matter of days before the new rules came into place). Originally, Becky had intended to submit her thesis six months earlier, but due to more work being required on the content, she had her student visa extended to allow for this, until November 2012. Indeed, in hindsight, had Les and Becky been made aware of the new rules (which were brought in so suddenly!), they could and would have applied for a spouse visa under the old rules. However, even though Les works as an adviser with the Citizen's Advice Bureau, they missed the fact that these changes had taken place – something to do with a distinct lack of publicity around the issue perhaps! Les, apart from one or two freelance commissions and relentless job hunting, has failed to secure fresh full-time employment – the status of the economy notwithstanding, Les can’t help but feel that, in a way, it is his fault they are in this situation. If only he earned £18,600, if only they had applied for a spouse visa earlier, if only, if only... However, life doesn’t flow in consistent and convenient ways, especially in times of austerity, yet the government set financial conditions which included cash savings of up to £62,500. Becky even received a job offer only to find the barriers put up by UKBA were insurmountable. She was offered a role by a well-known insurance firm for an initial three-month contract, later to be made permanent. Although it didn’t meet the earnings requirement, it provided a platform for Les to expand his job-search to make up the shortfall and, according to their lawyer, grounds for an appeal in the event they applied for a family visa. Even with Becky’s earnings alone, the couple would easily have covered their living costs without recourse to public funds yet were denied the right to live together for not earning additional income they don’t need. What’s ironic is that with Becky working here, Les would have come out of the benefits system (a humiliating and soul-destroying situation to be in, whatever nonsense the detractors in “strivers versus scroungers” camp might peddle), thus reducing the burden on the public purse. However, UKBA’s reach even went as far as Becky’s prospective employer who withdrew the job offer because UKBA refused to provide confirmation that Becky had the right to work here full-time, even though she did. Months later, with help from their MP, Gordon Banks who used “in-house” channels to get confirmation from UKBA that Becky under her then immigration status was free to fulfil her contractual hours. However, by then the company’s goal posts changed, their behaviour suggesting a wariness about falling foul of UKBA. This despite the fact they wanted Becky badly enough to have completed credit checks for her in USA. It certainly seems like the government has successfully found yet another way to penalise migrants who would otherwise satisfy the rules by “encouraging” UK companies to favour UK workers.

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BritCits The expiry date on Becky’s visa came and went; their lawyer told them that Becky would have three months following the expiry to leave UK before being deemed by UKBA to be an overstayer. His wife, best friend and soul-mate was now, to all intents-and-purposes, a tourist in his own country. They spent what was to be their last Christmas together in Scotland (and possibly the foreseeable future). Their friends and Becky’s family were incredibly supportive, as well as shocked, dismayed, angry and incredulous at what had befallen us and what was to come. They received dinner invitations; delicious food, selfless generosity, great company (and not a little malt whisky) provided a momentary cushion against the looming reality of our enforced separation. Becky’s flavoured chocolate fudge was consumed in excessive quantity. Once this “festive” period had passed (in, if I’m quite honest, a somewhat anaesthetised haze) their separation day – February 24th 2013 looked - four days after our first wedding anniversary. Becky’s flight was booked: Departure from Glasgow Airport at 1pm with layovers in Reykjavík and Denver. We booked a night in a nearby hotel to negate a needless rush with baggage across Central Scotland, to break up the journey and spend last precious hours together. The tears were never far away. Truth be told they’ve flowed almost constantly since last year’s sudden thump of realisation that this day would eventually have to be faced. Les’s last sight of Becky was of her passing through airport security, placing personal items into the containers provided. He hoped to catch her eye one final time but she didn’t look back. Becky later told me that she couldn’t do it. “If I had Les then I would have scrambled back over the barriers towards you. I’m sorry sweetie”. Of course he understood. How could he not? And so to today. Becky is lodged temporarily with her parents in Washington. They speak on Skype, exchange emails and comments on Facebook. But it’s never the same. She can’t afford to visit, and besides, could we go through the trauma of separation all over again? Because that’s what it would be like, so thank goodness for the world-wide-web, despite it’s obvious limitations in conducting a full and meaningful marriage. The couple have decided their only real prospect of being reunited is to initiate the US immigration process for Les to move there. Something they had considered much earlier, as there the income requirement is much more reasonable, at 125% of the poverty level. However, Les has a daughter who lives in the UK, and moving overseas would damage any prospects of a relationship between father and daughter. Becky may be American but her heart is in Scotland. She was settled here, she had found her “place” in the World and she had much to offer this country by way of talents and skills. Les in turn has no desire to move to the States, leaving his home and moving further away from his daughter. Les is filled with anger and resentment that two people so obviously made for each other could be treated so inhumanely – and that too by his own country He is embarrassed and ashamed and does not feel British. But, for all that, there will be pain, because I know, when this happens, he will most likely never see again his little girl who turned 7 this year. Maybe she will demand answers as to why her father isn’t here. While Les is now resigned to leaving UK, he knows he will be leaving behind a treasure - a beautiful person by the name of Holly Rowan Hudson who will never be far from his thoughts. Les’s message to Holly is that despite his being forced to leave because of rules designed to break up families, while he may be leaving Holly, she will never leave him.

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Lyndsey & Paul
“When you marry somebody you love for richer or poorer, it should mean just that...I shouldn’t have to choose between being a mum and granddaughter, and being in love.”
Lyndsey is 29 years old and a British citizen by birth. She is in the horrendous situation of having to choose between being with her kids and looking after her elderly grandparents, or being with her partner. Lyndsey’s situation: • Two kids from a previous relationship (their father does not contribute financially) • Looking after her grandparents – one recovering from bowel cancer, the other with a heart condition. As neither is entitled to an attendance allowance she doesn’t receive a carer’s allowance. However this does not mean she shirks her responsibilities or leaves the State to look after them! Lyndsey and her partner, Paul (American) have known each other since 1999; they have been romantically involved since 2009. Her children consider Paul to be their dad and refer to him as such. He considers them to be his own. Paul has made a greater contribution to their well-being – physical, emotional and financial – than their real (British) father. The kids’ actual father doesn’t make his CSA (child support allowance) payments! He has a family of his own, a loving partner, children from that relationship ... a right that is denied to Lyndsey BY THIS GOVERNMENT! Lyndsey is not allowed to move her children overseas, the only option left being for Paul to move here. However, Lyndsey doesn’t earn £18,600 and may never do so. She does not have the time to take on a full-time job, earning enough to pay for childcare, and also look after her elderly grandparents. So, according to this government, Lyndsey can’t fulfil her responsibilities to those she loves, if she also wants to be with the man she wants to spend her life with! What country are we in again? Paul’s situation: • Owns his own home in America • Would work full-time, allowing Lyndsey to work part time, which would ensure they share and fulfil their responsibilities, like a normal British family. Lyndsey’s requests: • Make the rules fair so that honest, decent hardworking Brits aren’t kept apart from their loved ones • Sort out the disgrace of the system called CSA and make absent fathers just as responsible for their children as the mothers. If Lyndsey didn’t have to support her kids fully as well, she could easily be working more, earning a higher income, and thus able to have Paul by her side.

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BritCits

Margaret & Mustapha
“They said I was too old for my husband and our marriage would not be accepted in Moroccan culture and so, refused his visa.”
Margaret is a British citizen, aged 58, who first met her husband, Mustapha, aged 32, online. They became friends when Margaret went to visit her daughters family in Morocco, and the friendship strengthened over time, even when Margaret had returned to the UK. Having come out of a bad marriage that had lasted 17 years and with her own health issues, Margaret was wary of getting into another relationship and trusting again. However, more time passed and gradually Margaret couldn’t deny that she cared for Mustapha, particularly after another visit to Morocco, when Margaret fell ill and Mustapha looked after her. Parting at the airport was horrendous and Margaret realised how much she missed him. She went back a few times, spending time with Mustapha’s family as well, with whom she gets along very well. They sought permission from Mustapha’s parents and Moroccan judges (as is the requirement there) and finally in June 2010, they got married. Two years later, they applied for a visit visa, for Mustapha to be with Margaret for the bypass surgery she was having to help alleviate some of her health problems. The visa was refused. So Margaret had to have surgery without her husband by her side. Post-surgery, Margaret and Mustapha applied for a settlement visa, in order to have her husband with her during the post-op recovery. This too was rejected. The reason given? The UKBA staff member processing their application thought Moroccan culture would deem Margaret was too old for Mustapha and therefore, Mustapha’s intention cannot have been to stay with Margaret, and finally that Mustapha would be able to seek public funds. Given Mustapha would not qualify for public funds for at least ten years, and Margaret and Mustapha had gotten married in spite of age difference because of their feelings for each other, the refusal was not justified…especially in light of the fact that UKBA did not even bother to interview the couple – they just made the decision based on a written application!. For Margaret the issue is not the £18,600. She is a registered disabled person and therefore the income threshold does not apply to her. And so the UKBA creates another barrier by assuming their marriage cannot be genuine. They did not interview him. They did not carry out any research into the marriage. They just assumed.

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David
“It took 8 months for UKBA to process my wife’s application..and we had to jump through hoops to prove we had a real marriage in spite of having a child together. So my complete sympathy is with others going through the process.”
David is a British citizen who has personally been affected by the new immigration rules. Since David married his Filipino wife nearly three years ago, the British government has made their lives a misery; causing unnecessary stress, worry and suffering in trying to prove that their marriage is genuine even though they have a son together. David finds this outrageous and ridiculous – how can you ‘prove’ you are in a genuine marriage if the proof of a child is insufficient? They had to submit David’s passport while his wife’s application for indefinite leave was being considered; they had to send countless documents and fill out lots of forms. They had to pay an extortionate amount of money even for applying for his wife to remain in the country that is that of her husband’s and son’s. Although David is in the fortunate position of having received a successful decision on his wife’s application, it was after eight months of stress, worry and anxiety. His complete sympathy goes out to all families that affected caught in the complicated web of these immigration rules.

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Emma
“I am in despair. My family has been kept apart for many years, despite playing by the rules...which the government keeps changing.”
Emma is a British citizen. She met her now husband in Indonesia in 2001. She returned in 2002 and they stayed together before Emma came back to the UK. They kept in touch via post and email over the next seven months, before Emma returned to Indonesia to marry her husband. Her husband applied for a UK visa, allowing him to move here with his new wife, following which the couple moved here, and had a daughter and son. Both Emma and her husband worked in the UK, without claiming a penny in benefits. This was in 2002. In 2007, the family decided to try living in Indonesia. They set up their own business there. However, some time later, they decided to return to the UK, where Emma felt that she could find better work. However, they were in for a shock. Emma’s husband’s returning residence visa was refused as he’d been outside UK for over two months in a two-year period. The British Embassy in Jakarta advised the couple to apply for a ‘returning visitor visa’ as they were still within the rules. But they were in for another shock! This visa was refused, wasting time and money. They were subsequently advised to apply for a spouse visa – costing £800. This too was refused, on grounds of Emma (the sponsor) not having a job in the UK. The immigration officer advised them in the refusal letter that if Emma were to return to the UK and make provisions for her husband to return – get a job, and a house adequate for family life in the UK – she would be able to make a successful visa application for her husband. Emma returned to the UK with her two children, arranged accommodation, settled the kids into school and started job hunting. This meant, unfortunately, that she was juggling childcare and associated costs, effectively as a single mother, making it incredibly difficult to secure full-time employment, despite securing job interviews! It was ironic, because if her husband was allowed to be with her, the family’s child care problems would cease to exist, as the couple could have organised their time to work and care for their little family without having to claim any benefits. In fact, Emma did everything in her power to avoid becoming a burden on the State. She set herself up as an entrepreneur with her own freelance business, working from home. In desperation, she wrote to her local MP explaining the situation, expecting some help from a person paid to represent his constituents. The MP’s reply was unhelpful, expressing his sympathy for their situation and stating that even another MP had had his wife’s visa refused entry to the UK – difficult for everyone! Emma then wrote to the Prime Minister, receiving a standard letter expressing his sympathy, and enclosing the immigration rules! As if she didn’t already know them! She was featured on the front page of the local newspaper – which had initially contacted her about a mural she had produced for the school, but were subsequently more interested in her family situation. People stopped Emma in the street asking her how she was coping. Like many members of the general public, they couldn’t believe her story – ‘But you are married!’ – and they could not believe how, at this stage, she had been apart from her husband – and the kids from their father – for three long years. Emma’s husband came into some money in April 2012 and applied yet again for a visa, only for it to be refused yet again – this time on the grounds he hadn’t done his English test. They were aware he had to do this test in due course, but the Embassy in Jakarta had informed him he could do it in the UK. They lost another £820. Yet more time and more money lost..yet more heartbreak. Emma contacted a lawyer who told her the couple couldn’t appeal as it’s now a requirement to pass an approved English test pre-visa application. Despite being incorrectly informed by a British Embassy

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BritCits cut no ice – so hard-working Brits are forced to donate money to UKBA because of incompetence of UK government employees. Emma’s husband did his English test on July 20th. As of the end of September, they are still waiting for the result. More time has passed, more money has been lost. And, brutally, the government has changed the immigration rules yet again… . Now, Emma has to be earning £18,600 – on top of whatever her husband earns – if the family is to be reunited. The rule changes were announced in June, and introduced in July – hardly enough time to prepare. As of today, Emma is in despair. The family has been kept apart for many years, despite playing by the rules. What hope is there for them? The government has behaved appallingly. One part of the government (the Embassy) incorrectly advised Emma on the rules. Yet they are prepared to take her money for each application, in a manner which would make a lowlife street conman proud. Another part of the government (the UKBA) introduces rules so arcane that, within a matter of weeks, they would have made Kafka proud – indeed, rules so complex that even MPs getting paid £100,000 have difficulty grasping the key concepts and locating all the hidden annexes. The new rules were introduced by means of ‘secondary legislation’ – meaning the House of Commons didn’t even get to debate them, and doubtless many politicians remain unaware of all the intricate Machiavellian details! What an utterly shameful situation.

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Aaron & Kano
“I am being pushed out of my own country by this government because I dared to fall in love, have a baby with and marry a woman who is Japanese ”.
A British citizen, Aaron met his Japanese partner, Kano, in Bristol when she was there on a two-year working holiday visa. They fell in love, she fell pregnant and they decided to get married. Aaron has invested all his time and energy in Bristol and is keen to make a life with his wife and child there. Bristol is where all his friends and family live. He wants a stable place to mark the height of his child as the years pass; he doesn’t don’t want to live in Britain to claim any sort of welfare benefits. However, under the new rules, he is unable to give his child the upbringing he so desires in his own country, something which we all as British citizens have and should continue to have the right to. Aaron’s child is also British. Therefore, in fact, two British citizens have had their basic rights eroded by this government. The right to live with your partner without interference from the State for Aaron; The right to have both your parents looking after you, for their child.

Aaron earns just under the £18,600 mark. Combining his income with that which Kano could earn, they easily satisfy £18,600. But Kano’s income cannot be included, thus highlighting a huge oversight in the rules. Not only is £18,600 too high, it does not allow for geographical differences and is much higher than the income criteria required to be excluded from qualifying for welfare benefits. It also shows a complete disregard for the potential value of the spouse’s income. In practice, both Aaron and Kano would work, each earning a salary that would be taxed and relied upon for their living expenses. Why then is the criterion restricted only to Aaron’s income? Aaron is being pushed out of his own country, by his own government, for no reason other than that its mission is to achieve a poorly selected and arbitrary net immigration target in the 'tens of thousands'.

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Lisa
“It is ludicrous and unlawful to put a price on anybody’s marriage and love. We are human and deserve to be together with our loved ones.”
Lisa is a British citizen married to a Moroccan. She has children with her ex-spouse who is British. He has put in place a Prohibited Steps Order whereby she cannot take her kids out of the UK. As Lisa does not earn £18,600, her husband does not qualify for a spouse visa. She is strongly opposed to these immigration rules and wants some justice – she should not have to choose between her husband and her children. Lisa has to keep travelling back and forth to Morocco as a Prohibited Steps Order prevents her from taking her kids from the UK. So now she is left with no choice but to live two lives and split up her family. Lisa demands that Theresa May be made to explain to innocent people here how she justifies such extreme measures and insists that she will campaign until our basic rights as British citizens are given back to us. Lisa’s only family are her kids and husband – her parents and brother passed away. What will happen to Lisa 20 years down the line when her kids are living their own lives? The pressure on and guilt felt by Lisa’s kids knowing their mother had to sacrifice her marriage for them will be insurmountable. Lisa will have given up her youth and her marriage to the man she loves in order to be a good mother; or she will have to give up being a good mother in order to be a good wife. What kind of legacy is being left for Lisa’s family and hundreds like her? All studies show that children are better off in a two-parent family. Common sense dictates that Lisa making sacrifices for her kids or for her husband will not yield good results years down the line, for her own sanity or that of her family. Why is this government putting us in the position where we are essentially faced with a choice that is no choice at all, knowing that whatever decision is taken will leave lives destroyed, with the ramifications felt for years to come?

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Janice & Erdogan
“I have to fulfil my duty to look after my mother in her 70s, and my 12-year-old son, so I have no choice but to fight for my partner to come to the UK. In the meantime I go out to see him as often as I can, nearly 20 times in 5 years!!"
Janice is a British citizen and has been in a relationship with her partner, Erdogan, who happens to be Turkish, since 2007. In February 2008, Erdogan was removed from his place of work without any prior warning by Norfolk Immigration, who admitted their letters to Erdogan had not been received. Erdogan came to England on a marriage visa in December 2005. Nineteen months later, his wife walked out on him, leaving him to run the business (a kebab and pizza shop) they had started together. On several occasions Erdogan tried to contact her to discuss terms of the divorce, including issues relating to the shop they jointly owned. She however avoided engaging in such discussions. Erdogan finally contacted a solicitor to begin proceedings, but the appointment was delayed because the solicitor fell ill, with the next appointment being for two days after Erdogan was suddenly and forcibly removed from the UK. Janice spoke with Linda Manchester, from Norfolk Immigration in Swaffham, who arrested Erdogan at around 7.30 pm to ask why Erdogan had been treated in this way, without any warning? Ms Manchester advised that Erdogan had not responded to letters from UKBA advising him that his visa had been revoked, but she finally admitted that she was aware he hadn’t received the letters as they had been returned to them, unopened. Ms Manchester said their understanding was that the UKBA was not able to locate Erdogan to send letters to him; however, Erdogan worked in the same shop every day and, indeed, the UKBA were able to locate him when it came to arresting him! Erdogan was removed cruelly, losing money on the marital home he had been paying the mortgage on, and on the business he had worked long and hard hours for. He wasn’t even allowed to go to his house, his home, to get his clothes. He wasn’t allowed to sort out his finances. He was just spirited away. Erdogan was even denied legal representation. Janice met Erdogan before he was deported; the well-groomed and well presented man she knew looked like he had been living on the streets all his life. He was a broken man, having lost everything he had worked for, his business, his pride and his respect within the Turkish community, along with the possibility of losing the people he loved and who loved him. Since his removal nearly five years ago, Janice and Erdogan have been trying to get his divorce finalised, so they can marry and start a life together as a family. Unfortunately, Erdogan’s estranged wife was hell-bent on making things difficult, but finally, in 2010, the Decree Absolute came through. Janice considered moving to Turkey, but with kids here herself, including a 12-year-old who she won’t be able to take overseas, and a mother in her 70s that Janice looks after, it’s not possible if Janice wants to fulfil her other roles of mum and daughter. So they have no choice but to fight for Erdogan to come here. In the meantime, Janice goes out to Turkey as often as she can; in the last five years, she has gone there to be with Erdogan nearly 20 times.

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Ruth
“We live a simple life …yet I am being kicked out of my own country”
Ruth is a British citizen who earlier in 2012, married an Australian. Ruth and her husband are both volunteers with a Christian charity in the UK and neither of them individually earns £18,600. They live a basic lifestyle and don’t feel the need to earn a high salary for material possessions, which they neither need, nor want. They have no reason to claim benefits, given what they have themselves, and the additional support they receive from the church and their family. They’re married, and they don’t want to be apart. They work as volunteers – is there any better way to be contributing to your community? So Ruth feels like she is being kicked out of her own country. A couple who isn’t crazy about the latest gadgets, or having the best house, or designer goods. A couple who because of these rules have endured endless upset, stress, sleepless nights and fear, for what the future will bring. A couple who because of these rules is being forced out of a country they contribute to, selflessly. Update: BritCits is sad to report that Ruth and her husband have decided to give up their fight to remain in her home country. They are planning to move to Australia and are in the process of completing the Australian visa application for Ruth. Australia will welcome with open arms a couple dedicated to helping others in their community, rather than chasing after money.

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Morris
“How do you explain to kids that we just don’t make enough money to be together as a family. We have tried to teach our children the importance of family and more so the importance of not judging people by what they have or how much money they make...”
Morris is a British citizen. He married a Canadian woman, in summer 2005. Morris has to live in the UK as he has family responsibilities to his children (from a previous relationship) and his own parents who also live. Now the government wants to keep this couple - married for over seven years - apart or force Morris out away from his parents and children.. Morris was born and raised in South Wales, and grew up in a low income, hard working, but loving family. Morris’s dad worked deep in the coal mines. Morris wasn’t given the opportunity to go to university, and never thought he’d meet and fall in love with his soul mate all the way in Canada, but he did. Morris even became close to her kids from a previous relationship. They married in summer 2005 here in the UK. They were living their lives happily, and like all his life, Morris worked hard doing the back breaking, low paid jobs that most people wouldn’t. Then the family decided to relocate to Canada for his wife’s studies. Morris eventually had to return to the UK in 2010 to be near his own kids from a previous relationship, with the intention his wife would join him as soon as he had obtained a stable job. His wife regularly sent money to support Morris during his job search and help in setting up of what is to be their home in the UK. In 2012, Morris finally obtained a stable job. However, when he went off to print the forms for his wife, he discovered how drastically the rules had changed; they felt like their future had been stolen from them. He is furious that his government is dictating to him what their family budget should be when his wife joins him here again! His wife would get a visa that clearly states "no recourse to public funding" stamped across it, so how could she be a burden on tax payers if she doesn’t qualify for public funding? When his wife joins him here in the UK, she is qualified enough to get work that would pay around £18,000 - £20,000, and hence pay income tax. They would be shopping, paying council tax, contributing to society and be active members of the community. How is any of this a burden on the economy? They are in the fortunate position that his wife doesn’t have the same ties preventing her from leaving Canada, given that her only family is Morris and their respective kids. His wife has nothing keeping her in Canada except these rule changes. This is a couple being kept apart when all the time they were trying to be prudent and ensure Morris had a good job before his wife and step children moved here. All the hard working, innocent British citizens who just happen to fall in love with someone from a non-EU country are now paying the ultimate price. We are being ripped apart from our loved ones, our family, by our own government! Our loved ones, who count for a small portion of all immigrants. Morris understands there needs to be changes to the immigration system but not this "one-size fits all" approach and definitely not at the expense of British citizens right to be with their family – tearing apart spouses, parents and children from their loved ones. Indeed, in his view, if the concern is abuse of the welfare system, then make it harder to get welfare benefits, but don’t stop innocent families from being able to be together – this cannot be right legally or morally.

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Pete & Karima
“ My wife has made coming home every day worthwhile..and now the government wants to take this away from me…“
Pete is a British citizen, from Sheffield. All his life he had been drifting along, drinking and generally living an unhealthy life. Pete was lonely. Until he met his now wife, Karima. Karima had been a court clerk in Casablanca, hence is well educated and speaks English well. Pete’s heart is however breaking. This government wants to keep Pete and his wife apart – the wife who has made him a better man and made coming home every day worthwhile. Why? Is Pete a criminal? No. Is Karima a criminal? No. This government wants to keep Pete and his wife apart because Pete is a cleaner earning the minimum wage. Pete admits he is not the most intelligent person in the world. But he goes to work at 4am in the morning, works long hours, and pays his taxes. He works hard. He doesn’t flout the law. He believes, especially as a Muslim, it is his duty to look after his wife, not the government’s. It’s a matter of pride for him that he be able to support his wife, without claiming any benefits. Indeed, Karima would get a job and pay taxes herself! Karima is currently with Pete on a family visa, having been here since August. She has interacted well with Pete’s friends and made some of her own, showing she is willing to integrate. However, Karima will have to leave soon. Because she married a man who is on a wage stipulated by the government as being sufficient to live on, yet now the government says it’s not sufficient for him to be allowed to fall in love.

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Richard & Kate
“My American wife is bemused. All visas for non-EU citizens are stamped with a clear ‘no recourse to public funds’. So she doesn’t understand why the burden on taxpayer is even an issue for the British government.”
Richard is a British citizen. His wife, Kate, is American. Richard and Kate met a few years ago. They fell in love and got married. Richard had no immediate ties keeping him in the UK at the time. Kate had two children from a previous marriage who were partway through their education in America. So Kate and Richard decided the best decision for their family would be for Richard to move to America while the kids were still at school, and they’d move to Richard’s home country after the kids had graduated. When these new changes were announced, Richard was shocked and now feels exiled from his own country. In America, both Richard and Kate have good jobs, earning an amount they live on comfortably. In the UK, Richard’s family is from Grimsby, N.E. Lincolnshire where the job market is far from being at the equivalent level. The median average is £16,500 while local papers and job searches show an average salary closer to £14,000. However, living expenses are also lower than other places in UK. For Richard, moving to the UK with his wife is to be closer to his family. However, trying to meet a requirement of £18,600 in such an area is a near impossibility, especially with the ability for family assistance now removed. The savings limit required is near impossible for most workers who earn an average, or even above average wage, to achieve. After all, not too many people have up to £62,500 in spare cash lying around! Richard needs to be living and working in the Grimsby area to be able to provide assistance to his mother. She suffers from a severe case of rheumatoid arthritis and her health is failing very quickly, to the point where she is almost housebound. One of the most common expressions throughout the changes has been that immigrants should not be “a burden on the taxpayer”. With space at his mother’s house for Richard and Kate, accommodation would not be an issue and meeting the previous income requirement would have been more realistic. They want to allow his mother to keep her house, while also providing her with care and aid. Kate is bemused. All visas for non-EU citizens are stamped with a clear ‘no recourse to public funds’. So she doesn’t understand why the burden on taxpayer is even a concern by the government. The new rules prevent Richard, a British citizen, returning to his own country; they force Richard’s mum to rely on assistance from the state. Indeed, it’s embarrassing that after having lived for years in America where he was welcomed with open arms, his wife is not afforded a fraction of the welcome in the UK. Richard and Kate will work together until they can be in his home country, with his family. However they are aware of many ex-pats whose situation is far more complicated or on a much shorter schedule. Friends and colleagues who are being forced to liquidate all their assets, including selling their home in order to meet the requirements. These actions seem to go against the general idea of the immigration policy of bringing families together and strengthening the economy. They, like other British citizens, hope that common sense prevails and there is a removal, or significant change, to these rules that will allow Richard and others like him, to live with their family in the home they love. Update: Richard and Kate are considering moving to another EU country, in yet another self-exile story.

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Maliha & Bilal
“My crime - I fell in love and exercised my right to do so.”
Maliha is a British citizen who met her now husband, Bilal, in March 2011 in Dubai. Maliha was in Dubai for work, and in the process met Bilal through mutual friends. Almost instantly, as in the movies, love blossomed. Maliha was initially concerned about the 6 year age gap, but Bilal was so "with it" and mature, that Maliha this concern quickly faded. She extended her time in Dubai to continue to be with Bilal, however commitments intervened and Maliha ever too soon had to return to the UK. They kept in touch through Skype, whatsapp and Facebook; spent countless hours talking over the phone; each minute apart was like a life sentence. Maliha returned in July 2011 to Dubai to spend more time with Bilal. They had an amazing three weeks together. However, the double impact of the middle-eastern summer combined with the constant exposure to air conditioning to escape from the heat wreaked havoc with Maliha’s asthma, and so she was forced to return to the UK. Both Maliha and Bilal spoke to their families about their love and desire to be married. Both their families were against the relationship, for various reasons, including their different cultural backgrounds – Bilal is a Pathan and Maliha a grandchild of an Indian migrant who moved to Pakistan during the India-Pakistan partition.. Yes a reason that seems nonsensical to many of our generation, but one nonetheless that their families held (and incidentally, one that this government appears to also uphold given the £18,600 - £62,500 price on love they have put!). Maliha and Bilal – in a modern Romeo & Juliet – continued their love affair in secret; in May 2012 they decided enough was enough and so decided to elope. "Oh the shame" said their parents; however, presented with a marriage certificate they had no choice but to accept the relationship which had been recognised both, by religious leaders and the government. Bizarrely, Bilal – holding a good job in Dubai - was refused a visit visa to the UK. The couple since have been caught in the £18,600 net, due to a measly six days. Maliha has never claimed welfare benefits – indeed, not even the ones she is entitled to. The "no access to government fundings" law from day one suits her just fine as she believes there are more needy people who deserve benefits. However, she deserves to spend her life in the same country as the person she loves. To Maliha, being in the UK is important. It’s where her parents are – it’s where her mum who is disabled is. It’s where her friends, family, life are. It’s where her home is. Given she doesn’t claim benefits herself, given her spouse would not qualify for any benefits, she can’t help but wonder why the ridiculously high financial requirement? In today’s financial climate this new law is only an excuse to put people down and screams of a class system. All she wants is to have a proper married life with her husband. Be with him. What will the end for this modern day Romeo and Juliet be? If David Cameron has his way, this love story will also end in tragedy.

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Mel & Mahmoud
“I work, but don’t earn £18,600 and so am condemned to a life in a country where my physical and mental health deteriorate”
Mel is a 22 year old British woman married to Mahmoud, a 26 year old Egyptian man. They have been married for two years, and have lived together in Egypt for over a year. Mel found the lifestyle as a foreigner in Egypt difficult; she became ill, suffered from depression and was harassed when she would go out with locals fascinated by her pale skin and blue eyes. It got so bad that Mel found it easier to stay indoors, therefore isolating herself. Her body rejected the local water, and the bottled water did not suit her either. The stress resulting in problems eating food and subsequently Mel became familiar with the hospital in Egypt, having spent many nights there having tests. Throughout all this, Mahmoud stayed by Mel’s side and tried to help the best way he could. They had not thought about living in the UK before, but with Mel not finding herself adjusting to life in Egypt, they decided to apply for a spouse visa, to allow Mahmoud to try out living in the UK. In October 2011 Mel travelled back home to Birmingham to begin the spouse visa process. She knew she would have to find a job and work hard for 6 months so that she could once again be reunited with her husband. She found a job within two weeks of being home as a Shift Leader in a well known company and began work in November, working extremely hard and up to 60 hours a week in order to earn and save as much money as possible. On top of this, Mel had a home ready for herself and Mahmoud with her family also being very supportive in reuniting this pair. The seven months they spent apart was the worst period in her life. She missed him so much, but understood the rules required her to work hard to have her husband with her. Mahmoud passed his English test with flying colours, also working in Egypt to try and save money so they had the best chance of being successful with the application, and having funds for their life together in the UK. In June 2012 Mel travelled back to Egypt to start the application, just before the rules came into force. At this time, the new rules were only speculation and nobody, not even lawyers were clear on what the rules were, when they would come into force and what they actually meant. Mel and Mahmoud missed the 9th July deadline by days, having been delayed due to requiring collection of Mahmoud’s army release paper so that he was able to travel. As it turns out, the few days delay has completely ruined their lives. Now Mel has no choice but to live in Egypt as she does not, and count not at the present time, ever hope to earn £18,600. Mel has been living once again in Egypt since the new rules came into force; she was forced to leave her job and family in the UK to be with her husband. Her health is suffering again and she has once again been forced to isolate herself indoors. She does not speak Arabic so is completely dependent on her husband. She begs him every day not to go out to work as she now fears being lonely. Very much a case of being surrounded by thousands of people in the city, but being alone in a crowd. They don’t have any choice but to continue their life here, with Mel exiled from her own home because she doesn’t earn £18,600. Her husband won’t get to meet her family in person and her future children, who will also be British, will be living a life of poverty – with the right to a decent education and upbringing, denied to them just because their mother couldn’t earn £18,600.

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Sandra & Monaam
“This used to be a great country but the government’s attitude to British people make us 2nd class citizens. Clearly, they want to force us out to make room for rich people and EU nationals“
British citizen Sandra has been married to Monaam for over two and a half years, having known him since 2006 and been romantically involved since 2009. However immigration rules mean they are being forced to live apart; Sandra in the UK and Monaam in Tunisia. Sandra has been welcomed with open arms by Monaam’s family – his mother, father, grandmother, sisters, brothers, nieces and nephews. They’ve taken Sandra into their fold. Sandra however has family of her own in the UK, including her son who won’t get on a plane. Choosing to live in Tunisia means leaving her family, friends, home, work, and her dog. She should not have to be facing such a choice. The wages they would both earn in Tunisia would make even visiting the UK financially prohibitive. So she is being told by this government that in order to live with her husband, she has to give up everything else she has, including her family? Just because she happened to fall in love and marry a NON EU man? Every night they have been physically apart since 2009, they have been on Facebook or Skype. Monaam’s visa has been refused on countless occasions. As a visitor to the UK he was refused. When he applied for a visa to come to the UK to marry Sandra, the visa was refused. They are battling the English test as well; Monaam takes English lessons in Tunis, yet he has not been able to pass the English test even in three attempts. Interesting, Sandra – who grew up and was educated in the UK, also failed some of the practice tests (which incidentally Monaam got through!). Indeed, is the best place to learn English not the land of the English – England?! Just when they thought they had all the paperwork sorted, the government has gone and decided to move the goalposts yet again. As the spouse, Sandra being the British citizen has to work all extra hours she possibly can – overwork herself, in order to obtain a wage over £18,600 . Her MP indicated how out of touch with British citizens he is by suggesting the wage she was on – before the extra hours taken on – was for part time work!! The amount Sandra earns for a 40 hour week is below £18,600 which is standard for Dorset and above minimum wage. Just goes to show what politicians sitting with their gilded salaries, pension and expense benefits know! Sandra appreciates nonetheless, the support her MP has shown by providing a letter of recommendation that in his eyes they are a genuine couple who should be allowed to live together in the UK, to submit with their next spousal visa application. However, with the £18,600 hanging over their head and no discretion allowed this letter may not be of much help. So far the costs of applying for visas (visiting, spouse), flights,etc are financially crippling them; indeed, if their marriage was not so strong, no doubt they’d have given up by now. Sandra is heartbroken and on anti-depressants to help her cope with the constant stress and enforced separation . Like others, she doesn’t understand why this government thinks it’s okay to keep husbands and wives apart for years especially when they otherwise profess to be pro marriage and pro family. Sandra is being forced to constantly jump through moving hoops. How can anyone prove that what they share is love for each other or that a marriage will last a lifetime? Sandra’s view is that the government is turning this country into a racist, ageist, sexist state where the right to fall in love and marry a non-EU person is only one afforded to the rich. It’s difficult to contest that.

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Dell & Valery
“The government is separating me from my wife and stepchildren, just because I don’t earn more than £24,800”
British citizen Dell is aged 50. Dell’s biggest regret until he married Valery was that he was unable to have children. When his only niece died, he felt choked by emotion and unspent fatherhood. Dell and Valery met at the beginning of 2012. And they fell in love. With Valery, Dell finally got to be the father he had so longed for, and finally got to hear the word ‘Daddy’. Both Dell and Valery are joyful that the kids have accepted Dell so readily, further strengthening their own bond. Valery is from Russia and has two children, aged fifteen and three. The biological father of her children died when her youngest was just one. The hurt was multiplied as Valery, an orphan herself, was seeing her own children in the same state. Valery is a lawyer and does not have any financial concerns. But after a change in immigration law, this family is at a loss. Dell owns his own home. He also has some savings and works as a manager of a large department store. His income is less than £24,800, but above average when compared to the earnings of other similar roles in Bristol. They therefore are surprised at the statement made by their MP that the average salary in Bristol is £33,000, showing how out of touch he is. Dell’s sister is extremely glad that her brother has finally found happiness. She owns real estate and is willing to help Dell in forming his own family. But all this is not sufficient for the Home Office to allow this family to live together. The treatment of the UK government violates the most basic Christian ethics - as Theresa May is so fond of stating, we are after all a Christian country, so why not apply Christian principles and afford compassion to children and respect the state of marriage. Indeed, the rules in place breach Article 16 and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Perhaps politicians in the UK need a reminder: Men and women of full age, without limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and found a family. They are entitled to equal rights to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution. Family is the natural and fundamental unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and State. Convention on the Rights of the Child Article 10 “..applications by a child or his or her parents to enter or leave a State Party for the purpose of family reunification shall be dealt with by States Parties in a positive, humane and expeditious manner. States Parties shall further ensure that the submission of such a request shall entail no adverse consequences for the applicants and for the members of their family. Dell and Valery can’t help but wonder why the income and assets of the foreign spouse are not taking into account? Why not allow for the fact that the foreign spouse will be working, paying taxes and participating in providing for the family?

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Asif & Hafsa
“I hope one day I can be with the woman I love, without that love having a price tag..”
Asif is a British citizen. He was born and brought up here, and his home, family, friends are all here. He is engaged to a beautiful woman. Asif is a law-abiding citizen, earning an honest living as a cashier, in a shoe shop called Office, where he has now been working for fourteen years. In that time he has been paying his taxes diligently; and has never taken handouts from the government because he and his family are against claiming welfare. Indeed, they instead donate part of their own earnings to charity. Asif is bemused that despite having done everything right, he is now facing rules which enforce his separation from his fiancée. He doesn’t understand why he should endure this, and the stress that comes with it. His fiancée, Hafsa, is fluent in English; she can read, write and speak English fluently and is a science teacher in Pakistan. Hafsa is very qualified, with an MSc in Hydrology. In the UK, she would aim to continue her work as a science teacher; contribute and integrate, but only if she is given the chance to. Every time Asif speaks with Hafsa on Skype, he makes sure he is jovial, however he is crying from the inside. He knows it will take a long time to bring her to share his life, but this is not the way it should be. Planning their wedding comes with a sense of foreboding..what is the point if they will have to be apart. However imagining a life without her, imagining a life without his love, Asif knows in his bones this is the woman he is meant to be with.

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Sandra & Ahmed
“In order to be with my husband I need to move to Tunisia or elsewhere in Europe..I don’t understand why I can’t live in my home, with my husband..why must I be forced out just to live with the man I have married?!!”
British citizen Sandra and her husband, Ahmed, have been fighting to have the right to live together in the UK since December 2011. Ahmed lives in Tunisia and Sandra in England. UKBA delays and decisions have been playing havoc with their lives. They initially waited three months for an answer on their visa application. Ahmed went to the embassy and they told him they didn’t know anything about his application following which they spent three hours looking for his paper work. This was followed by a refusal letter. They have been to solicitors who said they cannot help Sandra unless she gets a disability or carer’s allowance. So she is being encouraged to go on benefits to live with her husband. They don't know what to do and are badly in need of help. They have been married for two years and the only way they get to see each other is if Sandra travels to Tunisia, which is putting her under a lot of stress and as a result of all this heartache, she has now fallen ill. The excuses that UKBA has given for the refusal are ridiculous. First they said Ahmed’s English wasn’t up to standard, however he has an English diploma and has passed all the required tests. Then they said that Sandra wasn’t earning enough. Sandra and Ahmed are at their wits end and all they want is to live their lives together.

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Larissa & Nicolas
“It’s a shame the UK government is blind to common sense and so averse to doing the right thing, in the interest of massaging some numbers.”
Larissa is a British citizen, born and raised in London; she has lived and worked in Argentina with her fiancé, Nicolas. They intend to get married in Buenos Aires, Argentina on April 9th, and then "fight" their way into the UK. They are facing a fight because of both, the salary rule and the English requirement – requirements which have been brought in on the basis of ensuring the foreign spouse is not a burden on UK taxpayers and that s/he can integrate well into the community here. Nicolas is the son of an English teacher – he has been learning English since he was a baby, studied it in a private institute for over six years and received his own ‘Elementary English Teacher’ certificate, allowing him to teach Argentinean school students English as a foreign language. Between them, they earn more than £25,000 a year. Yet the rules are such that they are disqualified, despite earning enough to NOT be a burden on the taxpayer and Nicolas being fluent in English. Nicolas doesn’t have an issue with doing the test. He will pass it. The issue is that the test has to be completed in very specific locations, with no thought to the time, expense and location issues it raises for the couple. To earn over £18,600 by herself, Larissa will have to get another job, to supplement her £14,000 income. Not easy at the best of times, but especially in this economy – and she has been trying. And even when she is successful in obtaining this job, they will have to wait six months before they can even apply to be together. And then, going by statistics obtained from UKBA, up to another six months before the visa would be granted. So the couple faces 12 months apart, even after Larissa obtains the elusive £18,600 job. This despite the fact that their joint income is OVER £25,000. Larissa has been told, "well, you're marrying someone from abroad, go start your life abroad then". The issue is Nicolas speaks English, Larissa doesn't speak Spanish. Larissa is really close to her family in London (as is Nicolas), while Nicolas’s family is scattered around the globe. Nicolas can take his job with him, it doesn't matter where he is. Larissa’s job is less mobile. So for many valid reasons, it is just NOT THE SAME for this young couple to start their family in Argentina. It’s a shame the UK government is blind to common sense and so averse to doing the right thing.

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Loz & Josh
“I am under the £18,600 threshold by a mere £6.40 a month. I served for 10 years in the British army, went to Iraq. Yet I have to spend at least another 12 months apart from my husband, because of £6.40 a month!”
Loz is a British citizen who spent 10 years in the British Army and served in Iraq. She has a shortfall in her salary of £6.40 a month when it comes to the £18,600 threshold. Her salary will definitely go up by the annual increment in June, taking her over the threshold. But even this means a further 12 months apart from her husband, Josh, who is an American citizen. Loz and Josh met through mutual friends and despite an immediate spark between them, Loz didn’t take the potential of the relationship too seriously, given the 3700 mile distance between them. However, having dated other guys in the UK, no-one made Loz feel the way that Josh, and over time, neither could deny they had something special. They didn’t enter into the relationship lightly – they were aware that a long-distance relationship would take its toll, that it would be emotionally straining. They were also aware though that if it all worked out, the money and time spent on flights between their countries, phone calls, Facebook and Skype would be worth it. They were aware that the things that other people take for granted – a hug after a hard day at work, the general support that a partner provides, physical intimacy – were things that they would have to do without, but only for some time if the spark between them continued to burn. Loz considered moving to the US, however as she has children, moving elsewhere would mean depriving them of a parent. Loz however completely underestimated how difficult it would be for her husband to join her in the UK. Not unreasonably, she assumed the fact they could prove their relationship is genuine and that she works, would be sufficient. Loz has been working at a British university for nearly 3 years now, after graduating as a mature student. Before that, she had an exemplary 10 year career in the British Army, during which she served in Iraq. Although she does not currently meet the financial requirement, she is a mere £6.40 per month away from being able to do so. In June her salary will go up by the annual increment, taking her over the financial requirement by several hundred pounds. Despite this absolute certainty, she will still be required to wait another 6 months until Josh can submit his visa application, meaning that it will be over year before she can have a normal family life with my husband – likely much longer given the UKBA processing times. Loz firmly believes that the rules, as they stand, are too harsh. People in genuine relationships should not be deprived of their partner and, in some cases, their children – it’s cruel and inhumane. Josh also has a degree, currently works for a large multi-national corporation, and makes more money than Loz – he is willing and able to make a contribution to the UK economy. Even if he doesn’t find a job straight away, he has savings and has no entitlement to benefits when he gets here – they wouldn’t be any kind of burden on the taxpayer (not forgetting the fact that Loz is also a taxpayer). If their visa application is denied for whatever reason (indeed, the UKBA seems to thrive on refusing visas for spurious reasons) Loz will be forced to choose between her husband and children – no-one should ever be faced with choosing between their husband and children. Loz just cannot believe that this sort of thing happens in a country like the UK to British people.

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Sean
“I am desperate to return home to spend time with my parents in their final years..as they are both fighting cancer…but I can’t leave my wife! ”
Sean is a British citizen who for the past 10 years has worked in South East Asia. His wife is from that region and together, they have a three year old son, also British. Sean’s parents, also British, live in the UK. Unfortunately, they are both battling cancer and Sean is keen to spend time with his parents in their last few years and ensure his son gets to spend that incredibly precious time with the grandparents that for many of us, has been invaluable in our own lives. However, because of this government, Sean and his son are now facing the prospect of never being able to return here - to their home, their family and the lives they are entitled to. Sean’s parents are devastated at the prospect of never seeing Sean or their beloved grandson again. They are depressed, habitually in tears and at a time when cancer is attacking them, so is this government. Sean is horrified that his little boy will never experience a family Christmas or the warmth and love of his grandparents. This government has deemed that in order for Sean, as a British citizen to return to the UK he must abandon his wife because he just doesn’t make an arbitrary amount of £18,600 in the developing country he is living in – an amount he doesn’t need there. This government has deemed that for Sean’s son to be able to live in his home and get to know his grandparents, he must either live with his mum in Asia or his dad in the UK. This government is encouraging the breakup of a marriage and family, forcing British citizens into exile, and forcing elderly British citizens in a time of need, to battle debilitating diseases alone. What’s even more unbelievable is that these new rules only affect British citizens with non-EU spouses. Other EU citizens have the freedom to live in Sean’s home country with their non-EU spouses..but because Sean is British he has extra hurdles to jump over. We have no answer for Sean when he asked us to explain to him why he, as British citizen, and his son, also a British citizen, are forced to live in exile. The rights of Sean’s non-European spouse are not the issue here. The issue is around the rights we afford British citizens and families, and the heartbreak this government deems it justified to wreak on our own. When did we become a society where an elderly British couple battling cancer are forced to do it without their British son to support them? Perhaps the government can tell us why.

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Steve & Galina
“They don’t see people behind the figures and so they turn our lives into hell..”
Steve is a British citizen and 57 years old. In March 2010, he married Galina, a Russian and 50 years old. Together, they lived in Bristol. Galina arrived in the UK as the bride of a British citizen and had a residence permit for two years, as is the norm for spouses. They followed the rules and ensured UKBA was aware of the purpose of Galina’s journey here all those years ago. During this time, Steve and Galina lived happily. They lived together, rescued a dog from the pound, and paid their taxes. They weren’t high-earners. But they earned enough for themselves to not need to ask for any help from the state. They were happy. At the end of the residence permit, Galina went to apply for a continuation of her residence. But the rules had changed and Steve and Galina came to face the nightmare which is the UKBA. The rules were now such that they required a Cambridge certificate. Galina is not a young girl any more..while she has been learning English (and well enough to send in this story to BritCits), it takes her longer to pick up things. Her memory isn’t what it once was, her life isn’t as carefree and she is just older. The UKBA refused the extension of Galina’s visa and have made the decision to deport her despite her ties to this country. Only because she does not have a Cambridge certificate in the English language. Galina speaks fluent Spanish. However, they feel that just because Steve is British, they are being discriminated against. They feel it’s unfair, that someone who was from Spain or Poland or Hungary, would be able to live and work here with his Russian wife, even if she did not speak a word of English. Indeed, it’s clear that this evident of yet further incompetency from the UKBA as Steve and Galina fall under the pre-9th July rules..however UKBA insists on applying the new rules to them, even though they submitted their applicant a month before the new rules came into play. There is no answer to give to Steve and Galina, as to why after three years of marriage they are now being told there are yet further hurdles to jump over, else their marriage will be considered worthless by the government. The UKBA has generously offered that for them to not breakup their marriage, Steve could leave the UK too. However, there is no understanding for the fact that Steve and Galina look after Steve’s 90 year old mum. If Steve were to do as the government wants and leave his home, who will look after this 90 year old British woman?

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Gratitude and media coverage
BritCits expresses its gratitude for ongoing assistance in the campaign for justice for British citizens to: Migrants Right Network - MRN - http://www.migrantsrights.org.uk/ Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants – JCWI - http://www.jcwi.org.uk/ Migrants Rights Scotland - http://migrantsrightsscotland.org.uk/ Family Immigration Alliance – FIA - http://familyimmigrationalliance.wordpress.com/ Relevant media coverage:
APPG on migration: http://www.appgmigration.org.uk/family-inquiry) Politics.co.uk http://www.politics.co.uk/comment-analysis/2013/06/07/comment-how-europe-saves-british-citizens Financial Times http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/7718322a-d0f5-11e2-a3ea-00144feab7de.html BBC News http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-22833136 http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-22806941 http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-20550262 http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-22868332 http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-20207357 Times http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/news/politics/article3786808.ece Guardian http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2013/jun/10/immigration-rules-separating-thousands-families Independent
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/family-immigration-rules-that-put-a-18600ayear-price-tag-on-love-are-heartbreaking8651456.html http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/of-course-immigrants-have-the-right-to-a-family-reunion-but-dont-expect-others-to-pay-forit-8653916.html

Evening Standard http://www.standard.co.uk/panewsfeeds/migration-rules-causing-anguish-8651509.html Sky News http://news.sky.com/story/1101602/migration-rules-are-tearing-families-apart Scottish Parliament discussion http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/parliamentarybusiness/28862.aspx?r=7620 FIA http://familyimmigrationalliance.wordpress.com/2012/12/19/a-positive-signal/ Open Democracy http://www.opendemocracy.net/hsiao-hung-pai/breaking-rule-partners-under-pressure FreeMovement http://www.freemovement.org.uk/2012/12/13/more-new-immigration-rules-with-immediate-effect/ This is Somerset http://www.thisissomerset.co.uk/Couple-fight-new-immigration-laws-bid-stay/story-17576831-detail/story.html Outer Nationalist http://outernationalist.net/?p=3042 Huffington Post http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/michael-allen/out-of-sight-out-of-mind-_2_b_2228818.html UK Chinese http://www.ukchinese.com/www/43/2012-11/7139.html Wales Online http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/2012/11/27/welsh-dad-barred-from-bringing-mexican-wife-and-son-towales-by-unfair-income-rule-91466-32309251/#.ULVEVCu-p90.twitter Daily Record http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/scottish-news/newlyweds-spend-first-year-on-opposite1453476

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