"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 31 March 2013

Dee and Ozan

'He has supported me and my son through everything we have been through... He would die to be with us'.

Dee, a British citizen, met her future husband, Ozan, in May 2010.

Ozan was working in a hotel as a lifeguard. Dee quickly realised that he was a natural protector, for her and her young son from a previous relationship. Dee's son instantly hit it off with Ozan.  Dee and Ozan's friendship developed to the stage that Ozan invited Dee to visit his home city, Istanbul. Over the next few months, Dee travelled back and forth between the UK and Turkey, their relationship deepening over many months.

In July 2011, Dee needed an emergency operation - a terrifying, sudden prospect. Every day, Ozan sat with her on Skype, providing support and helping to get her through this very difficult time in her life. During the hours and days they spent together, Ozan helped to guide her recovery. InEventually, he asked Dee to marry him.

Once Dee's recovery was complete, she was on her way to Turkey to marry the man of her dreams. It was a beautiful wedding. In Dee's words, 'He has supported me and my son through everything we have been through'.

Now, the new family had to make a decision - where to live. Initially, they decided that Ozan was to apply for a visitor's visa to the UK, in order to decide if he could really be happy there. Unfortunately, devastatingly, Ozan's application was rejected - 'You have nothing to go back to', in the bureaucratic mindset of authority.

Ozan's mother has cancer - Ozan most certainly does have a life and a family in Turkey, but his priority is his life partner, and his new family, as it should be.

Very quickly after hearing the news of the visitor visa rejection, Dee made a happy discovery. She was pregnant with Ozan's child.

As soon as she had news of her pregnancy, Dee had the foresight to make inquiries with lawyers as to the best course of action. They advised that Ozan should not appeal the visitor visa rejection, but should instead apply for a different kind of visa - a spousal visa.

Dee started to gather all the requirements and documentation that are necessary for a spousal visa application. She was able to build up the funds for the application. Ozan sat his English language test, and passed first time. They were nearly there.

Unknown to the family, and with very little warning, in June 2012 strict new immigration guidelines were announced. There was never a debate in the House of Commons on these new rules; and yet they were to be implemented only one month later, in July 2012, giving very little opportunity for anyone, even experts in the field, to react.

Dee was having a difficult pregnancy - which she had to endure, alone, apart from her husband. She was spending time in hospital. On 14th July, she received a letter stating that she did not meet the income requirement, but that she may have a case under the right to family life, guaranteed to all European citizens.

(Editor's note: Dee earns £16,300 per annum, which is above the 'living wage'; she expects that her family income would be much higher if Ozan were here, working and supporting the family - clearly they would be in a more stable situation, and therefore less likely to have to claim benefits at any point in the future. The government claims that the measures introduced reduce the benefits burden on the taxpayer. Dee's example disproves that; a family together, with two earners, is far less likely to have to claim benefits - now or at any time in the future - than a partner who is effectively forced to be a single mother, supporting a family by herself). 

But the lawyer Dee employed made mistakes in her application - mis-spellings, an incorrect date of birth, and so on - careless errors that should never have happened. Dee spent more time, more effort, correcting these errors; at a very difficult time in a woman's life.

Even after correcting these mistakes, the application was refused. There is zero room in the rules for any discretion - even though median incomes vary considerably across the country; even though many people live frugally and for various reasons do not require a big income to live off; even though forcing a family apart is in fact more likely to push people onto benefits. Even though forcing a family apart is, in itself, morally wrong.

Dee has a baby daughter, who cannot be with her own father. Dee's daughter talks to the TV, to the computer screen, as if it is her own father - because she sees her Dad on Skype. Much like the family in this video - Skype Daddy : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bKrCUaKB4KM .

Dee's son has a hard time too; he just doesn't understand why he can't be with the man he considers a father-figure, as a family.

Dee has no support except from extended family; she is working to support two children, and dealing with another upcoming operation, all by herself.

Ozan would die to be with, and to support, his family; it just doesn't make sense.

Dee is very very angry that her family has been divided through the unthinking nature, and application, of these rules.

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