“My wife is eminently employable and would be a genuine asset to this country, yet we have to face choices no one should ever have to consider in a so-called civilised country – or any country for that matter!”
Les is a British citizen married to Becky, an American and an academic theologian with an MPhil. They met in mid-2008, a couple of years after she arrived in Scotland to study for a postgraduate degree. They quickly realised they wanted to spend the rest of their lives together.
At the end of 2010, Les and Becky moved in together and eventually married in February 2012. Becky submitted her postgraduate thesis in July (ironically a matter of days before the new rules came into place).
Originally, she had intended to submit her thesis six months earlier, but due to more work being required on the content, Becky chose to submit in July. Had she known about the new rules, she would have been more proactive in changing her visa before the changes. Indeed, Les and Becky 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 were taking place – indicating extremely low public awareness of and media interest in the issue and its implication across all non-EU persons.
The economy limits the freelance commissions Les is able to obtain and he has been relentlessly job hunting, with no success yet in securing fulltime employment. He can’t help but feel that it is his fault they are in this situation, agonizing that If only he had a job paying £18,600, if only they had applied for a spouse visa earlier, if only, if only… If only they had cash savings of £24,000 for the past six months!
Becky was offered a fantastic opportunity by a leading financial company however again, misinformation took its toll. Her prospective employer insisted that a letter from the UK Home Office was required to confirm her eligibility to work but the HO has no such rule and saw no need to issue one. In the ensuing tussle before a letter was provided, Becky lost the job opportunity.
Les continues to do all he can to get regular high-paid employment. Until Becky’s visa expired, she continued to do the same but in many ways it seems pointless, given the way employers are responding to the new rules – confused and ambivalent to taking on the extra demands and complexities imposed on them by the UK Border Agency and Home Office.
At the moment, Becky’s student visa has expired and she has until Christmas Eve to apply for a new one which will be impossible to do because they fall short of the new earnings requirements for a visa. Therefore, Becky will be going back to the States on 24 February – four days after their first wedding anniversary.
Yes, Les could eventually get an American visa to be with his wife although the process would take 9-12 months. At 125% of the poverty level, the income requirement is much more reasonable there and it would help that family members are allowed to support Les and Becky. However, Les has a Scottish daughter who lives in the UK. Moving to the USA would inherently damage any prospects of a relationship between father and daughter.
So Les faces the undignified, cruel choice between his wife and his kin.
IF YOU ARE ALSO AFFECTED BY UK HOME OFFICE FAMILY IMMIGRATION POLICY, GET IN TOUCH WITH US TO INCLUDE YOUR CASE IN OUR PORTFOLIO TO THE FAMILY MIGRATION INQUIRY AT THE WESTMINSTER PARLIAMENT. Email email@example.com or see www.migrantsrightsscotland.org.uk.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also get in touch with Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association.