"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 31 January 2013

Les and Becky

“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 a PhD.

Les and Becky met in mid-2008, a couple of years after she arrived in Scotland to study for her doctorate. They quickly realised they wanted to spend the rest of their lives together and spent every spare moment in each other's company, as lovers do. They clicked in a way neither had with anyone before. Les and Becky are best friends, lovers and partners.

At the end of 2010, they moved in together and eventually married in February 2012. Becky submitted her PhD in July (ironically a matter of days before the new rules came into place).

Originally, Becky had intended to submit her thesis six months earlier, but due to more work being
required on the content, she had her student visa extended to allow for this, until November 2012.

Indeed, in hindsight, had Les and Becky been made aware of the new rules (which were brought in so
suddenly!), they 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 had taken place – something to do with a distinct lack of publicity around the issue perhaps!

Les, apart from one or two freelance commissions and relentless job hunting, has failed to secure fresh fulltime employment – the status of the economy notwithstanding, Les can’t help but feel that, in a way, it is his fault they are in this situation. If only he had a job paying £18,600, if only they had applied for a spouse visa earlier, if only, if only...

However, life doesn’t flow in consistent and convenient ways – especially in times of austerity – something the government must be aware of when setting a bizarre threshold and requiring cash savings out of the reach of so many people.

Becky was offered a fantastic opportunity by Prudential; however, due to delays on the part of the Home Office in providing a letter indicating Becky was allowed to work in the UK, she lost that opportunity.

Les continues to do all he can to get regular high-paid employment. Becky is doing the same, but in many ways it seems pointless, given the way employers are responding to the new rules which are creating insurmountable barriers for people like Becky.

Yes, Les and Becky could move to the USA, as there the income requirement is much more reasonable, at 125% of the poverty level. However, Les has a daughter who lives in the UK, and moving to the USA would inherently damage any prospects of a relationship between father and daughter, so Les must abandon his wife or risk never having a meaningful relationship with his kin.

(Doing a PhD requires monk-like focus and inevitably it is impossible to keep up with ever-changing immigration rules. As we have pointed out previously, there have been no fewer than 97 changes to immigration laws since 1994).

A good article on doing a PhD : http://www.openculture.com/2012/09/the_illustrated_guide_to_a_phd-redux.html ('Imagine a circle that contains all of human knowledge...')

“I am being punished by my country for exercising my right to marry who I want . I can’t be with my daughter and grandchild – I can’t be around parents if they need me because of these rules.”

Sandra is a British Citizen, she married her husband Aftab, an Egyptian, in Bournemouth.

Sandra and Aftab decided to try out life in Egypt; accommodation was organised and Aftab had work. However, Sandra did not fit into life in Egypt and she missed her daughter and grandchild, who were still in the UK.

Aftab agreed to move to the UK – while home for him is Egypt, he liked the UK and wanted Sandra to be happy, understanding the importance of her family ties. Soon after Aftab enrolled on a business studies course in the UK, Sandra found out she was pregnant.

They applied for a spouse visa for Aftab before 9 July 2012, with £4,000 savings in the bank. Additionally, Sandra’s father provided a guarantee, acting as a third-party sponsor, with a healthy bank balance and proof of the deeds to his bungalow. Sandra and Aftab therefore had shown they had no intention to access any welfare benefits.

Sandra succeeded in obtained a job in telesales, which was good as it did not put too much strain on her body. Shortly after, Aftab found work in a restaurant, though he could only work 20 hours per week because of legal restrictions. Between them, they earned £18,600 although this was not the requirement at the time of application.

It became more and more important for the spouse visa to come through; Sandra was finding the pregnancy difficult. Further complications meant she could no longer work full time and sadly they lost the baby. It was a traumatic time for them both, but somehow, together, they managed to carry on.

More bad news was to follow, with the spouse visa being rejected because payment from Aftab’s bank in Egypt didn’t go through. Sandra and Aftab were not given a second chance to make payment by alternative means; and so, because of a fault of the bank, Sandra and Aftab now have now moved back to Egypt.

Sandra doesn’t feel she can earn £18,600 at this point and has been through a lot already, with the loss of the baby. She has secured a teaching job in Sharm El Sheikh at least.

So their situation is this. Sandra cannot return to her own home with her husband because she doesn’t earn enough. She feels she is being punished just because she chose to marry someone ‘different’.

She is being forced to choose between being a wife, and being a mother, grandmother, and daughter.

Sandra is pleading with whoever reads this to do what they can to change the current law to help British citizens.

She is a British citizen but now she cannot live in her own country.


“ The message we are getting from the UK government is that we are not rich enough to love... ”

Sierra is a British citizen, married to a US citizen, and they are aged 21 and 25 respectively.

They got married after two years together, in the UK, and then the world of immigration horror opened up to them.

They foolishly believed that, being married, they would not be kept apart whilst arranging her husband’s work visa.

They were wrong.

Sierra’s husband became an overstayer at the start of July 2012. They learnt that they would have to spend £1,500 on application forms, and on a lawyer's fees, to help them through this maze, applying for his Discretionary Leave to Remain.

As a legal secretary, Sierra earns £12,500.00 a year, with her savings having been spent flying back and forth between the USA and the UK, and for the visa process.

Sierra has never claimed benefits.

As her husband is an overstayer, any potential application is likely to be declined. What however is this couple supposed to do? They saved up £1,500 for the application only now to be told, ‘No, it’s not good enough, you’re not rich enough to be in love.’

They are however lucky to have family members who have always been willing to help, monetarily, but now the rules even disallow co-sponsorship.

They have nowhere to turn!

Sierra is terrified that she is going to get a knock on the door in the middle of the night and be forced to spend months or even years apart until she is able to earn £18,600, or whatever the new higher income threshold might be.

She feels desperate and that she is being punished for being in love, for daring to get married whilst being young and poor, despite not being on benefits.

These new laws put a price on love and they are disgusting; they are inhuman and carry no respect for the sanctity of marriage.

Theresa May should be thoroughly ashamed of herself for abusing her power and misrepresenting
British citizens.

Today's links

https://twitter.com/freemvntblog tweets : Even stronger rejection of new immigration human rights rules by President of immigration tribunal: http://bit.ly/XmNhEn  (via https://twitter.com/BAILII) .

Worth a read!

Marriage and civil partnerships inspection report.


'The following findings and observations can therefore be gleamed from the report:

Article 8 of the ECHR is not being considered in every case;
Some ECO’s did not think that they had to consider Article 8;
Even when ECO’s do consider Article 8, this is often not case specific;
The best interests of the child are not being considered in every case where there is a UK based child;
In many cases, UKBA are not retaining documents or notes to enable a review of the decision.  Caseworkers are instructed that they should retain only documents of particular relevance to the decision.

British citizens who don’t earn enough are finding their basic rights to a family life violated by new Immigration regulations.


It was a fairy tale romance that turned into a nightmare. Maliha Khan, a British citizen of Pakistani origin, met Bilal while working in Dubai in 2011. They fell in love, and Maliha first thought she would move to Dubai permanently to be with him. But then, due to other commitments she had to travel back to the UK...

Two interesting pieces on remittances :
'How migrants' money makes the world go round' - http://www.guardian.co.uk/global-development/2013/jan/30/uk-migrants-money-makes-world-go
'Remittances: America is the big loser as France cashes in' - http://www.guardian.co.uk/global-development/2013/jan/30/remittances-america-big-loser-uk-cash

'As the European economic crisis deepens, more and more people are leaving to seek a better life in emerging economies around the world. We speak to four who have moved abroad.'


Note the wording - 'migrants' not 'expats'.

For failed asylum seekers, life on section 4 is a nightmare worse than Kafka.


Woeful asylum support pushes children and families into destitution.


Alarmingly low levels of asylum support are forcing thousands of children and their families seeking safety in the UK into severe poverty, putting babies' and mothers' lives at risk, a parliamentary inquiry reveals today.

The cross-party parliamentary inquiry into asylum support for children and young people, led by former children's minister Sarah Teather MP, today launches its report (summary, full text) into how asylum-seeking children and families are supported by the Home Office.

The panel, supported by The Children's Society, found widespread examples of families on levels of support far below mainstream benefits, leaving them barely able to put food on the table or buy a winter coat.

PACE says Europe must help Turkey and Greece tackle irregular migration 'storm'.


Interesting piece on the (revived) Manx language, the Isle of Man and its unusual relationship with the UK.


Mapped: Twitter languages in London.


... and around the world :


... European detail :


... Asian detail :


Indigenous tweets - Welsh, Basque, Maori, Hausa, Setswana and more :

Vive le tweet! A map of Twitter's languages :
(I was reminded of these by the Guardian data blog's fantastic map of Britain's languages: http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/datablog/2013/jan/31/census-2011-language-map ).

'With the poster tagline 'We May Not Like Britain, But You Will Love Romania', daily newspaper the Gândul has launched a series of posters, explaining why Britons should come to Romania.'


It leads with the claim that 'Half of our women look like Kate. The other half like her sister,' and also refers to TopGear. 

Life in the UK, government style. The JCWI comments.


I had a chat with Ferdy, a Polish friend of mine about the new material in the test. He was enthusiastic.

“The one thing I have always had a problem with when it comes to integrating in the UK is in those awkward conversations about medieval British history. I feel totally left out of those lively debates about Vikings and British resistance at bus stops, in the newsagents and in the queue for the checkout at supermarkets.”


We don’t make our country stronger by forcing refugees into desperation.


Via https://twitter.com/MigrantVoiceUK

Wednesday 30 January 2013


“It's about love. It’s about respect. And it's about responsibility.”

Clara is a British citizen. She has been living in the UK for over 12 years. She worked for the British
government, paid her taxes and never claimed a penny in benefits. Clara wants the right to live with her Australian parents, who have no other family there.

Clara is happy to provide financial guarantees to the government. She is happy to provide a bond. She is happy to take out private healthcare cover for her parents to reduce their reliance on the NHS. Her parents would bring their assets to the UK as well, if they were going to live here, thus boosting our economy.

Clara’s parents would not be entitled to a UK pension nor would they be entitled to any other benefits. (incidentally, Clara has never claimed a penny in benefits). Despite this, the government will not allow Clara to live with her parents. But this isn’t about money. At least, it shouldn’t be.

It's about respect for those who gave us life, education and opportunities so we could have a better life. It's about love. And it's about responsibility.

Clara will not dump her parents in an old people’s home, halfway round the world, when they need her the most; where she can’t even meet them once a month let alone more frequently. And she will not let this government force her into abandoning her parents – nor will she be forcibly exiled from her home.

“If they didn’t want my parents here, they should have told me 10 years ago and I'd have planned
accordingly, rather than suggesting they could join me here they were 65. Doing it at this stage, blocking the route off so spectacularly and suddenly (when the route to retired people of independent means has also been closed off), when I have worked so hard, invested everything in the UK, bought a house and made a life here is not acceptable.”

The New Rules

The new rules are such that your parents have to be completely alone – no family and friends in their home country. They also have to be so incapacitated that they can’t dress, wash or cook for themselves. But even that’s not enough. To put it bluntly, if a British citizen earning a very good salary had a parent who was paralysed halfway round the world, they would still not be able to move their parents to the UK to look after them. So if your parents are healthy, they’re not welcome; if they require help to do basic things, again they’re still not welcome. If you’re well off, they’re not welcome. If you’re not well off, they’re not welcome. If they’re well off, they’re not welcome.

An example response Clara received from Mark Harper, Minister for Immigration, cites the cruelty of the rules:
“A person (aged 85) lives alone in Afghanistan. With the onset of age he has developed very poor eyesight, which means that he has had a series of falls, one of which resulted in a hip replacement. His only son lives in the UK and sends money to enable his father to pay for a carer to visit each day to help him wash and dress, and to cook meals for him. This would not meet the criteria because the sponsor is able to arrange the required level of care in Afghanistan.”

Clearly, there is NO value placed on the peace of mind that comes with being able to look after your parents, giving them company when they need it most, seeing them regularly, taking care of them yourself.

There is no respect allowed for those who often are the ones responsible for these Brits being here and contributing so fantastically to the economy and society.

Despite Clara having made several requests to various politicians, not one has been able to give an example of a situation where someone satisfies the criterion under the new rules, yet is physically able to get on a plane. The rules have been designed so that no one qualifies.

Those with a foreign spouse have a seemingly arbitrary income threshold of £18,600 to satisfy. On an income of five times this, a British person could now sponsor a foreign spouse and over 20 of their children to join them in the UK. But it’s somehow not enough to bring in ONE parent.

It’s absurd, insulting and rude. It’s discriminatory, ageist and racist. It’s an indirect method to force first generation British citizens to leave the UK.


The need to manage immigration is understood by Clara. But penalising British citizens who have never claimed benefits, just because they are first generation British, is not okay – and having criterion in place that even this government can’t give examples of anyone satisfying is certainly not acceptable.

This government did not do any research in coming up with these rules – indeed they ignored the advice in the Migration Advisory Committee’s report when it comes to parents of British citizens – a report they quote to justify the £18,600 income level for spouses. They just selected bits from the report to suit them, not considering alternatives, such as:
a) Mandating private healthcare insurance for parents;
b) Requiring the sponsor / parents to pay a bond to be held against the parents accessing welfare benefits, similar to the system in Australia;
c) A quota system, limiting the number of people a citizen can sponsor every X years. Australia has this in place for the sponsoring of a foreign spouse, to prevent abuse;
d) Reserving the right to sponsor parents as one for British citizens only, rather than just residents;
e) Requiring financial guarantees from sponsors that they will look after their parents;
f) Having a minimum income criterion for the sponsor.

What is required
g) Clarification of situations – case studies showing how someone can satisfy the rules to sponsor their parents who are still physically in a condition to get on a plane to come here.
h) If the intention is to prevent parents from coming here altogether, amend the policy so that this is clear, so there is no farce or pretence, and explain why.
i) Explain why we British citizens have fewer rights in our own country than the non-EEA spouse of an EEA citizen, who can bring in their parents, siblings, children, grandchildren and grandparents, and even aunts, uncles and cousins, without any guarantees or private healthcare cover. Yet, these rules have been brought in that completely close off the route to a Brit having their non-EU parent here, even where guarantees are provided. It's preposterous that this government has placed we
British citizens in a situation where we are second-class citizens in our own country!
j) Disclosing information on the consultation and research carried out to show that amending the rules in this fashion is justified, and this would address the concerns of NHS and social care costs that can't be met by other alternatives.
k) An explanation of why £18,600 is considered sufficient for a spouse with a few thousand more for each kid, while even a salary of five times that – which under the new rules allows UK sponsorship of a foreign spouse and over 20 children – isn't sufficient for a British citizen to sponsor one parent. How does the research carried out – if any – justify this?
l) Explanation of why British policy on parents is so different from other countries with a similar way of life to ours: Australia, New Zealand, USA and Canada. The government’s response cannot be that they don’t comment on policies implemented by other countries, as the rules in place in other countries for foreign spouses were used to justify the income threshold brought in for the spouses of British citizens.
m) Why isn't reciprocity with countries like Australia, the USA and Canada considered? More British
parents move to these countries than the other way around.
Gerard and Vilai

“UKBA is happy to take the visa application fees, and find spurious reasons to reject visa applications, in order to take yet more fees....”

Gerard is a British citizen and 59 years old. He is a seventh child and grew up in a loving family.

Gerard’s wife, Vilai, is a good woman, and Gerard, a good man, good husband and good dad. Gerard and his wife are being forced live apart, surviving on emails and phone calls. Gerard does not need to work, having paid off his mortgage. Yet he works, yet he pays his taxes, and yet he is kept apart from his wife.

To be together in the UK they must now embark on further unnecessary onerous bureaucracy to satisfy a cold heartless agency doing this government’s cruel callous bidding. Family friendly? Gerard and Vilai think not; to the UKBA they are just two more pawns contributing towards statistics showing what a good job 'they' are doing to protect ‘our borders’ and ‘the taxpayer’. But Gerard too is a taxpayer.

Thon has never been married before, nor had any children. Thon would prefer they live in Thailand, near her mum and four sisters, but Gerard prefers the UK, where his home and children are. So Vilai is prepared to give up her family, friends and career so that Gerard doesn’t have to give up his.

Gerard is very accomplished having attended university not once, but four times. He has been self-employed most of his life, and was a professional photographer for about 25 years, in the Cumbria area. He has worked hard, worked long hours and made many weddings and other events memorable for many British families. Indeed, when his work expanded to include a letting agency renting out holiday homes in the Loire Valley, Gerard’s photos were even featured on the front cover of Chez Nous.

The work was very successful and Gerard and his first wife contributed a lot in taxes to the British
government. To help develop the business further, Gerard went to study French: conversation classes, A-level at night school, a BA at university starting at age 47, at every level he was encouraged to go further.

He soon closed his studio and rented it out as half shop, half flat. All however wasn’t to continue smoothly.

In 2002, two years into his BA degree, Gerard’s wife of 24 years admitted to an ongoing affair. Gerard was shattered and subsequently diagnosed with severe clinical depression.

As one must do, however, he learnt to move on, going to work in a BT call centre before completing his degree at university where, despite the upheavals, he succeeded in obtaining a 2:1, a hair's breadth away from a first. With his qualifications, he was offered work at a university in Brittany (France), as a language assistant. Gerard spent a year in France while also completing the divorce proceedings. Many of his students were the children of families from Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria, and all delightful students.

He was able to retain his house and studio ... and a hefty mortgage; his other assets, including his share of the French business, went to his now ex-wife. Gerard knows all about beans on toast and no heat; better that than claim benefits. He is a proud man.

Gerard went on to complete an MA TEFL course, again at university, just six weeks after burying his mum, aged 97 years. Both Gerard’s uncles (John and Thomas) died in World War One, in 1917 (Ypres) and 1918 (between Arras and Cambrai), aged 21 and 20.

Gerard completed the MA, along with students from Greece, Iran, China and Taiwan, for whom he did some proofreading. He worked so hard he got a distinction for his dissertation.

Being over 50, Gerard found obtaining work difficult. He spent some savings on renovating his home. In the summer of 2007, he worked as a postman for a short period, followed by some proofreading work. Then he spent several months helping his elder son renovate the house he had bought in north Manchester – hard unpaid physical graft. Gerard had planned to sell his house, pay off his mortgage and perhaps move to France, but helping his son meant he got caught up in ‘the crash’, and he missed the boat.

So he rented out his renovated house and went to France on the off chance that some work would come his way. He succeeded in obtaining a language assistant job in Lille. As before, he paid all the deductions in France and living/ travelling expenses (not tax deductible), more tax on his French salary in the UK, and tax on his rental income. He came back to find the flat he had ented out trashed, not for the first time, and had to spend several weeks sorting that out.

In late 2009 Gerard was fed up, lonely and disillusioned. However, finally, things were to take a turn for the better; the mortgage was nearly paid off and Gerard met his now wife, Vilai. They spent a lot of time together in Thailand and the UK.

Last year Gerard applied for a visit visa in Bangkok, but was turned down, with the usual ‘insufficient reason to return’, despite having a long-term job to go back to and proof of same. While querying the decision, Gerard contacted his MP’s office and other individuals. Mysteriously, the decision was reversed and no explanation was given. Gerard wanted Vilai to marry him while she was here, but Vilai had promised her boss she would go back, and so she did.

The plan last December was for Gerard to spend more time with Vilai, his fiancée, and proceed to marriage if and when they were both sure. She always was, he became so, despite and perhaps because of some cultural differences.

Finally, one fine day, they got married. The intention was Gerard would return to UK with his wife, but they were hit by the English test requirement; it had to be taken and passed before applying for a visa, along with the health checks.

Gerard firmly believes, in line with various studies, that the place to learn English is in an English-speaking country, by immersion (acquisition), not just in a classroom. Soon it became apparent that they would not be travelling together as Gerard had urgent matters to attend to at home. Gerard did at least hope that his wife would be with him in time for the Olympic torch coming through his village. Alas, it was not to be.

Thon sat the English test in March and passed first time, although it took until May for the certificate to arrive. There was then an IOM query over her TB test, and it took another two months for the all-clear to be received. All these delays meant that they could not submit a spouse visa application before 9 July.

Finally, in August, Vilai was able to apply for a settlement visa, pay over £800 (Gerard reimbursed her of course) and wait up to 12 weeks for the UKBA to decide if this married couple could live together.

Worse was to come. Vilai’s application was rejected as the UKBA wanted a vast array of additional
documentation. No chance was given to respond. It was a rejection, and probably another £800+ to be paid before they would consider this spouse's application again.

The UKBA appears to be happy to advise what they want after they turn you down; then, on subsequent applications, they may find something else, and so it goes on. They don’t ask for more information during the waiting period, which is scandalous.

What does Gerard think of all this? He thinks it’s appalling. What should have been a happy joyous time after a decade of misery turned into an edelweiss trampled on by jackboots. HMRC is happy to accept the thousands he pays in taxes, meanwhile the UKBA is even happier to take the visa application fees, and find spurious reasons to reject visa applications, in order to take yet more fees.

This government doesn’t care how long they keep married couples apart; they don’t care about British citizens and their spouses; they don’t seem to respect marriage or family. Article 8 is just a thorn in their side. All British citizens hear about are scam marriages, terrorists, drug dealers and people-trafficking.

They somehow seem to have forgotten that there are still many decent honest citizens who just want to live their lives.
Today's links

AIRE Centre: 'This AIRE Centre National Report evaluates the impact of Family Reunification policies and legislation on the UK on the ability of third country national migrants to integrate into the UK.'


Contained in this document is an important set of case studies of people affected. All too familiar.

Emeline is a dual American/British national who acquired citizenship in the UK after living here. She is heavily pregnant and wants to bring her husband, a Yemeni national, to the UK on a spousal visa before her twins are born. Emeline’s husband has good academic qualifications and was a headmaster in Yemen. However, he does not speak English and, since he is not around English speakers, is finding it hard to pass the A1 test. There are no approved language courses or testing centres in Yemen, so Emeline’s husband had to give up his job in Yemen and move to Jordan, where he has been unable to find work. He has been financially dependent on his wife for the past year and the couple are concerned about their financial stability. Emeline has suffered anxiety and depression as the result of separation from her husband and cannot understand why he is being made to learn English abroad when she feels that he would pick it up more easily in the UK.

Follow the AIRE Centre : https://twitter.com/AIRECentre

Test challenge to new family immigration rules to be heard in the High Court.


Explaining the importance of the case, Mr Ashraf Ali, of RBM Solicitors, said:

'This case is of the widest public importance and the judgement will impact on people’s everyday lives. It is one of the most important cases to have come before the Courts. All you have to do is to Google the £18,600 requirement and you will see the endless misery that it is causing to genuine couples who are being forced apart from one another simply because they cannot afford ‘the price of love’. UK immigration control has now become only for those who can afford it and if you do not then please do not make the mistake of falling in love with a non-EEA national. The irony is that as a British person you are being treated less favourably than an EEA national who does not have to meet the threshold.'


'Too many genuine refugees are becoming destitute because of administrative delays in helping them to settle in the UK, a cross-party inquiry has found. '


https://twitter.com/migrants_rights tweets -
It's true!! THE DAILY TELEGRAPH has launched a campaign to make it easier for Chinese people to come to the UK. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/china-business/9835571/Britains-1.2bn-Chinese-visa-own-goal.html
(In the same week that the government launched a campaign to deter Bulgarians and Romanians.)

'Why the new British citizenship test distorts history.'



Via http://www.freemovement.org.uk/ - !!! RT @jonfeatonby: @AdamWagner1 It appears MoJ are "investigating" the causes of the growth in judicial reviews http://www.theyworkforyou.com/wrans/?id=2013-01-29a.140040.h&s=speaker%3A11350#g140040.q0

Citizenship test satire.


Polish becomes England's second language.


Regulate the gangmasters exploiting Bulgarian and Romanian workers.


"Immigration is not as big a threat to British society as the fear of immigration".


Good piece https://twitter.com/richardjgodwin
'How indeed? Well, it would help if May stopped inflaming the fears of voters. For all the tough talk of immigration caps, there is little the Government is actually willing or able to do — while its attempts to impose limits on foreign students appear completely counterproductive. It would help too if both parties stopped taking legitimate concerns and focusing them on one particular group, in this case Bulgarians and Romanians (as if they are interchangeable).'
'The fact is, immigration is not nearly so big a threat to society as the fear of immigration — that is, the fear of the other in our midst. Europe has been down that road before and it did not end well.'

Qatar 2022 World Cup will exploit migrant workers, says report.

https://twitter.com/19pst tweets
Ceija Stojka, Roma writer, painter, and Holocaust survivor has died. 12 million Roma face discrimination in Europe today: this must change.

https://twitter.com/APPGMigration tweets
Tomorrow is the last day to submit evidence into the Family Migration Inquiry. You can submit here http://www.appgmigration.org.uk/content/family-inquiry-online-evidence-submission

https://twitter.com/alexhern tweets
In 2011, less than half a per cent (138,000) of all usual residents aged three years and over could not speak English:  http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/census/2011-census/key-statistics-and-quick-statistics-for-wards-and-output-areas-in-england-and-wales/index.html

https://twitter.com/Rebecca_Omonira tweets
"..total "border control" is possible only in a totalitarian state" Ana Marie Cox http://gu.com/p/3ddfh/tw  EU could learn from America's debate

Languages mapped: What do people speak where you live?


Brilliant, granular piece from the Guardian's data blog showing who speaks what where (in England and Wales).

The government's attitude to Romania and Bulgaria is contemptible.


Pity the staff at the British embassy in Bucharest. Only last month they were cheerfully banging the drum for Great Britain, telling Romanians what a swell country this rain-soaked archipelago is. You see:
The GREAT campaign invites the world to take a fresh look at the UK, and is designed to promote Britain as one of the very best places to visit, live, work, study, invest and do business.
Oh dear. Time to reverse ferret.

Tuesday 29 January 2013


“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. They have been together for five years.

After Kevin was 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, plus commission. Living in the regions, this could go a long way (it is close to the median average income in parts of the UK - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Income_in_the_United_Kingdom ). 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 (as the rules state that the lowest month is used when calculating income, rather than the average, which will impact people whose income is partly made up of commission, as well as some types of self-employed people; a very large segment of the working population may fail despite earning about the £18,600 threshold).
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.
Today's links

Discouraging migrants and citizenship tests.


'It’s early in the week, but already we’ve been hit by two biggish pieces of mainstream immigration news, neither of which really address real concerns, and nor will they have much of an impact...'

The statistically 'special' work of Migration Watch.


The name Oliver has become much more popular since 2004 as a baby name. This is surely no coincidence: the increase must be looked into as a cause of youth unemployment and further research is required.
The RSPB reports that the Woodlark population is recovering and has been moved up from the red to the amber endangered list. A coincidence that youth unemployment has increased at the same time? Don’t be so naive! These innocent seeming birds are a fifth column.
If you look at the left hand ridge of the Matterhorn in the above image, you can see a startling similarity with the Migration Watch graph on youth unemployment. A coincidence? I think not! This mountain should be pulled in for questioning immediately.

New Life in the UK handbook published.


First eight pages - http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/interactive/2013/jan/27/british-citizenship-test-values-principles?intcmp=239 via https://twitter.com/LaraMascaraNYC
Putting people off coming to Britain: Your pictures.


US senators plan immigration reform.


A bipartisan group of US senators has unveiled a plan for sweeping reform of the immigration system this year.

The framework calls for a path to citizenship for many of the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the US, while tightening border security.

https://twitter.com/APPGMigration tweets - The Family Migration Inquiry deadline is this Thursday, 31 Jan. Make sure you submit your views, however briefly.  

The Un-European Union.


'GV Author Filip Stojanovski, on his blog Razvigor, has translated into English a mock story [sr] by Njuz.net, “the Serbian equivalent to The Onion,” about the UK striving to join “the Un-European Union”:'

'One of Google's inventors is a Russian immigrant.'

Horrific attacks against Armenians.



Maxima Zorreguieta, the Argentinian who will be Queen Consort of the Netherlands.

This is why we have the Refugee Convention. The story of Prisoner A26188.


Chinese apologise to Tibetans.


'A Facebook Page: Chinese Apologize to Tibetans has been set up by a group of overseas Chinese activists to collect information about the human right situation in Tibet.'

Monday 28 January 2013


“Are these the family values the government wants to promote? Keeping parents and children/grandchildren apart ... breaking up husbands and wives?”
“It’s ridiculous that British people now have fewer rights in Britain than even those from outside the EU... ”

Anne is the British mother of a British son who, by this government’s account, should not have fallen in love, married and had a child with a lovely woman, because his child's mother happens to be American. Anne is also the British wife and main carer of a British man who is disabled.

Anne recognises that, as she gets older, she will need assistance from her son, for herself and her husband.

The new rules now in place mean that her son is forced to live apart from his wife and daughter. They also mean that she is not permitted to be with her son and daughter-in-law and is prevented from spending time with her granddaughter.

NOTHING is right about this situation.

They are a proud, if not rich, family. They missed the wedding of their son to a woman who is now a much loved member of the family. While it was painful missing her son’s wedding, the financial and practical constraints of Anne’s husband’s disability meant that they couldn’t travel.

They do, however, expect their son to be able to live in his home country, with his new family.

£18,600 is a lot of money for him and Anne, on top of the daily expenses of living and substantial visa application fees (as Anne sees it, we do not all have parliamentary salaries, generous expense accounts and cushy pensions – Anne pays for and travels in standard class).

Anne’s son has been saving money for a spouse visa and paying rent in the UK while also maintaining and paying for accommodation for his wife and child. Babies are expensive, as anyone with a child will tell you. Yet he managed for a long time.

Until these rules came in.

The stress of being apart from his wife and child is, in itself, difficult; but the impact of the rules, which suggest to him that he may never be with them, were he also to be here for his parents, caused Anne's son to become very ill, leading to the loss of his job. So, overall, this is now a worse situation for everyone, her son, his wife, their granddaughter, Anne’s husband, Anne and the entire extended family and community.

They now can’t even afford to fly to America to see the child unless friends and family help.

Are these the family values the government wants us to adopt?

Meanwhile this whole situation is taking a very bad toll on everyone's health. Anne is now on antidepressants and blood pressure tablets. Their fifteen-year-old daughter is feeling the stress of the situation – she can't understand why she can't see her little niece and sister-in-law. Their other daughter has their son living with her as he has now also lost his home, so has no choice but to move in with family.

The government needs to realise there are real people affected by these changes, not just government statistics. The rules were already hard to meet in the first place, the fees of hundreds of pounds were already a lot for the majority of working people.

Anyone from the EU can move to the UK with their spouse and children without having to satisfy any income criterion.

Yet now British people, in their own country, are being torn apart from their families! What has
this government done to our country and why? Who will look after us as we grow old? Who will look after us when we are ill? And who will answer the questions the next generation asks about why discriminatory and racist policies were allowed to be put in place, policies preventing Anne's son's daughter getting to know her father and grandparents?


“This is not how I expected my married life to be, a fight to be with my husband… .”

Kirsty is a British citizen, married to Karim, from Tunisia. Kirsty and Karim have known each other for over 11 years, since childhood, having met at a family wedding.

Over the years, they kept in touch and their relationship blossomed into something more serious; they were always aware of the uncertainty of distance long-distance relationship, knowing Kirsty did not want to live in Tunisia, and knowing that it would not be an easy or cheap process to have Karim move to the UK.

However, love triumphed and they married in July 2012, after accepting that they could not live without each other.

At the time, they were unaware that the new rules recently brought into force would require Kirsty to be earning at least £18,600 per annum.

Kirsty could not believe it – how could such rules be brought in so suddenly?! Upon meeting with two solicitors, Kirsty and Karim were told they had no chance –the visa would be refused again and again and again, until the government was taken to the High Court. They advised her they would help her fight the rules, but if they lost, the financial cost to Kirsty and Karim would be astronomical.

So this young married couple are stuck. Their only option at the moment is to continue as they are, spending their spare money on visiting each other, not allowing them to save for their future, for a deposit.

It is clear to Kirsty that this breaches her human right to a family life – the financial criteria discriminates against those hard-working taxpayers who earn an average salary, and as this law stands, she feels very much that when it comes marriage to someone from outside the EU for someone who wants to live in the UK, is now only for the rich or EU citizens who are not British.

Kirsty feels frustrated – why is it that her husband’s potential income in the UK is not considered? Karim has international diplomas in engineering, as a technician and in mechanics, as well as speaking many languages, so he has a much better chance of getting a high-earning job than Kirsty.

Karim speaks English perfectly and has passed an English test at the British Embassy. The couple has
accommodation available from Kirsty’s parents, their aim being to live there to save up for their own place.

But none of this is taken into account.

Kirsty is angry. Her husband, with diplomas and a strong work ethic, is not welcome in the UK, because he married a BritCit rather than a French, German or Polish citizen.
Today's links

Hoping for Home: One couples fight to return to the UK following the recent changes to the UK family visa for non-EU spouses...


'I never could’ve imagined, when I arrived in Buenos Aires over 12 years ago, a young girl of just 20 setting out on her first solo adventure abroad, that I’d remain here today, living a life of forced exile from my native UK.'

The theme of Brits and their families condemned to effective exile - or facing family breakup - is one we hear over and over again. This family's story is here :
Meeting on immigration rule that's keeping families apart.


'Southampton community leaders have slammed a Government policy which prevents British citizens sponsoring spouses from outside the EU unless they are earning more than £18,600. '

This awesome group of people - http://swvg-refugees.org.uk/public/ - were at both the 9th July demo outside the Home Office, the meeting in Parliament, and also I recognised them at the JCWI AGM. They're a small group but they are very active and do a lot of good work, and seem to be extremely nice people. If anyone is in the Southampton area, it's worth making contact with them I'd suggest...

Migrants and the state: An exclusive national family.


'Agnes Woolley examines the implications of the UK Government’s new rules on family migration and argues that if families are the building blocks of a secure and stable nation, then the right to family life must be upheld'

Via https://twitter.com/MigRightsScot

https://twitter.com/APPGMigration tweets :
The deadline for submitting evidence to the Family Migration Inquiry is this Thursday, 31 Jan. Have you submitted? http://www.appgmigration.org.uk/family-inquiry


From Admiral Nelson to Morecambe and Wise: A basic guide to British life for immigrants.


( Yn awr, byddai prawf fywyd ym Mhrydain go iawn yn y Gymraeg. )
Do you know which 9th century Anglo-Saxon monarch defeated the Vikings?


(Clue: Not King Arthur. He defeated the English :) ).

Romanian or Bulgarian? You won't like it here.

'Ministers consider launching negative ad campaign in two countries to persuade potential immigrants to stay away from UK'

How would you put people off Britain? Send us your posters.

What my generation can learn learn from the Holocaust, by Owen Jones.


'We should recall that hatred continues to be fanned against entire peoples, and that man is capable of both wonderful benevolence and unspeakable horrors'

Manchester, Boston, Croydon: what can they contribute to the national conversation on migration?


The regions find their voice.

Migrant Workers North West, mentioned in the article : http://www.migrantworkersnorthwest.org/

Croydon MP Gavin Barwell is also worth following as a more reasonable Tory voice (and also as one involved in the all-important All Party Parliamentary Group on Migration https://twitter.com/APPGMigration ) : https://twitter.com/GavinBarwellMP

Reading: 'International Migration: A Very Short Introduction'
-> http://www.oup.co.uk/academic/series/vsi/vsiguides/migration/

Obama confirms that the regularisation of up to 11 million undocumented migrants will be one of his second term priorities.



The British dream: why Europe's African citizens come to Britain.


Via https://twitter.com/britcits

Free English classes in Surrey for women recently arrived in the UK.


Great dramatisations about undocumented lives based on https://twitter.com/nandosigona 's team's research:


'Kevin Searle’s ‘“Mixing of the unmixables”: the 1949 Causeway Green “riots” in Birmingham’  examines a hitherto unknown landmark in British race relations which throws into question standard accounts of postwar immigration.'


Via https://twitter.com/nandosigona
The UK’s DREAMers? Undocumented children in Britain.


Many of these links via http://www.migrantsrights.org.uk/ regular weekly migration updates (also via https://twitter.com/donflynnmrn and https://twitter.com/janbrulc ) - worth subscribing to.

Sunday 27 January 2013

The price of love


Sign the petition! http://www.change.org/petitions/theresa-may-new-uk-immigration-laws-are-tearing-families-apart-change-them-now
Hidden Lives, Life in the UK, comedy gold, Luqman Onikosi, and more

So, today, a trip into London which included St Pancras Station today (in my other life I am a bit of a trainspotter - the history of railways is the history of the modern world, an interface of engineering, architecture, commerce, cartography, and of course migration, as well as much else - our whole concept of standardised time, for instance).

On at the station is the excellent exhibit 'Hidden Lives: The Untold Story of Urban Refugees' :


It's well worth a browse. The photo-stories are scattered throughout the upper and lower levels in a most impressive building. How appropriate that it is in the heart of such a truly international city, in the historic railway terminal which links London to the rest of the world, which is also a great symbol of Britishness.

It was quite heartening as well to see small crowds gathered respectfully around each photo-story.

More on the exhibit :
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/in-pictures-20900282 - http://www.rescue-uk.org/what-we-do/hidden-lives-untold-story-urban-refugees - http://stpancras.com/events/hidden-lives-the-untold-story-of-urban-refugees/

UK citizenship to cover 'Britain's greats'. Migrants Rights Networks says why this is a bad idea :

(via https://twitter.com/donflynnmrn )

Want to become a British citizen? Better swot up on Monty Python:

From the Huffington Post UK - 'New UK Citizenship Test - How Would You Do?'

Three general comments here :
1/ As noted in this case ( http://www.gmb.org.uk/newsroom/latest_news/changes_to_immigration_laws.aspx ), there have been in the region of 97 changes to immigration laws since 1994 already. Yet another change - and these changes, when they come, tend to be both fast and fundamental - is extremely onerous to the applicant, as well as the expense of investing in new study materials. It creates a bad feeling, to say the least.

2/ No doubt this poor change control contributes to the massive backlogs at UKBA which are constantly being uncovered : http://www.channel4.com/news/inspector-uncovers-huge-ukba-immigrant-backlog , http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-21178405 , http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/video/2013/jan/24/uk-border-agency-backlog-video?mobile-redirect=false , ad nauseam, ad infinitum.
The Independent Chief Inspector's recent report on the marriage/partnership backlog is here : http://icinspector.independent.gov.uk/decisions-in-marriage-applications-are-reasonable-but-chief-inspector-raises-concerns-about-backlogs-and-a-lack-of-consideration-of-the-best-interests-of-children/
.. and here is a devastating report on legacy asylum cases : http://icinspector.independent.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/UK-Border-Agencys-handling-of-legacy-asylum-and-migration-cases-22.11.2012.pdf
Quote via http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-20436013 - 'At one point there were 150 boxes of unopened mail from asylum applicants, their lawyers and constituency MPs stored in a room at the agency's Liverpool offices. '
More reports : http://icinspector.independent.gov.uk/inspections/inspection-reports/2012-inspection-reports-2/
The Independent Chief Inspector on Twitter : https://twitter.com/ICIBIVine

3/ The media coverage is pointing to this being a 'citizenship' test. This is misleading; the Life in the UK test needs to be taken by anyone applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain (not just those applying for citizenship). This includes, for example, spouses or civil partners of British citizens who have been here on 2 year visas. So something is missing in the coverage here, and combined with all the other changes (as noted here, a simple example - http://www.freemovement.org.uk/2012/09/06/new-statement-of-changes-sigh/ - changes which can be brought in with as little as one day's notice), bluntly, it messes people about.
To paraphrase John Vine himself ( http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/video/2013/jan/24/uk-border-agency-backlog-video ) - people's lives are on hold, and there is a human side to all this (which of course includes the British partner and British children of those in the system) which is drowned out in the media storm over immigration.

(The excellent website Tabloid Watch has at present some 147 stories on immigration - http://tabloid-watch.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/immigration - well worth browsing as a primer on how sections of the media distort everything, to the ultimate cost of everyone).

Part 1 of our new 'comedy gold' feature, an occasional piece on the lighter side of immigration of life :
Via Facebook - 'Is it just me, or is it a bit silly why the UKBA recognises the need for different pay between London and the rest of the UK for paying their own staff, but for the rest of us wanting to bring spouse in, it's not relevant?'


Part 2 of our new 'comedy gold' feature :

'Mark Harper blaming applicants for their applications being dumped in boxes in Sheffield because they did not follow an appeals process which did not exist at the time they applied.'
(via https://twitter.com/SalCardiff )

(To clarify somewhat : We believe that there was an appeals process back then, but UKBA agreed to review cases outside the appeals process..so the issue is Harper is trying to blame applicants for asking UKBA to review their cases outside of an appeals process, rather than blaming UKBA for not reviewing the cases, after it agreed to).

Sal refers to some of Harper's statements here - http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b01q02mm/Today_24_01_2013/ - which Gerard (who tweets at https://twitter.com/gphearne ) has made a nice attempt at precis-ing :

Gerard writes on Facebook :
'I've made a first attempt at transcribing what Mark Harper said. I'm not claiming it's perfect but it's quite accurate. What struck me was the number of times he talked about people not LIKING a decision (slightly pejorative?) rather than not AGREEING with a decision, which would I think be a much more normal word choice. If you don't AGREE, you appeal, rather than if you don't LIKE.

Anyway, see what you think:

John Humphrys (JH): It's a shambles
Mark Harper (MH): No, I don't agree. I mean let me just pick up on those two specific areas that John talked about there. I mean first of all, the 14,000 cases, the reconsideration requests, they weren't people waiting for a decision, these were people who'd put in an application, they'd had a decision, they didn't like the decision, and what they should have done if they didn't like the decision was go through the proper appeal mechanism. What they were trying to do was go round that process errm and ask us basically to go through and do their application again.
MH : No, no, yeah but these were people that hadn't put in an appeal, what they were trying to do...
MH : No, no, these are people who've not liked the decision, but rather than go through the proper process and and apply for an appeal, like the gentleman who you covered in your report, these were people who just said to us 'Can you just look at our case again?', and what happened was...
MH : Well in the past, the agency didn't have a process to deal with that, it used to accept those requests, but not resource them, which is why there is a backlog. We're very clear now, if you get a decision and you don't like it, and it's not the one you wanted, you apply for an appeal. There's a proper mechanism, we won't in future allow you just to say 'Can you just go through the process and do it all over again?"
MH : If we want to deliver good customer service, we need to deal with people's cases properly, we make a decision, err if they like the decision great, if they don't like it there's a proper mechanism to do an appeal. That's what we will ask people to do.
MH : Well no, he acknowledged that ... no, no he acknowledged in his report that people were dealing with it. There were some old cases, I'm not going to pretend that we did not inherit ... some old cases in the UK Border Agency ... well no, no, 14,000 of those cases, decisions had been made, people had been told the decision, they just didn't like the decision, and they chose not to go through the proper process.
MH : Yes, and what the border agency should have said in the past, it should have said 'No, there's an appeal process. If you don't like the decision, appeal. What it didn't do, it didn't do that, what it did, it kind of accepted these requests, didn't have a process to deal with them...
MH : ...but the point is these people had had their cases looked at, and they'd had a decision...
MH : ...no, they had ... they had a decision ... they had ... no, no, no ... and your, and your fair point is what they should have done is be given a clear message that, no, that wasn't the right way of doing it, they should have appealed. The way the agency in the past made a mistake was that it should, it wasn't firm enough about that, and we've now got a clear policy, published, about how we deal with those, which is people should appeal properly, and those people who've been refused, and not allowed to stay here, should leave the country, and we will be taking steps to make sure that they do.
MH : And the 2,100 cases to be clear, those have all now been looked at, they've been decided, there are a handful of cases where there's information required outside the agency, but those have been dealt with.
MH : No, I'm not going to say that, we, we inherited an agency which had a lot of problems, we've got a new management team to deal with it, they're getting a grip and dealing with it, we're not gonna deal with it...
MH : We're not gonna deal with it ... Well, if you listen to what he said... Well I'm not satisfied with the performance, as it is today, neither's the chief executive, but he said, and he said in his previous report, we're getting a grip, we're improving the agency, and actually an important thing in what he said, was he acknowledged a lot of the frontline staff are very dedicated, they're doing a good job, I've met a lot of them when I've been out and visited the agency, we need to give them the tools to do the job and deliver excellent customer service. That's the mission that we have, and that's the process that we're trying to undertake.'

Part 3 of our new 'comedy gold feature' - posted before but worth restating :
'New backlog of 16,000 immigrants just a 'customer service' issue, says minister'

Why is Britain sending Luqman Onikosi back to die in Nigeria?, by Alana Lentin.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jan/25/why-luqman-onikosi-remain-britain , and also at http://www.alanalentin.net/2013/01/27/why-is-britain-sending-luqman-onikosi-back-to-die-in-nigeria/

'There is no doubt, barring a miracle, that removing Onikosi to Nigeria will result in this young man losing his life. The UK is quick to preach when it comes to human rights abuses in other countries, but equally quick to moralise when the same victims of global inequality put its own ethics to the test. Are we really willing to cause a third, useless, death in one family? Because that is what failing to act to help keep Onikosi in the UK, where his chances of survival are good, will ultimately mean.'

Petition in support of Luqman Onikosi : http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/grant-luqman-onikosi-leave-to-remain-in-the-uk.html
And Luqman Onikosi's Facebook support group : https://www.facebook.com/groups/452820554754025/

We have written previously about Luqman's plight : http://britcits.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/todays-links-migration-weekly-humanity.html
... as well as the very similar plight of Roseline Akhalu : http://britcits.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/the-trials-of-roseline-akhalu-httpwww.html

Alana Lentin tweets here : https://twitter.com/alanalentin
Tory right presses Cameron to close UK to Bulgarians and Romanians.


NY Times thinks Cameron has it wrong on Europe.


'Prime Minister David Cameron, like much of the British public, is ambivalent about his country’s future in the European Union. He correctly recognizes that a Britain outside the union would count for less in world affairs, forfeit the privileged access it now enjoys to its largest trading partner, and lose its seat at the European table where matters of great importance to Britain are discussed — from cross-border banking rules to environmental regulation. '

via https://twitter.com/jonsnowC4


Holocaust Memorial Day marked in UK.



Round up of news and research: climate change, migration and displacement.


Via https://twitter.com/MigrantVoiceUK , https://twitter.com/refugee_archive


Saturday 26 January 2013


“What married couple wants to spend twelve months – maybe more – living in separate countries?”

Katie is a British citizen directly affected by the new immigration rules.

Katie moved to Cape Town, South Africa, in February 2010 to be with her partner, Cliff, a South African citizen. He visited England on three separate occasions but has never lived in the UK. They got married in October 2010 in Cape Town after a 3-year relationship.

Katie’s father passed away in April 2012 after a long hard battle against cancer. Katie and Cliff feel that now is the right time to move permanently to the UK to be with her mother, who is living alone in Norfolk and needs the support of her family.

Katie is a qualified primary school teacher with three years full-time experience. She is also a qualified Health and Social Care worker, having gained an NVQ Level 3. Cliff has many years’ experience in the finance sector and has just gained his degree in Business Administration. They both have skills and experience to offer the UK.

In the course of their in-depth research plus guidance from immigration consultants, they were shocked and saddened by the implications of the new rules. They meet all of the criteria for a settlement visa; however, they believe the financial requirements to be totally absurd and incredibly harsh.

Katie already has an offer of employment in the UK and, as it is their intention is to live with her mother for the interim, there is no need to rely on any public funding. Katie has been working in Cape Town as an au pair for the past two and a half years, earning a reasonable salary. However, taking the fluctuating exchange rate into account and the fact that salaries are considerably lower in South Africa, it has not been possible for her to command an £18,600 gross annual alary. She is aware of the need for savings to cover the shortfall in salary but the amounts of money are otally absurd – how many people have tens of thousands of pounds lying around in cash that they don’t need to rely on for five years!

Katie has been told by an immigration consultant that she, as her husband's British sponsor, must take full financial responsibility, a situation which seems totally hopeless at the moment. She has also been told that, under the current rules, she will have to work for six or more months in the UK in order to earn the required salary while her husband remains in South Africa.

What married couple wants to spend six to twelve months living in separate countries? Where is the logic in these new changes?!

Katie is livid that virtually overnight people are expected to have thousands and thousands of pounds in savings if they do not meet the annual gross salary requirement.

These requirements are quite frankly ridiculous and will no doubt cause some partners and families to
break up if they are forced to live separately!