Adverse Impact of UK’s Immigration Rules

Portfolio of divided families of British citizens and residents due to UK’s family immigration rules.

December 2013

CONTENTS
BritCits .............................................................................................................................................................................................................. 5 britcits speak out: .............................................................................................................................................................................................. 7 Policy Recommendations .................................................................................................................................................................................. 8 Useful links.................................................................................................................................................................................................... 221 Index.............................................................................................................................................................................................................. 222

ADULT DEPENDANT RELATIVES
Abhay ................................................................................................................................................................................................................ 9 Alex ................................................................................................................................................................................................................. 11 Anastasia & James .......................................................................................................................................................................................... 12 Chen ................................................................................................................................................................................................................ 14 Ethan ............................................................................................................................................................................................................... 15 Fara ................................................................................................................................................................................................................ 16 Jenny ............................................................................................................................................................................................................... 17 Kuljeet ............................................................................................................................................................................................................. 18 Mahi ................................................................................................................................................................................................................ 19 Manish ............................................................................................................................................................................................................ 20 Montu .............................................................................................................................................................................................................. 21 Oksana ............................................................................................................................................................................................................ 22 Samir ............................................................................................................................................................................................................... 23 Sarwat ............................................................................................................................................................................................................. 24 Sattar............................................................................................................................................................................................................... 25 Shailendra ....................................................................................................................................................................................................... 26 Shanika............................................................................................................................................................................................................ 28 Sonel................................................................................................................................................................................................................ 29 Sree ................................................................................................................................................................................................................. 30 Svetlana & Alan .............................................................................................................................................................................................. 31 Tejinder ........................................................................................................................................................................................................... 33

NON-EEA PARTNERS Families with children
Aaron & Kano ................................................................................................................................................................................................. 34 Aisha & Abraham............................................................................................................................................................................................ 35 Andy & Molly…Dylan & Devon ...................................................................................................................................................................... 36 Anne ................................................................................................................................................................................................................ 38 Barry, Francisca…& Millie ............................................................................................................................................................................ 39 Ben .................................................................................................................................................................................................................. 40 Colin & XXX ................................................................................................................................................................................................... 41 Dell & Valery .................................................................................................................................................................................................. 43 Douglas ........................................................................................................................................................................................................... 44 Emma, Driss…& Aymane................................................................................................................................................................................ 45 Eric & Halima ................................................................................................................................................................................................. 46 Fiona, Nate...& William .................................................................................................................................................................................. 47 Hayley & Manuel ............................................................................................................................................................................................ 48 Jade & Merouane ............................................................................................................................................................................................ 50 John, Hayley...& Ryan..................................................................................................................................................................................... 52 Juliet................................................................................................................................................................................................................ 53 Kate, Fune...& Reggie ..................................................................................................................................................................................... 55 Kelly ................................................................................................................................................................................................................ 56 Kevin ............................................................................................................................................................................................................... 57 Leighsa & Scott ............................................................................................................................................................................................... 58 Liz & Abdullah ................................................................................................................................................................................................ 59 Lizzie & Alexander .......................................................................................................................................................................................... 60 Lorraine .......................................................................................................................................................................................................... 61 Neil & Emily.................................................................................................................................................................................................... 62 Nick, Courtney...& Elliott ................................................................................................................................................................................ 64 Nicola & Tarik ................................................................................................................................................................................................ 66 Nikki, Juan…& Jayden .................................................................................................................................................................................... 68 Sarah ............................................................................................................................................................................................................... 69 Sarah (Malaysia)............................................................................................................................................................................................. 70 Sarah (Thailand) ............................................................................................................................................................................................. 71 Sarah & Joe .................................................................................................................................................................................................... 72 Sean................................................................................................................................................................................................................. 73 Sean & Sherry Ann .......................................................................................................................................................................................... 75 Stella & Ankush ............................................................................................................................................................................................... 76 Stephen & Yilei................................................................................................................................................................................................ 77 Wayne & Meliana ........................................................................................................................................................................................... 78 William & Noriko ............................................................................................................................................................................................ 79 Xocoa & Vishal ............................................................................................................................................................................................... 80

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Home Office bureaucracy
Andrew ............................................................................................................................................................................................................ 81 Christian & Marcia ......................................................................................................................................................................................... 83 Christine & Ziad ............................................................................................................................................................................................. 85 Christopher & Christine.................................................................................................................................................................................. 87 Claire............................................................................................................................................................................................................... 89 Dan ................................................................................................................................................................................................................. 90 Daniel & Kelsey .............................................................................................................................................................................................. 91 Daniel & Rachel.............................................................................................................................................................................................. 92 David............................................................................................................................................................................................................... 94 David & Bang ................................................................................................................................................................................................. 95 Euan & Megan ................................................................................................................................................................................................ 96 Gerard & Vilai ................................................................................................................................................................................................ 98 Haje & Ziah .................................................................................................................................................................................................. 100 Hayley & Mehmet ......................................................................................................................................................................................... 102 Janice & Erdogan ......................................................................................................................................................................................... 103 Jessica & Arban ............................................................................................................................................................................................ 104 Joanne & Ben ................................................................................................................................................................................................ 105 JoJo & Loïc ................................................................................................................................................................................................... 106 Joyce, Clyde & Xu Dan ................................................................................................................................................................................. 108 Leanne ........................................................................................................................................................................................................... 110 Margaret & Mustapha................................................................................................................................................................................... 111 Maria ............................................................................................................................................................................................................ 112 Paula ............................................................................................................................................................................................................. 113 Sandra & Ahmed ........................................................................................................................................................................................... 114 Shafik & Nesrin ............................................................................................................................................................................................. 115 Sharon & Salah ............................................................................................................................................................................................. 117 Steve & Yoko ................................................................................................................................................................................................. 118 Steve & Yuriko .............................................................................................................................................................................................. 120 Tom & Elizabeth ........................................................................................................................................................................................... 122 Tom & Olya................................................................................................................................................................................................... 123

English Language Test
Eve & Gustavo .............................................................................................................................................................................................. 125 Lionel & Svetlana .......................................................................................................................................................................................... 126 Lucy & Andres .............................................................................................................................................................................................. 128 Samantha....................................................................................................................................................................................................... 129 Steve & Galina .............................................................................................................................................................................................. 130

Financial requirements
Aimie & David .............................................................................................................................................................................................. 131 Alexis & Miad ............................................................................................................................................................................................... 132 Alice .............................................................................................................................................................................................................. 134 Amanda & Imed ............................................................................................................................................................................................ 135 Amanda & Tony ............................................................................................................................................................................................ 136 Amy & Sean................................................................................................................................................................................................... 138 Aneela ........................................................................................................................................................................................................... 139 Angela ........................................................................................................................................................................................................... 140 Anne .............................................................................................................................................................................................................. 141 Anthony & Appril .......................................................................................................................................................................................... 142 Asif & Hafsa .................................................................................................................................................................................................. 143 Bethan & Winston ......................................................................................................................................................................................... 144 Brian ............................................................................................................................................................................................................. 145 Chrissie & Supon .......................................................................................................................................................................................... 146 Claire ............................................................................................................................................................................................................ 147 Clint .............................................................................................................................................................................................................. 148 Craig & Toni ................................................................................................................................................................................................. 149 Damar ........................................................................................................................................................................................................... 150 David & Dee ................................................................................................................................................................................................. 151 David & Emelie ............................................................................................................................................................................................. 153 Dee & Ozan................................................................................................................................................................................................... 153 Ed & Anya ..................................................................................................................................................................................................... 156 Elwyn ............................................................................................................................................................................................................ 158 Emma & Haytham ......................................................................................................................................................................................... 159 Emma ............................................................................................................................................................................................................ 160 Gillian ........................................................................................................................................................................................................... 162 Hayley ........................................................................................................................................................................................................... 163 Jack & Shah .................................................................................................................................................................................................. 164 Jade & Luis ................................................................................................................................................................................................... 165 Jas ................................................................................................................................................................................................................. 166 Jay & Alberto ................................................................................................................................................................................................ 167 Jenny ............................................................................................................................................................................................................. 168 Jessica & Warren .......................................................................................................................................................................................... 169 Joel ................................................................................................................................................................................................................ 170

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Kathryn & Colin............................................................................................................................................................................................ 171 Katie & Cliff .................................................................................................................................................................................................. 172 Kev & Barbara .............................................................................................................................................................................................. 173 Kirsty & Karim.............................................................................................................................................................................................. 174 Larissa & Nicolas ......................................................................................................................................................................................... 175 Laura & Mohamed ........................................................................................................................................................................................ 176 Les & Becky .................................................................................................................................................................................................. 178 Lisa ............................................................................................................................................................................................................... 180 Louise ............................................................................................................................................................................................................ 181 Loz & Josh .................................................................................................................................................................................................... 182 Lucinda & Karim .......................................................................................................................................................................................... 183 Lyndsey & Paul ............................................................................................................................................................................................. 185 Maliha & Bilal .............................................................................................................................................................................................. 186 Mark & Mercy ............................................................................................................................................................................................... 187 Megan & Max ............................................................................................................................................................................................... 188 Mel & Mahmoud ........................................................................................................................................................................................... 189 Michael (Malaysia) ....................................................................................................................................................................................... 190 Michael (Singapore)...................................................................................................................................................................................... 191 Muhammad ................................................................................................................................................................................................... 192 Naila.............................................................................................................................................................................................................. 193 Nick ............................................................................................................................................................................................................... 194 Paul ............................................................................................................................................................................................................... 195 Paul &Connie ............................................................................................................................................................................................... 196 Pete & Karima .............................................................................................................................................................................................. 197 Phil & Amanda.............................................................................................................................................................................................. 198 Rachel & Ahmed ........................................................................................................................................................................................... 199 Ravi ............................................................................................................................................................................................................... 201 Rhys &Natacha ............................................................................................................................................................................................. 202 Richard & Kate ............................................................................................................................................................................................. 203 Rob ................................................................................................................................................................................................................ 204 Rob (USA) ..................................................................................................................................................................................................... 205 Rudi ............................................................................................................................................................................................................... 206 Ruth ............................................................................................................................................................................................................... 207 Sandra & Aftab ............................................................................................................................................................................................. 208 Sandra & Monaam ........................................................................................................................................................................................ 209 Sarah & Angelina .......................................................................................................................................................................................... 210 Sharon & Wade ............................................................................................................................................................................................. 212 Sierra ............................................................................................................................................................................................................ 213 Stacey & Yoshi .............................................................................................................................................................................................. 214 Steven ............................................................................................................................................................................................................ 215 Suzanne ......................................................................................................................................................................................................... 216 Tracey & Gary .............................................................................................................................................................................................. 217 Wayne & Daisy ............................................................................................................................................................................................. 219 Wes & Rebecca ............................................................................................................................................................................................. 220

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BritCits
Immigration rules in the UK in force from 9th July 2012 make a mockery of family values and violate the sanctity of marriage in causing the separation of families, keeping our citizens in exile and forcing British children unnecessarily into a single-parent upbringing. British citizens from across the spectrum have become victims of their own country’s immigration rules: • A British man earning over £100,000 is prevented from looking after his elderly parents because they are Ukrainian. • The parent of two British kids is refused a visa, with Home Office stating “At two and three years old, it’s considered x and y are of an age where they would be able to readjust to life without you.” • A young British mum with a Prohibited Steps Order in place preventing her children leaving the UK is refused a spouse visa for her Moroccan husband to join her in the UK. • A British man is unable to return home to look after his elderly British parents, both diagnosed with cancer, because his wife is from South East Asia. • The Syrian husband of a British woman – meeting both financial and language requirements – is refused a visa for not submitting a statement of entry for the language exam, despite showing the certificate of passing the exam • A British pensioner with his mortgage paid off and no debt is forced to sell his home because his partner is American. For Brits with a foreign spouse, the government has placed a price tag on love, of £62,500 cash or a salary of over £18,600 p.a. if they want to live in the UK – a financial threshold so high that 47% of British citizens in employment do not satisfy it.1 The onus is on the British citizen to meet the financial requirements – any income earned by the foreign spouse is ignored, as are assets in any noncash form, including property, equities or Premium bonds. The added hurdle of the English language requirement before entering the UK represents a departure from earlier policies which required spouses to learn English while they were in the UK. This has led to some with spouses in remote parts of the world giving up hope of ever returning home because of a lack of available English classes and centres approved by the Home Office in their region. If you have an adult dependant from another country, usually elderly parents, the rules are even more drastic. Labelled ‘a ban masquerading as a rule’ by Sarah Teather MP in a parliamentary debate, the criteria is so contradictory it is deemed impossible to meet. Despite requests to the government since October 2012 to provide the number of adult dependant visas issued, to date they have not confirmed whether even one applicant has been successful; nor have they given an example of a situation where the criteria could be satisfied, strengthening the belief that the rules are designed to prevent any success. Our government does not care if the spouse is a nurse, teacher or engineer with skill sets our country is crying out for. It doesn’t care if these rules mean we lose British NHS-trained doctors to countries with family-friendly immigration rules allowing parents to join their adult children. It doesn’t even care if there are British babies involved.

1

Migration Observatory, Oxford University http://www.migrationobservatory.ox.ac.uk/press-releases/women-young-people-and-nonlondoners-are-most-affected-changes-family-migration-polic

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In making misleading statements of migrants being welcome here as long as they are not a burden on taxpayers, the government does not refer to the fact that migrants have no recourse to public funds. Indeed, family members being allowed to join their British family is actually beneficial to the UK taxpayer as most benefits are contingent on the household income, which with another income earning member of the family, is likely to disqualify the British citizen from benefits as well. Faced with my own family life being threatened, noting a lack of public awareness, and the resounding silence of the media, on the impact of these rules, I founded BritCits in 2012. Steven Green has been my BritCits partner and priceless in his contribution to the organisation since day one, using his IT skills to create and manage our website www.britcits.com. As of December 2013, our status has been formalised to that of a registered charity. BritCits is not advocating an open-door policy on immigration. However we think it’s imperative that immigration rules are fair and clear, in both their intent and application; rules must be such where the interest of a child prevails whatever the parents’ financial situation. Ridiculous reasons for refusal – such as denying a British citizen is actually British, or that a couple married for over 12 years with three children does not in itself prove the existence of a genuine relationship – are unacceptable. When the only recourse to an error made by the Home Office is the applicant taking the appeal to court, the path to family reunification often proves to be prohibitive in terms of time and money. We are also concerned with the proposals in the Immigration Bill, which threaten even the ability to appeal a poor decision. We demand better from the government of a developed nation, one which has been a pioneer on the UN convention rights of the child, has benefited from the contribution of migrants to our society and indeed, a nation which historically and even today, is known for its own people venturing into other countries around the world, to live, work and reunite with family.

Sonel Mehta BritCits Founder

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britcits speak out:
“I never thought the day would come when I was ashamed to be British.”"If it’s

impossible for us as lawyers to understand the rules, what hope is there for a layperson?"“UK puts a price tag on love” “I served in British army,

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

“This government will be remembered as attacking most vulnerable in society”“We're not asking for hand-outs, just the chance to live as a
family” “I am keen for my small family to be near my parents, gain recognition of our family as a
legal unit and be around to look after my parents as they get older.” “All we want is the opportunity to live together; we are a family”“What married couple wants to spend twelve months, maybe more, living in separate countries?” “In the Conservative pre-election waffle Cameron made a great deal about his views on sanctity of marriage & 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 government wants to promote?”“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’re getting from government is we’re not rich

enough to love” “My wife is eminently employable & would be an asset to
UK”“When

you marry for richer or poorer, it should mean just

that”“I am being pushed out 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

“How do you explain to kids we don’t make enough money to be together as a family”“ All visas for non-EU citizens are
to the UK."

stamped with a clear ‘no recourse to public funds’” “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

“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
hope one day I can be with the woman I love, without that love having a price tag..” 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.”

“The govt is blind to common sense & averse to doing the right thing, in interest of massaging numbers.” “I am under £18,600 threshold by £6.40 a month. I served
10 years in army, went to Iraq. Yet must spend another 12 months apart from my husband, for £6.40 a month!” “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!”
“As a British citizen, my country wants me to earn the right to live with my family.”

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Policy Recommendations
At an APPG on Migration meeting in March 2013, Lord Teverson asked for suggestions on how immigration into the UK could be managed better, whilst also ensuring new entrants did not lead to an increased burden on the taxpayer. The following includes some of the suggestions sent to the panel, though by no means is this expected to be exhaustive or a solution to all family immigration issues. Lord Teverson’s response to the letter was “I agree with you absolutely that all UK citizens should be able to reside in their own country with their own family, most of all their chosen spouse.” Non EEA Parents • Bond/guarantee, as in Australia where $10,000 is held for two years and refunded in full only if the parent has not claimed any benefits. Interestingly, Australia encourages parents of its residents to migrate when they are younger/healthier to encourage integration and allow them to contribute to the Australian community, whether as childminders, volunteers etc. • Written guarantee or ring fenced assets from the sponsor. • Income threshold as is in place for spouses. It does not make sense that on an income of £80,000 or so, the government deems it feasible for a British citizen to sponsor a non-EU spouse and 20 of their children, but not one parent. • Mandate private healthcare insurance for terminal illnesses to reduce reliance on NHS. • Reserve the right of sponsoring parents as that of British citizens only. This is similar to what is in place in USA. Or indeed, those not already in receipt of benefits. • Long-term visa, as in Canada. Parents can live with their children for two consecutive years • Quota system, limiting number of non-EU citizens each person can sponsor over specified period. • Rolling 3-5 year visa so that if the British citizen’s situation changes and they are no longer able to look after their parents, the visa is not renewed. Non EEA partners • • • • • • Income thresholds to reflect minimum wage and regional differences in incomes and cost of living. Allow for cash and non-cash assets, without excluding the first £16,000 as is the current practice. Take into consideration the sponsor/applicant’s expenses and debt in assessing funds required. Prioritise cases involving kids. Allow for the potential income of the non-EU spouse. Those with fluctuating incomes should not be penalised by only the month with the lowest income counting towards the income threshold. This especially affects sponsors who are self-employed, and those on maternity or sick leave. • Reduce to 12 months (from 30) the period for which the pre-estimate of financial viability is assessed. • English language requirements should be such that they allow for the fact that the best place to learn English is the UK, rather than remote parts of the world with little or no access to English classes and English examination centres approved by the Home Office.

Living with your spouse and children is a right, not a privilege. Living in your country of nationality is also a right, not a privilege.

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Abhay
“My mother was refused a visit visa, and now the Home Office, despite the Judge ruling in favour of granting a settlement visa, continues to refuse my mother entry.”
Abhay is a UK resident. He has been living here for years, and since then been diligently working as a higher-rate tax payer, claiming no benefits. Abhay, his wife and child have all satisfied the requirements for British citizenship. However, despite being a net contributor, Abhay is being forced to re-assess his future in the UK, because of his experience with the immigration rules which mean not only has his mother been refused a visa to settle in the UK, but also prevented from visiting them. When Abhay was 12, his father passed away. As the eldest of four children, Abhay was a huge support to his mother, prematurely becoming the man of the house, and his mother’s crutch and confidant. As soon as he was old enough, Abhay worked to help provide financially for the family, ensuring his siblings got access to an excellent education and as per Indian culture also paying for his sisters’ weddings. Abhay shouldered the responsibility of a father and in doing so, there naturally developed a special bond between mother and her eldest child. There is no doubt that his mother is entirely dependent on Abhay. As time passed, and the other kids flew the nest, including one younger sibling also now based in the UK, Abhay’s mother found herself alone. She has trouble with things that the younger generation takes for granted – mobile phones, going out shopping, using an ATM. With two of her children in the UK, including a grandchild, Abhay was keen for his mother to come visit them. There was no intention that his mother would live here. At her age, to adjust to a new life, culture and indeed, British winter, would be very difficult. However, when a visa to visit the UK was refused, Abhay decided to apply for a settlement visa for his mum, as this would allow her to visit as frequently as she wanted for five years, without further visa hassles. To his surprise, UKBA refused the application. This is despite all the evidence showing Abhay’s mum: • • • • • • • lives alone in India. is unable to leave her apartment complex on her own doesn’t have any close family to help with everyday tasks; running errands, going to the temple, going to see the doctor. is entirely financially dependent on Abhay is unable to use modern technology like ATMs or mobile phones doesn’t have many friends where she lives having lived there for a short time when unwell and in pain, was forced to phone Abhay in the UK who then arranged for a neighbour to take his mum to the hospital

As part of the settlement visa application, Abhay’s mum was required to travel hundreds of miles for a face to face interview at the UK embassy in Chennai. Luckily, a distant cousin happened to be around at the time and Abhay called in some favours to arrange for his mother to be accompanied – Abhay paying for all the necessary travel and accommodation costs of both his mother and the cousin. Little did he know that by being able to arrange this, the Home Office would use this as an excuse to refuse the visa by saying his mother was not alone. That the cousin is distant, and not living in the same city as his mother – or even more importantly, that the responsibility for his mother’s welfare falls on Abhay, not a distant cousin, seems to have been conveniently ignored.

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Non-EEA Parents

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Indeed, if Abhay hadn’t been able to arrange for his mother to be accompanied, the application would have also been refused as Home Office would say that the applicant did not attend the interview as required! The Home Office refused the visa; Abhay appealed and the Judge ruled in favour of the family, citing that there is a close tie beyond those of only an emotional nature between Abhay and his mother, what with Abhay having, to all intents and purposes, provided a roof over not only his mother’s head, but the younger siblings as well. The Judge ruled that Abhay’s mother is entirely dependent on her son and therefore maintained that his mother should be granted a visa to settle in the UK. Unfortunately, despite what should have been a delayed happy ending, the Home Office has appealed and for this family the battle continues. According to the Home Office, the Judge has not taken into account the immigration rules (even though he has). According to the Home Office, the Judge failed to give reasons as to why Abhay’s mother is dependent on her (even though this is in fact very clearly indicated). However Abhay will fight the battle for the right of a son to look after his mother. For a son to not abandon a mother who raised four children on her own. For the bond to develop between grandchild and grandmother. The result and nature of the battle will determine the future of this family in the UK. Whether we retain the valued skills of Abhay, or lose them to another country willing to afford family rights to its migrants, time will tell.

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Non-EEA Parents

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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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Non-EEA Parents

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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

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Non-EEA Parents

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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. 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. Update: Anastasia & James, their twins and Anastasia’s mum and have moved to Ireland, exercising their EU treaty rights to live together as a family.

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Non-EEA Parents

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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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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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Fara
“My parents need us but all three of their kids are British citizens living in the UK and so we don’t qualify to look after them when they need us most.”
Fara is a British citizen living here since 2001. Her husband is also British. Her parents are, aged 59 and 69 and living in India. Due to a death in the family, her parents home must be sold (as per the terms of her uncle’s will who owned their apartment). Her parents don’t have enough money to buy their own home, and because of their ages, are unable to obtain a mortgage. They get by, with the pension her dad receives, and help from their three children. Children all of whom are British citizens, yet unable to bring over their parents to live with them, and care for them. There is no financial clause Fara or her siblings can satisfy to show they have the means to look after their parents. The rules just don’t allow this, no matter how well off you are; no matter if all your children are British citizens living in the UK. Fara is considering going down the EEA route – the only route left open to her. However with two kids under the age of six, one of whom is physically disabled, it’s not going to be easy. Fara is feeling the weight of the burden of having a child requiring surgery and parents due to become homeless. Three British siblings, British spouses and British kids - being denied the right to look after their parents without recourse to public funds.

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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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Kuljeet
“I moved here with the expectation that come age 65, my mother would be able to move here with me.”
Kuljeet is a British citizen who has been living in the UK for 13 years. He was handpicked from India to work in the UK design centre as a Digital Electronics Engineer. Kuljeet’s wife is also a British citizen and she has been working for the NHS as a doctor for 10 years. Kuljeet was raised by his mother, a single parent and teacher, in India, following her divorce from his dad. Kuljeet has been aware that he will need to look after his mum – although in a reasonably good state of health at the moment, she is getting older and family bonds mean living in separate countries is not feasible. UK seemed ideal to settle in, as it allowed for his to sponsor his mother to have her reside with him in the UK, once she reached the age of 65. Indeed, were it not for this, Kuljeet would have not made a life here, nor opted to become a British citizen. There was a very clear legitimate expectation set that come time, Kuljeet would be able to fulfil his duties to his parent. However, changes to UK’s immigration rules have meant that the route for adult dependants is closed, leaving Kuljeet in a very difficult position. Does he leave the UK or let his mother face the hardship of old age on her own? The latter is not an option. It does not foster the kind of values Kuljeet wants to impart on his two daughters. Daughters who are proud to be British – it’s how they identify themselves, with UK being the only home they know. Daughters who would be denied the right to a British education, British upbringing and would be forced to leave all that is familiar to them if Kuljeet were to be forced to leave the UK – just to look after his mum. Uprooting them is not something Kuljeet wants to do. Both the daughters are very attached to their grandmother, who has visited the UK several times. They don’t understand why their grandma is living alone in India – when she could be here with their family. Kuljeet does not think they are old enough to be told about the government’s rules. For this family, the rules do not make sense and they feel like they are being punished for having a parent from overseas; for being migrants, albeit British citizens, themselves. Neither Kuljeet nor his wife have ever claimed any benefits – they are both higher rate tax payers and have been so for years. His mother would have no recourse to public funds. How could she be a burden on the state? Indeed, his mother is more likely to get involved in charitable work and keep herself active by helping other people.

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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 in India. 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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Manish
“All I want is to be able to look after my parents when they need me most.”
Manish is a British citizen of Indian origin, living in the UK for over 8 years. He made an informed decision to become a British citizen and make UK his primary residence; the people he met here and our multi-cultural environment were what convinced him this was the right decision. He is now concerned however that this decision is now taking him away from his parents – parents whose well being is his responsibility. Parents who have sacrificed their happiness to raise Manish to be the decent upstanding citizen he is today. His parents have been through a lot of hardships and now Manish feels it is his turn to take the weight of their shoulders; to take care of them. Yet he feels helpless because of UK’s immigration rules. Manish is the sole earner in his family and has been helping them financially for the last few years while trying his best to visit them every year or invite them over to the UK for a visit. However the last few years has seen his dad’s health deteriorating. As a cancer survivor since 2010, things were going well, until 2013 when Manish’s dad suffered from severe cardiac arrest where he narrowly escaped death. Although recovered now, Manish is haunted by a fear that this could happen again to him. All Manish wants is to be able to look after his parents in their old age – to have them living here with him so he can look after them. He is prepared to take our fully comprehensive private healthcare cover to ease the burden on NHS if that’s the concern. However the door has been slammed shut even for those who would not be a burden on taxpayers; even where it means we lose skilled British citizens to other countries that allow family unity. Manish is a higher-rate tax payer and has never used any benefits or exercised recourse to public funds. He earns enough to support his family, including parents – yet is being denied the right to do so. He is not alone in finding UK’s immigration rules for adult dependant relatives vague and ambiguous. He just wants to be able to look after those that gave him life, when they need him most. It’s not too much to ask.

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Montu
“My mum is all alone and needs me for financial and emotional support.”
Montu is a British Citizen. He lives in London with his wife and two daughters, both of whom are British citizens by birth. Montu is a Chartered Accountant, and has had a successful career, working with global organisations. He is a high rate taxpayer, and has contributed a six figure sum in taxes to HMRC over the past few years alone. Montu was brought up in Kenya, by loving parents, who taught him to be good to others, respect the rights of others, care for the elderly, work hard and live within ones means. These are the very values the British government is making it difficult for families to adhere to, whilst simultaneously promoting them and families as the bedrock of our society! Montu’s father was the sole breadwinner and took care of the day to day running of the house. However, his dad recently passed away after over 40 years in a happy marriage, leaving Montu’s mother devastated and alone. She has started to become depressed and her health deteriorate. As anyone who has been through such an episode would appreciate, it is vital for the surviving spouse to have long term family support after such an event. As the only son, this responsibility falls to Montu, whose mother is now completely dependent on him for financial and emotional support. UK’s immigration rules however make it impossible for elderly surviving parents to stay with their children in the UK, even without recourse to public funds. Montu is therefore being forced to consider returning to Kenya (where security remains a major concern) or to move elsewhere in the EU – he is being forced into exile just to be able to look after his widowed mum. Either option will result in the cessation of Montu's employment in the UK and severe disruption of family life for Montu’s wife and daughters, who as British citizens have the right to a British upbringing and education.

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Oksana
“I am my mother’s only child, my children her only grandkids. Yet a government official tells us she cannot even come for a visit.”
Oksana is a British citizen who moved to the UK 13 years ago, after meeting her husband, with whom she now has two kids. She lives near Edinburgh, in Scotland. Her mum is 64 years old, and living alone in Russia. Her only child is Oksana. Her only grandchildren are Oksana’s two children. This is a family very attached to each other. Oksana’s mum has visited the UK in the past, allowing for the much valued bonding between grandparent and grandkids. However, it’s been over six years since she was last here, as the travelling and visa process have become too difficult. Oksana is a full-time mum. She doesn’t work – her husband works full time, earning enough to maintain the family and ensure they have no need to claim any benefits.

Oksana, with her mum and kids on holiday in Turkey after her UK family visit visa was refused.

It involves a nine hour flight to Moscow, for the visa application. There is no British visa centre in Oksana’s mum’s home city and the application must be made in person, not by post. She would then need to remain in Moscow for however long it takes for the visa to be issued. In 2013 Oksana’s mum applied for a family visit visa. However the visa was refused on the grounds of insufficient documentation of their financial situation. The family is bemused and dismayed. A simple family visit visa has been refused after an onerous process, yet six years ago it was issued in one day. It’s heart wrenching when a government official is able to tell you that your close relatives are not even allowed to visit you. The family has decided they would now prefer to apply for a settlement visa to avoid any future visa hassles. This also alleviates issues likely to arise in the future given Oksana will need to be there to look after her mum on a daily basis, and travelling becomes more difficult with the process of ageing. Oksana lives in a large home where her mum would have her own bedroom. Her mum’s pension from Russia could be transferred to the UK. The family is happy to purchase private health insurance and also sign a guarantee that there will not be any need to access benefits. Her mum speaks decent English and has made lots of friends on her earlier visits, so integration is not a problem either.

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Samir
“Why is the policy in the UK so inhumane in comparison to even countries like China which promote looking after elderly parents?”
Samir is a British citizen who lives here with his wife and son, also British. His parents live alone in India. He is appalled that changes to the immigration rules have led to the effective banning of elderly parents living with their children in the UK, even with no recourse to public funds. Samir and his wife both work and earn a decent salary, paying their fair share of taxes. They own their house and fail to understand why if they are willing to accommodate and look after their elderly parents at their own expense, the government interferes in their family life. His parents are not scroungers, nor will they take someone’s job. They are not entitled to benefits. They simply want to spend the remaining years with their son, daughter-in-law and their grandson. His son who turned two in July 2013 has been fortunate to spend some time in the company of his grandparents. Samir is keen for this bond to continue and strengthen; to cultivate the strong sense of family values in his son which can only come by what his son will see and experience. When his son sees other children with their grandparents, he asks Samir, ‘where is my granny?’ Samir has no answer; how do you explain to a child the politics involved in immigration rules designed to drive out British citizens? Samir is having trouble reconciling the policy in the UK now, with that even in communist states like China, where the government actively promotes family bonding, integration and looking after elderly parents – to the extent of passing a law to mandate this.2 This is a stark contrast with UK practice, where the government not only is happy with, but promotes elderly to spend old age in solitude. For Samir, if the rules don’t change soon, he will be forced to uproot his whole family – all British citizens – and move to a country where he can fulfil his duty and desire to be there for his parents. He understands this is what the government wants – increasing emigration whilst reducing immigration is the only way they will satisfy their net migration target. However it is not right that British citizens are forced out of their own country. That a British child is denied a British education and upbringing. The first year of the rules have already seen professionals leaving the UK, moving to countries which allow elderly parents to join them. Samir believes this trend will continue, as more and more British professionals find themselves impacted by rules preventing looking after those who gave us life. If the concern is a burden on the NHS, a more humane solution is to mandate private healthcare cover. Why did the government not just do that? Samir questions whether it is right to raise his son in a society which prevents elderly dependent parent from living with their children – what kind of example will this set for his son?

2

"China orders children to visit their elderly parents" - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-china-20860264

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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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Sattar
As a rule, this pack contains stories from the perspective of British citizens or residents, 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 – both from Pakistan - 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. Update: Sattar has now received indefinite leave to remain through the HSMP route. However he and his family are keen to help others who continue to be kept apart from their families because of the adult dependant visa rules.

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Shailendra
“Poor immigration rules which lead to breaking up of families, will only keep away highly skilled migrants and economic contributors.”
Shailendra is a British resident living with his wife and child, both also British residents. Both Shailendra and his wife are high earners; they pay their taxes and contribute to National Insurance. Shailendra came here on a Highly Skilled Visa (Tier 1) and has been working hard ever since, yes to earn a decent salary to better his own quality of life, but also contributing to the British economy – all without claiming any benefits. All three members of this family satisfy the requirements needed to obtain British citizenship. They have living here for several years now and are looking forward to spending the rest of their lives here, having already established their home. However, they want their dependant and ageing parents, currently in India, to live with them, in order to be able to take care of them, whilst also living as complete a family life as possible. Culturally, it is the norm for children to look after ageing parents personally, rather than outsource the care. Shailendra’s parents are not jumping over themselves to move to the UK. Leaving India and all that is familiar to them, is not an easy decision. However they are only willing to do this so that Shailendra does not have to sacrifice his family, career, friends and home in the UK. However, the settlement visa regulations for parents is making Shailendra re-consider his future. Shailendra’s roots are in India, a country known for its rich culture and close ties with UK. However, what UK completely misses out in understanding, is the close relationship that Indian children share with their parents. Parents are an integral part of family anywhere, but especially in Asia the definition of family includes "parents, spouse and children". Shailendra really misses this ‘complete family’. His child, just like Shailendra himself, shares a very strong bond with the grandparents, both over 60 and financially dependant on Shailendra. They need care due to their age related health issues and just sending money is not enough as it defies the purpose of living together as a family, which is - "to support each other in every stage of life". Most importantly, Shailendra wants to spend his life with his parents, care for them, and provide them the same opportunity to live and develop closer bonds with his kids as they would have got in India or anywhere else. Shailendra is bemused. He is self-sufficient, does not require any public funds and has the means to look after his parents without any help. He is willing to sign a waiver for his own access to state funds, provide a guarantee or deposit or bonds, and take private healthcare cover for his parents to alleviate any such fears this government might have nonetheless.

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But it seems that the government has completely overlooked a very important aspect of immigration, thus forcing him to consider leaving the UK just to be able to reunite with his parents. With Shailendra will go his taxes, his disposable income and his skills. Indeed, he is already being by agencies for roles in Germany and Ireland. With Shailendra will go his wife and child, and the latter’s right to a British education and upbringing. However, he doesn’t want to leave his home, however lucrative other offers. He cannot believe that he has to go into exile just because the UK government cannot understand the value of a very simple family relationship and definition of "family member". Shailendra is aware that by exercising treaty rights he may be able to return to the UK with his parents using the Surinder Singh route. This most of all strikes him as bizarre. Several months of unsettling his life in UK, uprooting his child, leaving his job – all because he wants to live in the UK with his parents, without recourse to public funds. All just to be able to live once again in the UK with his parents,. Rather than denying people their rights in this country the government should make it fairer and possible to reunite family members – the value it brings to the community is priceless. Else, poor immigration rules will only keep away highly skilled migrants and economic contributors, which UK desperately needs if we are to compete in the global environment with countries like USA, Australia, India, China, Germany and Russia.

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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, earning well over £100,000. She doesn’t normally show off her income level. 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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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 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 the government. It’s no coincidence that many of her British friends are also from Commonwealth countries; a legacy left behind by the Empire. Her parents have been able to visit her in the UK. 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. 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. 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. 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 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. 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. 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. Update: Sonel exercised her treaty rights by moving to Ireland and then used the Surinder Singh route to return to the UK. She has completed the process but continues to fight for fair immigration rules.

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Sree
“I have paid over £100,000 in taxes and NI contributions in five years. All I want is for my mother to stay with us – and have the means to look after her without recourse to public funds.”
Sree is a UK permanent resident from Middlesex. Her mother is 67 years old, living alone in India. Whilst her mother has visited Sree in the UK, she is now not able to travel frequently. Although reasonably self-sufficient financially, she does need the emotional care, love and support, which with the onset of age becomes more of a necessity. Sree has sufficient funds to support her mum without recourse to public funds. She’s willing to take out private healthcare insurance, provide a monetary bond and guarantees. As someone who is self-employed, Sree works in the IT department of a major life science company. During her entire life in the UK, Sree has been employed and paid her taxes promptly, never availing of any state benefits. She is a higher-rate tax payer, and in the five years to April 2013, has paid over £100,000 in taxes and National Insurance contributions alone. For Sree, her mother is a vital member of her family unit – not extended family. Her mother has seen Sree get married, helped her during the early days of motherhood and throughout. Sree’s kids have spent a huge amount of time with their grandmother, having been raised by her until they moved to the UK in 2012. The bond between grandmother and grandchildren is very strong. Indeed, Sree admits that to the kids, their grandmother is likely more of a mother than she herself is, as Sree left her kids with her mother when she moved to the UK several years ago, because of the initial visa restrictions. It is cruel to now leave an elderly woman alone in a country once she has fulfilled her purpose to Sree by raising the kids. Sree also has a duty to her mother – to look after her and not wrench apart grandchildren from their grandmother. Sree is clear. Her mother actively chose not to remarry since becoming a widow when Sree was 19, to ensure Sree always remained her priority. An incredibly unselfish choice. It is now Sree’s turn to respond in kind to the sacrifices made. It is not just to leave an elderly member of your family to fend for herself. The natural process of ageing and the stress of being apart from all family has broken her a bit. Sree’s mum can’t manage daily chores by herself. The children are emotionally bonded to her and it is breaking their hearts as well to see someone they love so much suffering alone. Sree is gutted. Her mother has always been there for them. Now they cannot even provide a safe and secure life for her in return. Sree is reconsidering the decision to remain in the UK. She is unhappy and feels guilty at leaving her mother alone. She has paid a huge amount in taxes without every claiming anything in return. All she wants now is for the chance to stay with her mum.

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Svetlana & Alan
“I’m afraid that by the time any positive decision will be reached on my 85 year old blind mum, there will be no one left to bring home.”
Svetlana and Alan are British citizens living in Walsall. Svetlana is a qualified doctor in Ukraine and she also qualified as an optometrist at Aston University. Alan is a schoolteacher with a degree in electronics, and he is also a good musician. Svetlana’s parents are Ukrainian. In 2008, both her parents were granted indefinite leave to remain. In 2008 the visa took two days in total from process to delivery. They returned to Ukraine for a visit, but when her father took ill, they were unable to travel back to the UK as per medical advice. So they ended up, for reasons beyond their control, staying outside UK for over the two years within which they are required to return in order to maintain their indefinite leave to remain. In August 2013, Svetlana’s father passed away. Her mother, Oleksandra is now 85 years old and certified blind (severely visually impaired) by doctors in both, the UK and Ukraine. Her only living relatives are Svetlana and Alan on whom she is wholly physically and financially dependent. Oleksandra needs help with washing, dressing, cooking and other everyday tasks. Oleksandra is not entitled to social care in Ukraine – which excludes cooking, help with washing, dressing etc anyway - because she has a daughter (Svetlana) who is alive and of working age. Paying for private round the clock care is not financially feasible. Moreover the family believes it is a human right to stay with family who will look after you. Svetlana is adamant. Her mum will be safe at home in Bloxwich. She will be well looked after, as both Svetlana and Alan are settled and present in UK, with quite well paid jobs. Svetlana made the application for her mother’s indefinite leave to remain to be reinstated. She was told that Oleksandra would need to re-submit her biometrics before the application could be considered, despite the fact that the Home Office already has this information on their systems. Indeed, they could have shown some flexibility in requiring the submission of biometrics were the ILR to be granted. However they insisted this had to be done at the first stage. Even though the Home Office allows their agencies to exercise discretion on this. So the family undertook the 14 hour train journey to Kiev in 30 degrees heat, with an 85 year old widow to submit biometrics at an office with no lift and several flights of stairs, some steps broken and extremely difficult to navigate. About a month later, including support from their MP, David Winnick, also on the Home Affairs Select Committee in support of their case, they received Oleksandra’s passport back, along with a Refusal of Entry Clearance. The refusal was on the basis that Oleksandra has been away from UK more than 2 years, despite there being clear evidence that her not returning to the UK was due to compassionate circumstances, beyond anyone’s control.

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Oleksandra’s application contained supporting evidence that her deceased husband’s deteriorating health prevented their travelling back to the UK. However this was completely ignored by the Entry Clearance Manager, despite this being allowed for in the Immigration Directorate Instructions. Svetlana and Alan are now at a loss. They are both using their holiday entitlement for 2013 to stay as long as possible in Ukraine. They never imagined that a visa which was granted in two days in 2008 under the previous government, would now take nearly four weeks only to be given a refusal. Their employers have also granted them limited compassionate leave. However, both have been away from their jobs since 2nd August. Svetlana is an optometrist in a private practice in Bloxwich. Alan is a schoolteacher working in a Stafford school, who should have returned to school on 2nd September. They cannot leave their blind mother/mother in law on her own. It is dangerous and inhumane to do so. However, there is a limit to the amount of time Alan and Svetlana can be away from their jobs as they have a mortgage to pay. Also, Ukraine doesn’t let British citizens stay for more than 90 days. They cannot fathom how their government could refuse the right for a blind disabled woman to live with her only remaining family without recourse to public funds! Although the family could appeal, the process will take several months. Oleksandra cannot be left to fend for herself for that length of time. The family’s problems are compounded by the fact that Alan’s parents, in the UK, are both 95 years old, double incontinent, suffering from dementia and heart problems. They also need support from Alan and Svetlana. The family is afraid. They are afraid that Alan may not see both his parents together again, given the uncertainty around when he can return to the UK. They are afraid that by the time any positive decision is reached on Oleksandra there will be no one to bring home.

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Tejinder
“I am being forced to choose between my wife & kids, and my elderly parents.”
Tejinder is a British citizen living in Birmingham with his British wife and two British children. He had arrived in the UK in 2005 to gain international experience in his domain. He grew to like the country, bought a house and naturalised in 2011. Tejinder is one of three children. His younger brother lives in Switzerland, and his parents and sister in India. His sister graduated from Leicester University with an MSc in bio-informatics, before returning to India to look after their parents. Tejinder’s mum is over 65 years old and his dad 70. He is a retired senior class one officer who used to work for the Indian government. A dad who did all he could for his son. They have visited Tejinder and their grandchildren many times on a family visit visa. However travelling back and forth is not very easy anymore and Tejinder’s sister can’t cope looking after them on her own. So Tejinder sold his house, uprooted his wife and children and moved to India to fulfil his responsibility to look after his parents. However his wife and kids couldn’t adjust to life in India. It was just too foreign, too different. So they returned to the UK in 2013 however Tejinder is racked with guilt at having abandoned his parents. However he cannot abandon his wife and kids, or expect them to live in a country that is alien to them. UK’s immigration rules have slammed the door shut on Tejinder being able to look after his parents, with no recourse to public funds. This man is at a loss on what to do next and the only option seems to be to go move to another EEA country, exercising the treaty rights afforded to him by the EU for family reunification – a right so clearly denied by his own government.

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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 partner, Kano, in Bristol when she was there on a two-year working holiday visa. Kano is from Japan. 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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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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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 wife, from China, 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.

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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 live-in child-carer. carer. He can’t cope with 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 break breaks s 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 n 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 prou 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 mputer Mummy and Daddy’”.

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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?”
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 from the USA. 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. The rules in place mean her son is forced to live apart from his wife and daughter. They also mean she’s 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. This is a proud, if not rich, family.
Anne’s daughter-in-law, her son and the grandchild she has never met.

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 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 (not all have parliamentary salaries, generous expense accounts and cushy pensions). 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. 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. This family can’t help but wonder if these are the family values the UK government wants them to adopt. Meanwhile the situation is taking a toll on everyone's health. Anne is on anti-depressants 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 a lot for the majority of mainly working people. British people, in their own country, are being torn apart from their families!!! What has this government done to the 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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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– 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 dad – a Spaniard - broke down due to violence. She’s grateful that in Barry she found the love of her life and a loving stepdad for Millie. Millie is a complete stranger to her mum’s home country. Yet UKBA states 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 will be British. This has made their resolve to stay together as a family in the UK even stronger. So they appealed the decision, now waiting for the appeal hearing to take place at the Tier 1 tribunals in Glasgow, when she will be 7 months pregnant. 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. His family in Scotland are all looking forward to welcoming the baby. Deporting Francisca and Millie will mean Barry stays behind in UK to provide for them, or they move to Chile where Barry is unlikely to find work. With Francisca will go their baby. Their British baby. UKBA is responsible for taking away Francisca’s income, 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, 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. Barry and Francisca welcomed their son on 15th August, and he has brought a lot of smiles to their faces. October 2013 however has seen no progress with their dealings with the Home Office. They were under the impression that as the UKBA Presenting Officer withdrew from the hearing, a decision on their case would be made promptly. However, a month later, in July their case was sent to the European section for it to be revised – a month which saw no progress for this family. Since then, the family has chased the European section several times. They are still waiting on a decision.

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Ben
“I hope common sense prevails and my family does not have to be broken up.”
Ben is a British citizen from North Wales. He has two British children with his wife from Indonesia. It is his choice of partner which has led to his current predicament. Ben’s wife’s application for a UK settlement visa has been put on hold as they don’t meet the current income requirement. This is despite the fact that Ben, as her sponsor, has £40,000 in cash savings and has stated his intention to secure employment upon return to the UK. Ben has spent the last nine years teaching English in Indonesia, promoting the virtues of the UK and British society, including our laws, customs, diversity and sense of decency and fair play. Now that he wishes to return to his homeland to spend more time with his parents, and for his own British children, he is faced with an unenviable decision. His Indonesian working visa is due to end, following which he will have to return to the UK. His eldest child, a daughter aged six, will have to return with him as she is already enrolled in a local primary school. His wife whose visa application is on hold due to the legal case and appeal currently in the High Court will not be able to join them. His youngest child, a son aged two, will stay with his mother. Therefore not only will husband and wife be separated also brother and sister, mother and daughter, father and son. Ben started part-time work at the age of 13 and since starting full time employment in 1995 he has never received or requested any help from the state in regards to unemployment or housing benefit. He has always paid his own way without recourse to public funds. He left the UK in 2005 to teach in Indonesia, a country he knew very little about and didn’t know the language. In the eight years there, he has risen from the position of Teacher to Head Teacher and then to Director of Studies in a busy and successful private language school. He fell in love and got married, to be blessed with two lovely children. He has always supported his wife and kids without any help from the government. He has no intention to now seek unemployment or housing benefit upon return to the UK as this goes against the ethos he was brought up with as a child, that one must work hard and pay one’s own way in life. He is willing to sign a document waiving his right to claim benefits if this would placate the Home Office and enable his family to be united. He is bemused. Surely, someone who can make a successful life in a foreign country requiring the learning of customs and language from scratch, would be able to replicate that in his home country where he is familiar with all and has support from family? Indeed, his parents live in a property which is fully paid for and is willing for Ben and his family to live there for as long as they need to.

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Colin & XXX
“I’m left with a stark choice. My 80 year-old mother or my wife and two-year old son.”
Colin is a British citizen from Wales, married to XXX, from Seattle, USA. They were brought together by XXX’s interest in genealogy, particular her own ancestry in North Wales. They were first introduced to each other a decade ago, by a mutual friend, who Colin met when he was working in a Bala coaching inn that had belonged to his wife’s family in the 19th century, and in which her great grandfather had been born and raised before leaving for the USA. This mutual friend mentioned XXX pal back in Seattle, and her links to Bala, and thought she would like a pen-pal in the town. So for several years they were pen-pals, progressing with technology to being Facebook friends. As time went on, they became confidantes and the friendship increasingly affectionate. When XXX made plans to travel to Bala to research more of her family history, the couple felt there was a possibility of something more. After a decade of letters, e-mails, phone-calls and online chats, those feelings were proved right the moment they set eyes on each other. XXX stayed for six weeks that first visit, making breakthroughs in her family history. By the time she left Colin was in no doubt they were meant to be together. After three thoroughly miserable months apart she returned to Wales that Christmas, when they got engaged and resolved to get together "for keeps" as soon as possible. After some research they discovered it would be much quicker to get married in the US than the UK. Though by no means an easy option - it was expensive and exhausting navigating the US Immigration Service - the route via the UK Border Agency was even worse, so tortuous and bureaucratic (a taste of things to come) that the choice to marry in the US was, in the end, an easy one to make. They tied the knot in 2011, and their son Owain Llŷr was born that Christmas. The couple planned on remaining in the US until Owain reached school age. It is important to them that Owain grows up as a native Welsh speaker and with the support of Colin’s large and close-knit family in Bala and Llanuwchllyn, and the sense of community there - something that is lacking in the US. This not merely a preference – to them it is a necessity for the well-being of their son. At the most fundamental level, they desperately want him to get to know the grandma that so far he has never even met. Colin’s mother, Owain’s grandmother and XXX’s mother-in-law, celebrated her 80th birthday this year, an event that this trio were only able to attend virtually via Skype, leaving the family with the urgent notion that the move home should come sooner rather than later. Colin contacted friends in and around Bala with a view to setting up a job, and several family members stepped forward with offers to sponsor XXX wife if Colin couldn't find work before moving back. It was only then, when Colin was looking into the income requirements and third party sponsorship that he third party sponsorships were no longer accepted by the Home Office. This was just first of many shocks that lay in store for Colin as he researched the 2012 family migration rules. The income requirement of £18,600 was the next blow, but even as that was sinking in came the discovery that even if Colin were able to find such an income (in Bala!) he would, under

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these new rules, be required to work for six months before he could even apply for his wife to join him (adding another six months or so for the application process). This requirement – that a 2 year-old boy be separated from his mother or father for a year or more, is completely devoid of heart or reason. So now Colin is left with a stark choice – his 80 year-old mother or his 2 year-old son and wife. As a British citizen, he has been put in this position by the British government, and finds himself alternating between despair and fury. These feelings are intensified when Colin compares his situation with that of his younger brother, who in 2011 married a Polish woman and in 2012 became the proud father of twin girls. Colin’s brother, sister-in-law and nieces are able to live together in Bala as a family under the EU’s freedom of movement laws. No visas required, no minimum income or savings needed, no forced separation demanded. In the past 12 months his sister-in-law’s brother and wife have also migrated from Poland to live and work in Bala. Colin is clear. He by no means objects to their freedom to move there – but as a British Citizen who cannot even bring his wife to the UK, the knowledge that EU nationals can come and go at will, and seem to have more right to a family life in the UK than he does, finds the British government’s treatment of British citizens a very bitter pill to swallow. Everything about these rules is wrong – that they’re designed purely to reduce numbers to an arbitrary election promise and thus damning families seems to be ignored. The barring of third-party sponsors is particularly infuriating, what with Colin’s brother willing and able to help them out. Colin and XXX keep going by in their more fanciful moments, talking about writing their story as an epic tale of emigration, spanning a century (her great grandfather left Bala in 1907), an ocean and a continent, and coming full circle with the original emigrant's great-great-grandson returning to and settling in the town he left 100 years earlier. They find it helps, in the face of the indifference, arrogance and hypocrisy of the Home Secretary, to cling to dreams of romance, love and destiny, in the hope that they will eventually triumph. Sometimes it feels like they're all they have left.

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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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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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Emma, Driss…& Aymane
“I don’t know how anyone could expect me to be separated from my baby’s 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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Eric & Halima
“We are £800 short of the £24,800 threshold and therefore not allowed to be together as a family.”
Eric is a British resident. He has been living here for 25 years. He met his wife, Halima, whilst on holiday in Kenya. They hit it off immediately, and about a year later welcomed their beautiful daughter into the world. They got married and were blessed with a second child, a son. Their family is complete.

Eric works as a Head Chef. When he applied for a settlement visa for his wife and two children, both born in Kenya, he earned £23,124. With overtime and bonuses included, he earned £24,000. The visa was still however refused because this is £800 short of the £24,800 needed to sponsor a spouse and two children. Despite Eric not claiming benefits – indeed, by the government’s own account, earns so much he is disqualified from claiming benefits, this family is told they can’t be together because of £800. A married couple with two children. A father who has not even seen or held his son. A father who knows his son through Skype. A father not able to be there for his wife and daughter either. Eric has tried living in Kenya. However he was unable to find a suitable job. With a family to support, they decided it made financial sense for Eric to return to the UK, his home and have his family move here. But because of £800 they are not allowed to be together. The family made a video of their plight: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2KrMqtuvcck

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Fiona, Nate...& William
“They said it is not unreasonable that my British son leave the UK.”
Fiona is a British citizen. Her husband, Nate, is from USA. Their son, William is a British citizen too. The family believe living in the UK rather than USA is in the best interest of their son. This decision is their right to make, as parents and a family where two of three members is British. The Home Office is trying to deport Nate. In doing so, not only are they deemed to be in violation of article 8, but they jeopardise the rights of British citizens Fiona and William. Nate has a job offer paying over £18,600. However he is not allowed to work, nor would his income count towards the income threshold anyway. Fiona works 70 hours a week to make ends meet. Fiona and Nate met when he came to the UK on a work visa. They fell in love and got married in 2008. Before his work permit expired, Nat applied for and was granted a spouse visa to 2011. In 2010 the family relocated to USA where Fiona was given a green card for two years. Once their son was born in 2011, the family realised it would be in his best interest to be raised in UK. So Fiona and William returned here in August 2012, joined by Nate a month or so later as he finished his work obligations in USA. Nate entered the UK as a tourist to ensure the family would celebrate William’s birthday in October together. He had his return flight to USA booked for a few days later. However, they soon found out the immigration rules had changed. They realised if as they had intended, Nate returned to the USA and applied for a spouse visa, they would be refused. A solicitor advised them to apply whilst Nate was still in the UK, on grounds of the best interest of their son. Advice they took. However, whilst waiting for the decision from the Home Office, they were issued a letter by the Home Office requesting a meeting in Portsmouth. The purpose of the meeting was to determine if Nate had entered the UK illegally – whether he had been deceitful and to discuss his intentions. At the centre in Portsmouth, Nate was escorted to a room where he was told he was under caution and questioned. The officer carrying out the meeting told him normally these kind of meetings would be conducted at a police station – whether this is genuine or an attempt to intimidate Nate, the family doesn’t know. The officer concluded that Nate had not been deceitful and that he had entered the UK legally. Two weeks later, they received a response on their application. It had been refused for several reasons which they listed as: • Fiona did not meet the financial requirements • Nate was in the UK as a tourist • Nate and Fiona’s relationship is subsiding therefore he doesn’t have sole parental responsibility • It would not be unreasonable for William to return to the USA to be with his dad. Fiona could return with them if she so choose. • Nate had failed to obtain the correct entry level clearance prior to travelling to the UK, especially given his experience with other applications on previous stays in the UK. The refusal letter also stated Nate should be removed from the UK and returned to the USA. There doesn’t appear to be any consideration to the best interest of the child – the British child. The family has filed an appeal with the First Tier Tribunal and are awaiting a decision on whether their appeal will be allowed.

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Hayley & Manuel
“I will give this country my all. In return I hope it gives me back my husband.”
Hayley is a British citizen. Between the ages 10 and 17, Hayley lived in Spain. She is now 19 years old and is mother to 4-year old Byron. Even though she was only 14 when she fell pregnant, despite being so young she decided to keep the baby. Even at that age Hayley knew all she wanted was a family. When the father of her baby turned abusive – emotionally, mentally and sexually - Hayley suffered for three years. She was alone in Spain without financial independence and only her son as family – she felt like she had nowhere to turn. There were times she considered committing suicide, but obtained strength and hope from her son, who also was her impetus to find the courage to escape. She decided she did not want her son to witness the abuse; to see his mother being beaten and raped. Hayley returned home, to England, believing here she would be safe. She had many dreams. She would continue her education and provide her son with a good life. She felt free and ready for a fresh start. However, the abuse had left its scars and Hayley sought therapy for the resulting depression, nightmares, flashbacks and general negativity. Nothing seemed to bring about closure to allow her to truly move on. It was then that Hayley met Manuel. A police officer from Colombia who had been sent to England to learn English. They immediately became great friends and then the relationship developed into more. Seven years older than her, Manuel provides Hayley with the stability and maturity she needs. He is intelligent, kind and wonderful with children, including Byron. Manuel understood Hayley’s pain. He encouraged her to accept the past and love herself. He would playfight with her, give her a reason to smile every time he walked into the room. For Hayley and Byron, their lives changed with Manuel’s presence. He provided the happiness that had been missing and hope that their future could be bright after all. They planned to marry in August 2012, before Hayley started university in October. Just when everything was going well, it happened. The rules changed. Hayley was devastated. Here she was about to embark on university, with her husband by her side. And now she was being told employment not education should be her priority. However at the age of 18, without a university degree, Hayley did not see how she would be able to get a job that paid over £18,600 anyway. So Manuel left England. Hayley felt the effects of depression again, was referred to a mental health department and then diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. Everything suddenly made sense. She wasn't crazy. She had just been affected by many things and finding happiness just to lose it again, felt worse than ever. Hayley’s doctor recommended she defer university until she was better. So Hayley decided to go to Colombia to be with Manuel instead. Hayley and Byron joined Manuel in December 2012, though she immediately realised that Colombia wasn't where she wanted to be as it was dangerous and didn't offer good education for her son, let alone any future children she and Manuel may have.

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She cried and cried; thinking about England night after night. Manuel would simply tell her that one day she’ll be able to come home again. The stress caused further health problems, with Hayley suffering from chronic gastritis and IBS. The doctors recommended she relax and return home where it would be safer. Hayley ignored the medical advice - she did not want to leave Manuel. In May 2013, the couple got married – not only making them feel like the happiest couple on earth, but providing Byron with his wish to have a daddy who would love and raise him. Hayley feels every day that she and Byron are lucky to have found such a wonderful man. When Manuel however was posted in an even more dangerous part of Colombia, they agreed it would be safer for Hayley and Byron to return home. Hayley has since been in London seeking employment paying over £18,600. She is spending a lot of money on babysitters just so she can attend interviews. She has given up on her dream of going to university. She is heartbroken and at a loss as to what to tell Byron when he asks why his daddy is not with them. How can she explain to a 4-year old that mummy doesn’t earn enough for the government to let daddy in. Manuel is a good hardworking man. He isn’t a criminal nor someone who will sponge off the system or other people. He is willing to leave his home and career to ensure a better life for his wife and stepson. Manuel is now not only Hayley’s husband, he is also Byron’s daddy. Out of the first four months of their marriage, they have only been able to live together for one. Hayley feels that she hasn’t even had the chance to yet learn what it feels like to be a wife. She feels betrayed and cheated by her own government. How is it they expect her to find a job paying £18,600 while having a child to look after, being forced once again into single parenthood? She needs time to heal and excessive stress is more likely to play havoc with her health. Hayley is determined to help other people and has written a book about her experience. She hopes to prevent teenage pregnancies and raise awareness of rape and domestic violence. She is now an author having self-published her first book through Kindle, “Lead towards the unknown”. She has dreams and is prepared to give the UK her all. In return she hopes the UK would just allow her to live with her husband.

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Jade & Merouane
“£18,600...the price of family life”
Jade is a 21 year old British citizen. She has lived abroad for over three years with her parents. So after moving to Spain in 2007, she met Merouane, from Morocco. In August 2013, they celebrated six years together. Due to the deteriorating health of her parents, and the recession that affected her parents, they were forced to return to the UK in October 2010. Jade intended for Merouane to follow soon, once she had found a job in the UK, which she did. However, a short time later, she received the news she was pregnant with their first child. While the news was received with delight, there was some trepidation as Merouane was not with Jade...making his visa application even more urgent. Jade and Merouane got in touch with an immigration advisor; gathered all the paperwork and relevant documentation which proved to be very onerous. Jade continued to battle pregnancy alone as her mum was spending more and more time in hospital...and when Jade was seven months pregnant, her mother passed away. Merouane was not even able to attend the funeral at a time when Jade needed him most. Merouane eventually was granted a visit visa and met their son when he was two months old. In March 2012, Jade and Merouane got married in a lovely, intimate ceremony. Jade was delighted to be able to have the same surname as her son...be a proper family. However, the time for goodbye wasn’t far away. Merouane had been granted a visa for six months...even though he didn’t want to go, Jade didn’t want him to leave, they knew they had to follow the rules. So Merouane returned within the terms of his visa in April 2012, to Spain. He submitted an application for a spouse visa, to make known their intention to settle permanently together as a family in the UK. In his application he included his English exam results. The process was a lengthy one and finally Merouane received a letter. His application had been refused! The couple appealed, asking the embassy in Madrid to overturn the decision. This too was refused. So they paid another fee, to have the appeal sent to court. Jade attended this as Merouane’s representative in October 2012. The man representing the Home Office made Jade feel very uncomfortable; spoke to her in an unacceptable manner. She didn’t understand. She was in a court room on her own, standing up for her and her son’s right to a family...after all, it was her life the court was deciding on. Unfortunately, the appeal was also refused because they said that the right to a family life had not been interfered with, as Jade could move to Spain with her son..indeed, that her dad could move to Spain as well...that they would be better off there! The Home Office’s argument was that as Jade had lived abroad before, what was to stop her now?

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The difference of course, is her son and her dad. The education, upbringing, culture she wants her nearly two year old son to have. He is a British child who deserves to grow up in Britain. Her dad is 66 years old and not in good health. Jade also needs to be here for him. The spouse visa application took six months since the date of submitting it, until the final decision came through during which time the new rules had come into force requiring Jade as a young mum forced into becoming a single parent to earn over £18,600. Jade is clear that it’s impossible for her to earn this amount as a single parent. It screams of rules where only a child with high-earning parents is allowed a two-parent family. She is also clear that the Home Office is just worried about statistics and therefore are trying to force British citizens to leave. Jade is currently juggling two jobs; yet she is unable to earn £18,600 while also being a single parent. Non-EEA nationals have NO RECOURSE TO PUBLIC FUNDS, so how is it that her partner will be a drain on the system? Indeed, if Merouane were able to join Jade, it would actually mean Jade was less reliant on other taxpayers. He would help ease the burden of parenthood; the juggling of two jobs, childcare, managing household duties, as well as caring for her dad. If Jade had her husband by her side, they could work in shifts to ensure someone was always around for their son and her dad. It’s clear to her they’d be much better off as a team, bringing in two incomes. In the meantime, her son is missing out on his dad; she is missing out on having the support of her husband and her husband is missing out on everything. Jade will not give up. She refuses to rollover and leave her home country...make her son leave his home..make her dad leave his home or abandon him. It’s clear to her the fight is not to just be with a family member, but to ensure children have access to two parents; that our parents have us to look after us when they need us most, in their old age. Jade will keep fighting until her family is all together again.

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John, Hayley...& Ryan
“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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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 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 here.. Her family’s local MP is Peter Bottomley. “We had the most amazing year –success in our attempt to become pregnant, the wedding in Hanoi. We had no idea about the new visa rules as we’d been tied up starting our new life together and supporting Great Britain in the Olympics. We never planned to raise our family in Bangkok – we were conscious that we couldn’t be a legal and protected family here. I feel very strongly that I want the twins to bond closely with my own parents. We discovered the impact of the new rules and felt like we’d been hit in the face with a sledgehammer. Absolutely devastating.”
Juliet and her partner, with their newborn twins

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. 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?

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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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Kate, Fune...& Reggie
“I had my baby without my husband...it was awful!”
Kate is a British citizen who in December 2011, after three years together with the man of her dreams, married him in Chiang Mai, Thailand. They have been living together, in Thailand, since 2007. The couple often spoke about moving to the UK and knew that once they had children they would want to be close to Kate’s family back home. Fune has been to the UK; he likes it here and gets on brilliantly with his in-laws. Kate’s parents have been out to visit them every year as well. On such a visit in July 2011, the family looked into getting a visa ready for Fune to move to the UK. They decided it was the right time, what with trying for a baby and a new nephew Kate really wanted to be there for. Their plan was to spend Christmas in the UK. To their utter shock and horror just as they were looking at the rules, the rules were being changed in just a matter of days, leaving them with little hope as EFL teachers, as is Kate’s profession, just don’t earn £18,600 in Thailand. Kate and her dad scrutinised the rules; the only option seemed to be for her to leave her husband, return to UK, find a job earning over £18,600. Then after six months, sponsor her husband, endure a further separation process during the application processing. The couple came to terms with the idea that they’d have to be apart for quite a long time, when Kate received the news that she was pregnant. Being in the UK was even more important now, with Kate needing her family’s support. They applied for a visa for Fune with the help of a lawyer, on human rights grounds. While in process, Kate returned home with their three dogs, as you can’t fly after the six month mark of pregnancy. In January 2013, four months after application, they received the refusal letter. Kate had her baby in the UK without her husband. They also appealed the decision...after all, how is Kate supposed to go and get a job paying over £18,600 when she has a baby to look after. They are awaiting the appeal decision while Kate visited Thailand to be with her husband for two months; to allow father and baby to bond. However being back in the UK, she is facing single parenthood again. Savings are spent fighting visa refusals, making trips halfway round the world to keep the family together as much as possible. Kate doesn’t understand why the government doesn’t consider that cost of living & salary levels overseas are not the same as those in the UK. How is it in the best interests of the child to be separated from Daddy? Why is the government forcing women to be single parents??! Kate and Fune don’t want to raise their child in Thailand; healthcare, safety, education are all issues. The main reason though is they want their child growing up with grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles. He deserves that!! Theresa May is keeping this family apart for no good reason. Kate’s parents are in a position to help out this family. Fune is an artist and tattooist who could easily find work here. With not letting Fune in, Kate is forced to claim benefits – how does that make sense? If they allowed Fune here, he’d work and Kate wouldn’t need government support. Clearly, their argument of "burden on the tax payer" is a farce when Fune is ineligible from claiming benefits anyway.

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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 holidaying in Egypt, following which she spent a year travelling to Egypt for weeks at a time to see, meet and spend time with his family. They married in October 2010 and have just celebrated their second wedding anniversary albeit, sadly, not together. 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 reasons of 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 of being the happy family she always wanted to have, but options are running thin. All she has left is hope that one day the rules will be made fairer, so she’ll have a chance at the family life she so desperately wants and should have the right to. Update: Kelly’s husband received a visit visa in December 2012 after winning the appeal, returning to Egypt in May 2013 as per his visa conditions. Kelly and their son went to Egypt in June to see the family there in June. While it was great at the beginning, because of the political situation, they are now stuck in an apartment, which given Kelly’s history of DVT is not healthy. Kelly intends to return to the UK and find work paying over the threshold, which won’t be easy being forced into single parenthood.

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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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Leighsa & Scott
“We don’t want public funds, we just want a chance to be a family.”
Leighsa is a British citizen who met her husband Scott, in the UK more than 21 years ago when he was stationed here with the US Air Force. They spent 14 years together and had a beautiful son, Alex, in 2002. The couple got married in 2005 and their marriage survived the pressures of modern life relating to juggling parenthood, work, relationships and even a period of separation when Leighsa and Alex returned to the UK from USA. UK is the only home Alex has ever really known.

However when Scott applied for a visit visa in 2010, he was refused as he didn’t have a job in the US. The couple went into battle against the Home Office in the appeals court and won a 2-week visit. When Scott applied for a visit visa again a year or so later, he was once again refused, so Leighsa and Alex have not seen Scott for over a year. Leighsa is working. But she doesn’t earn anywhere near £18,600. She does however earn enough to support her husband. However the immigration rules take no consideration of that. Leighsa and Scott don’t have the money to fight the Home Office yet again. Alex needs to see his dad, his dad needs to see his son. A son who is 11 years old and in need of his father. A son who is going to start at a new school, on the verge of his teenage years when a father’s mere presence, let alone support, can make so much difference. Leighsa and Scott are both experiencing issues by the enforced separation. Leighsa suffers from anxiety for which she is seeking medical help and little Alex is just depressed and crying a lot. This is yet another family resorting to Skype to ensure parent-child are able to ‘see’ each other, but it’s a route which doesn’t allow for hugs and kisses...the daily support. Maintaining a marriage with 3500 miles is also not a picnic. Being a single mother, especially when it’s not out of choice, is stressful. Scott is a qualified computer technician - his earning capacity is huge. Leighsa is in university hoping to extend her own earning capabilities also – this is a family that does NOT want public funds. All they want is a chance to be a family, to raise their son in his country of nationality – UK - and do the right thing by him.

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Liz & Abdullah
“I have seen a very ugly side to the UK immigration system.”
Liz is a British citizen who lives in London. She is married to Abdullah, originally from Yemen. Abdullah moved to Jordan to try and learn English. However, he failed the test twice. Lis speaks fluent Arabic and is able to communicate with her husband. The English language requirements meant that Liz went through her pregnancy completely alone. She gave birth to twins alone and has since been recovering from a horrendous pregnancy where she had to be hospitalised, due to having given birth via Caesarean section where she could have died due to severe blood loss. Liz went through all this alone; she was left to recover without her husband whilst also raising twins with minimal help, but none from her husband because the Home Office would not allow it. The couple went from application to application; appeal to appeal (fighting for compassionate exemption from the English language exam due to circumstances). Liz is devastated; she has seen a very ugly eviI side to the UK immigration system. Her family has been through so much, and paid thousands of pounds down the drain in solicitor, barrister and application fees. The conclusion she has reached is that the welfare of our citizens and our citizen children amounts to nothing in this country. She is convinced that animals would be treated better than any British citizen and their British children, unless you are really rich. Both Liz and Abdullah had suicidal thoughts before they had twins. With the babies they have found a will to fight the system. Liz has undergone therapy for the anguish the separation and the battle have caused – mental, physical and emotional. It sure feels to Liz that she is being treated as a criminal simply for marrying a non-EU citizen.

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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 living in Devon. 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. NHS is also looking to fill 2000 GP accident and emergency vacancies. By Lizzie’s side is a GP desperate for the chance to be with his family, integrate and contribute to the NHS and save British lives. If only he were so allowed. 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 UK expecting Alexander would follow soon. 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.
The couple on their last day together, their daughter’s 1st birthday in February 2012

What makes the situation worse is that Lizzie’s income in Chile combined with cash savings, actually meets UKBA’s financial requirement. Yet UKBA was able to manufacture a reason to refuse, 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 to Chile. But the money was there and she did the best she could to obtain evidence of her UK savings from Chile, while also juggling recent motherhood. Lizzie is furious that rules clearly discriminating 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. Legal advice indicates Alexander won’t qualify for a visitor’s visa as he has displayed an intent to live here. So the only way for the family to see each other is for Lizzie to travel to Ecuador, on a 15+ hour flight with a toddler. She can’t remain there as she is employed here and doesn’t want to jeopardise her income here lest she lose her appeal. So she is juggling childcare and employment. Yet Lizzie believes the real victim of these rules 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 dreamed the system could get things so wrong; her family is torn apart just so politicians can say they’re being "tough on immigration". She is upset British citizens are made the scapegoats for a political agenda. She’s hurt that her country has let her down; angry that no one is being held accountable for the misery caused.

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Lorraine
“My daughter can’t leave the country and her husband can’t remain here. What about their innocent son. Why should a British child be forced to live without a parent?”
Lorraine is a British citizen. She is also a mother to a British citizen, Emma, and a grandmother to a British citizen, Aymane. Her son-in-law, Driss, happens to be Moroccan. And herein lies the source of the battle this family has been waging with UKBA for months now. Emma met Driss and as has been happening since the beginning of time, this young couple fell in love. They got married and several months later Lorraine received the wonderful news she was to be a grandma. Lorraine and her husband visited Emma and Driss in Morocco. They were horrified to see their daughter living with no electricity or running water; sleeping on a floor. Certainly no place for Emma to be in during her pregnancy. For various reasons, Lorraine’s daughter returned to the UK to give birth, assured she’d be looked after by her mum through the rest of the pregnancy. While the entire family was delighted, they were more so when Driss received a visit visa to be with Emma for the birth of their first child Lorraine’s gorgeous little grandson was born in September 2012, and Lorraine doesn’t have the words to explain how much she loves and cherishes him. He is her world and she’d go to the end of it for him. While it was never Emma’s intention to remain in the UK, shortly after giving birth she became disabled – diagnosed with severe arthritis. Much of Lorraine’s time is spent with Emma - helping and supporting her. It is not possible for Emma to return to living in basics with her health as is – without her mum to help her. Emma is currently having chemotherapy to suppress her immune system attacking her joints. She therefore needs full time care which she receives from her husband, and Lorraine when she isn’t working. Emma is unable to leave the country. And UKBA have told Driss he isn’t allowed to remain in the country. Surely everyone is entitled to a family life, Lorraine asks why should her grandson be left without a daddy ? Lorraine’s daughter and son-in-law have appealed for him to stay in the UK; the fate of this family is currently in the hands of UKBA. It is impossible for Emma to earn £18,600. Lorraine would always support her daughter, son-in-law and grandson financially. There is no reason this family would be a burden on the taxpayer...if only the government would let them remain a family

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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 ELTRP 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 this family that should the appeal fail, Emily will not be able to return to the UK for another 10 years. Emily is the wife and mother of British citizens, who are now left at a loss, overcome with 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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Nick, Courtney...& Elliott
”We are a real family and have the right to live as such.”
Nick is a British citizen married to an American citizen. When Nick met Courtney, his now wife, it was a romance like any other, at least at the beginning. Boy meets girl, boy falls for girl and girl (eventually) falls for boy. Except this boy and girl are from two different countries. Nick is from Southampton, England and Courtney from Chicago, USA. A sequence of events led to them both being in a little town in Central Louisiana at the same time – and from then on, the course of their lives would never be the same. It was November 2003 when Nick and Courtney began what they both thought would be a short lived fun flirtation. With Nick due to return to England in December they hardly had the time to allow themselves to get caught up in one another, but you know what they say about the best laid plans… While Courtney’s brain and heart were in constant battle, she couldn’t stop herself from falling in love with Nick, particularly after a surprise Thanksgiving trip he made to her native Chicago. There he met with Courtney’s family, friends, and was taken on a whirlwind tour of the city and Courtney’s old haunts. For Courtney, it was the trip that sealed the deal and opened her eyes to the chance that the man she was dating could be her future husband and best friend. After only a month of dating, Nick returned to England and the couple was left broken-hearted. Courtney was swept up into an international love story; a rollercoaster of fun, adventure, romance but also devastation and heart-wrenching goodbyes at airport terminals. So Courtney did what any girl would do. She followed her man across the Atlantic, beginning the accumulation of frequent flier miles and a continuation of an international love story. The time together in England was magical. Courtney met Nick’s family and friends. She learnt about our culture and was swept away by it all. Shortly after returning to Louisiana, Courtney decided to look into options of moving to the UK, to allow them to continue the relationship without it being a long-distance romance. Courtney was successful in obtaining a work visa through Bunac and a student visa through the exchange program between Louisiana College and Brunel in London. She came to the UK as soon as possible, living with Nick’s family for six months until moving to London for her semester at Brunel. When the exchange program was completed, Nick and Courtney were practically inseparable. It was clear they were in it for the long haul. However Courtney had to return to the US to finish her degree in Wisconsin. Several years later after many trips back and forth, they decided the good-byes had to stop and they got married in July 2007. While this relationship started in Louisiana and blossomed in England, it became official in Wisconsin, where Nick and Courtney got married and currently reside with their toddler son. Their plan has always been to return to England to raise their family and after many hard knocks in the US, they opted to fast track the plan and move to the UK in March 2013. Little did this family know

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that since last looking at the immigration requirements, things had taken a turn for the worse. Courtney is amazed our rules are more stringent and imposing than in America, which despite being a process rife with red tape, welcomed Nick, granting granted him permanent residency. Nick never imagined the hurdles the family would have to go through to allow him to live in his home country with his family. This couple had thought they had shared their last goodbye once they got engaged in 2006. On the day they said their, I do’s, it never occurred to them that they’d be going through the same thing six years later...let alone putting their son and families through the same emotional ordeal. The family has been apart since May 2013. It’s difficult enough being away from your best friend and partner but to have their child without his father is just indescribably cruel and difficult to explain to a child. The whole family has been ripped apart and what should have been a fun summer running after their little boy together has become misery. With the couple missing celebrating together their six year wedding anniversary and Elliott’s 3rd birthday, the family is growing desperate to find a way to reunite. Nick is yet to find a job paying over the magical £18,600. However even once he does, it’s a wait of over six months while he collects pay slips, and then the application processing period which can take several months in itself at the most optimistic. Nick and Courtney have good days and bad days; as the time passes though, their patience is running out and so are their options. The family is considering exercising the treaty rights afforded to them by the EU in order to be a family – a right denied to them by our own government. They are still keen on making England their home; being close to Nick’s family and allowing Elliott the opportunity to learn about his culture and bond with his family...but they’re also finding it hard to rationalise staying and paying taxes in a country that so clearly does not want them. To say that this couple was blindsided by these new requirements is an understatement. There have been a lot of tears, anger, and resentment but in adversity the couple is also getting stronger, especially through the support network they have come across with others similarly affected by clearly unfair immigration rules. This is a real family with the right to live as such. They have faith that with love in their hearts and fight in their gut, they will triumph over a ludicrous government policy. For now the family takes each day as it comes in the hope that something will materialise allowing mum, dad and Elliott to be all together again. Nick, Courtney and Elliot’s story http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hFxCcrBcWmU is also in video form:

Update: The family will be relocating to Ireland and exercising their treaty rights in September 2013, in order to be together once more. Rights which denied to them by the UK government are afforded to them by the EU.

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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. 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.

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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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Nikki, Juan…& Jayden
“Despite being in a genuine loving relationship, the government has forced me into being a single mum and juggling work. 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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Families with children

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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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Sarah (Malaysia)
“I have two kids who miss their dad so much...even our appeal date is 9 months ahead.”
Sarah is a British citizen. She has two children, aged 2 and 4. Her husband is a Malaysian citizen. While Sarah and their kids returned to the UK over 15 months ago, her husband is still in Malaysia. He was not granted a family visa. In December he was refused entry because Sarah did not earn £18,600, even though they submitted bank statements showing savings and job offers exceeding this amount. They put in an appeal in January and were given an appeal date in October 2013. Despite being turned into a single parent to two children, Sarah is not claiming a penny in benefits. Her husband is paying for everything. Including the solicitor they have hired for the appeal. Her four year old cries every day for her dad; the stress is taking its toll on all of them. The family miss each other and are exploring all avenues to unity. Update: On 24th October, Sarah had her appeal hearing in London. In what is becoming more and more prevalent, yet another applicant beat the Home Office. The judge ruled that the original submission does show they meet the financial requirements and therefore the couple has evidenced they have sufficient money, and ruled on section 8 of right to a family life. The judge has asked the Home Office to rush through the application as the family has been apart for long enough.

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Sarah (Thailand)
“I can’t believe I may never be able to return home, as breaking up my family for several months just isn’t feasible.”
Sarah is a British citizen living in Thailand with her Thai husband. She initially came to Thailand to work with Burmese refugees but fell in love and started a family--always with the intention of returning to the UK. Under the new rules Sarah’s salary does not meet the financial requirement, nor will it ever. Indeed, it would be near impossible to find a job in Thailand that would meet the requirements as local salaries are simply not in line with those in the UK. However, combined with her husband’s salary, they meet the requirements, but the new rules do not permit his income to be considered. So, to return to the UK, we are now facing the choice of: a) Sarah returns alone with their two children, seeks employment paying over the stipulated salary while placing them in full-time childcare and somehow coping as a single parent until she qualifies to qualify to sponsor her husband OR b) remaining in Thailand indefinitely as a family unit, depriving her British children of a British education and their British family. Even if Sarah opts to return to the UK alone, she would not be able to avail of her parents' support in terms of accommodation or childcare as the salary stipulations means she would almost certainly need to seek work in London or another large city where childcare costs are very high. Both Sarah and her husband are highly educated – both have completed their Masters, have a decade of professional experience and her husband speaks fluent English as well. They have looked at the alternatives such as the EEA route, but find this costly and impractical for a young family. Sarah finds it hard to believe she can’t bring her family home and therefore may face a life abroad indefinitely.

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Sarah & Joe
“I can’t work full-time in enforced single-parenthood with four children to look after. I need my husband.”
Sarah is a British citizen. She is married to Joe, from USA. Together they have four children, all British. Cameron is 14, Sarah Grace 12, Samuel 10 and Daniel 8. Sarah has skills acquired from Central St Martin’s College of Art & Design, London. She is enrolled in the NWES program and is pursuing a career as a jeweller, illustrator and artist. However she is also battling the Home Office for the right to have her husband and father of their four children, with her. She is receiving the jobseekers allowance, applies for twelve part-time jobs every two weeks though it’s not particularly realistic given she does not have a car and has four children to look after. Sarah is adamant that with Joe by her side, she would not need to be on benefits. Sarah is being denied the right to live with her husband. Her four children are being denied the right to live with their father. Sarah worries – what if something happens to her? What happens to her children? Would they be handed over to social services? Would they be split up? It’s a terrifying thought even while she tries to make ends meet on benefits while juggling being a single parent to four children. All of whom are missing out on having their father with them.

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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. However 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 Thailand 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. Update: On 1st September 2013, a British family was divided. A British father and his three year old British son were forced to go and live in exile so the father could work in Spain. They have never been there before and don’t speak the language. From the perspective of each family member affected, on how they feel about the immigration rules and the route they are forced to take:

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Father and husband: “I desperately want to stay in the UK, work and help look after my ageing parents. They are in their seventies and both have been fighting cancer. My father had a fall this week and mother is in severe pain with her back. I worry so much and I can’t bear to leave them. I can’t help thinking I may never see them again.

My little boy has brought them so much pleasure over the last months and he in turn has learned so much from them. He loves them so much it will be a terrible thing to take him away from them. There will be real heartache and lots of tears when we leave. I really do not want to go, but if we stay my son will lose his mother. What choice do I have? I have chosen Spain as I think it might be the best place for me to find work as an English teacher. I am scared though. How will we cope? What about language and culture problems? How will my son get on? If I we can’t survive there what will we do? I can’t work in my wife’s country and she will not even be able to enter mine. We will be in limbo. We will have to split up. My son will have a broken family.” Grandparents: “We are coming to the end of our years and all we want is our family around us. Having our son and grandson around is the best medicine we could possible get. But now we have to say goodbye to them at the airport. We don’t know when we will see them again. This is tragic. We don’t understand why after all these years as hard working, law abiding British citizens we are faced with this situation. What makes us really angry and ashamed to be British is that any other European citizens can just walk into England and live and work just like that. An unmarried Polish/Thai couple with no children can just move here without restriction, yet our British grandson is expected to live without his mother.” Wife and mother: “This is all my fault. I feel so bad for breaking up my husband’s family. My parents in law need their son and grandson. I said maybe I should just leave and go home. I couldn’t though. How can any mother be expected to leave her child. I would be quite happy to go back to my rice farming village in Thailand, but it is not a good place for my child and my husband cannot work in my country. I only want what is best for them. I don’t really matter in all of this. I thought western countries were very civilised. I don’t really understand why this is happening. I am sure no other country would allow a mother to be taken from her child or expect a father and child to live in another country.” Three year old boy: “I want to be with nanny and grampy. I don’t want to see anyone cry. I don’t want my daddy to be so anxious and sad. I don’t want to lose my mummy. I want to go to school and learn. I want everyone to be happy.”

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Sean & Sherry Ann
“I haven’t seen my son as I can’t afford to fly across whilst working to be able to support them.”
Sean is a British citizen, who married Sherry Ann from Philippines, in April 2010 in the Cavite region. Sean stayed in the Philippines for around four months, before returning to the UK to find work. They were under immense financial strain and were lucky to have help from Sean’s parents for the birth of their first child, Sean Paul, in September 2010. Sean returned to the Philippines in November 2010 to help his wife through the severe complications with their son’s heart. The cord was wrapped around his neck and the baby was not receiving sufficient oxygen. Sadly, Sean Paul made it to just two months when the family made the heart wrenching decision to let him go. Sean stayed in the Philippines as his wife was distraught and needed the support from her husband. Sean returned to the UK in July 2011 to a job he had been lucky to secure through a friend. The family started saving money – they were expecting their second child. In December 2011, Sean Eric was born – full of life for which the family is immensely grateful. With having to send money to the Philippines however, Sean has found it very difficult to save up for his family to move to the UK, to live with him. He is yet to meet Sean Eric who he has only seen through Skype and photos. The £18,600 requirement has all but destroyed their hope of being a family. Their son has grandparents in the UK who have never met their only grandson. A British child has never met his own father.

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Stella & Ankush
“I live without my husband, and my daughter without her father. Only because of these immigration rules.”
Stella is a British citizen married Ankush, from India, in 2008. She lived in India with her husband for about three years. They have a daughter together, a British citizen born in India and named her Chloe. In 2011, Stella had to return to the UK as her mum – her only other relative – was diagnosed with cancer, and Stella needed to look after her mum. In March 2013, Stella’s mum passed away, losing the battle to cancer. Ankush was granted a family visit visa which allowed him to be in the UK to help Stella through this period, for three months, from April 2013. However he is not allowed to stay here because Stella does not earn £18,600. As a full-time carer for her daughter it is not possible for Stella to work in a job paying that kind of money. However Stella received a significant inheritance from her mum and owns the house they live in, outright. So they have a secure home and no accommodation expenses. She doesn’t want to uproot her daughter once again and move to India. Her daughter is British and should have the right to a British education. She should also have the right to two parents. Stella has been reading all she can on the immigration rules, but finds every time she gets her head round them, the government changes them again. It is not possible for Stella to find a job paying over £18,600 in this climate. Even if she did, most of it would go to pay child care fees, and during this time her daughter would have neither father or mother spending time with her. This process is also likely to take nearly 12 months from when Stella starts a job paying over £18,600 to when Ankush would be allowed in the country. It seems crazy to her. If her husband was here, either he’d be working, or she would and he would look after their daughter. Stella would therefore no longer need to claim income support. As each day passes, Stella’s hearts breaks a little more as she is forced to live without her husband, her daughter without a father and Ankush without his wife and child.

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Families with children

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Stephen & Yilei
“We don’t claim benefits and own our own home, yet Yilei is being threatened with deportation.”
Stephen is a British citizen whose roots in Britain can be traced back several generations. Stephen recently became the proud father of a beautiful baby boy, Ethan, with his partner of about five years, Yilei from China. Stephen and Yilei met whilst they were both working in the UAE. They lived happily together in Abu Dhabi for four years before Stephen returned to the UK On advice from the British embassy in Abu Dhabi they applied and paid for the required visa for Yilei to join Stephen as his partner, in the UK. The visa was issued, Five years on, they have set up home here, their son has been born here, they have fully paid for their home with no outstanding mortgage or loan. However, the Home Office is rejecting their application for Yilei and is trying to deport her. The wife of a British citizen, the mother of a British citizen is being told she has to leave her husband and son. She is being told that her papers are now with Capita to arrange her removal. Stephen is bemused. He doesn’t claim benefits. He works hard, they own their home and have a secure family unit for their son. His partner is the best of the best; yet they’re being torn apart. For what? A few votes? Pacifying some voters who don’t know any better? There is no logic in this decision to take away a child’s mother. It achieves nothing except destruction - financial, emotional physical and mental.

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Families with children

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Wayne & Meliana
“The Home Office disregards Zambrano and human rights.”
Wayne is a British citizen married to Meliana, from Indonesia. Wayne and Meliana have two children together, Chloe (4) and Charlie (1) who are also British citizens. Wayne also has a child from a previous relationship: Joshua, also British. Wayne is clear. It would not be in the best interests of the children to leave the UK. Notwithstanding the very restrictive immigration policy in Indonesia, it is not feasible for Wayne to leave the UK as doing so would mean Joshua loses contact with his father, stepmother and brother and sister. Meliana and Wayne met whilst she was on a tourist visa in the UK. They quickly became friends, and were soon dating. It wasn't long before Meliana fell pregnant. Knowing the situation, they approached a solicitor to discuss their options. They were advised to wait until after the birth of their child before proceeding further - as at this point the best interests of the British child would come into play. Chloe was born in September 2009 - clearly dependent on her mother, Meliana's residence once again became legal at this point under Article 20 of the TFEU - See Zambrano: http://pearsall.eu/2013/07/case-c-3409-ruiz-zambrano/). In 2010, Meliana began applying for a visa as the unmarried partner of Wayne noting she was the mother of Chloe. In February, the UKBA came knocking at their door. Their application was filed in May 2010 and six months later, the visa was refused – disregarding the best interest of the child, Chloe. http://pearsall.eu/2010/11/refusal-of-flrm-application/ Between February 2010 and February 2013, Meliana reported to the Immigration Reporting Centre in Solihull. The family spent money speaking with solicitors on the different elements of their case. Each time, to no avail. In January 2013, it became clear that the 'requirement to report' was not in fact a requirement, as Meliana's residence within the country was in fact legal – if nothing else, on grounds of Zambrano. The Home Office threatened Meliana with detention and fines. They did however back down when challenged to carry out their threats: http://pearsall.eu/2013/04/response-to-challenging-the-ise-343/ Their second child, Charlie, was then born in July 2012. It came to Wayne's attention that the fact that he had worked in Finland prior to meeting Meliana might be beneficial, along with various other ventures conducted cross border within the EU. In January 2013, Meliana completed her application form for a residence permit on the basis of being the primary carer of British citizens They emphasised Wayne fell into the category of Carpenter. Meliana subsequently received a Certificate of Application for the period taken to process the application. However, in July 2013, the refusal notice came through: http://pearsall.eu/2013/07/zambrano-and-regulation-9-refusal-notices/ Once again, no consideration of the best interests of the child as before, but this time, human rights also disregarded. The family is now awaiting an appeal, a process which is taking over six months.

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Families with children

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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 from Japan. 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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Xocoa & Vishal
“I had to give birth without my husband...he hasn’t even met our daughter yet.”
Xocoa is a British citizen. She was born here, trained here as a nurse with the NHS. Her husband is a teacher, and an Indian citizen. Xocoa moved to India to be with her husband. They had a son and got married. They did not live in one of the major cities; they lived in the rural state of Bihar - the media unfamiliar with such relationships, were fascinated by the bi-cultural marriage (British-Indian). The family was followed and harassed wherever they went. It was horrible! They were even subject to abduction threats (Bihar is known for the presence of outlaws). The police could not offer them the protection they needed and the family was advised to return to the UK. So for the safety of the family, Xocoa and their son returned to the UK. Her husband was refused a family visit visa even though Xocoa was pregnant at the time. It was a difficult, painful pregnancy. Xocoa became temporarily disabled – and she was all alone. The government would not even take her condition into account to allow her husband to be here, to support British citizens. So, Xocoa gave birth to their daughter without her husband – he not only missed the birth, but father and daughter haven’t even met yet. The baby is five months old. Indian rules mean Xocoa can’t return to India for even a couple of years. She needs to work and support the children. But she’s still recovering and needs physiotherapy - so the catch-22 is that she can't work and look after the children, all by herself. Xocoa is being forced into being a single parent even though she isn’t. Her husband wants to work. Xocoa can’t come off benefits without her husband by her side, supporting the family. The government not allowing this family to be together is not only causing damage to their children and this family, but also costing taxpayers. This family no longer knows what to do. Where do they go from here? Who will have them? The family miss each other so very very much – they are depressed and at their wits' end. Xocoa loves her husband with all her heart and feels discriminated against just because she isn’t wealthy.

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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 wife from South Africa, 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”.

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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! 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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Christian & Marcia
“We just want to spend Christmas as a family, with our family.”
Christian is a British citizen currently living in New York City. His wife, Marcia, is a citizen of Trinidad & Tobago. They are expecting their first child together. In October 2013, when the couple was visiting UK to spend time with Christian’s family, Marcia was refused entry even whilst travelling with Christian. This was to be their first Christmas with the whole family together. The couple arrived at Gatwick Airport on October 15th for what was to be the beginning of their honeymoon. After some preliminary questions at the border control – which they answered fully and truthfully, the couple was made to wait in a pen for further questioning, without being told why. After another hour, alternating between being held and questioned, Marcia’s luggage was searched and several items removed. Christian was then told he could not wait for his wife – and sent out to airport arrivals alone. Marcia was then bodily searched, locked in a prison-like environment, fingerprinted and interrogated. In total, Marcia wife was incarcerated and interrogated for eight hours. Marcia’s leave to enter the UK was refused, although she was granted “Temporary Admission to a Person Who is Liable to be Detained” since they had already booked a wedding reception for their friends and family on October 26th. The Immigration Officer repeatedly told Marcia this means she could be detained at any time. Unsurprisingly, Marcia came out of the interrogation in tears and fearful of arrest and further detention. As of now, she is scheduled to be removed from the UK on flight BA2159 at 10am on October 31st. The couple is trying their utmost to have that date postponed. Christian believes the immigration officers were wrong to refuse her entry and to treat Marcia in the manner they did. As a citizen of Trinidad & Tobago, Marcia is a "non-visa national". So just as British citizens can visit many countries in the world without applying for a visa, so can those from this nation. Marcia shouldn’t require a visa to visit the UK, and therefore should in theory be allowed entry on her own passport, even if not travelling with Christian. The Notice of Refusal of Leave to Enter stated “You have asked for leave to enter the United Kingdom as a visitor for three months but I am not satisfied that you are genuinely seeking entry as a visitor for the limited period as stated by you. This is because, although you hold a return ticket dated 19th January 2013, I cannot be satisfied that you will be able to fly at that time. This is because you are at present 22/23 weeks pregnant and if you were to remain in the United Kingdom for the period you have stated you will then be approximately 35/36 weeks, and as such British Airways will not carry you." British Airways' pregnancy regulations* clearly say "For uncomplicated single pregnancies, we restrict travel beyond the end of the 36th week." The primary reason for refusal is therefore shown to be completely false. "In addition, you have made no provisions for your medical care whilst you are in the United Kingdom, and you have been unemployed by your own admission since 2011 and living off savings and I cannot therefore be satisfied that you will not be of recourse to public funds." Marcia was in possession of bank statements and stock portfolio, examined by the Officer, which show that, although she had indeed been "living off savings", they were far from used up. She also had letters of invitation, from Christian and his mother. These letters made it clear that Christian and his family would be responsible for any and all expenses incurred by Marcia during her visit. These letters were also backed by bank statements from both Christian and his mother clearly showing sufficient funds. The secondary reason for refusal is therefore shown to be invalid. This secondary reason appears to be intentionally worded to exclude Marcia’s financial statements and the supporting family letters and bank statements examined by the officer. The refusal selectively refers to the fact that Marcia has "been unemployed" and "living off savings" which says nothing whatsoever about her access to private funds.

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"Furthermore, you have previously resided in the United States of America, and during further examination you admitted that you overstayed your visa there, this causes me to doubt that you will comply with any restrictions attached to a grant of leave to enter the United Kingdom." This third reason gives the impression that Marcia attempted to abuse a short-term US visitor's visa by overstaying in an attempt to become an illegal immigrant. Nothing could be further from the truth. As Marcia informed the Immigration Officer during her interrogation, she had been living in the US in continuous legal status for almost 14 years. She had official USCIS paperwork in her possession to prove this, which was examined by the Immigration Officer. Until May of this year, her entire life was US-based and she had good reason to believe she would continue to live there up until the last days of her final visa. She had been a graduate (F-1) student for many years, then worked under OPT for a company who subsequently sponsored her for H1-B status. The security requirements for her position were later changed by the US military to exclude non-citizens, so she was unable to continue in that position. She was advised that in order to remain in non-immigrant status she would have to change to B2 visitor status. This is a long process Marcia went through, however by the time the B2 status was processed, the US sequester had been put in place and her prospective employer was subjected to a hiring freeze. Her B2 status was due to expire on 27th March and she was not informed of the freeze until only 10 days earlier. At this time she made arrangements to leave the US as quickly as was reasonably possible given that she'd lived there for nearly 14 years and thus had a lot of roots to sever (car, house lease) not to mention the prospect of being separated from her fiancé for an indeterminate time. Although Marcia did stay briefly beyond the end of that visa, this is considered normal by US immigration and carries no penalty up to a 6 month overstay. "If you overstay but not more than 180 days you must leave the US but you can apply for a visa to return immediately." Marcia never faced removal proceedings in the US. Instead, she voluntarily chose to leave less than two months into the six-month grace period. These are hardly the actions of a person recklessly ignoring immigration laws. The third reason for refusal is therefore also shown to be invalid. Indeed, given the US has not penalised Marcia for her very slight over-stay it is bizarre that the UK does. In addition, the Officer made no mention Marcia being married to a British citizen travelling with her – presumably because clear family connection may mitigate the flimsy grounds for refusal. This is a pair of newlyweds, intending to only stay with their British family through Christmas and New Years. It should not be a function of the a government agency to tear citizens apart from their families. Christian understands there is pressure on the UK Border Agency to appear to be tough on immigration. It is probable that officers have targets for refusing applications, with the UKBA website brags about cutting migrant numbers. Christian can’t help but wonder why his wife was picked out for further questioning in the first place. A British citizen travelling with his Commonwealth citizen wife would seem on the surface to be one of the most straightforward possible cases. Marcia is extremely intelligent and highly articulate. She comes from an English-speaking country and English is her first language. She holds three university degrees, a BSc in Biochemistry, an MSc in Agricultural Diversification/Sustainable Rural Development and a US MSc in Food Science and Nutrition. Had the immigration officer at the initial encounter spoken with her, she would have been able to ascertain this for herself. However, throughout all the questioning where Christian was present, the officer addressed all questions, whether pertaining to Christian or Marcia, directly to him, speaking of Marcia in the third person, effectively treating her as if she were a young child or a foreigner with no grasp of the English language. Even when Christian re-addressed questions to his wife, and received clear, concise answers in perfect English, the officer waited for Christian to "translate" the answers. It felt to this couple like racial profiling playing a major part.

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Christine & Ziad
“Given Cameron's determination to 'protect civilians in Syria' why not start by protecting Syrians with proven ties to the UK?”
Christine is a British citizen who met her husband Ziad while studying Arabic at Damascus University in May 2010, in Syria. She had gone there as part her MA programme in Arab World Studies at Manchester University and instantly felt there was something special about this urbane, well-travelled man whose life had so many parallels with her own and over the months a strong connection developed between them.

Christine introduced Ziad to her parents when they came out to visit in August 2010. They loved him and by the time she left Syria in October felt he was the man she wanted to spend my life with. They stayed in touch via Skype and phone, speaking as often as they were able to; exchanging gifts and letters back and forth through mutual friends travelling between the two countries. In May 2011 the couple got engaged, planning to marry in Scotland amidst Christine’s friends and family before she moved to Syria to live with him in Damascus where Ziad had a thriving real estate business. Christine was optimistic about finding work with the UN or another humanitarian agency and Damascus was a city she loved with many close friends there, both Syrians and internationals who like her, were committed to staying there long-term. However the Syrian Revolution changed all that. As a British citizen, Christine immediately became an object of suspicion by the regime and Ziad was worried for her safety in Syria, particularly because of the advocacy work she was doing to raise awareness about the situation in the UK. As refugees flooded out, doors were closed on them from all sides. Getting a visa to the UK was impossible, and their plans to work in the Gulf received a blow when it too shut its doors on Syrians. Christine carried on visiting Ziad however as she couldn't live without seeing him - but the security situation was deteriorating swiftly and it became impossible to stay. By the time she left for the last time in October 2012 Christine had gotten used to the check points and car bombs, sounds of shelling throughout the night, plumes of smoke over the city skyline and attack helicopters overhead. The couple was even shot at by snipers when they went to visit Ziad’s mother for dinner during Ramadan. In December 2012, Ziad decided to flee the violence in Syria and join his family in Cairo but then they discovered he could not apply for a settlement visa from Egypt as he was neither an Egyptian citizen nor permanent resident. Christine was devastated. Ziad had no choice but to return to Syria and wait for the embassy in Beirut to process Ziad’s application.

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They pre-poned their wedding plans, which was a difficult decision as they’d always wanted to celebrate with family and friends but with the security situation as it was Christine didn't want to wait any longer and so after getting married, they applied for a settlement visa for the UK in April 2013. Christine begged Ziad to remain in Lebanon and not return to Syria but rampant inflation and unemployment has devastated people's savings and Ziad - like everyone else they know - simply cannot afford to stay in Beirut, one of the world's most expensive cities, as he awaits a decision. The following six months were horrendous, with one heartwrenching attack after another leaving Christine in fear of her husband’s life. The Home Office rejected the settlement application the first time round even though Christine meets the financial requirement and her husband has passed his English Language test at the British Council. The reason for refusal was claiming that the application did not include all the necessary evidence. In the digital age, the Home Office rejected a bank statement showing cash savings of £58,000 in addition to Christine’s annual tax-free salary of £13,590, because it was an online statement, even though it had been stamped and verified. They also claimed that without the certificate of entry into the KET the certificate provided of passing the exam was invalid. No common sense was allowed for...how would Ziad have been able to pass the exam if he hadn’t been allowed into the room to sit the exam?! As Home Office refused to let them just then include the missing documents in the initial application, they reapplied on 15 July 2013 with the additional information also present. However, given the serious escalation in the situation in Syria particularly in and around Damascus, the couple is very worried. Ziad lives only 15 mins away from the chemical weapon attack sites of late August, where a day later there was a huge car bomb. Ziad’s car has been was sprayed with bullets and he has been detained. No one knows why. Ziad is under threat from the regime who may not now allow him to even leave the country. Christine asks, even while the UK considers how they will get involved in the Syrian situation, is does the UK Government not have a duty of care to the Syrian family members of UK citizens? Given that imminent military intervention has been considered, should the government not first help get our family members out the country or at the very least speed up their visa decisions? Given Cameron's determination to 'protect civilians in Syria' why can he not start by protecting Syrians with proven ties to the UK? Christine is not asking for special measures to circumvent the rules (in any case she meets the visa requirements) but simply for her government to stop dragging its feet in determining the visa for her husband given the war in Syria.

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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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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.” Update: Christopher and one of his daughters went to the First-tier Tribunal on 5th July and presented the facts of their case, in response to the visa refusal. A Home Office representative suggested there was no need to grant Christopher’s wife a visa as Christopher could go and live in Mombasa. The appeal judge in his report however wrote "...I do not accept that it is reasonable to expect the sponsor, a British citizen, to live in Kenya, if it were possible, or another part of the world as yet unidentified. It would be to deprive him of the benefits of his British citizenship" So the appeal was allowed on human rights grounds even though Christopher falls short of the income level by approx £17.00 per week. The Judge accepted Christopher has no accommodation costs and that his "...resources are more than adequate to accommodate and maintain the appellants." The judge also awarded fees against the Home Office of £280. Now Christopher and his family wait a further 4-6 weeks as the Home Office has 28 days to " seek leave to appeal against the appeal decision " before making plans to be reunited once more.

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Claire
“Just because the ECO appears to not have bothered to look at the paperwork, we may have to wait for two years.”
Claire is a British citizen living in South Africa with her South African husband and British daughter. They applied for a UK settlement visa but were declined on the basis that they don’t meet the financial requirement as defined in paragraph E-ECP.3.3. This is even though they do meet the financial threshold. The ECO claimed that Claire did not have a firm job offer in the UK, even though she had enclosed a copy of her contract of employment in the UK with a start date of 1st July, also showing she would have been earning over £18,600. This family has naturally appealed the decision. However they are now waiting for their appeal to be dealt with, simply because an ECO appears to not have bothered to look at all the paperwork. An additional point of concern is that they have been informed their appeal could take up to two years; they’ve been told that it’s unlikely that her husband would be issued with a visitor visa now, given he has applied for a settlement visa. So this family waits and waits, considering perhaps the exercise of EU treaty rights just in order for three British citizens to be able to return home as a family.

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Dan
“I can’t believe I may never be able to return home, as breaking up my family for several months just isn’t feasible.”
Dan is a British citizen. His wife is from the USA and they have been living in Florida for four years with their two daughters...both of whom are British citizens. The time is right for this family to return to UK, their homeland. A homeland even for Dan’s American wife who did most of her growing up here in the UK though never obtained citizenship – a fact they so dearly regret now. Dan finds the financial requirements extremely complicated and convoluted; but having made sense of them, and despite having earned over £18,600 p.a. in the US, he is still unable to return home with his family. He is not able to satisfy having a job offer starting within three months of the application. As Dan can’t afford multiple trips to the UK and can't afford unpaid time off work unpaid it would otherwise mean he earned less than £18,600. He is frustrated that the UK government expects him to have a job offer before he is even allowed to return here. He questions whether the UKBA realises: 1) The impossibility of securing a job via a phone interview. 2) The difficulty in getting time off and the general lack of vacation time in countries outside the EU in order to get to the UK for a job interview. 3) The cost of flying across the Atlantic for a job interview.

He is also amazed that this wife’s earning potential, as a skilled professional is completely disregarded, as are the tax dollars they are currently paying to the Inland Revenue Service in America...tax which would otherwise be paid to HMRC. He is also bemused; if he returned to the UK with his two British daughters, the three of them would be eligible for all kinds of benefits at a great cost to the British taxpayer. So it is in the best interest of the British taxpayer to allow Dan’s wife in the country...she would work, pay taxes and be ineligible for any benefits, whilst also rendering Dan and his daughters ineligible by way of the household income being over the qualifying threshold. Dan does not want to return home for benefits. So he will not let his family be split up and we will find a way for the family to be together in the country they have a right to live in.

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Daniel & Kelsey
“I satisfy the requirements, yet they rejected my wife’s application.”
Daniel is a British citizen, who was living in Shandong, China with his wife. They lived there for five years, and have been married for one. Daniel is keen to return to the UK to be closer to his family. However they have had two UK settlement visas refused already. In both cases they found ECO cited incorrect immigration rules to refuse them, even though Daniel is confident, that having used a well-reputed London lawyer, they did meet all the requirements, including financial. They have appealed the result of both applications, however it takes over nine months for any result. Despite now also meeting the savings requirements, Daniel is not confident the application, third time round, would be processed correctly either. So he is considering using his rights as an EU citizen. Yet another British citizen forced to leave his home just to live with his family. Update: Daniel and Kelsey have moved to Ireland and have resumed their life together to the fantastic news that they are expecting a baby.

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Daniel & Rachel
"Home Office treats self-employment income like it’s not legitimate, requiring documentation that doesn’t even exist!”
Daniel is a British citizen. He met Rachel, from the USA in 2009 online. "He had me at 'bats in Honduras," Rachel will say, if asked how their romance started. Daniel owns and operates his own cleaning business, works at a health-food store as well and does odd-jobs self-employed on the side. Through this effort, he satisfies the income requirement of £18,600 for both the fiancée visa and the subsequent FLR(M) visa to follow, as the partner of a British person. They applied for the fiancée visa in 2012, but were horrified to receive a letter telling them that it was denied for reasons that even now remain unclear. They enlisted a solicitor and, upon appeal, the visa was granted with the same documentation that was provided as part of the original application. Thinking their troubles were over, they put the event behind them and were married in April 2013. In June 2013, the couple applied for FLR(M) visa. They used the same solicitor as they had for the fiancée visa, effectively repeating the process. They even used the same accountant to provide evidence of income. Eager to get on with their lives, they opted to pay the extra fees for Premium service. It didn't go according to plan. Despite having the right to exercise judgement, the officer interviewing them refused to accept the credentials of the accountant who had prepared their Statement of Income and Taxes because it wasn't "certified". They were told that they had ten days to have a "proper" accountant review the financials, obtain payslips (including one which had not yet been received or issued!). They were assured that they still maintained their "priority" status given they had paid for the Premium service. Frantic, Rachel and Daniel called every accounting firm in the town they live in, searching for someone who would be willing to complete the daunting task of reviewing two years of financials in 10 days. Thankfully, there was someone benevolent enough to take on the challenge. This certified accountant, upon interviewing was puzzled as to why the officer had rejected their documentation, saying “The way your accountant did this is exactly the same way that any accountant would prepare your documents. Accountants do not know Immigration law”. This certified accountant pointed out that even the guidance information for the visa didn't state that they had to be prepared any differently. Frustrated but grateful the accountant did his best to address the concerns of the officer, they mailed back the requested documentation seven days later. Then the waiting started; they heard nothing, saw nothing, until a month later when a letter arrived through the post, informing them their “outstanding” documentation was received, and that the fiancée visa was effective until a decision was made. The couple believe the complexity arises because Daniel has three sources of income and UK Home Office does not even flirt with the same rules HMRC does in calculating income. All of this is made worse by the Home Office treating self-employment income almost like it's not legitimate earnings by requiring documentation that doesn't even exist to prove that it is "real"! Three months after application, the couple who paid for Premium service have still not heard anything from the Home Office about their application.

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Update: At the end of October 2013, Daniel and Rachel received a letter from the Home Office. Despite the fact that they have provided clear evidence to show Daniel earns over £18,600, the Home Office has said their application is on hold indefinitely, because they do not meet the financial requirements of an annual salary of £18,600. The Home Office was however generous enough to offer Rachel the option of withdrawing her application and losing her application fees. This couple is now stuck in limbo only because the Home Office does not appear to have staff who can read an Accountant’s Statement of Income. They will be working with their solicitor to see how best to proceed with this. Home Office rather than actually reading the documents submitted, thought it easier to put them in the ‘delay’ pile. Daniel is reasonably confident the courts will stand by their original verdict in regards to the Income Requirement ruling and at least, while their application is on hold the couple gets to remain together as it was an in-country application. However it’s very frustrating for Rachel to not be able to do anything or go anywhere; to be unable to make any sort of contribution to society or even partake in any activity.

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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 wife from the Philippines 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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David & Bang
“We are aware many applications despite satisfying all requirements are being refused for trivial or erroneous reasons.”
David is a British citizen married to Bang from China. Their experience of the Home Office has not been positive, with nearly 15 months being taken to make a decision on Bang’s earlier application for leave to remain in the UK. Bang submitted over 15 supporting letters from human rights organisations, universities, artists and writers. However, the application was refused despite the fact that the nature of her work touches on politically sensitive issues in China. The Home Office also ignored the fact that Bang had been a victim of domestic violence from her ex-husband in the UK who kicked her out after just six months. Bang got by and undertook menial jobs. She took pride in the fact that she supported herself as a Chinese writer and documentary filmmaker; as a freelance translator for a watch company, with a film workshop in a German university and invited to present at British Film Institute and Free Word Centre. Commissions from journalism work rolled in and Bang volunteered at Chinese Information & Advice Centre in London, providing support to domestic violence victims and refugee seekers. Her language skills and personal experience put to good use to help others. Two years later David and Bang met. They don’t understand why the UKBA thinks immigrants are only here to take advantage of the UK benefit system. Bang has never claimed benefits in her life, and as a non-EEA person is unable to claim benefits anyway. They will never forget the day they received the previous visa refusal. It was on David's birthday. The couple was devastated. Having to rely on the compassion of an ultra-suspicious government simply to be able to live with the person you love is a lamentable, exhausting and an utterly depressing experience. They overcame this and went on to making plans to get married – formalisation of their relationship would surely satisfy the Home Office they thought. David has a flying phobia; not having been on a plane for 15 years. However he agreed to take a 12 hour flight to China to marry Bang with her family present. The couple does not struggle financially; they lived together comfortably on David's income from a permanent job, well over £18,600. They have their own flat, sufficient savings and Bang also sold her flat in China to minimise the mortgage. However the couple is worried. They are aware many applications - despite satisfying all requirements - are being refused for minor or erroneous reasons. David has returned to England as he has no holiday left, and Bang is in China waiting for the decision on her visa. The couple has been waiting since 14th June 2013. Neither can relax because of the constant worry of Bang not being able to return home and the anxiety of not being rich enough to satisfy the UK government’s excessive requirements to safeguard their future.

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Euan & Megan
“Our only crime is that a Scottish guy and American girl fell in love with each other.”
Euan is a British citizen from Scotland married to Megan from Charlestown, USA. Euan and Megan met in Dublin, Ireland on July 29th, 2008. Megan was there on a holiday with her cousin and Euan was on holiday with a group of his friends. They met by chance at a bar and immediately hit it off, spending the evening talking and dancing and eventually parted ways exchanging emails. Neither thought they would ever see the other again. However, on her return home to the USA, Megan emailed Euan and within a day received a reply. The next four years were spent travelling back and forth; Euan visiting Megan in Boston whilst she was at university, Megan flying to Scotland for every summer and winter break. After her final year, they got married in Charlestown, New Hampshire on Megan’s parent’s farm. It was a beautiful ceremony with friends and family joining in the celebrations. No one thought that their happy story would be shadowed by the worst experience so far of their lives. The couple decided to live in Ayr, Scotland as Euan’s career was going well and he already had made a home there. With Megan yet to begin her career, it was easier for her to make the move. So they applied for a Settlement Visa in May 2012, having sought advice from Worldbridge who were very patient and specifically asked Megan to apply as an unmarried partner. Naively the couple believed this advice was the right advice, but within 24 hours, the application was refused. Looking back now, it is funny to think that at the time the couple thought this would be the worst news. After this refusal, they decided to wait to reapply after the wedding. Megan arrived in Scotland on a visitor's visa, planning on re-applying in November when she was back in the US. However, during that time, the immigration rules completely changed and there was now an £18,600 income threshold to satisfy. Euan is self-employed and only just misses the £18,600 level. He has a very low mortgage, no debt and is able to live a very good standard of living on his earnings. Yet the government is only interested in the amount he makes; they don’t care what his disposable income is, nor do they ask for any information regarding the applicant’s debts or outlays. Knowing they didn't meet the income requirement with wages (and being unable to combine savings with self-employment) they decided to go down the savings route. They read the guidance notes, thought they had evidence of the right amount of savings and sent in the second application, hoping to be together for their first Christmas as a married couple. At this point the Home office/UKBA website did not have a formula for the calculation of the savings. The second application was also refused on the financial requirement grounds and it was only with the amendment to the Home Office/UKBA website that it was made clear they needed £62,500 in cash savings held for six months.

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This was a particularly hard refusal to get over as the couple had been certain they’d finally be able to start their lives together but were once again forced apart. Six months down the line, Euan has been able to demonstrate he has the necessary amount of savings and they have made their third application. They don’t know whether the visa has been refused or granted; they’ve just been told that a decision has been made. It has been a year and a half since Euan and Megan started this horrific journey of being allowed to be together. Euan has lived and worked in Scotland his whole life, and is a successful musician making more than enough money to support their lifestyle. Megan graduated with honours from a top Boston university with a degree in Child Psychology. She has extensive experience working with children with autism and is eager to work with children with disabilities in Scotland. Most of all, they are just a married couple wishing to live their life together, yet being forced to live 3,500 miles apart. This decision the government has made has cost them nearly $10,000, and their family life has been put on hold. While both remain hopeful that this time Megan will receive the settlement visa, theyr both know the fight is not over. Other families and couples should not have to go through this. Euan should not be stripped of his rights by his own government simply because he has created his own successful business that just misses out on the threshold officials in London deem fit. The UK government is destroying well-meaning young couples and families who simply want to work, contribute, and live together in the country of their origin. Megan has been treated like a benefit-seeking drain on society and has been forced apart from her husband while he as the British citizen must prove his worth. The government has surpassed being strict into territory which is unfair, unjust and simply cruel. The most insulting part of the entire process is that after going through all of this madness, spouses are only entitled to live with loved ones for two and a half years. Then they have to go through this nightmare again.

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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.

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Then he spent several months helping his elder son renovate the house he had bought in north 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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Haje & Ziah
“Missed deadlines, lost marriage certificates, baffling incompetence; welcome to the Home Office.”
Haje is resident in the UK. He came here about thirteen years ago from Norway; literally fresh off the boat as he disembarked at Newcastle to start his journalism course in Liverpool. The big shiny lights, the unfeasibly short skirts and the incredible amounts of Stella consumed was something to behold. He remembers thinking, “so this is what the big world is like”. Haje had no intention of remaining in the UK. However plans changed and he set up his first company soon after finishing university. Fast forward the best part of a decade and Haje is now living in London; his company is a success and he’s doing pretty well too. However, something over-shadows everything else in his life: he is in love with Ziah from USA. Truly, properly, and very much in love. She’s hot (why not!), awesome (of course), talented (what else) and from the USA (unfortunately). They met whilst Ziah was in the UK working in visual effects - one of those industries that would have collapsed if it hadn’t been for foreign talent. From here, it’s a pretty standard tale of boy-meets-girl, boy-and-girl-go-travelling-round- world, boyand-girl-move-to-South-America-for-a-year, boy-proposes-to-girl, girl-says-yes, girl-narrowly-avoidsturning-into-bridezilla and so forth. They got married at the end of 2012, planning to return to UK. But first, they had to go through the Home Office process. They expected it to be easy. After all, Haje is an EU citizen with a job and a lovely flat. As an EEA Citizen, the EU guarantees the right to move and reside freely anywhere within the EEA. (see Directive 2004/38/EC on the right to move and reside freely). Being married to Haje, Ziah should be able to enter the country and get an EEA Residence card, as per Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2006. However they didn’t count on Home Office placing unnecessarily obstacles in their way. The irony is that Ziah doesn’t need this piece of paper. In fact, on the UKBA site, they say “You do not need to obtain documents confirming your right of residence in the UK if you are a family member of an EEA national”, but you “may have difficulty proving that you are lawfully resident in the UK”; i.e. it will be difficult to re-enter the UK if you go abroad, and that you “may find it difficult to obtain or change employment.” So essentially, what they’re saying is that you don’t need this piece of paper, but if you don’t have it you’re screwed. Keen to be immigrants of the legal variety, the couple submitted their EEA2 form, which means that — by law – the Home Office has to issue the residence card within six months. Months went by and the six month deadline went and passed. Eventually, the Home Office did get back to them, rejecting the application as the payslips they received were ‘copies’. Given the company is paperless, the originals of payslips are PDF documents, how do the Home Office expect submission of these?

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More importantly: why couldn’t Home Office have contacted them? The second they opened the envelope and the payslips tumbled out, they’d have been able to spot that something wasn’t quite “official” enough for them. In the meantime, Ziah may lose the job she has been offered – a job that would mean she starts paying income tax – because she can’t prove she is allowed to work here, even though she is! So, we start our long and arduous climb up the slippery pole that is the appeals process. Receiving an EEA residence permit really is a formality: apparently it used to be possible to rock up at an office with a pair of passports, a marriage certificate, a couple of pay slips and a tenancy agreement, and they’d stamp the EEA residence card into your passport there and then. The whole process would take less than a day. The underpinning laws haven’t changed, but the process has morphed from taking 4-hours to 4400 hours. To ‘prove’ the payslips and other digital documents are effectively ‘originals’, Haje was advised to purchase a rubber stamp; his lawyer said “It’s only £30, buy one. It’s the Home Office, logic does not apply.” As they prepare to put in their appeal, Ziah realises Home Office never returned their original marriage certificate. So she sends a letter to the Home Office, asking for her marriage certificate back. In response, they received a most insidious letter from “EO2 LNC21” (as their case worker is known - god forbid they actually get the real name of the person deciding their fate) claiming to work for the UK Boarder Agency (sic) ‘application was seen and decided by myself,’ and that ‘there was no marriage certificate in your application’ The caseworker goes on to say that the ‘application did not contain a covering letter stating the contents of the application and the only record this office has that there may have been a marriage certificate included in this application is the application form.’ The absolutely incredible thing about the latter statement is that the couple included the marriage certificate and a cover letter specifying this. How can they be so sure? Because the Home Office returned their cover letter to them! It does appear that Home Office puts up artificial hindrances in the way, even for people from the EU (and their family members), because they are trying to dissuade potential migrants from EEA countries as much as possible. Is that legal? Absolutely not. Does the Home Office care? Actions speak louder than words. Haje finds it hard to explain exactly how powerless he feels when facing a government agency which finds it easy to flout the law. Doubly so when what ought to be a simple formality becomes an unsurpassable wall that stands between the right-here-right-now, and being able to start a life in the UK as productive members of society. Ziah would love to work. She would love to start paying taxes. Both her and Haje would love to be a shiny example of exactly the kind of immigrants we need in this country. Now if only the Home Office would let them.

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Hayley & Mehmet
“We won’t ever give up, we will win, we will be together”
Hayley is a British citizen. Mehmet, her husband is from Turkey. So for reasons only due to accident of birth, this married couple has seen each other for one week since their wedding in September 2012. They expect to have seen each other for a total of two weeks by the time of their first anniversary. Hayley lives in South Wales, where finding a job in her line of work, paying over £18,600 is very difficult. And so Hayley works two jobs. One as a self-employed beauty therapist, and the other as an administrator. So she works from 9am to 3pm in the office job, and 4pm to 9pm running her own business. That’s twelve hours. Every working day, and often, Saturdays as well. She has been doing this since March 2012 because rules for proving income as a self-employed person in love with a non-EEA citizen are anything but simple. Hayley has never worked this hard. She’s tired and has no life outside work due to rules as they were; due to the July 2012 rules making it even more difficult. Hayley recalls the change in her life, after returning from their lovely wedding in Turkey with family and friends bearing witness, when she started to gather everything they needed for the spouse visa, only to realise after many late nights pouring over the UKBA website that because she was self-employed, they could not actually apply until April 2013, to allow for the relevant tax year to end. She was absolutely devastated reading this and realising that they had a long wait before they could even apply. So they both cracked on, working hard, sitting it out, battling on. Mehmet’s spouse visa is in process. However, she is very worried reading of people being refused even where they meet the income requirement. This couple has been working hard, saving up for their future together and they have borne the time apart, anticipating they will be together before long. Hayley considered sharing her story only after receiving a response to the visa application, but often a burden shared is a burden halved and so she decided to share with BritCits and somehow ease the enormous burden of stress they are under. She is alone and lonely. Although she was welcomed in Istanbul in January 2013, where she went for a week to support her husband through the English exam, she hasn’t seen him since. They Skype regularly and speak over the phone several times a day, but it’s not the same. For this couple time is also more precious with Hayley being in her 40s. Hayley lost a child 17 years ago, leading to a failed marriage and years before she was granted this second chance at happiness. The couple want kids, but are being forced to postpone it because of these rules. We only hope it won’t be too late. Keeping a married couple apart is bad enough, but the government interfering on a couple’s decision to have kids is untenable. Hayley just wants the chance to be happy, live with her husband, wake up to him every morning and come home to him every night. Is that really too much to ask for? They don’t want to claim benefits, just both work hard and be together like ‘a normal’ married couple. They found the visa application process laborious – whichever way it goes, and we hope the result is positive, it has aged Hayley ten years. However, the couple love each other; there is nothing they wouldn’t do for the other...they just want to be together like all couples do.
Update: Mehmet received his visa in August 2013. Hayley is looking forward to welcoming her husband and starting their married life together, as it should be.

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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 from Turkey, 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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Jessica & Arban
“I can’t wait to just have a normal life with my husband.”
Jessica is a British citizen from Nottingham working in Hampshire. She first met Arban in April 2011, several months after becoming friends with him on Facebook. They got married in April 2013. For Jessica once they met, she knew Arban was ‘the one’. She went home after the first meeting and told her nana that she had met the man she was going to marry. Little did she know that Arban himself had said the same thing to his family; showing them a picture of Jessica and telling them that she was his future wife. Arban is very hard working – he was working 12 hours a day 6 days a week when they first met. Jessica at the time was in her 3rd year of BsC Audiology. Arban’s visa had run out and he was receiving help from a solicitor for a legacies case giving him grounds to stay in the UK to be with Jessica. However, the authorities didn’t acknowledge Jessica and Arban’s relationship as durable or genuine. So Arban was deported to Albania. Due to the stress of losing Arban, Jessica started having panic attacks, finding it difficult to leave the house on her own. She was forced to take a gap year from university hence postponing her dream job as an audiologist. She did manage to calm the panic episodes with the help of medication, but soon took a knock back after being attacked by a 13 year old in her local area. She was left covered in bruises and broken ribs. University was postponed for yet another year. It was painful for Arban to see Jessica in such a state even over Skype. He was upset and frustrated that he couldn’t be there to protect her or even hold her hand. That’s when Jessica decided to go into live in care, as it meant she could live at work and earn enough money to apply for the spouse visa to bring him home. It is not an easy job; Jessica hasn’t seen her own family or friends for most of the year and has only seen her husband and in laws three times in 2013. This is not what family life should be about. In June 2013, they made the spouse application, providing evidence of earnings as well as Arban’s English language certificate. On September 11th, they received the refusal on several grounds, including English language test and financials. The couple is frustrated. The savings they had built up for a house deposit is being eroded with time apart. In the meantime, Jessica continues managing full-time study and work, in the hope of completing her degree and landing her dream job. The couple just looks forward to the day they can have a “normal” life together.

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Joanne & Ben
Joanne is a British citizen who met her husband, Ben in 2007. They got married in 2010 and applied for a UK settlement visa in February 2013. They were refused the visa on the grounds that Joanne did not meet the financial requirements, even though her salary is in excess of £18,600. The method used by UKBA meant they calculated her pay incorrectly, and did not look at all the evidence provided. Since April, their appeal process has been in play, causing further stress, keeping the couple apart for even longer and resulting in a drain on their savings.

This couple’s experience of the UKBA is unfortunately not an anomaly. We await the result of their appeal and hopefully justice will finally prevail for this couple.

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JoJo & Loïc
“Our application took nearly a year and we’re one of the lucky ones!”
JoJo is a British Citizen from Hampshire and Northumberland. Even as a child she dreamed of Africa; nature, chimpanzees and gorillas. At Durham University she studied Physical Anthropology followed by six months as a volunteer in Republic of Congo at a chimpanzee sanctuary. In January 2005 she got a job in Gabon to set up a new chimpanzee and gorilla conservation project for the Max Planck Institute (MPI) in Leipzig, Germany. In this role JoJo met Loïc: a Gabonese research assistant and committed conservationist. They explored rainforests, estimating number of apes lived in the forest, mapping an area of over 100km2 to document details. JoJo and Loïc lived in a remote and isolated tented camp with no running water or electricity, but they loved the work they were doing, and felt that lack of creature comforts was well worth it. After five years the relationship evolved into more with the relationship flourishing in the remote rainforest. For the next five years they lived together, expanding the ape project, working on habituating chimpanzees and gorillas for an eco-tourism project. They were happy, developing a strong bond. JoJo’s family visited them on several occasions and in 2009 Loïc proposed to JoJo. She accepted. In August 2010, JoJo moved to Germany to complete her PhD. Loïc visited her and they applied for a UK visit visa, hence followed four fabulous weeks, visiting places from JoJo’s childhood, family and friends. Loïc then returned to Gabon, and they kept in touch as much as possible, but bad phone coverage meant sometimes they had to go weeks without, meeting up in parts of Africa and Europe in the intervening period. In January 2012 they handed in their notice at MPI to embark on a life in UK. In April 2012 JoJo returned to Gabon for two months for handover with the plan to marry in UK in December. Although tinged with much sadness at leaving their beloved Africa, the couple was excited about their future. Little did they know what the UKBA had in store for them. Loïc submitted his visa application for a spouse visa in May 2012, travelling to the nearest British embassy in Cameroon. They provided evidence of their relationship, statements showing savings. JoJo’s father wrote a letter confirming they could live in his mortgage-free house. However, three months later, the application was denied. UKBA did not believe JoJo’s bank statements were genuine (they were); as her savings were in an “E-Bond” (maturing in December 2012) they didn’t believe the couple had access to these funds. UKBA said it “could not be satisfied on the balance of probability” the relationship was genuine and subsisting. Hence followed an appeal. By this point the wedding date was booked in for 7th December, guests too had been invited. They therefore collated further documentation; more statements and testimonials from employers, colleagues and friends, more photos, and evidence of phone and email correspondence between JoJo and Loïc during the last two years. JoJo also got a job in the UK, working for an organisation focused on great ape conservation, paying over £18,600. They submitted evidence of their upcoming nuptials, requested an expedited appeal which was refused. So the wedding was cancelled, deposits were lost and hearts were broken.

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The couple decided to get married as scheduled on 7th December albeit in Gabon. Guests included JoJo’s father and aunt, many family members of Loïc, and friends of both Loïc and JoJo. JoJo’s sister was pregnant and couldn’t fly. Her brother too missed out as he couldn’t get time off work. Nevertheless, it was a beautiful ceremony followed by a lovely honeymoon before JoJo’s work commitments required her to return home. So it was that the couple began married life on different continents. What was supposed to be their first magical Christmas together with all of JoJo’s family, turned into a sad phone call, with bad phone signal and getting cut off on numerous occasions. The couple comforted themselves in the knowledge that the appeal deadline was the 22nd February and that in two months they would be reunited, since their appeal case was rock solid and full of irrefutable evidence. Unsurprisingly, JoJo and Loïc did not receive any decision from the UKBA by 22nd February as required. HM Courts and First Tier Tribunal wrote to inform the couple that they would have to attend an oral hearing to appeal the decision. A lawyer they retained for the appeal was unphased and unsurprised by UKBA’s behaviour. She informed the couple it was common for UKBA to not even open appeal documents and simply wait the five months afforded to them, to then allow it to automatically go to a hearing. Delaying tactics presumably in the hope that the relationship would not withstand the pressure. Despite all this, JoJo and Loïc feel lucky compared to many other families in similar situations as they don’t yet have kids and so aren’t enduring the pain of raising a family apart. JoJo is very fortunate to be able to earn over £18,600 to qualify for a visa. Loïc didn’t have to take an English test because there isn’t a testing centre in Gabon. But that doesn’t stop them feeling angry and frustrated. This treatment by the UK government is a breach of human rights. Their appeal hearing was scheduled for June 2013, more than a year after the initial application. JoJo and Loïc tried to remain optimistic, whilst preparing for more delaying tactics and preposterous claims, determined to prove love conquers all. In March 2013, Loïc received an email informing him that the appeal had been successful, asking him to take his passport to the embassy in Cameroon. However the embassy was unaware of this; finally agreeing to send his application to Ghana - a process which would take a further two weeks. Only to find weeks later there had been no progress...after several times being told the equivalent of the ‘cheque is in the mail’ he was told the visa printing machine in Ghana was broken, so he’d have to wait another month, or they could send his passport to another country with a working machine. JoJo’s father went to the UKBA office in Croydon. After an hour of not even being allowed through the door, he finally got to speak to someone who knew staff in the Ghana office. Two hours later, he received a call from Ghana promising him the passport with the visa was being sent back to Cameroon the very same day – clearly the machine wasn’t broken after all. Six more excruciating days went by. Finally, on 2nd May, the passport arrived and Loïc could return to Gabon to take the flight to UK on 7th May where JoJo met him at the airport. At passport control Loïc was taken aside and questioned for over an hour then finally allowed through. Then the now not-so-newly married couple was finally reunited. The entire application process ended up taking nearly one year, costing over £5000 and a lot of heartache. What should have been a simple application process was turned into a shambolic and frustrating process by the UK government in a misguided aim to cut immigration and break apart British families.

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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 daughterin-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 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.

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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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Leanne
“My husband is my life and he's the best thing that's ever happened to me - it kills me every day I am forced to be without him”
Leanne is a British citizen. Her husband is a citizen of Egypt and therefore not allowed to live in the UK with her. Leanne met her husband in Greece, where he has lived and worked for over six years. They have been together for the last four, and got married in April 2013, in Greece. They know they will need to be apart for over six months – possibly twelve if not longer. Six months to show Leanne’s payslips and savings (she earns less than £18,600 but together they have £22,000 savings to supplement this for satisfying the financial requirement). Another six months or longer for processing of the application. Although the financial considerations are in hand, Leanne is petrified her husband’s visa will be refused. Their view very much (not surprisingly!) is that UKBA seems to be finding reasons to refuse visas left, right and centre, often for spurious reasons. At 31, Leanne already feels like she doesn’t have enough time. She was diagnosed with bowel cancer at the age of 20; after bouts of chemotherapy and surgery, she was told she would not be able to have her own biological kids. So given that her hospital has indicated she may be able to have IVF, it’s so urgent that this couple gets the chance to make their own family. However they can’t take it further without her husband by her side. Leanne is scared..if her husband can’t join her any time soon, with that not only are her rights as a British citizen jeopardised, but so is her very natural human right to have a family On 25th June 2013, Leanne cried tears of joy. This is the day she was returning from hospital after one of her regular checkups for cancer. However, the reason for the tears was the ray of hope for her being united with her husband. Leanne’s brother sent her a link to a BBC article, following which she watched a Newsnight program telling her of EU providing justice where the British government snatched it away, via the Surinder Singh route. The resulting questions though show more than anything that this route isn’t one taken lightly; nor are British citizens with non-EEA families expecting our streets to be paved with gold. They also show the shameful fear the government has successfully instilled in the very people it’s being paid to represent. Does this mean I don’t have to be apart from my husband any longer? Can the government close this route too? How long do I have to be working there? Can my husband work there as well? Will my husband then be allowed to work in the UK, if we return here using Surinder Singh route? There at no point have been any questions on accessing benefits which under UK’s immigration rules non-EEA family members don’t qualify for any way. If anything people have been adamant that with their spouse here they would have less need to claim benefits because of the multiple incomes the family would be earning.

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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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Maria
“I satisfy the financial threshold, but as we have not lived together, how do I prove a durable relationship to the Home Office’s satisfaction?”
Maria is a British citizen from Northern Ireland, with a boyfriend who is a citizen of the USA. They have known each other since 2000 when as teenagers they became friends, staying in touch across the Atlantic through emails and phone calls. In March 2010, their relationship developed into something more than ‘just friends’. They visited each other twice a year and now wish to make their relationship more permanent by living together in Northern Ireland. Maria earns £30,000 a year, well in excess of the £18,600 requirement. However, they are not quite ready for the commitment of marriage and so flummoxed by how to prove that theirs is a ‘durable relationship’ when they have not been living together so don’t have joint household bills, tenancy agreements or a mortgage. This is a couple who simply wants the opportunity to have a proper relationship, explore the potential for a future together before rushing into marriage. A couple that should be admired for being mature. Yet this is a couple that is afraid they will be caught in the Home Office net of finding reasons to refuse visa applications rather than using common sense.

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Paula
“The government expects me to leave my job, my ability to support my family and just move countries, else be apart from my husband!”
Paula is a British citizen. She was born and raised here. She is extremely angry that someone she doesn’t even know...someone who doesn’t even know her, is telling her she can’t live with her husband...the man she was allowed to marry! Paula earns over £18,600 as the manager of a charity. Her husband has passed his ESOL exams and is currently devouring Charles Dickens novels. They have never had recourse to public funds. Paula does have a medical condition which requires medication and supervision. This couple has spent a lot of money on immigration lawyers, yet been refused leave to remain. The message to this British citizen is; leave your job, your ability to support your family, maintain your medical condition elsewhere...move to another country!

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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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Shafik & Nesrin
“The situation in Syria is getting worse day by day. For us it’s not just about the basic right to family life, but the basic right to life.”
Shafik is a British citizen living in London. He met Nesrin on Christmas Eve in 2008 in Damascus, Syria. They visited tourist sites together and celebrated the arrival of 2009 with each other. On his return to the UK, Shafik stayed in touch with Nesrin through regular phone calls and the internet. They met again when Shafik holidayed in Syria from July to September 2010, spending the majority of the time together. The intervening period had brought them so close they discussed taking their relationship to another level, with a view to marriage. Shafik visited Nesrin again in April 2012. This time he was a guest at her home where he spent two weeks with Nesrin and her family. Shafik and Nesrin’s family got on so well, it cemented their decision to translate their love into a formal state of spending the rest of their lives as a couple. In December of the same year, Shafik and Nesrin got engaged – almost exactly four years to the day of their first meeting each other. Ever since then they have been battling for Nesrin to join Shafik in the UK, where they wish to get married. However the war in Syria has delayed their plans. The British embassy in Damascus closed and Nesrin had to apply to the embassy in Beirut for her visa. Shafik could not send Nesrin original documents as the post service in Syria stopped so he had to scan across the documents. The English language schools recognised by Home Office were closed in Syria. So Nesrin travelled to Beirut just to take the exam in a recognised school. She did pass the exam. They submitted the application in February 2013 and received a decision in less than a month. However, the visa was refused, with four reasons being provided for the refusal: a) Failure to provide evidence that the Sponsor (Shafik) earns £18,600. This is despite the application including a letter from Shafik’s employer that his income, after tax, is over £18,600. Despite the application also including the six months payslips required also evidencing this fact. Despite bank statements showing a healthy level of savings. b) Failure to provide evidence of required accommodation. This is despite the application including a letter from a local council showing the flat that Shafik has been living in for the last eight years, in accordance with UK housing legislation, is sufficient for a couple to live in. c) Failure to provide evidence of relationship. This is despite the application including many photos of their engagement ceremony and the times they had spent together. Also included in the application were copies of emails and transcripts of Skype and Facebook chats. d) Failure to provide evidence of passing the English language test. This is despite Nesrin obtaining a B1 in the English language test, which is higher than the pass mark required by the Home Office. A test certificate issued from a school listed by the Home Office as a recognised and approved school was submitted with the original application. The school does not provide a Certificate of Passing, informing Nesrin that the embassy has previously always accepted the documentation provided.

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The couple responded by Shafik sending in the original documents and appealing against the decision in April 2013. In May the court sent him a pending appeal, suggesting they re-send the application to the embassy to review, and that if the original decision was not overturned by late September then they would hold a judicial review of the decision. Shafik’s solicitor told him that given the unlikelihood of the embassy overturning the decision, it is likely it would be March 2014 for their case to be heard in court, and June 2014 before they received a decision. These timescales are unacceptable for any family, but especially one where the affected family member is in a war torn country like Syria. Shafik is aware that the Home Office has processed only two settlement visas for Syrians in the past three years. Shafik is trying to keep his fiancée free from the stress and misery – she is ill and there is a shortage of medication in Syria at the moment. He speaks to her every day for the limited time that there is electricity there, trying to keep up her hopes. However he is worried. The security situation in Syria is deteriorating day by day. His fiancée is in a warzone and is in real and constant danger every day. For them this is not just about the basic human right to be allowed to live with your family, but a right to life.

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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 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 a multitude of certified documents– bank statements, payslips, English language certificate. 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 two months apart before there is any sort of progress. They’ve spent a significant amount of money; two visa applications, legal fees, travel expenses. 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. Update: Sharon & Salah appealed the Home Office refusal and were successful in the Entry Clearance Manager overturning the refusal. Although initial indications from the government were they would appeal this decision, in July 2013 the family was advised that the government had in fact withdrawn the appeal. However, the embassy in Cairo is pleading ignorance of this. Their lawyer is now chasing the Home Office to push for progress so this family can be reunited. On 9th September 2013, Salah picked up his visa. The family is now celebrating the triumph of justice over the Home Office.

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Steve & Yoko
“Home Office bureaucracy has been a massive barrier for us, even though we satisfy all the requirements.”
Steve is a British citizen from Tunbridge Wells. Currently Steve, his wife Yoko and their one year old daughter are all stuck 6,000 miles away from home, in Japan. This is despite their having more than the required £62,500 cash in a current account. Steve moved to Japan in early 2007, shortly after completing his masters degree. He reconnected with a friend of a friend who he had met once in London. This friend of a friend was Yoko. The couple started dating shortly after, and were engaged and living together less than a year later. As much as Steve loves Japan, he never intended to spend his life there. Yoko, fluent in English and a great admirer of British culture, is happy to leave her homeland to join Steve in his. The couple was aware of the requirements to show evidence of relationship, and keeping future the visa application in mind, kept a record of their life together right from the signing of their first tenancy agreement. Steve works there as a school teacher, and Yoko in international investment banking. In 2012, a little while after their little girl was born, they decided the time was right to move to the UK and settle down, figuring it would be easier to move while she was still small rather than uprooting her at school-age. Looking at the immigration rules they could tick off the requirements; record of having lived together for five years, countless photos, testimonies from friends and family, marriage documents, even a daughter together. They were comfortable they could prove the genuineness of their relationship. They were prepared for the invasive questions they may need to answer, but thought the application would really just be a formality given this was two British citizens wishing to return home with their wife and mother. Steve has five very clear reasons for why he wants to return home. 1. I'm British. It's my home. 2. My wife still loves the UK, British people and British culture, even after the way she's been treated. 3. My family can help us raise our daughter; Yoko's family is much smaller and less able to help. 4. Mixed race children almost always face racist bullying from their peers and discrimination from teachers at school in Japan. Bullying of haafu ('half') children often starts in preschool and continues into adult life. While racism is still a big problem in the UK, being half Japanese in the UK is more likely to be viewed as something positive. 5. My wife and I survived the Great Earthquake of 2011 and the subsequent Fukushima nuclear disaster. Another major earthquake has been predicted within the next four years. Fukushima is making headlines again with further radiation leaks and risks of another meltdown. It's time to come home. This is when the financial requirements came to their attention. £18,600 – a lot of money, but Steve was confident they could cover that allowing for savings. The formula used by the Home Office though was an unpleasant surprise with the first £16,000 completely disregarded. Pooling their resources, the couple was however able to show over £62,500 in cash just as the Home Office demands.

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Despite both Steve and Yoko being educated and fluent in English, they were having trouble navigating the immigration rules – therefore instructed a solicitor to help them with their application, incurring more expense. The solicitor advised that though the application could succeed, the caseworker might ask for six payslips for Yoko as proof of the source of their savings. However, as Yoko has been on maternity leave, she did not receive any payslips. Their solicitor told them that where the caseworker asks for additional evidence, if this is not furnished within two weeks, the application is refused and the application fee is lost. The couple could not risk that. Not just because of the application fee, but because Steve’s employer had offered him another year’s contract. A visa application refusal would have meant Steve would have been forced to remain in Japan, unemployed, but also unable to return to the UK. So the family decided to delay their application until Yoko has been back at work for six months, just so she could get six payslips. This should ensure the Home Office has no legal reason to refuse their application (though the couple is aware this doesn’t mean the Home Office won’t refuse it!). However, the inflexibility of the rules has meant their daughter has had to go into daycare and they’ve been forced to put their plans on hold for a year just to satisfy utterly pointless bureaucratic requirements. In the meantime, their daughter still hasn't met most of her family, and Yoko and I have to cope with raising a kid without any family support for another year. What’s even worse is that when eventually Steve and his family are able to move to the UK, they won't be able to buy a house or invest their savings in any way, because they’ll have to keep them in a current account for the next five years to satisfy the ongoing requirements. Steve is fully aware that he is one of the luckier victims of his country’s family immigration rules. He has not been separated from his wife, and he knows they will be eligible for a visa in the near future. However his case does highlight that even where you are reasonably well off, even where you do satisfy all the requirements, even where you can prove you are in a genuine relationship, bureaucracy could be what puts up a giant barrier in the path to family reunification.

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Steve & Yuriko
“I am incredibly angry at having to endure so much stress because of my government, only because I fell in love with someone from another country.”
Steve is a British citizen. He has been a migrant himself, or an ex-pat as British migrants tend to be referred to, living in New York between the years 2007 and 2010. He returned to the UK, to be close to family. While he had enjoyed being in New York, it just wasn’t home. Before Steve left for the US, he had met Yuriko, from Japan. At the time they were just friends, but kept in touch via email, phone, Skype, Facebook. When he returned to the UK, Steve was in a position to spend more time with her. He had been successful in obtaining a really good job – within the area of technology for finance companies in the City - earning much more than the current income requirement of £18,600. Steve visited Yuriko in Japan in late 2010, by which time they had entered a relationship beyond that of ‘just friends’. Steve was due to visit Yuriko, his then girlfriend in Japan again in 2011, when the region was devastated by the Great East Japan Earthquake. Yuriko at the time lived in Sendai, the epicentre of the earthquake. Steve couldn't go there, Yuriko couldn’t leave from there. Although Yuriko was physically fine, her house was damaged (and has since incidentally, been rebuilt by the government for the most part) and for a month the phone line was patchy, mobile phones had to be charged up in the centre of town and Yuriko like the other residents in the area had to survive with food rationing, no water and no heating. Later in 2011, Yuriko made the visit to the UK when to her delight Steve proposed and happily, she accepted! Which is when their experience of the UK visa process began. Initially they applied for a fiancée visa. It was long, drawn out process, not to mention expensive. Yuriko had to sit the English language test, and Steve had to provide a pile of documentation in support of her application. In March 2012 Yuriko received the visa in time for her move to the UK in May 2012, and all was good.
Steve & Yuriko after a visit to Norwich Cathedral

Until real life intervened. Steve was being made redundant from his very well paid job. He also discovered the immigration rules were about to change to introduce an income requirement though it was unclear as to the level. So Steve went through an incredibly stressful and uncertain month. His fiancée was about to uproot herself and move to the UK for them to make a life together, and Steve wasn’t sure whether or not he would be able to sponsor her as his wife. Would Yuriko be deported? Would she even be allowed to enter? Would he be able to honour his commitment to her?

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Steve followed the news and various immigration boards closely. The more he found out about how the rules were going to change without a parliamentary vote, the more outraged he became. By June 2012, Steve was fortunate to obtain clarity that because his fiancée’s visa was under the ‘old’ rules, they’d continue, even for the spouse visa, to not have any income threshold applied to them. Steve had wisely made some investments which meant they were okay for a period of not working. In late June 2012, the couple got married. More good news followed with August seeing Steve finding work again earning over the £18,600 threshold, albeit a threshold which does not apply to him. So the celebrations continued and in November 2012, Yuriko received her spouse visa. However Steve was angry with his country and his government. He had been put through an incredible amount of stress, just because he had fallen in love with someone from another region of the world.
Yuriko & Steve on their wedding day

So despite his situation being resolved, Steve attended the 9th July 2012 demonstration against the rules, joined by his wife. He remained active on various online forums, when he was approached by Sonel to join as the other half of BritCits – an invitation he accepted in order to make a difference and campaign against rules designed to tear families apart, even though his own was intact. Steve’s IT skills were a great aid to his creating the website www.britcits.com to reach an even wider audience. The collation of stories of British citizens affected by UK’s immigration rules to raise awareness and drive change by lobbying politicians, liaising with media and forming a support group for those impacted, has over time gained momentum as the horrific nature of the rules have became even more apparent.

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Tom & Elizabeth
“When we vowed ‘till death do us part’ we had not factored in the divisive role played by UKBA and the Home Office.”
Tom is a British citizen and married to Elizabeth, from the USA. They met in 2012 in Florida. Elizabeth wasn’t immune to Tom’s face, charm and British accent which make Americans swoon. Within six months, the couple was engaged, travelling back and forth to visit each other. Whilst not together, they spent hours on the phone and cherished the capabilities of Skype and Facetime which allowed them to see each other. But through it all, they were focused on one thing: the moment when the long-distance part of their love would end. Tom and Elizabeth married in January 2013 with a lovely ceremony and reception in Washington, DC. Sitting in the anteroom of the church, Elizabeth recalls her emotions swirling. Theirs had been a whirlwind romance spanning an ocean. Now she faced the enormity of the moment, the date circled on her calendar had arrived, and like any other bride she felt on edge, a mixture of anticipation and tension. At last – after months apart she would marry the man she loved. They would be together. This couple’s dreams are not unlike other couples in love. They longed to live life together: holding hands on the street, kissing at the doorstep, embracing in joy and sorrow, falling asleep entangled with each other, and sharing those unspoken moments – making memories. Tom and Elizabeth want to stand together and face the world. That was the whole idea behind getting married, after all. From the flowers to the car, the fair weather and the band – all the little details of the wedding went according to plan, and in their eyes, their big day was perfect. The couple could not have been more happy or more in love. They are back to having five time zones separate them; back to coordinating travel and long-distance phone calls. Though they vowed “till death do us part,” they hadn’t anticipated the divisive role UK Border Agency and Home Office would play. It is even harder now to reconcile that they – as husband and wife - live thousands of miles apart, even though Tom meets the financial requirements.

Tom started a new company in March 2013, but was disappointed to learn that he cannot sponsor his wife to join him until the company has been in existence for one year to meet the strict evidential requirements of Paragraph 9 of the Appendix FM-SE, which require the latest annual tax return and 12 months' bank statements. The company is doing well. Indeed, Tom has already earned the requisite £18,600 income, but it is only because they do not have certain documents for very valid and legitimate reasons, they have been advised not to apply at this time. This evidential rule vaults form over substance and adds a further layer of red tape on self-employed persons, who must wait 12 months to sponsor a loved one – even more than the other categories of employment who need to show 6 months documentary evidence. Elizabeth is a trained attorney and broadcast journalist.

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Tom & Olya
“The UK immigration process is lengthy, complicated...and thoroughly demeaning.” expensive and
Tom is a British citizen from the East Riding area, just west of York. His partner, Olya is from the Ukraine and lives in Kiev. As Tom is a musician by profession, the couple has been lucky enough to travel all over Europe together for best part of the past two years. Their life together so far has been an adventure, full of all the care and love that anyone in a healthy relationship will know of. Olya is also lucky that as a linguist (fluent in English, Russian, Ukrainian, Spanish with some Polish and also now learning Greek) her employer allows her to work remotely, as long as she has a computer and wifi access, making their nomadic lifestyle possible. They never had a problem obtaining visas for other European countries for Olya. However, when they decided it was time for Olya to come home with Tom, meet his friends and family they came across immigration horror. Olya's passport is full of visas and stamps from visits all over Europe and indeed many parts from outside the region as well. The visa denial for a UK visit visa was completed unexpected. So they submitted a second application. Flights were bought as required for the application and fees paid. Olya declared her savings and job status. Her parents provided 'emergency funds' just in case they’d be required, of over £1000. However the Home Office refused this application as well, stating that this amount was insufficient (even though Olya was only wanting to be here for two weeks); they also refused on the grounds that Tom did not declare his finances and prove that he could support Olya during her trip. Even though she didn’t actually need financial support from Tom given her own financial situation. They made several visits to the visa application centres, which proved to be awful. The staff accepting applications were rude for no reason; Olya, an otherwise strong woman, broke down in tears after one such visit resulted in the staff humiliating her in public. During a visit to Kiev in June 2012, they emailed to try and arrange another meeting. Around this time they met a number of younger Ukrainian friends – some without jobs or savings - who had applied for visas to the UK successfully. These were visitor visas just like the one being sought for Olya, except their reasons for visiting the UK was sightseeing and the club scene. Tom and Olya are both, working people in a relationship. They’re bemused why they were being denied a visa to see family and friends, while those for comparatively more trivial reasons were being granted the same type of visa, serving to highlight massive inconsistencies with visitor visa policies. The couple submitted a visa application for the third time, going over the top with supporting documentation. The expected processing time passed and they still had no answer, and the date of their flights was fast approaching. A chaser call led to their being patronisingly told to "wait like everyone else has to". On the day of the flight, Olya waited with her father outside the Passport Centre with her bags packed. The passport never came.

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Another flight missed. Another chaser led to their being eventually told that the decision had been made some weeks ago, but the application was 'stuck in the system'. The third refusal was a huge blow. Olya was deemed to have used 'deceptive means to obtain access to the UK'. An incredibly demeaning remark and unbelievable to the couple that anyone could come to that conclusion from their very standard paperwork. Apparently the case handler thought it was suspicious that a large amount of money had entered Olya's bank account and disappeared after the previous visa refusal. Indeed, the person appeared to not have read the supporting paperwork explaining that the funds were a loan from Olya’s dad, and returned when not needed for the UK trip. Olya was informed she could only make an administrative appeal and that the denial would remain on her record for a period of ten years. Bear in mind, all this just for a visitor’s visa. Tom is dreading the problems they will face when they decide to get married. With her language skills, countries should be falling over themselves to welcome Olya. Yet Tom fears that UK’s immigration policies would even reject her as the wife of a British citizen. He never would have believed without first-hand experience, how discriminatory and contradictory his country’s immigration rules are. Tom now regularly visits Ukraine where he tours successfully as a musician, selling out venues and generally being met with a great deal of support there. Olya has now met Tom’s family during a holiday in Cyprus. The couple remains closer than ever yet kept thousands of miles apart for ridiculous bureaucratic reasons. Article 8 European Convention on Human Rights states: "Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence. There shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others." Tom’s certain this is not being honoured in their situation.

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Eve & Gustavo
“I regret voting for the Conservative party and naively believing their promise of upholding family values!”
Eve is a British citizen, born and bred. She is aged 55, on a good salary earning £29,000. She also has savings of £28,000 all the while building up her pension pot. Eve had never met a man she wanted to settle down with. Until she met Gustavo. To further her interest in Brazilian music and culture on a visit to Brazil. Eve was learning Portuguese when in January 2012 she met Gustavo, a delightful Brazilian man. Gustavo is affectionate, funny, fit with a beautiful singing voice. He is a great cook, is religious and is grateful. Although not having any formal education, Gustavo is a hard worker and life with him is always interesting. Eve and Gustavo have a balanced relationship – as maturity often lends itself to. They give each other space for their own interests – and in each other have found the perfect combination of intimacy and freedom for self-development. He is her heart..for the first time, Eve feels truly at home when she is with someone –in Gustavo she has found her companion, soul mate and feels a deep sense of comfort and peace. He was a tremendous support when Eve’s father passed away in early 2013, staying by her side during the difficult time. Since Eve has met Gustavo she has spent countless days, sleepless nights on the UKBA website and other related sites, trying to get her head round what it will take to marry this wonderful man. In June 2012 she realised the UKBA visa rules were changing but it was too soon in their relationship to think of marriage. Now when she is ready, she is utterly dismayed that as a British citizen she now has to apply for four separate visas – fiancé, marriage, then another visa after 30 months and another after 5 years. And if an application fails at any stage, her then husband would have to leave. Eve regrets she voted for the Conservative party. She naively believed their promise of upholding family values. What of her own right to have a family? What has she worked for all her life, paid taxes for, voted for? She believed she lived in a civilised country which upheld human rights. Despite earning over the £18,600 threshold, Eve is finding the process extremely onerous and expensive. Each stage of the visa application requires legal advice and she has come across cases of others who obtained legal advice yet their application was refused on a technicality. The first stage alone will cost her £6000 taking into account legal costs and flights to Brazil. She has that money now. But jobs are uncertain. Will she still have a job when they have to go through it all again at the next two stages? The rules are now that you have to have six months of salary at the required rate. The rules have already changed twice and Eve is certain that they will change again and fees will rise further. She is also concerned about the English language requirement. Surely the best place for Gustavo to learn English is in England? Eve is risk averse. She doesn’t like uncertainty and understandably, doesn’t want to live in limbo for five years on the off-chance they will fall foul of constantly changing rules and have to uproot themselves from a well-settled life.

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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, from Russia, 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. 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

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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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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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Samantha
“Although I satisfy it, the income threshold is too high; and the best place to learn English should be in the UK. Why make our family take very difficult tests other than to encourage us to give up?”
Samantha is a British citizen. She married her husband, an Egyptian citizen, in May 2012. They were together for four years before tying the knot, and Samantha lived in Egypt for nine months before returning to the UK in September 2012.

She returned home to get a job. She knew the immigration rules had changed and so she thought of herself especially lucky to find a job immediately, paying well over the £18,600 required. For this couple, the hurdle proving insurmountable, is the English language test. Her husband speaks good English but his reading and writing are not so good. He took a test in February which he failed; July sees his second attempt. Samantha understands that at the end of the day, it’s up to her husband to pass the exams. But she is bemused by how difficult they make it for candidates...almost as if they want the candidates to give up. Results for the test are due in August/September; hopefully he passes. If not, he will have to wait till – November to re-take. To Samantha it’s a joke that she can’t be in her home country, with her own husband, without recourse to public funds. Despite satisfying the income threshold, Samantha believes it’s too high; she doesn’t understand why foreign spouses need to take an English test, which is not remotely basic, with hours of speaking, listening, reading and writing. She doesn’t understand why the test can’t be taken in the UK – surely it would be easier to learn English surrounded by it.

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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, from Russia 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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Aimie & David
“I can’t just move to another country to be with my fiancé with 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 from Colombia. David 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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Alexis & Miad
“I had to give up my studies to earn £18,600 even though completing the course would have meant a better future for my family.”
Alexis is a British citizen from Scotland. She met Miad in 2005 through shared interests online. They became good friends, with the relationship two years later moving to that of a romantic nature. Miad is from Iran. As they were desperate to meet in August 2008, one year after having an online relationship, Alexis travelled 4000 miles to meet the man she had fallen in love with. Miad as a university student, could not obtain a passport because the Iranian government do not process passports for their male citizens until National Service has been completed. So Alexis travelled with her two children, (who at the time were 5 and 7) to Iran for a month. They all loved every second of it – and none of them wanted to return to the UK. . Whilst in Iran, Alexis and Miad got engaged. By June 2009, when Alexis returned to Iran for three weeks, Miad had left university and was working, having also been called up for military service. They planned on getting married during Alexis’s visit although the Iranian authorities did not make it easy. She was told that after marriage, she would automatically become an Iranian citizen - meaning that she would effectively forfeit her British citizenship as Iran doesn't recognise dual nationality. Alexis didn't like this idea, so instead the couple opted for a “temporary” marriage lasting fifty years. This was an interim solution to also get round the Iranian law which prevents its citizens from having a boyfriend/girlfriend. So the couple went through an Islamic ceremony, paid fees and exchanged rings. Alexis also had to convert to become a Muslim. The temporary marriage was another step of commitment for the couple, formalising their relationship. Alexis returned home and in November 2010, returned to Iran with the kids this time, again for a month. Miad's 20 month service was due to end in January 2011 and then, the family could be together. They planned for Miad to join Alexis and the kids in the UK. Uprooting the kids to move to Iran was not an option – they had to have access to their birth father. At the time, Alexis was studying full time. For Miad to join her in the UK on a spouse visa, she would need to leave college but didn’t relish giving up her studies. So after some discussion, they decided the best step would be for Miad to pursue his studies in the UK. It took a while to collect the required funds for the visa and college fees - in fact they needed nearly £4000 in fees, and another £7200 in the bank for 28 days to show that he could support himself financially. With effort, they got everything he needed together, applying at the British embassy in Turkey (as there is none in Iran). In June 2012, Miad travelled from Iran to Turkey and applied for his student visa, with Alexis joining him there for support. A couple of weeks later, they received a response from the Home Office. The application was refused! The bank in Iran that Miad had deposited his money with, was suddenly blacklisted. Despite the fact that just a month earlier they had been informed that the UK government recognised and accepted the bank he had used. A sudden rule change, which was not made public, caught this couple off guard.

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Miad complained to the visa consultant who had been helping him (provided by the UK college). The consultant apologised profusely, offering to refund the visa fee. The visa adviser said Miad could make another application - instead of going back to Iran, he could simple send the money directly to the college. Miad asked if this was allowed. The consultant told him that yes, this was allowed. So listening to his 'expert' advice, he re-applied. And, surprise surprise, he was refused again. Miad was hopping mad! Again, he was given an apology and a feeble excuse that it had been fine for other students. This visa consultant again refunded his visa fee - but by this time Miad was again out of pocket from expenses whilst living in Turkey! Why was Miad using this useless man's services? Because he had been told by the college that, if Miad didn't use him and his application was refused, he wouldn't get his college fees refunded! Miad went back to Iran in August. He had to get the money back from the college which he put in an approved bank and waited until he could go for a second time, to Turkey - in September - and apply for a third time. Thankfully the application was successful this time. In the meantime, the family migration rules had changed. Miad arrived in the UK in October 2012 and started college straight away. His student visa expires in August 2013. In January Alexis had to give up college. Had she been able to complete her course, she could have aimed for a better job, better career and better future - for all four of them. However, because of the rules, the onus only fell on Alexis to find a job paying over £18,600. Alexis has been on medication for anxiety and depression with the threat of state-enforced separation hanging over them.

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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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Amanda & Imed
“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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Amanda & Tony
“Income-related immigration tests for families is abhorrent; to say only the very wealthy can live with family is outrageous”
Amanda is a British citizen. She grew up in Dumfries & Galloway. After finishing university and working for a year to save up, she headed to New Zealand on a working holiday, initially just for one year. However when she met and fell in love with Tony, a Kiwi, her stay in New Zealand became more permanent. They built a fabulous life in New Zealand, buying a house together, then after four years together, they came to Scotland to get married so the day could be shared with Amanda’s family and friends. They both had good jobs. Tony is a carpenter who has worked for sixteen years for the same company. Amanda is a marketing professional, having progressed to Director level – a position she has been in for the last six of the twelve years at her employer. They both worked hard, saving money to buy two investment properties which afforded them a rental income, while maintaining a good quality of life. However during the fourteen years in New Zealand, Amanda missed her family dreadfully and this always prevented her from feeling fully settled. She is extremely close to them and though has been lucky enough to afford trips home twice a year, and of course making the most of Skype etc. there is simply no substitute for being a part of the day-to-day life of the people you love. She is missing being part of her four nephews lives; seeing them growing up, having a real relationship with them. So Tony and Amanda decided to take a career break, spend a year travelling Latin America and then start a new life in the UK back in the bosom of Amanda’s family. They never thought though that there would be such ridiculously restrictive new laws in place. In blissful ignorance, the couple quit their jobs and headed off on their adventure. For the last six months they have been hiking and exploring the southern part of South America, finally after all those years of work being able to have so much time together to just enjoy life. Three months into the trip, Amanda started looking into the rules for obtaining residency for Tony – and was shocked. Amanda is appalled that the rules are such that a British citizen – simply by virtue of being a low-income earner is not afforded the same family rights as a ‘richer’ British citizen. On initial reading of the rules, despite her sadness at the clear class discrimination, she thought the rules didn’t restrict her ability to return home with her husband. After all, they’d been together for fourteen years, of which ten is as a married couple. They both have good job offers in UK which satisfy the financial threshold. They have savings and rental properties bringing in income each month. There is no chance this couple will be living on benefits, especially with Amanda’s sister offering them accommodation until they have a chance to buy a place of their own.

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The couple has surmised that: • Their trip of a lifetime prevents them from living in the UK as they have not been working. • Their savings aren't enough to be counted as the first £16000 is excluded altogether and it must be £62,500 in cash. • Rental income on their investment properties is excluded as - for tax efficient purposes – these are owned by a limited company, even though Amanda and Tony are the full owners of this company. • If they were to sell their property to show £62,500 in cash, they’d still have to spend six months apart and then, as Amanda says, ”God knows how many more months to process the application”. Amanda is aware that she is lucky. She is on a yearlong holiday, has a job offer back home, and has assets. However despite this, they are left with a choice of living apart for likely a year on opposite sides of the world or never returning to the UK and her family. Amanda is not just angry. She is livid with the UK government. An income-related immigration test for families is abhorrent anyway but to have one that is not just about stopping people claiming benefits but is actually saying only the very wealthy can marry foreigners is outrageous. She choked up when she read an example in the UKBA guidance notes that even a person with £1m in stocks and shares must liquidate his assets to show cash of £62,500 required! Their much looked forward to trip now has a grey cloud following them, while Amanda and Tony wonder if they will ever be able to realise the dream of finally allowing Amanda the chance to live near her family...to have UK welcome Tony the way New Zealand did Amanda.

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Amy & Sean
“We will not stop fighting for the right to be together.”
Amy is a 20 year old British citizen. She is married to Sean, 23 years old and South African. They met in 2009 when Amy went over to South Africa for the wedding of a British friend, marrying a South African. Amy and Sean engaged in a long-distance relationship until 2010, when she decided to join Sean in South Africa where they lived together until May 2012. Amy is very close to her family back home though and returned to the UK every few months to see them. Whilst in South Africa, Amy witnessed violent situations, deaths and incidents where her home was broken into by intruders with weapons. Although all this was normal for Sean, for Amy it was difficult to reconcile this with the relative safety in UK, or have this as an environment where she was happy raising any children they’d have. She started to refuse to leave the house. She’d only sleep during the day when she felt safer. It got so bad Sean noticed and began to fear that something would happen to his wife, who was only in the country for him. So in May 2012 they moved to the UK. Sean had been to the UK twice before; in June 2011 and December 2011. On 23rd June 2012 Amy and Sean married in a beautiful ceremony attended by Amy’s family. Directly after the wedding, they began job hunting, for it was only once Amy had a job that they could apply for a spouse visa. However in July 2012 the rules changed mandating a minimum income beyond anything Amy would be able to achieve. It wasn’t possible for her to return to South Africa – she wasn’t coping there, and the idea of moving back left her in cold sweats and with severe anxiety. The couple sought advice from Kings Court Chambers and through them, applied for Discretionary Leave to Remain for Sean. With their application in November 2012, they included Amy’s psychology report, showing she had been diagnosed with a very high form of PTSD. Amy was feeling positive, getting the application together. It was a step towards being with her husband, in her home country, where she felt safe. Until July 2013, nearly nine months later, they received the refusal decision. They were devastated. Accompanied with the refusal letter, clearly a copy and paste job, the Home Office stated that though they realised it would cause the couple hardship, they could easily continue their life in South Africa. Amy is currently in a government funded apprenticeship position with the promise of a managerial position at the end of the training. She fought for this position and if she loses it, she won't get it again. Sean has good qualifications in music, having had a successful music career in South Africa. He is fluent in English and has a decent amount of savings which due to being unable to work even during the application process have been somewhat eroded. He is eminently employable though and has a deep seated willingness to work. They have sought help from their local MP, Sir James Paice, who has also written a letter in support of their situation to the Home Office. However the couple continues to wait. Sean refuses to leave his wife. Amy refuses to let Sean go. The couple has vowed to fight for as long as they can for the right to be together.

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Aneela
“I hope the rules change so families can stop being split up.”
Aneela is a British citizen, born and bred in the UK. She has been a single parent raising a beautiful little boy on her own for the last six years. After her divorce Aneela had vowed she would never marry again; love, she decided, wasn’t for her. However, on holiday in Pakistan in 2012, staying with her nan and cousins, she met her now husband during an Eid celebration. Aneela had actually met him many times before, but never spoken to him. They then met for every day of Aneela’s stay in Pakistan. He acted as Aneela’s tour guide, showing her sites in Pakistan she would not have been able to go to alone. Aneela extended her one month stay by another two weeks to prolong their time together, and then extended it yet again. It was soon clear to Aneela and her family that what had started as a friendship was now developing into something much more serious. Aneela’s family was not keen. They thought things were being rushed and tried to keep the couple apart. However, love knows no boundaries. Aneela married the man she loved in secret. In him seeing the good role model and father she wanted for her son, as well as a good husband for herself. Aneela was risking the displeasure of her family with this relationship, but she knew in her bones this was the man who made her family complete. She returned to the UK looking for a job paying over the required £18,600. However it took six months to do so, and in that time Aneela found herself disowned by her family. Her husband was being told by all and sundry that he could do better than Aneela, a divorced single mother. However the couple stuck by each other. Aneela returned to Pakistan where they had an official marriage ceremony with her in-laws present. To Aneela’s surprise and pleasure, her in-laws have accepted her and her son, and they speak on the phone every day. Now Aneela works two jobs to make ends meet, with Aneela’s sister and her friends helping out with babysitting. Aneela desperately hopes the immigration rules change so families can stop being separated.

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Angela
Angela is a British citizen who met her South African husband in Scotland in 1999. They have been married for 13 years, spending almost all the time in South Africa. They had a wonderful life there and were very happy, with a stable business and two beautiful children. In 2008, their life changed with Angela discovered she was pregnant with their third child. Although delighted, the family was also a little scared given Angela’s history of miscarriages. It was a difficult pregnancy, tackling work and two other children and advised to take bed rest. Angela was given cortisone injections to strengthen the baby’s lungs and a stent inserted when Angela experienced kidney problems. She was determined to carry the baby to as close to full-term as possible but lost the battle with the doctor at 34 weeks and had a Caesarean. She is grateful every day that she did so, as at 28 weeks the baby had actually stopped feeding and growing. July 2009 saw their baby born, weighing 1.6 kg. The baby was very ill and kept in ICU, with two holes in her heart and a stomach infection. However even when the family was told the baby had Down’s Syndrome, to Angela her baby was the most beautiful miracle she had ever seen. Against all odds, the baby pulled through and nine weeks, one day later the family took her home. The first couple of years were bittersweet, and a mixture of joy and worry. The family had been warned the baby’s life expectancy was a maximum of two years. The baby proved the medics wrong. It was at this time that Angela decided she wanted to return home to the UK. Her sister, who had moved over to South Africa to be with them, had to go back too and she felt that her kids would benefit from a life in the UK and the freedom and feeling of safety. However, as they began to make plans and arrange the documentation to facilitate coming home, more health problems arose, with the baby diagnosed with Primary Pulmonary Hypertension. One of her heart chambers had grown to three times its size because it struggled to pump blood. The family cancelled their UK plans as the baby would not have survived the flight. The family almost overnight moved house, to live at sea level to allow for more easier breathing for the baby. This fighter baby astounded doctors once again with her pulmonary pressure levels coming down from 89 to 35 over a two-year period. Angela’s family has spent four years keeping the baby alive. Now they are in a position to once again think about their original plans to return to the UK, where it would also be better for the development of all three of her children. Schools in the area Angela lives in, in South Africa, have refused to admit her youngest child, citing lack of manpower and skills. As Angela gave up her business to care for her daughter, using a substantial part of her savings for medical costs, she is unable to satisfy the financial requirements of the post July 2012 immigration rules. Although not poor, they don’t have much money. However when UK slammed it’s door shut Angela realised EU had left its open. Though not poor they don’t have much money. Moving to Ireland just to one day be able to move to the UK involves upheaval and expense not once but twice. However at their family meeting the decision was unanimous and the family made the move to Ireland. They sold everything they had in South Africa, cashing in their pensions to fund the trip and three months later settled in Ireland. They are not sure when they will return to the UK, taking each day as it comes.

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Anne
“I don’t know if I will ever see Scotland again.”
Anne is a British citizen who has been living in Australia for 45 years. She has been married for 43 years to an Australian man. She is keen to spend her later years at home in Scotland. However, when they looked into applying for a visa for her husband, they received a rude shock. The visa fees alone would be over £600, without any guarantee of success. Indeed, the couple had been warned that applications were refused for the most minor of things. This is a couple that has enough money to buy a house in Scotland. Their combined pension from a lifetime of work in Australia equates to £300 a week. However, none of this is good enough. Anne is firm in her belief that Australia is a Commonwealth country and Australians fought with and for Britain in every war. Having her husband being treated in such a way makes her wish Australia would exit the Commonwealth. This is yet another family who would not be a burden on the system as they have more than enough to look after themselves. Anne is now facing a future without her beloved Scotland. She isn’t even sure she will ever be able to see it again.

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Anthony & Appril
Anthony is a 60 year old British citizen. He is married to Appril, a 54 year old Bolivian woman. They love each other very much; Anthony lived with her in Bolivia for two years. They met in 2008 and married in September 2010 in La Paz, Bolivia. At the time Anthony had a very good job in the UK, with a salary of £35,000 p.a. He proposed to Appril before he lost his employment (Appril has British ancestry but as it is her great grandparents she doesn’t qualify for citizenship). Despite losing his employment they decided to go ahead with the wedding as Anthony was confident he would soon find employment by June 2009. He applied for over 1000 jobs – flexible in location as he just wanted his wife with him. Unfortunately, he didn’t even get one job interview. As a result of this both Appril and Anthony thought it best for them to start their married life together in Bolivia. Anthony has very few relations in the UK. His mother aged 99 gave Anthony her blessing to move to Bolivia. Even though he is her only visitor from one year to the next at the nursing home. Anthony felt guilty leaving her, however he did ring her every week from Bolivia. Anthony spent the happiest two years of his life with Appril and gained Bolivian residency and permission to look for employment within that country. However once again he found job search difficult; much of the employment in Bolivia is family run and employs family members only. Apart from his mother Anthony has two sons in the UK from who he is estranged. Anthony returned to the UK in June 2011 looking for employment before the implementation of the minimum wage requirement of £18600 to be able to bring a spouse into the UK. He tried his level best to find employment - alas still without success, applying for all types of jobs at all levels. Appril and Anthony have been apart for over two years now. He is lonely despite their staying in touch via Skype and phone. They are prepared to reside in almost any country in the world to be together. Anthony would love Appril to join him in the UK although he is happy to permanently or temporarily move to another country; he is happy to even have a job washing dishes. Yet another citizen who may need to leave his home for good to be with his 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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Bethan & Winston
“I have a first class degree, will complete my Masters from LSE and my husband is a qualified lawyer. Yet we face separation or selfexile. It’s ridiculous.”
Bethan is a British citizen. She has been in a relationship with Winston, her now fiancé since 2008 – Winston is a Mexican citizen. They met whilst Winston was doing his study abroad in the UK. They have sustained their relationship through regular visits to each other – Bethan also did a study abroad living in Mexico. Winston proposed in December 2012 and they have since been planning their August 2014 wedding, however UK’s immigration rules have put a damper on things. Bethan is currently studying for an MSc in Global Politics at London School of Economics, graduating in December 2013. Winston is already working as a lawyer in Mexico. However, Winston cannot join Bethan as her fiancé as being a full time student, she doesn’t earn £18,600 (not many students do). They have discussed living in Mexico but the security situation in Northern Mexico, where Winston is from, is dire due to the 'drug wars'. There are also significant problems with corruption leading to an environment which neither of them believe is ideal for settling down in and starting their family. In order to avoid being apart post-marriage, they are now being forced to consider having a civil ceremony about a year before their wedding in order for Bethan to exercise her treaty rights and move to Ireland with Winston to minimise the chance they will need to be apart post-wedding. Bethan has a first class undergraduate degree and will be graduating with a Masters from one of the top universities in the world. Winston is a fully qualified lawyer, with a degree from one of the best universities in Mexico. This couple has a lot to offer the UK. It is ridiculous that they could be prevented from doing so, or be forced to have a period of separation as newlyweds just so Bethan has a chance to collection 6 months of payslips followed by a further lengthy period apart during the application. It’s just as ridiculous that the only way this couple can ensure they are not forced apart is by engaging in a period of self-exile.

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Brian
“I won’t give up and will move to Ireland if that’s the only way I can be with my family.”
Brian is a British citizen, he is 70 years old and retired. Brian is also married to a woman from Brazil– they knew each other for a year before getting married nearly a year and a half ago. As almost every single married couple does, this couple too wishes to live together. As Brian needs to be in the UK – with 4 children and 10 grandchildren here, this isn’t surprising - he wishes to settle in the UK, with his wife. However, the Secretary of State does not see it that way. Brian’s wife’s application for leave to remain was refused, with the advice they received from the government being that there was no reason why the couple could not carry on with their family life in Brazil. Brian’s wife would have qualified under the pre-July 2012 rules, increasingly being dubbed inhumane, unfair and xenophobic. Brian will not give up, however is considering exercising his treaty rights as an EU citizen to ensure his family is broken up – which would mean coming out of retirement and finding a job in another EU/EEA country, just to be able to one day, return home. At any age, but especially his, he shouldn’t have to fight for his right to live with his own family, in his own country. Putting a 70 year old in a situation where he has to come out of retirement, move countries and prove his right to be with his wife is something worthy of politicians hanging their heads in shame.

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Chrissie & Supon
“We are meant to be together, and we will be.”
Chrissie is a British citizen is married to Supon, from a Thai hilltribe. They are affectionately known as "The Macadangdangs" by friends and family. Chrissie always remembers they first day they met, on 2 November 2008. She was returning to Chiang Mai in Thailand to catch up with friends. She was teaching an English class to elephant mahouts when Supon approached her. The first thing he said to her was "My name is, Supon and I'm a cheeky bugger". Chrissie hasn’t stopped laughing since that day. She fondly recalls the 2008 Loy Krathong festival, when together they lit a lantern and Supon said to her "wish for something"... Although having met in late 2008, and having visited again twice during 2009, it wasn't until New Year's 2010, with the news of a formal job offer in Chiang Mai, that Chrissie and Supon finally thought; "This is our moment". Chrissie returned to the UK for six months, working to pay off her university debt and convincing her family that she’d be okay living and working in Thailand. She spoke with Supon every day, counting each day away until they would next see each other. June 2010 came, one month left in the UK and Chrissie’s mum was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was a really emotional time for the family and whilst Chrissie will always carry the guilt, she is grateful that her mother gave her blessings and encouraged Chrissie to follow her heart. Focusing on making a life with Supon was now Chrissie’s motivation. They lived in a small bamboo hut with their dog, based at the Elephant camp Supon worked at. Chrissie ferried herself between work in Bangkok and Supon in Chiang Mai. A year passed and Chrissie’s mum finally had the strength to visit. For her birthday, Chrissie’s mum said "all I want to do is see my daughter". It was a great few weeks. November 2011 came and the couple decided to honour Supon's family and culture and marry under Karen hill tribe tradition. Chrissie’s parents and sister flew over for the wedding and things have been amazing ever since. Chrissie’s family love Supon. Supon was granted a visitor visa in 2013, coinciding unfortunately with Chrissie’s dad being diagnosed with prostate cancer. Such a bittersweet moment. Visiting the UK and showing Supon all the people and things she told him about – just to have him see where she came from was a massive deal. It made Chrissie realise how much she misses her family and friends. It made her realise she wanted to be there for her parents as they increasingly needed her more. She feels she owes it to her sister and family to now share the burden. She also needs the comfort of family. However Chrissie earns £1000 less than the £18,600 required so everything is on hold. Her wish when she lit the lantern in 2008; "If we are meant to be together, let us find a way"...and she still believes it.

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Claire
“My parents are shocked that the support they can offer us is not considered at all.”
Claire is a British citizen married to a man from Fiji. She has been personally affected by the immigration rules which are now forcing her to choose between a life outside of her home country and away from family and friends, or spend several months, maybe even years, apart from her husband while she finds and works in a job meeting the income threshold and then goes through the laborious visa application process. Claire is exactly the kind of citizen UK is crying out for. She is a Masters graduate, with a Distinction from Oxford Brookes University. She will have no trouble at all in gaining work over the income threshold when she returns to the UK, having already received several interview requests for jobs paying over £18,600/ She really wants to work here, and feels her skills and education are being wasted in Fiji, where she is not able to work or volunteer as a spouse for her first three years there. Claire’s parents have offered to sponsor Claire and her husband, offering them money and free accommodation to live in. However, even third-party support has been disallowed. Claire and her husband first met in 2008, at which point they had been together for two years already. Claire visited him regularly. Her husband has been employed ever since he left school, would not accept social security benefits and wishes to fully contribute to the UK economy. However, the thought of more time apart makes Claire despair – this time it would be as a married couple. The stress is also beginning to take its toll., Like many British citizens, Claire is shocked to find that the rules for British citizens to be able to live in their own homes with their family, are so severe. She had no idea that as someone in a genuine relationship; someone who just happened to fall in love with a man from another country, the road home would be filled with barriers

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Clint
“I have started to blame myself for not earning £18,600. Not many security guards do though.”
Clint is a British citizen from St. Ives, Cambridgeshire. His wife of nearly three years, and five month old baby, who is eligible for British citizenship, are in the Philippines. Clint’s family would holiday in the Philippines for a few weeks every year so it wasn’t a surprise when Clint fell in love there. As a security guard, Clint earns around £14,000 a year. This is less than the £18,600 the government has mandated he must earn if he wants to live with his wife. Clint wishes to live in the UK with his family. He needs to be here for his parents – his dad is a British pensioner and his mum, also from the Philippines came to England in October 1984. She has worked her whole life as Clint is certain his wife will as well. This is not a family that expects handouts or is afraid of hard work. He wishes to live here with his family because it is his right to do so. He wishes for his daughter to have the same quality upbringing and standard of life he was afforded, and one which all British children are entitled to. They do not need to depend on benefits. As an only child, Clint’s parents have made it clear that their family home will pass to Clint, in which to raise his own family. Clint has started to blame himself for not earning £18,600. Even though it’s not his fault. He is earning what others in his profession are paid. This is a family considering exercising their treaty rights elsewhere in the EU just to be together as a family. So Clint is saving up in order to move countries just to have his wife and daughter back with him.

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Craig & Toni
“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.”
Craig is a British citizen. He married Toni, a Canadian woman, in summer 2005. Craig 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 here. Now the government wants to keep this couple - married for over seven years - apart or force Craig to live away from his parents and children.. Craig was born and raised in South Wales, and grew up in a low income, hard working, but loving family. His dad worked deep in the coal mines. Craig 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. He 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, Craig worked hard doing the back breaking, low paid jobs that most people wouldn’t. Then the family decided to relocate to Canada for Toni’s studies. Craig 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. Toni regularly sent money to support Craig during his job search and help in setting up of what is to be their home in the UK. In 2012, Craig 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? Toni 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 Toni doesn’t have the same ties preventing her from leaving Canada, given that her only family is Craig and their respective kids. She 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 Craig 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 - being ripped apart from loved ones by our own government! Craig 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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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 Stroud, Hampshire and his initial plan was to move to UK with his wife and 10-yearold 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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David & Dee
“Home Office has appealed the High Court decision and they have my wife’s passport. Asking for it back would mean withdrawal of her application and loss of the fee. But with the appeal the legal route could realistically take years!”
David is a British citizen from Wales. He is married to Dee from Canada. In early 2005, they met through an online friendship group which played Trivia quizzes and games with mutual friends across different countries. After a few months, nudged by many of these friends, David and Dee started talking outside of the group. Initially the contact was via email, progressing to nightly phone calls. They didn’t seem to run out of things to talk about and discussed meeting each other. At the time, David had his two children from a previous marriage living with him due to his ex-wife having health issues. It was once his kids were able to return to their mother that David visited Dee in Canada for two weeks. It was lovely. They got on so well that Dee invited David to consider moving over for a longer period. Back in the UK, David discussed this with his family, arranging to keep in contact with the kids through weekly phone calls and regular mail. In October 2006, Dee came to the UK for two weeks to meet David’s family and friends, following which they returned together to Canada. David got on well with Dee's teenage children, and the couple married in June 2007. David applied for Permanent Residency in Canada which also requires any children under 22 to have medical check-ups, whether or not they are migrating across with the applicant. These check-ups require consent from both parents. David’s ex-wife withheld this consent and so David’s application was refused. Thus David returned to the UK in February 2011, and it was back to nightly phone calls, emails and Skype chats again. There was born once again a couple happily married, unhappily living apart. Dee came over to visit for six months in May 2012, with the intention to apply for Leave to Remain during her stay. Exactly six weeks later, Home Office changed the rules. Dee could no longer apply from within UK, and David would be required to earn at least £18,600. A salary level not achievable for a construction site labourer in South Wales. Third-party support was also no longer allowed. The married couple were now looking at yet more time apart once Dee left UK in November 2012 with no certainty on when they’d see each other again, be able to hold hands, hug. David is unable to even consider moving to Canada now as one of his daughters, Kayleigh, diagnosed with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) moved in with him permanently in December 2012. Duty of care to her makes it even more difficult for David to work the extra hours needed to reach the £18,600 level. The couple has now spent two Christmases apart, and second Christmas apart and counting.

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David has also had the opportunity to speak about his situation at the APPG on Migration meeting in Parliament on 10th February 2013, as arranged by Migrants Rights Network. David is not a public speaker. He doesn’t like it; he doesn’t profess to be an expert at it. However, he is a firm believer that if you don’t stand up for what you believe in, then it’s not right to ask others to stand up on your behalf. When David shared his story he was overwhelmed with the support her received. He was advised by many present that Dee should apply for Leave to Enter even though they don't meet the minimum income requirement, and that they’d win an appeal anyway. In March 2013, Dee took her application to Toronto to have her Biometrics done. They told her there that she'd have to come back in May because she'd put August as her date of travel, and couldn't apply more than three months before that date. Dee went back two months later (as requested) to find that the last two pages of her paperwork was missing (it had been there at the first appointment but mysteriously disappeared this time round). For David it was really hard to receive a phone call from his wife 3,500 miles away, crying her eyes out, knowing there was little he could do to help. After speaking with her husband, Dee decided to make one last stop at the office as it was closing before catching her bus back home and happily the Consulate had found the missing pages and faxed them across. RESULT!!!! Dee was told it would take about ten weeks to process, and so the couple waited again, in anticipation of their reunion. They allowed themselves to forget that just when it looks like there's light at the end of the tunnel, the Home Office just builds more tunnel. A High Court decision in the MM & Ors vs. Secretary of State case deemed that the income rules were disproportionate and unjustified, leading to the Home Office pausing all applications where the income requirement would be the only reason for refusal. By late August, Dee’s application had been with the British embassy for fourteen weeks already. According to the embassy’s own estimate this would mean it was already a month overdue in the decision being made. However, the MM case, followed by the Home Office not only pausing applications such as theirs, but also now appealing the High Court decision leaves this family mired in uncertainty. How much longer will it take? David estimates another year. What is worse however is that the Home Office has Dee’s passport. If she asks for it back, her application gets withdrawn and the family loses the application fee. This means that Dee is likely to miss the wedding of her son, James, who is getting married in Manila to his fiancée, a citizen of the Philippines. David and Dee have no intention of giving up. Their love is strong enough to cope with anything the Home Office throws at them. The issue of course remains, that they shouldn’t have to be cope with life apart.

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David & Emelie
“I am a person whose life has been ripped apart; I’m not young and this is my last chance of happiness. Why should it be 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, Philippines, 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.

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

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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.

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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. 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.

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Ed & Anya
“I will exercise my treaty rights in order to live with my wife – a right denied to me by my own government.”
Ed is a British citizen from Scotland, married to Anya, from Russia. They met in their early twenties while studying at Edinburgh University in 2004, when they were both selected for a student-run charity project helping a community in Manzini, Swaziland, build a soup kitchen. Not unlike many international couples, their love was kindled in a shared experience of travel and living away from home which has continued ever since. They lived together back in Scotland, finding employment near Edinburgh after graduation in 2007. Before long, a job opportunity for Anya took them on more overseas adventures to Azerbaijan and then Nigeria. Juggling individual visa restrictions gave them their first experience of forced separation and relationship-by-Skype: traumatic, tiring and unsustainable for more than a short time. Luckily, Anya's job in microfinance also gave them the chance to save enough money to fulfil a dream they'd both had since before they even met: a longdistance bicycle ride. In May 2010 a group of friends and family cycled with Ed and Anya to the boundary of their hometown in Scotland, waving the pair off on a journey that would last over a year. They explored Scotland's border uplands, west coast and islands, before heading to France. They followed rivers and canals to Switzerland and pedalled to over 2000 metres of altitude to cross the Alps into Italy. Facing the expiry of a Schengen visa, they took a cargo ship to Turkey, which marked the beginning of an Eastern world of hospitality, history, food and natural beauty unlike anywhere else. Their route along the Mediterranean coast took them into then-peaceful Syria and on to Lebanon, and then back into Syria, where they overwintered in a desert monastery near Damascus, working in return for food, board, and the nourishment of community. In early 2011 they set off across the Syrian desert, crossing back into Turkey just before the start of protests in Syria. Reaching the Black Sea, they steered right and continued into Georgia and Azerbaijan, finally ending their journey at the Caspian Sea in June 2011. With her last UK visa long expired, Anya had to return to Russia; unable to get a Russian visa away from home, Ed returned to Scotland. Ironically, it was only by staying on the road through 11 different countries that the two managed to avoid separation for so long. But now they had no choice. They decided to make Russia their home for a while; Ed wanted to learn the language, and Anya wanted to be near her family. Already trained as an EFL teacher, in winter 2011 Ed landed a great job in Moscow which also gave him time to study Russian and pursue other work opportunities although he now is a self-employed copy editor now. Anya worked at the British Embassy before leaving it to write for an English-language newspaper and take some distance-learning courses from SOAS in London. After the constant uncertainties of the bicycle tour, settled life in the big city held appeal for a while. Russian bureaucracy is infamously slow and labyrinthine, but the pair knew there would be benefits if they got married: Ed could apply for temporary residency in Russia and so no longer be tied to any particular employer. They also naturally assumed that being married would make returning to the UK pretty straightforward when the time came. After all, if you're married, you're family - right? So the process of gaining temporary residency started with Ed and Anya's wedding in August 2012.

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The day itself was pure fun. The newlyweds rode bicycles from the registry office to the reception and danced the night away to ragtime and swing, surrounded by their new families. But despite a materially comfortable life and supportive family nearby, life in Moscow started to take its toll. It seemed a metropolis worn down by social inequality, ingrained distrust, and an entrenched car culture. Anya and Ed missed their friends and family back in the UK, and longed to live a more outdoor life again. While looking at the procedure for returning to the UK, they heard about Theresa May's new family immigration rules, which effectively prohibit them from returning directly. How does the state have the right to do this? Isn't it a citizen's right to marry whomever they choose and live in their own country? Ed finally gained temporary residency in Russia in July 2013. But by this time, he and Anya realised their best option was to take the Surinder Singh route, probably via Ireland, in autumn or winter 2013. Exercising treaty rights is something they can do as they don’t have careers in the UK which would be disrupted, and no children to have to look after. They are looking forward to the adventure of the next half year, while remaining anxious to get it over with; they worry that the route will rapidly become more difficult, with more applications being rejected by the UKBA on spurious grounds in order to force appeals and test the law. However, Ed remains positive and feels lucky to be able to exercise rights afforded to him by the EU – rights to a family life denied to him by his own government.

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Elwyn
“I am ashamed to be British but I will keep fighting these rules.”
Elwyn is a 55 year old British man. He has two children and four grandchildren. He owns his own home in south Wales and is employed as a minister of a Christian church in the town. After nursing his first wife for eleven years, the last five, 24/7 sadly she passed away in 2012. In 2013 Elwyn married a Ukrainian national who he had known for many years as she worked as secretary to a church he visited in Ukraine regularly. They looked into making their settlement visa application straight away. However, Elwyn was confused by the information on the UKBA website. He sought clarification from the passport office and British Embassy in Kiev on at least six occasions, by phone and email. However the only thing that was forthcoming was that they were unable to provide advice, and Elwyns pleas that he was asking for clarification not advice fell on deaf ears. So the couple did what they thought was correct thinking Elwyn could seek clarification when he was submitting the application in person, before handing over nearly £1000 as the application fee. All the documents had been translated and apostilled at an additional cost of £500. Elwyn however wasn’t allowed into the office and only his wife was able to go in and get the paperwork submitted. While it was being looked over, she asked if it was all right and was told that it would be submitted once the application fee was paid. Three months later they received an email to say all the documents were on their way back and that the passport was ready to be picked up. They had been refused, because although they had submitted his wife’s diploma, along with her straight A grades as a graduate of Kiev university as an English teacher, they had not submitted the Cambridge English Test certificate. Elwyn is now living in Ukraine, managing with regular trips back and forward to UK. His father is 85 years old and seriously ill, having been diagnosed with prostate cancer. Elwyn’s father’s dearest wish was to spend some time with Elwyn and his new daughter-in-law. So while getting the extensive requirements and paperwork together for another settlement visa application, they decided to apply for a visitor visa so Elwyn’s wife could come and spend most of September with her new father in law. She sat the Cambridge exam and they still await the results of that. But this was not needed for the visitor visa. Elwyn applied with all the necessary paperwork and the £90 fee at the Kiev office. He submitted a letter of support and itinerary for the time up to Christmas, when they were due to be in Africa on humanitarian work for six weeks from October. It was clear that this was just a visit. However, the visit visa was also refused. This time on grounds that they’d been “less than truthful as it was obvious their intentions were not to return to Ukraine”. Elwyn has residency in Ukraine; they own their own apartment there and he has changed work roles so that he can remain employed whilst living in Ukraine until they are eventually in a position to be granted a settlement visa. He finds it amazing that a civil servant would call a minister of the church untruthful! So Elwyn is unable to take his wife to see my 85 year old sick father, or his 62 year old severely disabled sister or his still grieving daughters and four grandchildren. Elwyn is now ashamed to admit he is British. He is adamant though that he will continue raising awareness of the issues he has faced, it’s now a personal crusade for justice.

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Emma & Haytham
“I will not be bullied into leaving my home, family, friends, job and life.”
Emma is a British citizen married to the love of her life, Haytham from Egypt. They have known each other since they were kids. Their wedding on 29th of August 2012 was beautiful and was followed by a wonderful honeymoon. In October they applied for a six month visit visa as they did not have all the paperwork necessary to apply for a spouse visa at that time, namely the certificate to satisfy the new English language requirement. However the Home Office decided December 2012 to refuse the application based on financial reasons, despite Emma being in full time employment and earning above even the required threshold for a settlement visa, and despite Haytham himself being in full time employment in Egypt, owning his own property outright and having substantial savings. They appealed this decision immediately. In May 2013 the Home Office failed to submit a decision to the appeal by the due date, so Emma will now attend an Oral Hearing in October 2013 – a year after the initial visa application for a six month visa; fourteen months into her marriage. Emma has travelled to Egypt four times since getting married. Although it is wonderful to have the opportunity to see her husband (as I am sure many don’t) it is not conducive to either annual leave at work or the purse strings to be going overseas so regularly. It also gets more and more emotional to leave him behind each time. The process has taken an unacceptable amount of time for absolutely no reason at all. Haytham has since sat and passed his language test exam and they fully intend to apply for a spouse visa, and Emma dreads to think how long that process will take! Emma is determined however to keep fighting for her right to choose to married whomever she so decided to, and to have him live with her in her country. She refuses to be bullied into leaving her home, family, job, friends and life here. She is a British Citizen and will not let the Home Office make her feel, that in loving her husband, she has committed a crime.

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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.

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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 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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Gillian
Mother, mother-in-law and grandmother.
Gillian is a British citizen from Scotland. She is mother to four British sons and mother-in-law to four daughters-in-law, all from the USA. Gillian has had to fight long and hard in order for her son, Kevin, to be able to live with Jamie, his wife, and their two small children. Gillian herself returned to UK from USA once she had retired, in 2006. Her third son, Kevin followed in 2008 with his wife Jamie and their daughter Eowyn. They moved into a house in the same village and the little girl went to the local school. All was going well. Jamie was working managing a local farm shop and ice-cream parlour and Kevin went back to university to get his IT degree. Jamie gave birth to a son in August 2011. In March 2012 she received news that her dad was seriously ill in California and needed major heart surgery. Jamie was ‘settled’ here under the old two-year visa program at the time and had been here for four years. She was due to apply for ‘indefinite leave to remain’ in April 2012 but did not have the money needed for that as well as having money for the airfare for herself and the two kids to fly to California to be with her dad. Naturally she chose to see her dad. Jamie’s father died in September 2012 and the family’s attention turned to Jamie returning to the UK. Unfortunately, by this time the rules and changed and they found that because Kevin had been at university and not working full time, he did not have the six months’ worth of pay slips and bank statements needed to even apply for Jamie’s visa. Kevin immediately abandoned his degree and got a job as a security guard working 60-65 hours a week to make the minimum amount of £18,600 needed to get her home. His daughter already had indefinite leave based upon Kevin’s citizenship and his son was born in the UK so neither of them needed visa clearance. However, because his wife was caught up in this mess the children were also prevented from coming home. It took a further six months to get the necessary paperwork together to apply. All told, they had been apart for a full year. His son, who had only been six months old when they left only knew his dad as a face on the computer. Jamie had no job in the US and they moved around staying with various friends and relatives for the entire year they were there. The little girl’s education has been severely compromised as she has moved from school to school during the years they have been ‘nomads’ in the USA and it is going to take her several months if not years to catch up. The happy part of this story is that, with the help of their local MP, some local press coverage and some much deserved luck, Jamie and the two children were able to return to Scotland on 27th March 2013. The family has found the immigration rules to be punitive in the extreme, as they punish British citizens. It is clear to this family that the rules are purely down to a numbers game being played by people without conscience and should be struck down. The family was forced to pay a huge price for Jamie doing what any daughter would do. Kevin, in giving up his studies to reunite his family, has paid the price of a more secure future for them all.

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Hayley
“Why is the income threshold such that nearly half of the British population would not be able to meet it?”
Hayley is a British citizen who in April 2011 went to start the summer season working in Tunisia as an entertainer where she first met her now husband. From when they first met, all through the summer, they were inseparable and spent every day in and out of work together. When in winter she had to return to the UK, they were both heartbroken. Hayley soon booked two separate trips to ensure they would spend time in person together over the winter as well, and not just through a computer screen on Skype. She travelled back to Tunisia in January 2012; met all his family, and then again in March 2011 to celebrate her birthday with the man she loved. Returning to Tunisia for the second season in summer 2012, Hayley felt like they had never been apart. At the end of the season she decided that she wanted to end her career as an entertainer, get married and find a stable job in the UK. She returned to the UK, once again booking trips back to Tunisia for January and April 2013. While apart, they’d share jokes every day, keep each other company, share their days with each other, albeit through Skype. In June 2013 they got married – and what an amazing wedding day it was! All the preparing and sorting out a wedding a thousand miles apart from each other was so stressful but paid off as it really was the best day of their lives. Like any other couple they are looking forward to building and planning future together as husband and wife. Unfortunately due to the current £18,600 income requirement that allows no third party support, nor evidence to show Hayley can support her husband without earning the magical £18,600 they still having to live apart. It hurts. Most newly-weds are beside each other but instead this couple has to look at each other through a computer screen hundreds of miles away. Hayley is convinced that while she doesn’t earn £18,600 she can support her husband without any aid from the state. She works full time, lives in a large family owned property and all her family work. The income threshold is unjustified, unrealistic, irrelevant and therefore needs to change. Hayley is firm in her belief that the requirements should not be such that around 50% of the British population would never be able to meet.

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Jack & Shah
“Is my entitlement to live with my husband less than that of someone earning a higher salary?”
Jack is a British citizen, whose husband is from Malaysia. The couple met when Shah was a student in the UK. After two years together they chose to formalise their relationship and get married. Shah returned to Malaysia to finish his studies after his time in the UK. Jack joined him for ten months on a tourist visa and would have been happy to live there permanently. However, it’s not feasible as in Malaysia, being homosexual is illegal. So the only chance this couple has to be together is in Jack’s home country, UK. Jack has only recently started his accounting apprenticeship, so it could be years before he manages to reach the £18,600. Although his parents have offered to support the couple and provide them with accommodation, this is not taken into account by the Home Office, despite the fact that the couple does not need or desire to be on state benefits. Shah is currently in the UK on a tourist visa and will have to return to Malaysia within a few months. This couple is therefore facing a very uncertain future, with the prospect of being separated for years to come. A year and a half into their marriage, they are soon to be separated for an undetermined period of time, simply because Jack does not earn £18,600.

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Jade & Luis
“As a British Masters student, I can’t live 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 advertising job where she earned £22,000. As Luis was on a tourist visa, he didn’t work and instead, spent time researching for his thesis. In September, they returned to Argentina for Luis’s graduation. For two years one or the other has put life on hold, to 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 make it difficult for her to make many friends (they live in a small city). Luis has a good job in an international winery. He put his studies and career on hold to spend time in London as 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 country has closed its doors to her. She is angry and sad; it’s scary to think that were she to fall pregnant, she’d have to chose between pregnancy at home with family and friends around her, or the father of her child. The choice is difficult but obvious – she’d have to stay in Argentina and therefore live in exile. Jade is aware she could move to Spain as part of the EU treaty. However this means putting her life on hold; dreams of further studying are postponed and she’d 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 UK to not punish her for travelling around the world and falling in love with someone from outside Europe's borders.

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Jas
“He is the man I am going to marry and it’s the government keeping us apart.”
Jas is a British citizen, born and raised in the UK. She is currently in the second year of her pharmacy degree. She first visited India at the agre of three, and then every two years since, getting to know her heritage and family in India. It is here she found the love of her life. Though they spent time together as kids, she only really remembers him from when she was 9 and he, 13. A gorgeous boy who told her he liked her very much. Jas was too young to understand what this all meant, but a few years later, she did. Leaving India then, meant leaving him, and all she could do was cry. As a teenager, when they met again, at first it was awkward but the chemistry that had been there from the start, the attraction and the sense of comfort they got from each other, didn't take long to return. This is when Jas started to fall in love and the pair vowed to not grow apart because of the distance. They stayed in touch over the phone and email, speaking for hours. When her boyfriend got into a motorcycle accident, Jas realised how hard a long distance relationship was when you couldn’t be there for each other to share the good and bad times. So she let herself drift apart from him. However, love knows no boundaries, and now at the age of 19 Jas can’t deny her feelings. She is determined that this is the man she will marry. However she wants to first finish her degree in order to further her career, and also maximise her chances of earning £18,600 so she can sponsor him. If she is not allowed to be here in the UK, Jas will emigrate. However, UK then loses out on the positive impact she could make here. As more and more like Jas decide to leave our shores, it will be to the detriment of our nation.

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Jay & Alberto
“We just want to live our lives together, without interference from the state.”
Jay is a British citizen. He is in love with Alberto, from Brazil. They met in the summer of 2012, when Jay was travelling to South America for holiday and adventure. As luck would have it, on the third day of his trip, he met Alberto – a meeting which would go on to affect his entire life. There was instantly something between them. Itineraries were amended to maximise time together. They both knew they were in love and had found something special together. Jay asked Alberto to be with him permanently, to marry him and to live with him in London. Jay naively thought the process would be straightforward. He left Alberto in Brazil and returned to UK. As Jay had been travelling he didn’t have a salary nor any savings. So they decided to wait for a few months so they could save up, before applying for the proposed civil partnership six month visa. They managed to get together the huge amount of documentation required for the application. They filed the application in February 2013, and waited. In May they finally received a response. Due to an error, Alberto had not sat the complete English test. He had scored almost 90% in the reading and listening test but had not sat the speaking and writing side. Alberto’s high score and their obvious communication in English was not sufficient enough. This was heartbreaking and stressful following such a long wait. Jay immediately booked a flight to go and be with Alberto. They had been apart too long already. They had lost the huge application fee and were not given the opportunity to be able to prove Alberto’s level of English. Alberto decided to visit the UK before returning to Brazil for the re-application. Brazilians normally don’t need a visa to enter the UK for visits up to six months, however because he had been refused a visa already, they were advised to apply for one. However, in a catch 22, they were refused the visit visa anyway, because they had already been refused the earlier visa! This was incredibly frustrating. That someone could decide Alberto would overstay his visit because he had had a refusal. Why after trying to do things legally and correct would he want to be in the UK illegally? It didn’t make sense. So now they’re going to reapply for the proposed civil partnership visa – another £900. It is upsetting at the length of time they’ve had to be apart. Alberto still has not met Jay’s family after over a year of their being together. Alberto and Jay’s grandmother will now never be able to meet each other. Jay is a hard-working tax-payer. He exceeds the financial requirements, yet finds the process difficult. Jay has never claimed any benefits. He has a good job and Alberto is a talented Graphic Designer who should also be able to find work in the UK and pay taxes. With no recourse to public funds. All this couple wants is to start their lives together, build a home, have a family, contribute to society and the economy and lead the lives they want together – without interference from the state. There should not be so many obstacles in the way.

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Jenny
Jenny is a British citizen living in Australia for the past nine years. She lives there with her Australian husband and three-year old daughter. She was 20 when she met her husband and never thought returning home one day would be a problem. Although her daughter qualifies for British citizenship, Jenny would still have to move to the UK alone, and find a job paying a large salary before her husband was allowed to live here. This is completely unrealistic for Jenny, who is a stay-at-home mum. She can’t leave her daughter with her husband in Australia, nor can she bring her daughter to the UK without her husband, as that would mean working full time in a job flexible enough to cope with the demands brought about by enforced single parenthood. Jenny does not wish to take her daughter away from everything that is familiar, and separate a child from her father, just to then entrust her to strangers in day care.

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Jessica & Warren
“It feels like I’m trapped in South Africa, first unable to return home because I was under 21, now because I don’t earn £18,600.”
Jessica is a British citizen. She met her husband Warren in the UK in early 2010 while he was on a UK working holiday visa. When Warren’s visa came to an end in October 2010 they decided to go to his home country of South Africa together. They married in November 2010 and in February 2011 decided to return to UK. However then Jessica was only 18 and spousal rules required the British citizen to be 21 for sponsoring a spouse. The couple was devastated but that's the way it was at the time and there was nothing they could do. When the Home Office was taken to court on this issue, the rules changed to allow Brits over 18 to sponsor a foreign spouse. Jessica was overjoyed and started saving to start a life back home in the UK.

In June 2012, Warren was granted a holiday visa, so they both could visit UK and attend Jessica’s father's wedding. While here, they looked at properties and assessed the employment market. They did return to South Africa after the visit - Warren is a law abiding citizen and adhered to the expiry dates of his visas. Then discovered the immigration rules had changed virtually overnight and they could no longer move back to the UK unless Jessica, and Jessica alone, was earning over £18,600. Jessica is 21 years old. She is living in a country which is known for not being particularly safe. There is no minimum wage like in the UK..how is she expected to earn over £18,600? Even as an IT Manager for once of the largest ISPs in SA, she earns £6,000 p.a. Warren earns £12,000 p.a. Indeed, Warren could easily get jobs paying over £25,000 in the UK as he is a specialised voice engineer. There is no way Jessica can earn £18,600 living in South Africa. This young couple feels trapped and are experiencing a lot of anxiety and tension because of rules designed to keep British citizens with non-EEA family out of the UK. Jessica lives in hope that the rules will change and her little family will be welcomed in the UK.

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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 from the USA. 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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Kathryn & Colin
“The policymakers neglected to allow for salary levels in developing countries not being on par with those in the UK.”
Kathryn is a British citizen, born and raised in Wales. She went to teach in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), where she met her now husband, Colin, from South Africa. After two years in the UAE, the couple decided to move to Cape Town, Colin’s home city and where they have been living for the last three years. They recently decided to move back to the UK and came across the requirements of the immigration rules. Kathryn is a teacher with seven years experience and as a head of department when she returns back to the UK she can expect a salary in excess of £32,000 – well over the £18,600 threshold. However the rules require that Kathryn meet this threshold even whilst living in South Africa, which given the weakness of the rand means she falls short by a long way. Despite the fact that her salary in South Africa has increased currency fluctuations work against her. Kathryn doesn’t understand why she has to meet the minimum requirements before even leaving their country of residence, given she would exceed the requirements whilst actually in the UK. She notes that the policy documentation includes case studies of people living in only developed countries like Japan and Australia. The policymakers clearly neglected to take into account those living in less developed countries where even as a professional, salaries don’t meet UK levels. So Kathryn is faced with the choice of never being able to return home, or spending six to twelve months apart from her husband – while she collates six months of payslips and goes through the application process.

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Katie & Cliff
“What married couple wants to spen spend twelve months – maybe more – living in separate countries?”
Katie is a British citizen directly affected by the new immigration rules. She moved to Cape Town, South Africa, Africa in February 2010 to be with her partner, Cliff, a South Afr African. ican. 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 3-year year relationship. Katie’s father passed away in April 2012 after a long battle with cancer. Katie and Cliff feel now n is the right time to move to the UK to be with her mother, l living alone in Norfolk and needing support of her family. Katie is a qualified primary school teacher with three years full full-time time experience. She is also a qualified Health and Social Care worker, er, 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 research, they were shocked by y implications of the new rules. They meet the criteria for a settlement visa however, believe the financial requirements to be absurd and incred incredibly ibly harsh. Katie already has a UK offer of employment and there is no need to rely on public funding. Katie h 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 possibl possible e 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 n 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, und 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 e 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: 1) Katie has obtained a job paying over £18,600 so they will need to wait for her to have 6 months of payslips, then apply for the spouse visa. It i is s likely they will be apart for about 1 year allowing for UKBA processing times. In the meantime, the couple will celebrate birthdays, , anniversaries and other family events without each other. May, though were lucky cky to have spent 3 weeks together when 2) Katie & Cliff have been separated since May Katie visited Cape Town. “ “It was amazing to share some quality time together” ”. They will be making the spouse settlement application in October with six months of payslips, and pray that going forwards, their experience ence of the Home Office is a smooth one.

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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.
Update: Kev and Barbara will be getting married in USA in December 2013, followed by a move to Ireland where Kev will exercise his treaty rights. This will ensure that this couple will not be spending any further time apart.

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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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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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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.

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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. 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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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, a citizen of the USA 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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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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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 man from Morocco. 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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Louise
“There are better ways of managing immigration than punishing British citizens and the people we love.”
Louise is a British citizen from Manchester. Her husband is from Kenya. They met in 2011 on a family holiday there. Their relationship started off as just friends, but by the time she returned to the UK, she was so much in love with him, she decided to visit him for Valentine’s Day. Since then, she has visited him three times a year with her family offering her financial support. Louise lives at home with her family. They are supporting her while she works in a volunteer and lowincome role. She is also searching for full-time work. The agony of being separated was tearing them apart but their determination to maintain their long distance relationship grew more and more, communicating on bbm (everyday) and by talk home calling cards. A year later, they formalised their love and commitment to each other by getting married in a religious ceremony in Kenya. At the time, neither Louise nor her family were aware of the changes to the family migration rules – they were caught out like so many others. Unsurprising given the speed and quietness with which the rules were brought in...they weren’t even taken through parliament in the proper manner! However, upon finding out they remained unwavering in their determination to stay together no matter what – to maintain their union as husband and wife. The only family Louise has is her mum, step-dad and young brothers. Louise’s mother-in-law passed away when her husband was only a child; her father-in-law is an alcoholic. Love is blind and isn’t a conscious decision based on earnings or influence; nor family background or nationality. Louise and her family firmly believe that Theresa May's family migration policy is unfair and punitive. There are better ways of managing migration than punishing British citizens and the people they love.

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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 from the USA. 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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Lucinda & Karim
“We will move to another country in Europe, aiding the net migration target – it’s the only route to being a family.”
Lucinda is a British citizen with a 2:1 from Cambridge University. She is currently living with her mum in Leeds because she has been forced into single parenthood only because her husband, Karim, is from Albania and with whom she has a son, a British son. The couple have known each other since Lucinda was 21. She is now 30. She doesn’t remember the first time they met, though is told that he was there. She remembers the second time though – they were sharing a house in Thessaloniki, Greece, as part of a big group who lived together there for a couple of years. Lucinda was studying Greek and Karim was working as a builder’s labourer. Lucinda recalls how she used to complain about him to a mutual friend ‘I’m so sick of him’, ‘Why does he do this?;, ‘Why is he always looking at me?’. “Can’t you see he is crazy about you?” her friend would say. There were some nice times as well. Karim would meet Lucinda after work and they’d go for long walks along the harbour, drinking cans of Amstel. Fond memories from a more carefree time. Eventually the entire group went their separate ways. Lucinda went to Cambridge to study Greek language and literature and Karim moved to Athens. They stayed in touch online and a couple of years later, on her year abroad in Athens, the couple met and this time, sparks flew. Karim came to take Lucinda for coffee on a huge motorbike. He’d grown a beard, filled out a bit and looked very handsome. Now it was Lucinda’s turn to swoon! They talked and laughed all afternoon - and spent every day together from then on. Karim financially supported Lucinda as the credit crunch was taking its toll and jobs were scarce. The couple talked about their future, planning on Lucinda finishing university and then applying for a visa for Karim to come to the UK. They wanted to be settled and have good jobs before getting married. Do things properly. However, things didn’t go as planned when on 9th March 2012 Lucinda found out she was pregnant. She was thrilled and the couple brought forward their plans to marry. Lucinda left Athens to begin antenatal care at home and continue her studies. They spoke on Skype every day and she sent Karim regular pictures of the bump. Throughout all this Lucinda was in the final year of her degree, working really hard, always focusing on the point in the future when this would pay off; where she’d be able to earn over £18,600 and also provide for her son. Karim was refused a visa to be there for their son’s birth, with Home Office declaring that he would likely overstay and become a burden on the taxpayer, an illegal immigrant. Of course he’d leave! The couple knew the repercussions for being in breach of visa regulations, why risk it? Lucinda was adamant that the government was blurring the lines so entirely that now even someone wishing to be with his wife for the birth of their son was being mistreated for trying to follow the rules. Lucinda has postponed indefinitely her desire to obtain postgraduate qualifications as she can’t commit to anything until her family is together. She doesn’t know how to function without her son’s father. If Karim was here, Lucinda would have been able to study, or work full time. Instead she is stuck on benefits despite having graduated from Cambridge University.

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She is on the homeless register and has moved house four times between June and October 2013. She has used up her savings to travel to Greece, Italy and Albania this year alone, and is planning another journey– but these are not holidays. They’re to ensure that her son and husband have a fighting chance to get to know one another, to build a relationship, to spend time together. These early moments in a child’s life do not come around again and they are little for such a short time after all. Her son has travelled at the age of 4, 8 and now again at 10 months– and there is no end in sight. He has never had a room of his own, never had his pictures on the wall or books on a shelf, everything has been in and out of suitcases. The couple is now considering moving to a country where they can be together. Greece? Germany? Spain? Ireland? Malta? All have been discussed, all are possibilities. But it won’t be easy. All of the baby’s stuff will have to be left behind – the cot that’s never been unpacked, the highchair that she really needs but will have to buy from wherever in the world they end up in. Her books and kitchen stuff she collected in dreams of creating a home with her husband and child. She doesn’t know what she will do about her son’s next set of immunisation. Lucinda believes the government should make a public health announcement as a matter of urgency stating: WARNING: BRITISH CITIZENS PLANNING TO MEET, BEFRIEND OR HAVE A ROMANTIC RELATIONSHIP WITH NON-EU CITIZENS ARE EXPOSING THEMSELVES AND ANY CHILDREN TO SIGNIFICANT LONG-TERM DAMAGE WHICH CAN BE IN SOME CASES, IRREVERSIBLE. MARRIAGES TO NON-EU CITIZENS CAN RESULT IN SEVERE EMOTIONAL AND PHYSICAL DISTRESS FOR ALL INVOLVED. ANYONE KNOWINGLY TAKING PART IN A RELATIONSHIP WITH A NON-EU CITIZEN DOES SO AT THEIR OWN RISK.

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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 (from USA) 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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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, from Pakistan, 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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Mark & Mercy
“I don’t earn £18,600 but own two properties outright. Yet I don’t qualify to have my wife with me.”
Mark is a British citizen. He was born in Surrey, is from Liverpool and was raised in South Africa. Although retired now, Mark vividly remembers his days in the Royal Air Force, when he risked his life for British citizens. Mercy, Mark’s wife is a citizen of Nigeria. She similarly has a fairly diverse background. She grew up in Sierra Leone, left it because of the civil war and moved to Dakar in Senegal. Through her work in Senegal, Mercy gained the experience necessary to become a fashion designer. Mercy also speaks six languages.

Mark and Mercy met online through friends in 2011. They stayed in touch and April 2013 saw them getting married in a beautiful ceremony in Senegal. Mark does not earn £18,600. Not many pensioners do. Mark does however own two properties outright in Liverpool, which the Home Office does not consider in assessing Mark’s financial position for the sponsorship of his wife. Properties which mean Mark himself has no recourse to public funds.

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Megan & Max
“Love is and should not just be a privilege for the rich.”
Megan is a British citizen married to Max, from Ukraine. They are both performers, who met whilst working on board a cruise liner…and fell deeply in love. After two years together, they decided they wanted more than a ship life...they wanted a family; to build a future on land; to be close to Megan’s family in south Wales; to be there for Megan’s mum who is disabled.

So they married in February 2012, excited at a future together. Max returned to Ukraine to prepare for the visa. Megan remained in south Wales and embarked on a new career as a carer, taking her NVQ’s and climbing onto a promising career ladder. A role which the government is crying out for more people to take on, and one Megan enjoyed immensely, in spite of, or perhaps because of, the long hours and hard study it requires. In this, Megan felt like she has found her calling and thrived. She rented a small flat and decorated it, expecting it to be their starter marital home. Not once did they consider the option of any government handouts. Being together is their dream, their responsibility. They are just a young couple in love. So when they were hit with the July 2012 rules, it felt like their lives had been torn apart. As a carer, Megan earned enough to support them both if needed, though Max would work as well, well able to cover their expenses living in a small Welsh village. However, determined to be with Max, Megan gave up her dream job in favour of a job in the insurance industry, paying £18,000 - a role she detested yet one she was sad to lose due to her employer having legal issues. Since then, Megan has been in two car crashes, suffering from anxiety and depression. A direct result of the stress, pain and heart ache she has had to endure because of the immigration rules. Ironically, rather than reduce the burden on the taxpayer, Megan’s medicines have required government funding – an expense which would not have been incurred in the first place if the rules had been fair. Megan loves her husband. He is her world, her heart, her everything. All she wants is for them to be together. They have so much support from their family and a strong youthful passion to succeed. They don’t want handouts.. They just want to be together. Love is not and should not be a privilege for the rich.

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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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Michael (Malaysia)
“UK trained my wife to PhD level and now don’t want her expertise in the UK workforce!”
Michael is a British citizen who met his Malaysian wife in Glasgow where she was studying for her PhD. They got married in February of 2011 after a year of trying to get the permission to marry from the government. They didn’t apply for a spouse visa straight away as his wife’s student visa was due to expire at the end of March 2011 anyway, and she was successful in being offered a job in Switzerland. So the couple moved from Glasgow to Switzerland in March 2011where they have lived ever since. Michael has been working there too, in a combination of agency and self-employment, for over three months. His wife has been working in the same company for the full duration of their stay on a permanent contract. The couple is now concerned. If for whatever reason, Michael’s wife were to lose her job, she would also lose her right to live in Switzerland, leaving Malaysia as the only option open to them if they were to continue to be together. However, as their marriage is not legitimate under Muslim law, it would not be recognised in Malaysia and they are likely to face problems living together there. This is a couple who don’t need to be in the UK right now. But they can see their future threatened by UK’s immigration rules, were their situation to change in the future. They find it bizarre the situation UK has gotten itself into. It is happy training Michael’s wife to PhD level, and now doesn’t want her expertise in the workforce.

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Michael (Singapore)
“I have been impacted by the abolishing of the PSW and the financial thresholds.”
Michael is a British citizen who met his girlfriend while they were students at Warwick University. As Michael’s girlfriend is from Singapore, he has been impacted by two changes to the immigration rules: the abolition of the Tier-1 post study work visa (PSW) and the £18,600 financial requirement. The couple’s original plan was for her to stay in the UK on her PSW for two years – something which the UK government lured foreign students into the UK with, only to then abolish it, not only for future international students, but those already in the UK with the expectation of being able to obtain two years UK work experience following a successful UK qualification. So his girlfriend returned to Singapore and Michael followed her for the summer of 2012, returning home for his final year at university. They have been apart for over a year now, having only seen each other for two weeks at Christmas. Though the couple will try and meet as often as possible, it’s not easy as students to fund it. Michael’s Masters course is expensive and his girlfriend will also be focusing on a law course in Singapore. The couple has discussed marriage – but Michael is 21 and his girlfriend 22, so they don’t really want to get married yet. However, even as a married couple they would not be allowed to be together due to the £18,600 requirement. Michael could apply for a high-paying graduate job which would pay over this threshold, however his dream is to pursue a career in journalism, which would require another year of study. A much longed for dream he doesn’t want to give up to earn money they don’t need. These rules have led to a lot of unnecessary stress in his final year at university; he was even prescribed anti-anxiety medication. Despite this, Michael achieved good grades, but every day is an uphill struggle and he can feel his productivity is not at its peak. Things are not much better for his girlfriend who has had to have counselling in Singapore with her law internship also showing signs of this.

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Muhammad
“My health or my wife?”
Muhammad is British citizen whose wife is from Morocco. He is also a lifelong patient of severe atopic eczema which has made life difficult in many areas, including finding suitable employment due to the complexities of this condition. However, he does have a job, albeit one which does not pay over £18,600. Muhammad met his wife in Morocco in early 2012. She is a decent caring woman who understands his illness. Their friendship blossomed and soon after they decided to marry. Unfortunately just two weeks after the marriage, Muhammad discovered UK’s immigration rules had changed and now required an income of over £18,600 or a huge amount of savings in cash. Due to the nature of his illness, Muhammad cannot work in dusty or highly stressful environments as they exacerbate the condition which has severely limited his earning capacity. It is very unlikely Muhammad will ever work in a job paying over £18,600. Muhammad’s skin condition requires medication every three hours which can cause problems during working and finding an employer who is understanding enough to allow Muhammad the required breaks. So he has been living in severe depression for about a year now, separated from his wife. Although Muhammad does visit his wife often – culturally she would be ostracised if her husband stayed away from her for too long. Muhammad has tried to move to Morocco to live with his wife but unfortunately the Morrocan climate isn’t friendly to his severe skin condition and he has experienced severe flare ups on visits there. Given Muhammad speaks neither Arabic or French, and he has a health condition, he is also unlikely to find a job there, which means he can’t stay there for longer than three months at a time. Overstaying his visa is not even a consideration with penalties including a jail sentence and monetary fines. Muhammad does currently have a job for which he is very grateful for as it allows him to work in an environment which is suitable to his condition and allows him to earn an amount that would not require him to claim benefits. He also has third party support from his parents, but the rules do not allow for that either. So Muhammad lives in limbo, seeing his wife when he can.

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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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Nick
“What a sorry state of affairs when loyal citizens are forced to emigrate just to be with their partners and family.”
Nick is a British citizen who can trace his family’s roots in the UK back to the 16th century. However, he is considering emigrating just because his partner happens to be from Thailand. He is currently supporting two households – one in the UK and the other his partner’s in Thailand. Their lives are being torn apart by UK’s immigration rules in circumstances which are not sustainable. So Nick is now selling everything he has, in order to raise funds for the move to France, where he will be able to be with his partner. This is going to mean Nick abandons the business he has worked so hard to build up over the last five years. He will no longer be paying taxes into the British system. It means he will be forced to leave the country of his birth, his family, his home. Nick sees this as a sorry state of affairs, when loyal citizens are forced to emigrate just to be with their partners and families.

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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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Paul &Connie
“No one should be punished for something as harmless as loving someone from outside their borders.”
Paul is a British citizen living in Nottingham. He met his wife, Connie from California, USA when he was pursuing postgraduate studies in response to the economic crash when jobs were scarce. <> was also here to build her own skills set in the UK education system. Now this couple is 6000 miles apart only because of UK’s immigration rules. With the monetary bar raised with the Coalition’s immigration reform, their separation feels much stronger. Paul is still in education – and neither he nor Connie come from rich families. They feel the £18,600 is an arbitrary barrier serving to punish the poor. Paul is firm in his belief that this threshold has been erected under false pretence, the notion that immigration is somehow responsible for the myriad economic and social woes besetting the people of the UK is actually a xenophobic smokescreen to confuse the public. The couple has strived and struggled for the last three years, stuck apart, only seeing each other for a scant few weeks but they know their story is far from the worst. Families have been thrown asunder, punished for loving each other across petty political borders we uphold. Paul and his wife have both suffered from depression, each of them undergoing therapy, just trying to survive apart without any certainty of when they will be able to be together. Recently though they received some good news. Connie has been successful in obtaining a well-paid job despite the current economic conditions. So Paul is considering relocating to USA, although this means being away from his family and friends. No one should be punished for something as harmless as loving someone from outside their borders.

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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, Morocco, 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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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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Rachel & Ahmed
“We haven’t applied for a spouse visa yet. The new rules have left us fearful and in a kind of limbo.”
Rachel is a 23 year old British citizen, a university student reading Arabic and Art History. She is married to Ahmed, from Egypt. As part of her degree Rachel had the option of spending a year abroad in Egypt, Palestine or Jordan. She opted for Egypt as three years previously she had visited Cairo to assess the suitability of her degree, where she met Ahmed during a flat search. After Rachel left Egypt they kept in touch via Skype and three months later, she was visiting him in Egypt once again. Three months after that, he came to stay with Rachel and her family in Cornwall for Christmas. Since then, they haven't gone for longer than 3 months without seeing each other, be it in Cairo, during term-time in London or with Rachel’s family in Cornwall. When they got engaged, they planned to marry during Rachel’s year abroad because a lot of her friends from university would be able to attend and balance out Ahmed’s big family at the wedding! Rachel had heard about some new changes to the rules at the time, but didn't really think anything of it – she assumed it would be higher application fees or the like. She never expected they would raise the income threshold to £18,600 p.a. and restrict financial support. Indeed, a friend who had married an Egyptian was allowed to have her parents as providers of third party support for his visa (this was before July 2012). As they knew Rachel would have her final year at university to complete, Rachel was also relying on her parents to do the same (and they were happy to), with Ahmed staying with Rachel during her last year in London. Rachel is on course for a first-class degree and fairly confident of her earning potential after she graduates – however she firmly believes it should not just be her capacity to work and earn a decent salary which should count. She finds it frustrating that neither the spouse's earning potential nor his financial situation are taken into account. If the government is so keen to ensure no burden on taxpayer, then given Ahmed will already have a clear ‘no recourse to public funds’ in his passport – surely it’s his financials which should be taken into account? The same company that Ahmed works for in Egypt are currently advertising for the same job in England, with an annual salary of £36,000 - this is obviously much, much higher than the company pays their employees in Egypt. Ahmed is qualified, has a good command of English and therefore good job prospects, which would be of great help to Rachel as a final year university student, in terms of rent and other expenses which Ahmed would help out with. Rachel has never claimed benefits and has no interest in doing so, either. Both their families are be able to help them out should they find themselves in a difficult situation – so no reason why thirdparty support should not count.

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After three years of going back and forth - though their relationship is more than worth all the travel they have endured – they are tired. They want to be able to plan their future uture but at the moment, in addition to the political instability in Egypt, everything seems so uncertain. At present they’re applying for Ahmed’s family visit visa so at least he can come and visit Rachel while she is at university. Rachel considered putting off her studies to go down the Surinder Singh route, but that would pose an unnecessary financial burden – without much of a time saving on her completed her degree and going straight into employment. She has however postponed her decision to do a Masters! Political instability in Egypt aside, Rachel needs to be in the UK. Her dad passed away, and she is the only child and grandchild. While the government claim she can exercise her right to a family life with her husband elsewhere, what about her mum and grandma’s right to a family life especially when her grandma is not able to travel? It seems to this couple that in their aim to bring down net migration, not only is the government keeping foreigners out of the country, but trying to encoura encourage British citizens to leave too. too Rachel and Ahmed married in March 2013. A After fter spending an amazing nine months in Egypt, it's been hard readjusting eadjusting to life back in the UK without her husband. She barely feels s like a newly-wed! She considered staying back in Egypt for the summer, but thought it would be best to come back and work and try to earn as much money as possible to put aside for the future. Ahmed is doing the same in Egypt. It really is demoralising to know that despite the no recourse to public funds, the couple may not be able to start to build their lives together until at least a year from now. It has put pressure on Rachel to find a job immediately after she graduates, , which in the current climate of internships and focus on the i importance mportance of gaining experience (i.e. an acceptable form of unpaid employment) it is difficult for her to remain optimistic but it's all they can do in the face of these new rules.

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Ravi
“As a self-employed person, the rules are even more onerous…and time apart from my wife even longer.”
Ravi is a British citizen. He married his wife in early 2013, in Mauritius. Like many Brits, Ravi as it turns out, somewhat naively assumed that being a British citizen himself, having his wife with him would be a mere formality. For Ravi, the financial requirement of £18,600 is the stumbling block. He is self-employed and his financial records for the 2012-13 tax year in their current form are unlikely to satisfy UKBA. Allowing for solicitor and application fees in the thousands of pounds, he is of the opinion applying is not a risk worth taking, given the higher than average likelihood of refusal for those who are selfemployed. Ravi is aware he could wait until after submitting the 2013-14 tax year accounts, making sure these would meet with UKBA approval, but that means waiting till April 2014 before he can even apply, plus the UKBA processing time which by all accounts just seems to get longer, and longer. He is considering taking on a salaried/wage paying job paying in excess of the minimum requirement, collating 6 months of payslips and applying then. However, allowing for the time to find a job and then again the application time as well, it’s also a long time to be apart from his wife. So he has several routes open to him. Another route he is considering is Surinder Singh. He has a birthday later in the year and hopes he can have his wife with him then so this resort of self-exile is the most appealing to minimise time apart, inconvenience and cost. A route to self-exile is the only route the government has not been able to close.

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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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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 from the USA. 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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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. He 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 without help from the state. 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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Rob (USA)
“Although not affected yet, I fear I won’t be allowed to be with my girlfriend. I can’t leave my three daughters in the UK”
Rob is a British citizen living in Torquay, Devon. Although he is yet to be affected by the new immigration rules, he anticipates it being an issue for him and his girlfriend, from Oklahoma, USA. It is an issue that is already affecting Rob’s ex-wife. They’ve only been going out a few months, but are considering their future in the event the relationship, as they anticipate it to be, becomes more serious. However it hasn’t been plain sailing to date either. Already they have had their brush with UKBA, who refused Rob’s girlfriend entry for the three months visit they had planned; instead they only got three days together - sadly something for which they consider themselves lucky, despite the disappointment. Rob is a single dad with three daughters, two of who live with him full-time and another he sees a couple of nights a week and every other weekend. He works for a charity, a noble employer and earns below the £18,600 threshold required for the sponsorship of a visa in the event he were to marry his girlfriend. He is lucky in the respect that he has a family locally who help out with childcare. It allows him to save up for him and his girlfriend to meet each other again. Rob has considered asking for a pay rise, but is hesitant only because he has been working for his employer less than a year. The pay rise he would need to earn the magic £18,600 is 75 pence an hour. Less than £1. Rob is aware that his ex-wife is in an even worse situation. She is self-employed, earns very little and is currently claiming benefits. Her partner also lives in the USA (in Maryland) but being in the financial sector, has the potential for earning a comfortable income to support them both. The daughter who lives with them both is aged 7 and has learning disabilities and speech problems. She is a happy little girl but sometimes finds it hard to communicate and is at the sort of level of a much younger child. She adores both Rob’s girlfriend and her mum’s partner – Rob tells her that both her mummy's partner and his girlfriend are living in America for now but hopefully will be able to move over soon. At the moment Rob and his girlfriend have good and bad days; they keep in touch via Skype and email and when they can, speak for hours. Rob’s girlfriend doesn’t have the same ties to America which Rob has here; they are not in a long distance relationship by choice.

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Rudi
“Splitting up my family is not an option.”
Rudi is a British citizen. As her husband is Jamaican, Rudi is finding the path to return home is paved with thorns. Rudi is currently living in Jamaica with her husband as immigration rules don’t allow her to live with him in UK. However, since receiving the news that they are expecting a baby, Rudi – despite all the happiness, joy and love she is feeling, is also very stressed. She really wants their baby to be born and raised in the way she has been, in the UK. To offer it the best that she can. Looking into the current rules though, she is finding it impossible that she’ll ever be able to return home. Living in Jamaica she doesn’t have a job in the UK. Finding a job here from another country makes it hard enough to get an interview at the best of times, but when you’re pregnant it’s nigh impossible. Rudi is facing a horrible choice. She doesn’t want her baby to stay in Jamaica while she job-hunts and then works in the UK. Nor does she want to end up being a single parent for months on end while she works in the UK with her baby to look after, and her husband in Jamaica. Rudi’s parents have offered to support them financially. They have also offered them accommodation in their huge house. Yet this family is being faced with a choice of exile or separation. Rudi however is adamant. Splitting up the family is not an option, nor should it be one that family is forced to make.

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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 a citizen of Australia. 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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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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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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Sarah & Angelina
“All we want is to live our lives together, as a married couple.”
Sarah is a British citizen who first met her partner, Angelina three years ago when she went to work at a USA summer camp in Texas. They are both 25 year old graduates. The couple began their relationship a year later, when Sarah returned to the same summer camp, and after reviewing their options, both decided to both apply for a year's work visa to live and work in Canada, as neither USA nor UK allowed the other to apply for any a temporary work permit. They lived in Canada happily. Although both on minimum wage jobs, this was sufficient for them to live in rented accommodation comfortably; they could afford basic luxuries without any sort of dependency on the government or anyone else. They planned to marry in the UK, but the visa conditions (just to get married there, not for settlement) were so expensive and onerous that they decided it was easier and cheaper to marry in Canada. They did, in a beautiful low-key ceremony in Victoria, British Columbia. Having thought about it long and hard, and discussed it between them, both agreed but in both our minds we decided that living in the UK would be a happier life for both of us, for various reasons. Angeline joined Sarah in the UK in July 2013. They planned that Sarah would find a job paying £18,600, and after six months, they would get moving with the paperwork that would let Angelina stay here, and finally begin their lives together with some permanence. Sarah was even then concerned with the difficulties around obtaining a job paying over £18,600 at entry level and wrote to her Conservative MP, Charles Walker. His response was that he could not possibly imagine opposing these rules, and that she should turn her attention to getting a job as soon as possible. Charles did however eventually relent and wrote to the immigration minister when Sarah pointed out that this threshold was even harder for a single mum to meet. Now Sarah and Angelina are three months into their time here, and despite applying for many jobs, Sarah is no further to gainful employment than when she began looking. Every recruitment agency she has liaised with has indicated that her experience will not get her this salary; every day marks more time that she will have to be apart from her wife. Feedback from four interviews was ‘lack of relevant experience’ which is difficult to get without a job. A job that pays over £18,600. The couple grows increasingly desperate for options as the job rejections roll in every day, and it becomes increasingly apparent that Sarah may not be suitable just yet for anything that meets the threshold. What makes it increasingly frustrating is that Sarah’s parents are more than happy to be co-signers of any paperwork – to be their guarantors. However the Home Office has this is not an option. The fact that Angelina's work history, which is much more impressive than Sarah’s (although still not enough to make her eligible for a Tier 2 visa) is not taken into account is baffling, and just another barrier. It just seems that this is an impossible task for a British citizen to be able to sponsor their wife; the person they love. Despite the heartbreak, stress and intense pressure this situation has brought upon her life, Sarah finds it comforting to know there is a support base for those in exactly the same, or even worse situations than she and Angelina find themselves in.

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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 nt 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, howev his comment led to a discussion on music with Mari, in Chile 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 Se Sean an 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 long-term. 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 ce 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 w wants ants 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 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 sed 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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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 USA. 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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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 citizen of the USA, 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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Stacey & Yoshi
“I am British and should not be forced to choose between my home, country and culture, and the love of my life.”
Stacey is a 24 year old British student. She is reading Japanese and public relations at university. Stacey has been in a relationship with Yoshi, a Japanese citizen, since 2011. Stacey never realised that falling in love with someone outside of the European Union would prove to be such an ordeal. When they first met, Yoshi was studying journalism at the same university as Stacey. They lived together and fell in love. Although he very much enjoyed his time in England, when the time came, Yoshi returned to Japan and trained to be a language teacher (he is now fully qualified to teach Japanese). They Skyped each other every single day, overcoming time differences to ensure they shared their life together. As part of her course, Stacey spent a year in Japan on an exchange program. There she lived with Yoshi and they both agreed that they’d prefer to settle in England. Although Stacey had an amazing time in Japan she doesn’t see herself living there – and as Yoshi doesn’t mind moving to the UK it seemed this couple found a happy compromise. This is a young couple very much in love. They would marry today if it meant they could be together. However as Stacey lives in northern England, even as a well-paid graduate, it’d be years before she was earning this much money. What’s frustrating is that Yoshi as a non-EU citizen, would not be entitled to any benefits; he’d be here as a qualified teacher..he would wants to, work. Stacey feels that Brits with non EU partners are being discriminated against, just because they are on lower incomes, or are younger. Long distance relationships are difficult, regardless of visa restrictions. You have to be committed, patient and prepared to endure long periods of time apart from the one person in your life whom you feel you can share everything with. Everyone has their own issues to deal with in life and all Stacey wants is to be able to come home to the one person in this world who makes her feel happy, loved and secure. Since the visa issues, Stacey has been diagnosed with depression. She has found that people don’t understand how difficult it is to be in love with someone and still be unable to see them, hold them simply because you don’t earn a prescribed amount of money. When Stacey heard about a British woman who committed suicide because she could not be with her Egyptian partner, Stacey cried and cried – for the loss of a young life, a family but most of all because she could identify with this woman Source: http://britcits.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/rip-i-was-afraid-something-like-this.html Stacey is being forced to choose between her home, her country and the culture she was brought up in - and the love of my life. She has no doubt which is the most important of these things, but it upsets her greatly that she’s being forced to make this choice. She is British and wishes to live in Britain with the love of her life.

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Steven
Steven is a British citizen. His partner is from Australia, where they are currently living together. Steven wishes to move back to the UK as his father was very ill last year, and his grandparents are very elderly. He wishes to spend more time with them, as now they need him more, in their old age. Steven is currently in the UK trying to find work to get a visa for his partner. However, he is struggling to find anything paying above £18,600. He is aware that in order to live in the UK to be here for his family, he will have to live apart from his partner for a year or so. Else, live in permanent exile. This is not the way a country should treat its own citizens.

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Suzanne
“UK puts a price tag on love”
Suzanne is British, with a fiancée from the USA, 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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Tracey & Gary
“It’s difficult to believe that UK makes wanting to live with the person you love an impossible wish.”
Tracey is a British citizen. She met her husband husband, Gary – an American citizen, online in 2010. In 2012 they formalised their relationship and got married. Between their first meeting and the wedding, Gary visited Tracey ten times in the UK. They were originally going to apply for a fiancé visa in orde order r to have the wedding in the UK, however then decided to marry in USA. Tracey did actually meet the financial threshold, however as this was from the combined income from two part part-time time jobs including one in the form of accommodation through her job as an onsite property manager, manager it was more complex to demonstrate. So the couple engaged the services of an immigration lawyer, costing them over £1000. They were assured by the lawyer that their case would be successful as it was obvious that Tracey was e earning arning in excess of £18,600, although it would have to be explained clearly given the complexity of her work situation. Hence the couple decided to put all their plans into motion. Gary gave up his apartment and car in the US, along with his car and wo worldly rldly possessions, flights booked and plans for a civil ceremony made. Throughout all this they gathered the information and documents needed to apply for the spouse visa – the amount of evidence required was monumental. Tracey and Gary married in the USA in December 2012 and flew to the UK together for Christmas. Gary’s return ticket was for January 2013, when he planned on returning to the USA to submit his visa application. However, a week or so before he was scheduled to leave the UK, the lawyers made contact to say the application would in fact not be successful because Tracey does not meet the £18,600 requirement. After much to-ing and fro-ing, ing, they spoke to the same lawyer who had provided the initial advice who now admitted his advice ce initially had not been correct. The rent compensation received by Tracey would not be seen as income; they were now told that the Home Office would need to see money going into a bank account, with the value of the accommodation benefit provided disregarded disreg completely. Their plans completely changed. Gary decided that rather than returning to the USA in January as planned, he would stay for the duration of his visitor’s visa while they assessed next steps. Their lawyer advised them of the Surinder Si Singh ngh process. So Tracey and Gary exercised their treaty rights by moving to Ireland in June 2013. Tracey has been working there from July and they are hoping to one day return to the UK to begin the life they had imagined. Tracey has worked since she was 16 years old. She has always been self sufficient and has never claimed benefits, instead contributing into the system all of her working life. Gary is educated, speaks English and plans to also work here as soon as he is able to. They are both an asset to the UK. However because of these immigration rules the couple is having to start over in their late 40s – a time when most people are able to be settled and comfortable with their family.

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The move to Ireland has not been plain sailing. They had trouble sorting out accommodation, dealing with the different laws there around rentals and letting fees. Pressure to find a job meant effectively taking the first thing on offer, even where for Tracey this has meant a job engaging in laborious work. For Tracey, leaving the UK and her elderly parents was especially heart wrenching. But it’s a means to an end for a couple who just want to be able to live together. Though this entire process has been difficult and traumatic the couple persevered; they are grateful that EU rules allow them to be together even where their own country has tried its best to keep them apart. It is ironic that now not only has the UK lost Tracey’s taxes, and those that Gary would have paid had he been allowed to work, but also that when they return to the UK they will both qualify for benefits. Although not so inclined, given their savings have been spent on the move to Ireland, they may well need to until new jobs are found. It's very hard for Tracey and Gary not to end up feeling completely cynical and embittered. One can't help who one falls in love with, and it’s perfectly reasonable to want to spend your life with them. It’s hard to believe that the UK makes that sometimes seem an impossible wish.

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Wayne & Daisy
“I’m forced to exercise EU treaty rights to keep my family united; this means being apart from my daughter 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 refused even 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 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 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 bedroom house outright – no mortgage! He doesn’t need a lot to live on unlike someone with a huge rent or mortgage. He contributes to the economy supplying valuable trade skills 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 free movement rights afforded to him by the EU, to have his family to live together in all EU countries, plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. They are considering Denmark as they both have connections there. 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 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. 3) On 3rd October 2013, Wayne and Daisy welcomed their daughter, Paris into the world. Born in France while the family are in exile from the UK. Wayne is confident that if Daisy had not been able to give birth in Europe, she would likely have died given the terror attack in Ozamis city, Mindanao. 4) The French people have been wonderful and Wayne is ever grateful for their help in the hospitals despite the couple feeling like they arrived as refugees. The hospital staff welcomed the couple as expressed a wish that the family would permanently settle in the lovely town of Saint-Amand-Montrond.

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Wes & Rebecca
“We are not skivers and shirkers. The rules are excessively harsh at the detriment of family life with Brits abroad forced into exile from their own homes.”
Wes is a British citizen. At the age of 42, in the year 2005, he migrated to USA to marry Rebecca. The primary reason for his moving, rather than Rebecca coming to UK, was for Rebecca’s son. Through the years, with Rebecca’s son becoming more independent, the couple has spoken of moving to UK. Wes suffers from ill health in extreme temperatures, however the couple opted not to rush back across the Atlantic, as they always felt they could "go home" when they were ready. The Home Office would of course recognise their marriage as legitimate given they had been married for over four years; as Wes & Rebecca have enough income and savings to not require assistance from the state financially they expected there would also not be any issues. Indeed, any doubts would be covered with Rebecca’s American passport being stamped with “no recourse to public funds”. The couple understood this. They understood that even before July 2012, governments have rules and didn’t expect to just waltz in. However, post July 2012 they find that they cannot move to the UK together, as a married couple unless we prove we have £62,500 in savings. Instead, they must endure a lengthy separation while Wes returns here, finds a job earning over £18600 - and works that job for at least six months before they can even file an application for Rebecca to be reunited with her husband. Wes is a simple man. Rebecca is the breadwinner in the family. She has worked since she was 16 and is the assistant to the Director of a large division (400 employees) of a mental health provider. Her income in the US and the fact they have never been on benefits in their married life - does not count towards the sponsorship requirements. Her future earning potential in the UK does not count. Wes is what is known as a "carer". He attends to developmentally delayed individuals in a group day setting. His work is valuable and necessary to society. He is good at his job - the individuals love him and he loves them. But it doesn't pay the equivalent of £18,600. It wouldn’t pay £18,600 in UK. Wes and Rebecca would be returning to a life in Northern Ireland - the odds of Wes getting a job in his field paying over £18,600 are slim to none. But he could and would get a job as a carer - there are plenty of those jobs out there, even in the UK's current economic climate. But those jobs, while would pay a liveable wage in Northern Ireland, are insufficient under the new rules. The new rules don't just "punish" those who are in lower wage professions - they punish people who live outside the south of England - areas with lower wages. This is not a couple that are "skivers and shirkers". Wes suffers from polycystic kidney disease. Rebecca can’t let him come to UK alone to look for work. He’s on a special diet which would be difficult to maintain as a "bachelor". His blood pressure requires constant monitoring. While Wes cares for others, Rebecca is Wes’s carer, his wife & partner. Rebecca has been active on immigration message boards across the internet for eight years now; she advises on three boards and has written two articles for the Transpondia website. She understands that there are always rules, and they followed those rules to bring Wes to the US. But the current rules in the UK restrict migration at the expense of families, in an excessively harsh manner – much harsher than the ones in the US, which Rebecca notes the Home Office misrepresented in its consultation report to the public and to Parliament when referring to rules in the US). Indeed, in her line of work, she has come across many British citizens who feel "exiled" from their own home.

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Useful links
Our website: www.BritCits.com Campaigns: Adult Dependant Relatives working in conjunction with JCWI to research impact of immigration rules closing off the route for adult dependant relatives to join their family in Britain, especially that on grandchildren and financial aspects for the family unit. Divided Families Campaign working in conjunction with JCWI, Migrants Rights Network and Family Immigration Alliance. Movement Against Xeonophobia aimed at countering vicious anti-immigrant discourse of mainstream politics. Involves a coalition of organisations and prominent individuals to mobilise and inform people on issues around immigration, particularly around the Immigration Bill, European Elections and the General Election in 2015.

BritCits also expresses its gratitude to: APPG on migration: http://www.appgmigration.org.uk/family-inquiry Migrants Rights Scotland - http://migrantsrightsscotland.org.uk/

Meetups: Regular meetings organised by us, members and other groups. These are also scheduled online and members are urged to register at the following website for details of future events: www.meetup.com/BritCits

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Index
A Afghanistan ................................................................... 35 Albania ............................................................... 104, 183 Argentina ............................................................ 165, 175 Australia ........................................ 29, 141, 168, 207, 215 B Bolivia ........................................................................ 142 Brazil ...........................................................125, 145, 167 C Canada .................................................. 68, 149, 151, 202 Chile ................................................................39, 60, 211 China ............................................. 14, 36, 77, 91, 95, 108 Colombia .......................................................48, 128, 131 E Egypt.............. 56, 110, 117, 129, 159, 176, 189, 199, 208 F Fiji .............................................................................. 147 G Gabon ......................................................................... 106 Guyana ......................................................................... 15 H Hong Kong............................................................ 57, 150 I India................... 9, 16, 18, 19, 23, 26, 30, 33, 76, 80, 166 Indonesia ................................................. 40, 78, 160, 204 Iran ............................................................................. 132 J Jamaica ...................................................................... 206 Japan ............................................... 34, 79, 118, 120, 214 K Kenya ......................................................... 21, 46, 87, 181 M Malaysia ........................................................ 70, 164, 190 Mauritius .................................................................... 201 Mexico ........................................................................ 144 Morocco ............................ 45, 50, 61, 111, 180, 192, 197 N New Zealand ............................................................... 136 Nigeria ...................................................................44, 187 P Pakistan ................................... 24, 25, 139, 143, 186, 193 Philippines ......................... 62, 75, 94, 148, 153, 195, 219 R Russia ........................................ 12, 22, 43, 126, 130, 156 S Singapore.................................................................... 191 South Africa ............... 17, 81, 89, 138, 140, 169, 171, 172 Sri Lanka ...................................................................... 28 Syria ......................................................................85, 115 T Thailand ................................ 53, 55, 71, 73, 98, 146, 194 Trinidad & Tobago ....................................................... 83 Tunisia ................................. 114, 134, 135, 163, 174, 209 Turkey .............................................. 66, 69, 102, 103, 154 U Ukraine ............................................ 11, 31, 123, 158, 188 USA38, 41, 47, 52, 58, 64, 90, 92, 96, 100, 112, 122, 162, 170, 173, 178, 182, 185, 196, 198, 203, 205, 210, 212, 213, 216, 217, 220 Y Yemen ........................................................................... 59

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