Family Migration – Migrant Lives & Hopes

“As British citizens we have fewer rights in Britain than our EU friends and their non-EU partners… ”


Yana is a British citizen and lives in Edinburgh with her British husband John and their British children. She has a wide and varied circle of international friends.

There is 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 Yana and John, both British citizens. Indeed, Yana 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 of friends meets up, they all have a good time together, comparing stories about their families and experiences from around the world and Yana is reminded how small the world has become 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 of being apart.

They share all these things in common and there is not much to tell Yana apart from her friends – except that is until it comes to the UK immigration rules. That is when she discovered that James and she are the odd ones out.

Yana’s mum is a Russian citizen, living in Russia on her own since Yana’s dad died in a car crash two and a half years ago. She has no other siblings to help look after her mum.

After many years of waiting, this summer Yana and John were fortunate to be blessed with twin girls. Yana’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 her dad’s tragic and unexpected death, Yana felt it was good to see her mum happy again and engaging with her granddaughters.

Yana 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, Yana is in total despair as the route has effectively been completely closed off.

The situation is causing severe distress; instead of enjoying motherhood Yana spends most of her day desperately trying to find a solution to this cruel problematic situation.

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 Yana’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 Yana and John, as British citizens, are denied that same right, in their own country.

To Yana, 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, Yana 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 Yana 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, Yana and John 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 Yana’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.




For further details on the new Family Migration Rules, please review the June 2012 Home Office Statement of Intent on family migration rules. Also read the  overview by Migrants’ Rights Scotland and the Migrants Rights Network briefing.

If you are experiencing the same or other issues as a result of the new family immigration rules, please email You can also get in touch with Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association.

Other migrant networks campaigning for change to the rules or highlighting their legal implications are Migrants Rights Network and Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants.