"I have never welcomed the weakening of family ties by politics or pressure" - Nelson Mandela.
"He who travels for love finds a thousand miles no longer than one" - Japanese proverb.
"Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence." - Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
"When people's love is divided by law, it is the law that needs to change". -
David Cameron.

Thursday, 16 February 2017

MM case judgment to be handed down Weds 22nd Feb

Finally, some real news on #MMcase - the judgment will be handed down on Wednesday 22nd February, 9:45 UK time.  This is the one year anniversary of when the hearing was at the Supreme Court.  It has been a long journey, as permission to take this case to the SC was handed down in May 2015

What is this case about?
Immigration rules which make it very difficult for a British citizen/resident/refugee to live in the UK with their partner/spouse.  This has often meant that British citizens live in exile, outside their country of citizenship or couples are forced to live apart - with a secondary impact on kids who grow up without a parent, and elderly parents who potentially have to depend on dwindling social care because of the absence of their own children. To see the journey through the courts, read the MM case overview.

What were the arguments made in support of families?
The overview above covers much of it, though you could watch the webcast of the hearing at the SC yourself, through their website.  The BritCits witness statement submitted at the Court of Appeal stage,  after all this time, is still pretty compelling reading likely to have all of you nodding along with your personal experience of these rules.  Worth a read (though I am biased!)

What will the judgment be?
We do not know.  Like you, we hope it will be on the side of families of course, but also like you, we'll just have to wait till next Wednesday.  You can watch the judgment live on the SC website, and it's likely twitter will be overflowing with what comes out of the judgment too.  Follow us @BritCits.

Whatever the judgment, the strength and determination shown by families we have come across is an inspiration to us all and is something that no politician will ever be able to take away - not even Theresa May.

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Clint & Mary Laine - Featured Family

“I am so let down by my country, seriously considering leaving UK for good just so I can have a 'normal' family life.”

Clint is a British citizen, born in Huntington, Cambridgeshire.  His family have lived in the same house in St Ives Cambridgeshire for over 50 years.  They are pretty well rooted to the region.

Clint's mother came to England from the Philippines in 1984 and his dad is British by birth and origin. 

In 2007 Clint moved to the Philippines where he met and subsequently married Mary Laine in November 2010.  The couple was blessed with a beautiful daughter, Macy, in March 2013.  Macy is a British citizen and thus can be with her dad in the UK any time.  Not so however for Mary Laine. 

Clint does not meet the financial requirements, the elusive £18,600 per year nor the £62,500 savings threshold.  Thus, his wife is not allowed to come to UK to live with him, and Macy is not allowed to have her mother with her in the UK....thus they are unable, as Clint puts it, to live 'as a normal family'. 

Clint has already wasted thousands of pounds on an immigration lawyer on the basis of his wife being the "primary carer of a EEA child".  Twice.  And it failed, twice.   Clint now wonders what else he can do to unite his family.  

It has already been six years since the family has lived apart; Clint tries and goes back to the Philippines twice a year, but it is expensive and work limits the ability to go overseas for long periods.  He also needs to work here in order to send money to the Philippines for his wife and child.

So far, Clint has not been able to get a job which pays £18,600.  It does bear considering that a person who earns less than £18,600 but is able to manage two homes - UK and overseas, will surely be able to look after his family when all in the one place!  But UK immigration rules are not a place for common sense, nor compassion.

Clint is now considering leaving the UK permanently, to make a life in the Philippines, just so the three of them are not apart for any longer.  There is huge uncertainty over the kind of work Clint could undertake over there  - perhaps work on rice lands.   But Clint is saddened that his daughter would then miss out on the education which she has a right to.  But Clint cannot separate the child from her mother.

Clint feels let down by his own country.  Sadly, he isn't alone.

Saturday, 4 February 2017

Are these protests all about Trump, or something closer to home?

Today saw more protests sparked by so-called President Trump.  Why is it we are so worried about what is happening across the Atlantic?

A travel ban affecting Muslims is bad enough, but that the Executive Order was signed on Holocaust Memorial Day, was particularly crass.  

A fear that Brexit increases the dependency on USA, whilst taking us further away from our nearest neighbours....a USA where we know we would only be the junior partner, to be led rather than leading.  By TM showing up to greet Trump in his first week, extending a state visit, we have shown our desperation.  Obama was into his third year before he got the red carpet treatment. Bush and Clinton did without for all eight years of their presidency.


Or perhaps we are faced with a realisation that the years of anti-migrant hysteria dominating UK headlines and air time (when was the last time there was an episode of Question Time where immigration wasn't mentioned?!) was leading us down the very same path we are horrified to see being tred by our 'very special friend' with whom we 'share a very special relationship'.  Are we rejecting what we were so close to becoming? 

As we become more aware of Trump's failings, and protest in support of those being victimised, we must rise up for the failings closer to home too.

Our Prime Minister caused much devastation in her previous role as Home Secretary.  She knew before the world did, that Trump was going to ban refugees, yet did nothing.  At least she's not a hypocrite though given her own treatment of refugees and migrants - indeed, even British citizens, who she'd rather have living in exile than allow our family to live here, despite it being with no recourse to public funds.

The net migration target continues to elude her, and despite attempts to break up families, force Brits into exile, make UK a hostile environment (Tories even forced a working party named after this policy!), crush our tertiary education sector and leave the EU, this is a target that has not and will not be met.  Not unless UK is turned into the kind of country that none of us want to be in!  There is no way to make living here hostile for migrants, without also making if terrible for citizens.

Theresa May uses Downing Street simply to further the agenda from her Home office days - I envision strings attached to Amber Rudd, pulled by TM.  A Home Secretary in name only.  

In TM, we have a Prime Minister who doesn't know how to lead; obsessive, controlling, unable to delegate, and incapable of compassion.  And in her hands are the reins of our future.

Monday, 30 January 2017

UK does humanity proud

UK has done humanity proud tonight.  Displays of immense heart and courage have taken place across several cities with people of all ages and backgrounds standing up against a tyrannical policy in another country that threatens to undermine our own values.  

It is a demonstration of solidarity against discriminatory and vile treatment by a government professing to be leaders of the free world (likely a self-appointed title, carrying responsibilities nevertheless).   It is also an essential action, and likely typical of more to come, what with Brexit driving UK to appear as USA's 51st state....literally, 100%, if some politicians can have their wicked way.  

Theresa May has consistently defied pleas from British citizens to be allowed to live with their family - family who would have no recourse to public funds anyway. Instead, she has instructed British citizens to maintain family ties over Skype, or better yet, leave the country altogether.  All in the aid of a misguided net migration target, forcing children into a single parent upbringing and elderly into a life of loneliness and isolation.  For four and a half years, families have suffered at the hands of this woman.  Rather than be content with damaging the lives of hundreds of thousands of people, she now wants to ignore the will of millions who who do not want to afford Trump a state visit.  She is complicit in her silence, guilty of turning a blind eye and a traitor in ignoring the very people she is paid to, and has taken an oath to, represent.

We will share some photos over the next few weeks.  These have been selected from social media because they give an insight into the spirit behind the people who came together today, because they are clever and funny, because they say what so many are thinking and because the sharing settings are 'global'. Apologies for not being able to credit the poster makers and the photographers.

It has been a very hard four and a half years bringing the plight of Brits with foreign family, victims of Theresa May's divisive policies to the foreground.  With more now engaged and directly affected by decisions taken by Downing Street, faith is once again restored that maybe, maybe, families won't have to be divided for much longer after all.

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Kevin - Featured Family

“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.

Sunday, 22 January 2017

BC newsletter - 22 January 2017

The most recent newsletter from 22nd January 2017 is now online, covering:
Past issues available here.

If you'd like to receive the newsletters directly into your inbox, please sign up here.

Paul - Featured Family

“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?

Call for families: Valentine’s Video Project

Another Europe is Possible

BritCits has been contacted by a fellow campaigner, Zoe Gardner, in relation to a Valentine's Video Project.  Zoe is keen to speak with all sorts of couples to participate in a video campaign telling the not enough heard story about the positives of immigration - that love that has no regard for borders. The aim is to demonstrte in a tangible and understandable way the benefits immigrants bring to the lives of the Brits who fall in love with them. 

The couples should comprise of one British national and one foreign partner - in the UK, or navigating the rules to try and be allowed in. The videos will tell a universal story about each couple in a 2-minute video.  Couples will talk unscripted about how they met and fell in love.   Discussion of immigration rules on the family is optional.  The goal though is to get across a pro-migrant message 

The videos will be short, sweet and depending on you, even humorous :)

The idea is to share these videos, starting on Valentine’s Day, and encourage others to make and share their own, to create a library of positive stories celebrating the love between people, regardless of their origin. A suitable tag-line and hashtag is in the works…

The videos will be filmed on one day (probably very early February) in London, exact date and location TBC.  If you are part of a divided family, Zoe thinks showing a Skype conversation would be quite powerful. 

For the tech savvy who want to take part themselves, please do upload your own video using the hashtag (TBC) from Valentine's Day.
Please contact zoehgardner@gmail.com if you would like to be involved