"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.

Sunday 16 October 2016

Steve & Yuriko - Featured Family

“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.

Steve and Yuriko on a visit to Norwich Cathedral
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.

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?

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.  

The happy couple on their wedding day.
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.

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 the creation of 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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