"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.

Monday 30 September 2013


“I am my mother’s only child, my children her only grandkids. Yet a government official tells us she cannot even come for a visit.”

Oksana is a British citizen who moved to the UK 13 years ago, after meeting her husband, with whom she now has two kids. She lives near Edinburgh, in Scotland.

Her mum is 64 years old, and living alone in Russia. Her only child is Oksana. Her only grandchildren are Oksana’s two children. This is a family very attached to each other. Oksana’s mum has visited the UK in the past, allowing for the much valued bonding between grandparent and grandkids. However, it’s been over six years since she was last here, as the travelling and visa process have become too difficult.

Oksana is a full-time mum. She doesn’t work – her husband works full time, earning enough to maintain the family and ensure they have no need to claim any benefits.

It involves a nine hour flight to Moscow, for the visa application. There is no British visa centre in Oksana’s mum’s home city and the application must be made in person, not by post. She would then need to remain in Moscow for however long it takes for the visa to be issued.

In 2013 Oksana’s mum applied for a family visit visa. However the visa was refused on the grounds of insufficient documentation of their financial situation.

The family is bemused and dismayed. A simple family visit visa has been refused after an onerous process, yet six years ago it was issued in one day. It’s heart wrenching when a government official is able to tell you that your close relatives are not even allowed to visit you.

The family has decided they would now prefer to apply for a settlement visa to avoid any future visa hassles. This also alleviates issues likely to arise in the future given Oksana will need to be there to look after her mum on a daily basis, and travelling becomes more difficult with the process of ageing.

Oksana lives in a large home where her mum would have her own bedroom. Her mum’s pension from Russia could be transferred to the UK. The family is happy to purchase private health insurance and also sign a guarantee that there will not be any need to access benefits. Her mum speaks decent English and has made lots of friends on her earlier visits, so integration is not a problem either.

Sunday 29 September 2013

England's Children's Commissioner expresses concern that UK in breach of UN Convention on Rights of the Child

See the Children's Commissioner's letter to the Immigration Minister re the family migration rules here:


 'After considering the accounts I have received from families and all the materials referred to above, I remain gravely concerned that the Family Migration Rules as currently written and applied fail to fulfil the UK's obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child ... '

No reply yet. Via https://twitter.com/Ad_Matt

Mirrored :

Previously :

Please share.
Love on Skype; Hatred and Hype

You talk of life when you can show our love is strong
You talk of life when you can show them they were wrong
Beneath the sun, across the turquoise sea
You sit in darkened room, your hand stretched out towards me
You hear my voice, you see my face but can’t touch me
While men of power preach hatred, terror, fear
Of godly people, immigrants and queers
You search the net, the world, your heart to make them see
Wonderin’ how the fuck to keep on living without me

I talk of life when I can show our love is strong
I talk of life when I can show them they were wrong
Across the mountains beneath a sky of icy blue
I sit in darkened room, my hand stretched out towards you
I hear your voice, I see your face but can’t touch you
While so-called ‘friends’ preach mistrust, rumours, fear
The crap-filled media fairy tales they hear
I search the net, the world, to change their point of view
Wonderin’ how the fuck to keep on living without you

We live across a border, lines on maps
Bureaucracy;  ‘the fortress’ sets our traps
Shored up by dollars, power wars and hate
Love becomes a checklist they can rate;
Meanwhile they say that love can conquer all
Well maybe that was true ‘til someone made the call
That we must bow before the war on terror
And turn our backs on love; their fatal error.

- Ally Mountain  2013

Thanks to https://twitter.com/donflynnmrn for sharing this with us.
Sunday round-up

'Theresa May, don't force my baby's mother to leave the UK.'


My partner is breast feeding our baby, our baby needs his mother, if she is deported I will have to stop work, claim benefits as i could not possibly hold a full time job and be sole carer of our child...'


Freedom of Information request on sham marriages.


January 2011-December 2011 :

January 2010-December 2010 :

The misery of injustice.


It’s time, regrettably, to return to the saga of Eloise and Tanya, about whom we wrote a couple of months back. [ http://asirt.org.uk/wordpress/?p=187 ]. As you may recall, we assisted Eloise with the submission of a Zambrano application, since her daughter, Tanya, is a British citizen who has no contact with her father.

The Home Office, disgracefully, refused Eloise’s application for a residence permit, on the basis that Tanya could reasonably be expected to be cared for by her father- a man she has met just 3 times in the 2 years of her life to date, and who has expressed no desire to be a part of her life.

We know now that this decision was by no means a one-off, and are aware of numerous other instances of the Home Office ordering children to live with neglectful, absent, and sometimes violent parents...

Saturday 28 September 2013

The latest BritCits pack is online


Tracey & Gary

“It’s difficult to believe that the UK makes wanting to live with the person you love an impossible wish.”

Tracey is a British citizen. She met her husband, Gary – an American citizen, online in 2010. In 2012 they formalised their relationship and got married.

Between their first meeting and the wedding, Gary visited Tracey ten times in the UK. They were originally going to apply for a fiancé visa in order to have the wedding in the UK, however then decided to marry in USA.

Tracey did actually meet the financial threshold, however as this was from the combined income from two part-time jobs including one in the form of accommodation through her job as an onsite property manager, it was more complex to demonstrate. So the couple engaged the services of an immigration lawyer, costing them over £1000.

They were assured by the lawyer that their case would be successful as it was obvious that Tracey was earning in excess of £18,600, although it would have to be explained clearly given the complexity of her work situation.

Hence the couple decided to put all their plans into motion. Gary gave up his apartment and car in the US, along with his car and worldly possessions, flights booked and plans for a civil ceremony made.

Throughout all this they gathered the information and documents needed to apply for the spouse visa – the amount of evidence required was monumental.

Tracey and Gary married in the USA in December 2012 and flew to the UK together for Christmas. Gary’s return ticket was for January 2013, when he planned on returning to the USA to submit his visa application.

However, a week or so before he was scheduled to leave the UK, the lawyers made contact to say the application would in fact not be successful because Tracey does not meet the £18,600 requirement. After much to-ing and fro-ing, they spoke to the same lawyer who had provided the initial advice who now admitted his advice initially had not been correct. The rent compensation received by Tracey would not be seen as income; they were now told that the Home Office would need to see money going into a bank account, with the value of the accommodation benefit provided disregarded completely.

Their plans completely changed. Gary decided that rather than returning to the USA in January as planned, he would stay for the duration of his visitor’s visa while they assessed next steps.

Their lawyer advised them of the Surinder Singh process. So Tracey and Gary exercised their treaty rights by moving to Ireland in June 2013. Tracey has been working there from July and they are hoping to one day return to the UK to begin the life they had imagined.

Tracey has worked since she was 16 years old. She has always been self sufficient and has never claimed benefits, instead contributing into the system all of her working life. Gary is educated, speaks English and plans to also work here as soon as he is able to. They are both an asset to the UK.

However because of these immigration rules the couple is having to start over in their late 40s – a time when most people are able to be settled and comfortable with their family.

The move to Ireland has not been plain sailing. They had trouble sorting out accommodation, dealing with the different laws there around rentals and letting fees. Pressure to find a job meant effectively taking the first thing on offer, even where for Tracey this has meant a job engaging in laborious work.

For Tracey, leaving the UK and her elderly parents was especially heart wrenching.

But it’s a means to an end for a couple who just want to be able to live together.

Though this entire process has been difficult and traumatic the couple persevered; they are grateful that EU rules allow them to be together even where their own country has tried its best to keep them apart.

It is ironic that now not only has the UK lost Tracey’s taxes, and those that Gary would have paid had he been allowed to work, but also that when they return to the UK they will both qualify for benefits. Although not so inclined, given their savings have been spent on the move to Ireland, they may well need to until new jobs are found.

It's very hard for Tracey and Gary not to end up feeling completely cynical and embittered. One can't help who one falls in love with, and it’s perfectly reasonable to want to spend your life with them. It’s hard to believe that the UK makes that sometimes seem an impossible wish.
Get Braulio back with his family and Facebook campaigning


'Kirsty needs her husband and Mya needs her Daddy! Due to a ridiculous new change in immigration law, Braulio is not being allowed to return to the UK after a family trip to Brazil,despite having a British wife for over 4 years and a British born daughter.

'One of my oldest friends fell in love. They became parents, got married and made a home together as a family!

'Unfortunately, during a family holiday back to Braulio's home country of Brazil and after 4 years of marriage they found out our immigration system here in the U.K won't give him a Visa to allow him back into the U.K.

'I could go on about our immigration system etc but the basic idea of this Facebook page is to show them how much support they have. Hopefully Kirsty will update the page with all the formal details.'

Families affected by the rules have set up many other Facebook campaigns to draw attention to their plight. Here are some of them :

'A marriage of three: Me, my husband, and UKBA' - https://www.facebook.com/groups/309071262570483/ (Emma and Haytham : http://britcits.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/haytham )

'Families united, not torn apart by politics' - https://www.facebook.com/familiesunitednotapart

'Family life is a right not a privilege' - https://www.facebook.com/FamilyLifeIsARightNotAPrivilege (previously : http://britcits.blogspot.co.uk/2013/07/family-life-is-right-not-privilege.html )

'Help - I don't earn enough for my children to have the right to a family' - https://www.facebook.com/pages/Help-i-dont-earn-enough-for-my-children-to-have-the-right-to-a-family/323622374426634

'I just want to be able to live with my husband/wife in my country' - https://www.facebook.com/pages/I-just-want-to-be-able-to-live-with-my-husbandwife-in-my-country/170309133150324

'Married and living apart due to UKBA's current unrealistic requirements' - https://www.facebook.com/keptapartbyunrealisticrequirements

'We meet ALL the requirements but UKBA still refused our visa' - https://www.facebook.com/WeMeetAllTheRequirementsButUkbaStillRefusedOurVisa

'You cant buy LOVE, but the UKBA think you can' - https://www.facebook.com/pages/You-cant-buy-LOVE-but-the-UKBA-think-you-can/174992366006252

Community Organising is about building power and participating in democracy: being realistic in what we demand and winning key victories to improve the lives of communities across the country. - Citizens UK.

Ordinary people have enormous power to act - that power just needs to be taken.

“Splitting up my family is not an option.”

Rudi is a British citizen. As her husband is Jamaican, Rudi is finding the path to return home is paved with thorns.

Rudi is currently living in Jamaica with her husband as immigration rules don’t allow her to live with him in UK. However, since receiving the news that they are expecting a baby, Rudi – despite all the happiness, joy and love she is feeling, is also very stressed.

She really wants their baby to be born and raised in the way she has been, in the UK. To offer it the best that she can.

Looking into the current rules though, she is finding it impossible that she’ll ever be able to return home. Living in Jamaica she doesn’t have a job in the UK. Finding a job here from another country makes it hard enough to get an interview at the best of times, but when you’re pregnant it’s nigh impossible.

Rudi is facing a horrible choice. She doesn’t want her baby to stay in Jamaica while she job-hunts and then works in the UK. Nor does she want to end up being a single parent for months on end while she works in the UK with her baby to look after, and her husband in Jamaica.

Rudi’s parents have offered to support them financially. They have also offered them accommodation in their huge house. Yet this family is being faced with a choice of exile or separation.

Rudi however is adamant. Splitting up the family is not an option, nor should it be one that family is forced to make.
Upcoming BritCits meetups - http://www.meetup.com/BritCits/ :

Tomorrow, noon - coffee in Ipswich :

Mon. October 7 - 'Divided families - a call for change' at the London Muslim Centre, E1 :
There's a fantastic set of speakers from many communities, as well as MRN and JCWI.

Thu. October 10 - Royal Geographical Society debate - 'We have nothing to fear from high levels of immigration'.
Susie Symes from the Museum of Immigration http://www.19princeletstreet.org.uk/ will be there, as well as Ken Livingstone and David Aaronovitch, and (opposing the motion) Nigel Farage, Harriet Sergeant and David Goodhart.

Sat. October 12 - See a play about Surinder Singh! Hen and Chickens Theatre, N1.
By Sarah Pitard, who was featured in the Newsnight piece on the EEA route - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-23038490

Hope to see some of you there.
Danish love refugees flee to Malmö.


Every morning, Lise* leaves her husband and two small children, crossing the Øresund bridge from Malmö on her way to work. Every evening, she returns: from her home country to her adopted one, where she and her family are legally able to live together.

Due to Denmark’s immigration laws, which have tightened substantially in the past year, Lise was not able to bring her husband, who is from an African country, to Denmark. They chose not to apply for family reunification, she says, choosing instead to live in Sweden for the past three years.

“We could not meet the requirements of the Danish immigration authorities, she says. Because of her husband’s country of birth, “he could not even get a tourist visa to Denmark”.

In Sweden, Lise can live as an EU citizen and her husband was easily granted residency.

Europe's progressive stance on human rights and human values protects its citizens from the depedations of its governments. Danes go to Sweden to escape draconian rules; Germans go to Austria; French go to Belgium; and Brits go to Ireland.

Surinder Singh for newbies :

Previously :

Golden Dawn leader arrested, accused of forming a criminal organisation.


'Into the Fire' :
http://vimeo.com/64230453 & http://intothefire.org/about/
'In times of severe austerity things look bleak for Greek people, but they’re far worse for those who have recently arrived. Without housing, legal papers or support, migrants in Greece are faced with increasing and often violent racism at the hands of the growing Nazi party Golden Dawn and the police in Athens. Many are trapped by EU laws and legislation of other EU countries meaning they’d be returned to Greece if they managed to get to another member state, they are desperate to leave the country.

https://twitter.com/MigrantVoiceUK :
Debate on Oct 10: Let Them Come: we have nothing to fear from high levels of immigration :

"The Daily Express is entitled to its own opinions but the Daily Express is not entitled to its own facts" - writeup on the Daily Express protest :

By https://twitter.com/Michael_K_Allen

More : http://britcits.blogspot.co.uk/2013/09/photos-protest-outside-offices-of.html , http://britcits.blogspot.co.uk/2013/09/stop-sponging-off-migrants-httpstwitter.html

Canadian woman's fight to stay in Britain after domestic abuse.


A Canadian woman who was attacked by her former partner is involved in an on-going legal battle to stay in Britain. Her case is said to be far from unique.

"Christine", 31, has been told she has to leave the country - where she has lived for almost six years - because rules allowing foreign domestic violence victims to stay in Britain do not apply to her.

This is because they were not married and her partner was not British...

Thursday 26 September 2013


“UK trained my wife to PhD level and now doesn’t want her expertise in the UK workforce!”

Michael is a British citizen who met his Malaysian wife in Glasgow where she was studying for her PhD.

They got married in February of 2011 after a year of trying to get the permission to marry from the government.

They didn’t apply for a spouse visa straight away as his wife’s student visa was due to expire at the end of March 2011 anyway, and she was successful in being offered a job in Switzerland. So the couple moved from Glasgow to Switzerland in March 2011where they have lived ever since.

Michael has been working there too, in a combination of agency and self-employment, for over three months. His wife has been working in the same company for the full duration of their stay on a permanent contract.

The couple is now concerned. If for whatever reason, Michael’s wife were to lose her job, she would also lose her right to live in Switzerland, leaving Malaysia as the only option open to them if they were to continue to be together.

However, as their marriage is not legitimate under Muslim law, it would not be recognised in Malaysia and they are likely to face problems living together there.

This is a couple who don’t need to be in the UK right now. But they can see their future threatened by UK’s immigration rules, were their situation to change in the future.

They find it bizarre the situation UK has gotten itself into. It is happy training Michael’s wife to PhD level, and now doesn’t want her expertise in the workforce.
Some links

Plug for Migrant Voice newspaper - excellent :

https://twitter.com/chris8tine :
#UK could revoke citizenship from #Scots with 'no material connection to rest of UK' says academic

https://twitter.com/ncadc :
Mass deportation to Pakistan 1 Oct.No access to justice,so many people needing urgent legal advice

https://twitter.com/patelsmie :
#Whodoyouthinkyouare? Here's who, in #Cantonese.

Filipino domestic workers in UK launch self-help group.

https://twitter.com/Laura_Padoan :
Eleven children were held in #immigration #detention in August, according to Home Office figures released today:

https://twitter.com/Anti_Slavery :
'At 16, Ganesh got a job in Qatar. Two months later he was dead' @PetePattisson investigates #slavery in Qatar

https://twitter.com/v_butler :
Shocking - French Minister tells Roma: 'You're not like us. Go home'

https://twitter.com/jacksometer :
#realitycheck There are twice as many irregular European migrants in #Morocco as there are irregular African migrants http://j.mp/1dJ7HRc

Statistics on spouse/civil partner applications, for the 6 months before and after 9th July 2012

(FOI request made by Colin Yeo, http://freemovement.org.uk/ )

Before 9th July 2012

Applications : 25664 (17379 f, 8285 m)
Issued : 18331 (12604 f, 5727 m)
Refused : 7019 (4559 f, 2460 m)

After 9th July 2012

Applications : 10854 (8050 f, 2804 m)
Issued : 3970 (3031 f, 939 m)
Refused : 5075 (3653 f, 1423 m)

Showing a sharp drop in applications, and therefore a sharp rise in #dividedfamilies.

The Danish experience and the Swedish model

Marriage without Borders :

An interesting group - which was set up in direct response to Denmark's draconian family migration laws, a little over 10 years ago. They campaign for the rights of Danish citizens and residents for family unification.

Today I learned about the 'Swedish model' - whereby those with non-EEA spouses or family members would live in Malmo, Sweden, and commute, at regular intervals, across the bridge to Copenhagen, Denmark, as a way to exercise EU rights. A situation where those affected would form lasting friendships sharing the commute across the 'bridge of love' between the two countries. Where districts of Copenhagen are full of cars with Swedish numberplates.

(They could of course use Surinder Singh, but this has been downplayed in the Danish public discourse so is less well known. Plus, the commute from Malmo to Copenhagen is really no harder than commuting from Essex or Kent to London).

Family upheaval :

Denmark and the 'combined attachment requirement' - the requirement which divides Danish families :

'Due to their subjective nature, ‘attachment’ tests in particular leave the door wide open to discriminatory interpretations. It is perhaps no coincidence that they come down hardest on couples with family or cultural ties in another country. This would have a huge impact for members of ethnic minority communities in the UK, particularly if they wished to marry someone from their ancestral homeland.'

Apparently the British government was considering an attachment requirement, based on the Danish model, as part of their proposals for the 9th July 2012 rule changes. Bad as the rules are, they could have been worse.

'In other areas, requirements set the bar for success exceptionally high in Denmark, compared to most. Yet high pass rates (e.g. of family reunions, citizenship tests) are often not interpreted as signs of success, but of the failure to design the right requirements.' :

There are lessons to be learned for British campaigners from the Danish experience, for sure!


Wednesday 25 September 2013

Jessica & Warren

“It feels like I’m trapped in South Africa, first unable to return home because I was under 21, now because I don’t earn £18,600.”

Jessica is a British citizen. She met her husband Warren in the UK in early 2010 while he was on a UK working holiday visa (ed. - the two year working holiday visa has since been abolished). When Warren’s visa came to an end in October 2010 they decided to go to his home country of South Africa together. They married in November 2010 and in February 2011 decided to return to UK. However then Jessica was only 18 and spousal rules required the British citizen to be 21 for sponsoring a spouse.The couple was devastated but that's the way it was at the time and there was nothing they could do.

When the Home Office was taken to court on this issue, the rules changed to allow Brits over 18 to sponsor a foreign spouse. Jessica was overjoyed and started saving to start a life back home in the UK.

In June 2012, Warren was granted a holiday visa, so they both could visit UK and attend Jessica’s father's  edding. While here, they looked at properties and assessed the employment market. They did return to South Africa after the visit - Warren is a law abiding citizen and adhered to the expiry dates of his visas. Then discovered the immigration rules had changed virtually overnight and they could no longer move back to the UK unless Jessica, and Jessica alone, was earning over £18,600.

Jessica is 21 years old. She is living in a country which is known for not being particularly safe. There is no minimum wage like in the UK..how is she expected to earn over £18,600? Even as an IT Manager for once of the largest ISPs in SA, she earns £6,000 p.a. Warren earns £12,000 p.a. Indeed, Warren could easily get jobs paying over £25,000 in the UK as he is a specialised voice engineer. There is no way Jessica can earn £18,600 living in South Africa.

This young couple feels trapped and are experiencing a lot of anxiety and tension because of rules designed to keep British citizens with non-EEA family out of the UK.

Jessica lives in hope that the rules will change and her little family will be welcomed in the UK.
Photos : A protest outside the offices of Northern and Shell, Richard Desmond's group which publishes the Express and Star newspapers, OK! and other magazines, told the group to stop attacking migrants and start paying the tax it hides offshore.


Previously :

Pope defends migrant rights.


Free Movement reader survey.


Daily Mail: Possible u-turn on private landlords checking migration status.


(Australia) 'advocates are pleading with the federal government not to send a mentally ill Somali boy to Nauru or Manus Island, as speculation builds the Coalition may have secretly flown children to foreign detention compounds without parents or guardians.'


Tuesday 24 September 2013

Emma & Haytham

“I will not be bullied into leaving my home, family, friends, job and life.”

Emma is a British citizen married to the love of her life, Haytham from Egypt. They have known each other since they were kids.

Their wedding on 29th of August 2012 was beautiful and was followed by a wonderful honeymoon. In October they applied for a six month visit visa as they did not have all the paperwork necessary to apply for a spouse visa at that time, namely the certificate to satisfy the new English language requirement.

However the Home Office decided December 2012 to refuse the application based on financial reasons,
despite Emma being in full time employment and earning above even the required threshold for a
settlement visa, and despite Haytham himself being in full time employment in Egypt, owning his own property outright and having substantial savings.

They appealed this decision immediately. In May 2013 the Home Office failed to submit a decision to the appeal by the due date, so Emma will now attend an Oral Hearing in October 2013 – a year after the initial visa application for a six month visa; fourteen months into her marriage.

Emma has travelled to Egypt four times since getting married. Although it is wonderful to have the opportunity to see her husband (as many don’t) it is not conducive to either annual leave at work or the purse strings to be going overseas so regularly. It also gets more and more emotional to leave him behind each time.

The process has taken an unacceptable amount of time for absolutely no reason at all. Haytham has since sat and passed his language test exam and they fully intend to apply for a spouse visa, and Emma dreads to think how long that process will take!

Emma is determined however to keep fighting for her right to choose to married whomever she so decided to, and to have him live with her in her country. She refuses to be bullied into leaving her home, family, job, friends and life here. She is a British Citizen and will not let the Home Office make her feel, that in loving her husband, she has committed a crime.

Previously :John Vine's report on marriage visa backlog.

'However, once again I was concerned to find backlogs within the Agency. These consisted of 14,000 requests from applicants to re-consider decisions to refuse them further leave to remain, and a further 2,100 cases where people were awaiting an initial decision on their application for further leave to remain. Some dated back nearly a decade. This is completely unacceptable and I expect the Agency to deal with both types of case as a matter of urgency.

Gerard and Vilai's #settlementvisanightmare - 'because we can' :
'Settled at last...'

Postcards from a BritCits supporter doing Surinder Singh. A long journey for this family, but finally home.

Monday 23 September 2013


“I am ashamed to be British but I will keep fighting these rules.”

Elwyn is a 55 year old British man. He has two children and four grandchildren. He owns his own home in south Wales and is employed as a minister of a Christian church in the town. After nursing his first wife for eleven years, the last five, 24/7 sadly she passed away in 2012.

In 2013 Elwyn married a Ukrainian national who he had known for many years as she worked as secretary to a church he visited in Ukraine regularly. They looked into making their settlement visa application straight away. However, Elwyn was confused by the information on the UKBA website.

He sought clarification from the passport office and British Embassy in Kiev on at least six occasions, by phone and email. However the only thing that was forthcoming was that they were unable to provide advice, and Elwyn's pleas that he was asking for clarification not advice fell on deaf ears.

So the couple did what they thought was correct thinking Elwyn could seek clarification when he was submitting the application in person, before handing over nearly £1000 as the application fee.

All the documents had been translated and apostilled at an additional cost of £500. Elwyn however wasn’t allowed into the office and only his wife was able to go in and get the paperwork submitted. While it was being looked over, she asked if it was all right and was told that it would be submitted once the application fee was paid.

Three months later they received an email to say all the documents were on their way back and that the passport was ready to be picked up. They had been refused, because although they had submitted his wife’s diploma, along with her straight A grades as a graduate of Kiev university as an English teacher, they had not submitted the Cambridge English Test certificate.

Elwyn is now living in Ukraine, managing with regular trips back and forward to UK. His father is 85 years old and seriously ill, having been diagnosed with prostate cancer. Elwyn’s father’s dearest wish was to spend some time with Elwyn and his new daughter-in-law.

So while getting the extensive requirements and paperwork together for another settlement visa application, they decided to apply for a visitor visa so Elwyn’s wife could come and spend most of September with her new father in law. She sat the Cambridge exam and they still await the results of that. But this was not needed for the visitor visa.

Elwyn applied with all the necessary paperwork and the £90 fee at the Kiev office. He submitted a letter of support and itinerary for the time up to Christmas, when they were due to be in Africa on humanitarian work for six weeks from October. It was clear that this was just a visit.

However, the visit visa was also refused. This time on grounds that they’d been “less than truthful as it was obvious their intentions were not to return to Ukraine”. Elwyn has residency in Ukraine; they own their own apartment there and he has changed work roles so that he can remain employed whilst living in Ukraine until they are eventually in a position to be granted a settlement visa.

He finds it amazing that a civil servant would call a minister of the church untruthful! So Elwyn is unable to take his wife to see my 85 year old sick father, or his 62 year old severely disabled sister or his still grieving daughters and four grandchildren. Elwyn is now ashamed to admit he is British. He is adamant though that he will continue raising awareness of the issues he has faced, it’s now a personal crusade for justice.
Stop sponging off migrants! 

https://twitter.com/chris8tine :
Proud to be British? @dailyexpressuk tax dodgers stop scrounging off immigrants (fab banner @chris_coltrane ) pic.twitter.com/gbDC6Ubcag

Christine's story : http://britcits.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/ziad
'A British woman whose Syrian husband is desperate to join her in the UK says new family migration rules are keeping them apart and putting his life at risk...'

https://twitter.com/vpasteur :
Stop sponging off migrants - demo outside #taxdodgers Daily Express. Another @100Acts w @markthomasinfo @GuidoTallman http://twitpic.com/deo32t

https://twitter.com/sweatybeam :
The Daily Express avoids paying tax in the UK but attacks immigrants that do! @100Acts @markthomasinfo pic.twitter.com/c94pz00RbP
Flags outside Express HQ declare how proud they are to be British. Sadly not proud enough to pay tax here. pic.twitter.com/MnocegCMOH

More :

Those are actual sponges


Family immigration meeting to be held in Wellingborough.



Conference - Family migration: Regulation and strategic responses.


This Thursday.

'Ashamed to be British': The immigration rules keeping married couples apart.


'When Katie Frazer married her South African husband Cliff Frazer in 2010, she had no idea how difficult it would be to bring him to live with her in the UK.

'The 31-year-old trained primary school teacher is living thousands of miles from her beloved in the UK after falling victim to the government's recently introduced £18,600 salary requirement to bring a non-EU spouse to the UK...'

Katie's story :

Petition: Public inquiry into Yarls Wood (via https://twitter.com/AntoniaB4 ) -

Yarl's Wood Immigration Removal Centre 
End systematic abuse, including sexual abuse & the denial of human rights
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Sunday 22 September 2013

Steve and Yoko

'I'm Steve, from Tunbridge Wells. My wife, Yoko, our one year old daughter and I are all stuck 6,000 miles away from home, despite having more than the required funds in a current account. Here's my background and how the Home Office's anti-family rules have affected me and my family:

'I was born and raised in the Conservative heartland of south east England. As it happens, my grandfather was a close colleague of Winston Churchill during WWII, my great-grandfather was a viscount, and if you look further back in my family tree, you'll find Robert the Bruce and a few other well-known figures. Those are my credentials for Britishness, if anybody needs to know.

'I moved to Japan in early 2007, shortly after I completed my masters' degree. Very soon after I arrived in Japan, I reconnected with a friend of a friend who I had met once in London. That friend of a friend was Yoko. We started dating shortly after meeting, and were engaged and living together less than a year after that.

'Now, as much as I love the place, I never intended to spend my life in Japan and I always intended to return to the UK at some point. Meanwhile, Yoko, a fluent English speaker and a great admirer of British culture, was also keen to move to the UK. Because of this, we kept our future visa application in mind, and we were careful to keep records of living together right from the moment we signed our first tenancy agreement.
'In 2012, a little while after our little girl was born, we decided that the time was right to move to the UK and settle down, figuring that it would be easier to move while she was still small rather than uprooting her when she was at school. We started looking into the UKBA's immigration rules. We had records of having lived together for five years, we had countless photos, we could get testimonies from friends and family, we had our marriage documents, we even have a daughter who shared our DNA! We could prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that we have a genuine marriage. I imagined that we'd have some trouble filling in the paperwork, and that we might have to answer some very invasive questions, but I thought that our application would really just be a formality. Prior to July 2012, it would have been.

'As we dug further into the UKBA website, we came across the financial requirement. OK, £18,600. It was a lot of money, but we could cover that. I'm just a schoolteacher, but I have savings. Then we came across the Home Office's formula for determining how much money they think you have: savings minus £16,000, divided by 2.5. The £62,500 minimum is a lot more money. Thankfully, my wife works in international investment banking, and also has savings. Pooling our resources together, we could raise over £62,500. What's more, thanks to Japan's low interest rates, we'd never bothered investing our savings. Our savings were in cash, just as the Home Office was demanding. So here's why we still couldn't come home:

'After realising that we had next to no chance of navigating the immigration rules ourselves, we spent a lot of money on hiring a solicitor. Our solicitor looked through all of our documents, and said that an application at the time could succeed, but that a UKBA caseworker might ask for my wife's previous six months' payslips as proof of the source of our savings. Yoko had been on maternity leave. We could not supply those payslips. If a UKBA caseworker asks for extra evidence and the applicant is unable to supply it within two weeks, the application is refused. We couldn't risk that. We'd lose the application fee, and at the time, my employer was asking me if I would sign up for another year or not. A refused application would have left me unemployed in Japan and unable to return to the UK. For this reason, we decided to delay our application until Yoko had been back at work for six months, just so she could get six payslips.

'We'll get there. Once Yoko has her six payslips, the UKBA will have absolutely no legal reason to refuse our application (which is no guarantee, of course!) But the bizarre inflexibility of the rules has meant that we've had to put our daughter into daycare, and put our plans on hold for a year just to satisfy utterly pointless bureaucratic requirements. And in the meantime, our daughter still hasn't met most of her family, and Yoko and I have to cope with raising a kid without any family support for another year. And when we finally get to the UK, we won't be able to buy a house or invest our savings in any way, because we'll have to keep them in a current account for the next five years.

'I fully recognise that my family and I are some of the luckier victims of the family immigration rules. We haven't been separated, and we will be eligible for a visa in the near future. What I think our case shows though, is that you can be self-sufficient, you can satisfy all of the requirements, you can prove beyond a doubt that your marriage is legitimate, and still fall foul of the rules, just because of pointless, unnecessary bureaucracy.

'And just in case anyone's wondering why we want to move to the UK:

1. I'm British. It's my home.
2. My wife still loves the UK, British people and British culture, even after the way she's been treated.
3. My family can help us raise our daughter; Yoko's family is much smaller and less able to help.
4. Mixed race children almost always face racist bullying from their peers and discrimination from teachers at school in Japan. Bullying of haafu ('half') children often starts in preschool and continues into adult life. While racism is still a big problem in the UK, being half Japanese in the UK is more likely to be viewed as something positive.
5. My wife and I survived the Great Earthquake of 2011 and the subsequent Fukushima nuclear disaster. Another major earthquake has been predicted within the next four years. Fukushima is making headlines again with further radiation leaks and risks of another meltdown. It's time to come home.
Stop sponging off migrants!


Comedian Mark Thomas has called a protest outside the offices of the Daily Express. The reckoning goes like this:

Daily Express owner Richard Desmond holds the newspaper in a company (or three) registered in the Channel Islands, a well known no / low tax haven, denying the British treasury of badly needed revenues. There are an estimated 4 million migrants working and paying taxes in the UK, contributing much needed revenue for the public purse.

The Daily Express benefits from services and the infrastructure of the UK built at tax payers' expense. It is time for the Daily Express, therefore, to STOP SCROUNGING OFF MIGRANTS!

The protest will be held tomorrow (Monday 23 September 5:30 pm) at The Daily Express and Daily Star, 10 Lower Thames Street EC3R 6EN

It should be fun.
David & Dee

“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 that 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 the Home Office throws at them. The issue of course remains, that they shouldn’t have to be cope with life apart.

Update: Dee has now withdrawn her application in order for her documents to be returned so that she can attend her son's wedding overseas. David and Dee are now looking at exercising their European treaty rights as the best course for their future.

Surinder Singh for newbies : http://britcits.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/surinder-singh-for-newbies-httpwww.html

More Surinder Singh experiences : http://britcits.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/another-experience-of-surinder-singh.html

Twitter :

Saturday 21 September 2013


“I have started to blame myself for not earning £18,600. Not many security guards do though.”

Clint is a British citizen from St. Ives, Cambridgeshire. His wife of nearly three years, and five month old baby, who is eligible for British citizenship, are in the Philippines. Clint’s family would holiday in the Philippines for a few weeks every year so it wasn’t a surprise when Clint fell in love there.

As a security guard, Clint earns around £14,000 a year. This is less than the £18,600 the government has mandated he must earn if he wants to live with his wife.

Clint wishes to live in the UK with his family. He needs to be here for his parents – his dad is a British pensioner and his mum, also from the Philippines came to England in October 1984. She has worked her whole life as Clint is certain his wife will as well. This is not a family that expects handouts or is afraid of hard work.

He wishes to live here with his family because it is his right to do so. He wishes for his daughter to have the same quality upbringing and standard of life he was afforded, and one which all British children are entitled to.

They do not need to depend on benefits. As an only child, Clint’s parents have made it clear that their family home will pass to Clint, in which to raise his own family.

Clint has started to blame himself for not earning £18,600. Even though it’s not his fault. He is earning what others in his profession are paid.

This is a family considering exercising their treaty rights elsewhere in the EU just to be together as a family. So Clint is saving up in order to move countries just to have his wife and daughter back with him.
Fresh off the boat: An evening of two one-act plays about immigration.


A Border Story

When Brian, who is from the UK, and his American wife are refused their UK marriage visa, they must move to another EU country in order to return to England on a European Economic Area Family Permit. This is a completely autobiographical (and slightly surreal) account of Paradigm's Artistic Directors own visa nightmare.

A play written by Sarah Pitard, whose experiences with the Surinder Singh/EEA route were featured on Newsnight : http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-23029195



Friday 20 September 2013

Evenia must stay.


'Evenia Mawongera is 55 years old. She lives in Leicester and is from Zimbabwe.

'She has been living in Leicester with her daughters and grandchildren, all of whom are British citizens, for close to 10 years.

'The Home Office wants to remove her to Zimbabwe where she is at risk of arrest, persecution and extremely serious ill-treatment...

'... Evenia is a member of the Zimbabwe Association Choir and is one of the people who performed for Queen Elizabeth II when Her Majesty The Queen visited Leicester to mark the start of her Diamond Jubilee. In addition to that, Evenia is a member of the United Methodist Church where she plays an active role in her local parish. Evenia is also actively involved in the tailoring and crafts projects that are organised and run by Leicester City of Sanctuary.'

Detained Zimbabwean grandmother: If I’m deported I am going to die.

'Evenia, an outspoken critic of the Mugabe regime, has been living in Leicester with her children and grandchildren for the past 10 years and is a highly regarded member of the community. On 22 august, she received a special commendation in the Good Neighbour Awards in recognition of her contribution to the community.'

Evenia must stay! - on Facebook.


City lucky to have people like Evenia :

https://twitter.com/MRCF_london :
Please help us with a short survey about hate speech. Please forward to your contacts. Many thanks.

https://twitter.com/ncadc :
Exciting event in 4 Oct in Hackney for @HackneyMigrants. The @EatHackney recipe book looks great!

Via https://www.facebook.com/IntoTheFireFilm :

'Into the Fire is going on tour! This October we will have screenings in Belgium, Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Austria. We still have a few open slots to fill, so get in touch if you want to set up a screening. You can find the tour details here: http://intothefire.org/fire-tour-october/

http://intothefire.org/about/ :
'In times of severe austerity things look bleak for Greek people, but they’re far worse for those who have recently arrived. Without housing, legal papers or support, migrants in Greece are faced with increasing and often violent racism at the hands of the growing Nazi party Golden Dawn and the police in Athens. Many are trapped by EU laws and legislation of other EU countries meaning they’d be returned to Greece if they managed to get to another member state, they are desperate to leave the country.

'This film gives incredible insights to the reality faced by people who simply want to lead peaceful, normal lives.

(I've seen it. It's fantastic).

Into the Fire on Vimeo :

Into the Fire on Twitter :

Free - Words without Borders :

By a non-EEA spouse.
Chrissie & Supon

“We are meant to be together, and we will be.”

Chrissie is a British citizen is married to Supon, from a Thai hilltribe. They are affectionately known as "The Macadangdangs" by friends and family.

Chrissie always remembers they first day they met, on 2 November 2008. She was returning to Chiang Mai in Thailand to catch up with friends. She was teaching an English class to elephant mahouts when Supon approached her. The first thing he said to her was "My name is, Supon and I'm a cheeky bugger".
Chrissie hasn’t stopped laughing since that day.

She fondly recalls the 2008 Loy Krathong festival, when together they lit a lantern and Supon said to her "wish for something"...

Although having met in late 2008, and having visited again twice during 2009, it wasn't until New Year's 2010, with the news of a formal job offer in Chiang Mai, that Chrissie and Supon finally thought; "This is our moment".

Chrissie returned to the UK for six months, working to pay off her university debt and convincing her family that she’d be okay living and working in Thailand. She spoke with Supon every day, counting each day away until they would next see each other.

June 2010 came, one month left in the UK and Chrissie’s mum was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was a really emotional time for the family and whilst Chrissie will always carry the guilt, she is grateful that her mother gave her blessings and encouraged Chrissie to follow her heart.

Focusing on making a life with Supon was now Chrissie’s motivation. They lived in a small bamboo hut with their dog, based at the elephant camp Supon worked at. Chrissie ferried herself between work in Bangkok and Supon in Chiang Mai.

A year passed and Chrissie’s mum finally had the strength to visit. For her birthday, Chrissie’s mum said "all I want to do is see my daughter". It was a great few weeks.

November 2011 came and the couple decided to honour Supon's family and culture and marry under Karen hill tribe tradition. Chrissie’s parents and sister flew over for the wedding and things have been amazing ever since.

Chrissie’s family love Supon. Supon was granted a visitor visa in 2013, coinciding unfortunately with Chrissie’s dad being diagnosed with prostate cancer. Such a bittersweet moment.

Visiting the UK and showing Supon all the people and things she told him about – just to have him see where she came from was a massive deal. It made Chrissie realise how much she misses her family and friends. It made her realise she wanted to be there for her parents as they increasingly needed her more. She feels she owes it to her sister and family to now share the burden. She also needs the comfort of family.

However Chrissie earns £1000 less than the £18,600 required so everything is on hold.

Her wish when she lit the lantern in 2008; "If we are meant to be together, let us find a way"...and she still believes it.
Divided families : Are we winning?



'Sitting in parliamentary debates where Mark Harper, Immigration Minister, might as well be playing Angry Birds on his smart phone you don’t get a sense of progress there and then, but take a step back from the immediacy of the Westminster talking match, take a look at what’s going on across the country, then you start to see things differently.

'Local newspapers, and student papers up and down the country are not only reporting the terrible situation faced by families divided by the rules,some are actively campaigning for the families’ rights to be together – under one roof, in the UK. The national press is getting in on the act and Channel 4 News has been quite excellent in its coverage of the issue...

Joint briefing by BritCits and JCWI, 9th September 2013 :
Issue: The Home Office has paused the processing of visa for spouses/partners of British citizens and residents for an indeterminate length of time leaving British families in limbo.