“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.
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 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 Home Office throws at them. The issue of course remains, that they shouldn’t have to be cope with life apart.
1) Dee did ask for her passport back which meant her application was withdrawn. Before going to her son’s wedding, Dee visited the UK, however she was refused entry and held in a detention centre for a very distressing two days before being sent back to Canada.
2) Subsequently, David and Dee exercised their free movement rights and were reunited in Malta, where they lived and worked, making a lot of friends.
3) After several months, the couple were able to return to the UK under EEA regulations, reuniting the couple with David’s kids in Wales. Dee is hoping to soon be the proud holder of a UK Resident Card. However the couple continue to help others caught in the Home Office family immigration web who also wish to exercise their free movemen rights, by sharing their knowledge and experience of Malta.