"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.

Friday, 1 February 2013


“I am in despair. My family has been kept apart for many years, despite playing by the rules...which the government keeps changing.”

Emma is a British citizen. She met her future husband in Indonesia in 2001. She returned to Indonesia in 2002 and they stayed together before Emma came back to the UK.

They kept in touch via post and email over the next seven months, before Emma returned to Indonesia to marry her husband.

Her husband applied for a UK visa, allowing him to move here with his new wife, following which the couple moved here, and had a daughter and son. Both Emma and her husband worked in the UK, without claiming a penny in benefits. This was in 2002.

In 2007, the family decided to try living in Indonesia. They set up their own business there. However, some time later, they decided to return to the UK, where Emma felt that she could find better work.

However, they were in for a shock. Emma’s husband’s returning residence visa was refused as he’d been outside the UK for over two months in a two-year period. The British Embassy in Jakarta advised the couple to apply for a ‘returning visitor visa’ as they were still within the rules. But they were in for another shock!

This visa was refused, wasting time and money. They were subsequently advised to apply for a spouse visa – costing £800. This too was refused, on grounds of Emma (the sponsor) not having a job in the UK.

The immigration officer advised them in the refusal letter that if Emma were to return to the UK and make provisions for her husband to return – get a job, and a house adequate for family life in the UK – she would be able to make a successful visa application for her husband.

Emma returned to the UK with her two children, arranged accommodation, settled the kids into school and started job hunting. This meant, unfortunately, that she was juggling childcare and associated costs, effectively as a single mother, making it incredibly difficult to secure full-time employment, despite securing job interviews!

It was ironic, because if her husband was allowed to be with her, the family’s child care problems
would cease to exist, as the couple could have organised their time to work and care for their little family without having to claim any benefits.

In fact, Emma did everything in her power to avoid becoming a burden on the State. She set herself up as an entrepreneur with her own freelance business, working from home. In desperation, she wrote to her local MP explaining the situation, expecting some help from a person paid to represent his constituents. The MP’s reply was unhelpful, merely expressing his sympathy for their situation and stating that even another MP had had his wife’s visa refused entry to the UK – difficult for everyone!

Emma then wrote to the Prime Minister, receiving a standard letter expressing his sympathy, and enclosing the immigration rules! As if she didn’t already know them!

She was featured on the front page of the local newspaper – which had initially contacted her about a mural she had produced for the school, but were subsequently more interested in her family situation.

People stopped Emma in the street asking her how she was coping. Like many members of the general public, they couldn’t believe her story – ‘But you are married!’ – and they could not believe how, at this stage, she had been apart from her husband – and the kids from their father – for three long years.

Emma’s husband came into some money in April 2012 and applied yet again for a visa, only for it to be refused yet again – this time on the grounds he hadn’t done his English test. They were aware he had to do this test in due course, but the Embassy in Jakarta had informed him he could do it in the UK. They lost another £820. Yet more time and more money lost..yet more heartbreak.

Emma contacted a lawyer who told her the couple couldn’t appeal as it’s now a requirement to pass an approved English test pre-visa application. The fact that they had been incorrectly informed by a British Embassy cut no ice – so hard-working Brits are forced to donate money to UKBA because of mistakes of UK government employees.

Emma’s husband did his English test on July 20th 2012. They were still waiting for the result at the end of September. More time passed, more money lost. And, brutally, the government changed the immigration rules yet again… .

Now, Emma has to be earning £18,600 – on top of whatever her husband earns – if the family is to be reunited. The rule changes were announced in June, and introduced in July – hardly enough time to

As of today, Emma is in despair. The family has been kept apart for many years, despite playing by the rules. What hope is there for them?

The government has behaved appallingly. One part of the government (the Embassy) incorrectly advised Emma on the rules. Yet they are prepared to take her money for each application, in a manner which would make a lowlife street conman proud.

Another part of the government (the UKBA) introduces rules so arcane that, within a matter of weeks, they would have made Kafka proud – indeed, rules so complex that even MPs getting paid £100,000 have difficulty grasping the key concepts and locating all the hidden annexes.

The new rules were introduced by means of ‘secondary legislation’ – meaning the House of Commons didn’t even get to debate them, and doubtless many politicians remain unaware of all the intricate details!

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