"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 October 2013

'In fact, though, it seems to me that immigration appeals will essentially continue, albeit in more complex form, and that judicial reviews will considerably grow. As I previously wrote, families will not simply accept their own extinction. They will find ways to fight on.'


Theresa May tries to bully indyref voters

The ‘Vote Yes’ movement may well have garnered more supporters this week after Theresa May highlighted the potential risk to Scotland’s national security as a reason for Scots to vote no.

During the home secretary’s visit to Edinburgh, she said Scotland would face greater security threats in the event of independence, adding that the UK would deny Scotland access to intelligence systems such as MI5.

The warning, which followed on the heels of the publication of the most recent UK government analysis on the implications of independence by the Home Office, was rejected by many Scots who don’t see independence as synonymous with a diminished capacity to tackle crime.

Rather than alarm Scots, this sort of scaremongering is likely to serve as a sore point since many people both sides of the border feel that in the event of independence, security cooperation would be in everyone’s interests.

The briefing came after the announcement of the Scottish government’s opposition to May’s Immigration Bill, a nasty piece of proposed legislation which, if implemented, would see the rights of appeal of family migrants severely curtailed.

Scotland’s future approach to migration

As next year’s referendum approaches and tensions between the ‘yes’ and ‘no’ camps increase, the need for greater details on an independent Scotland’s policies is apparent.

One of the most hotly debated issues surrounding independence is immigration. Holyrood has for some time now been at odds with Westminster regards the latter’s seemingly relentless push to reduce net migration at whatever cost.

Caught up in this push are many cross-border families who are unable to meet the UK government’s stringent new family migration policies, which require the British sponsor to have an income of at least GBP 18,600 per annum to be able to bring a non-EEA spouse, child or adult dependant to the UK.

Such families will be among those keen to read further details of an independent Scottish government’s immigration policies, which are scheduled to be published in a November white paper on migration.

Early indications show homegrown Scottish immigration policies are likely to be more favourable to family migrants than Westminster’s current rules. Unlike Westminster, the Scottish National Party favours immigration.

Add to this Scotland has a low birthrate and a small population of just over five million, and it is easy to see why Scotland’s demographics have placed it at odds with Westminster’s goal to reduce net migration.

The rejection of the anti-immigrant message coming out of Westminster by the Scots, as seen in the unwelcoming reception UKIP leader Nigel Farage received when he traveled to Edinburgh earlier this year, can be seen as demonstrative of their acknowledgement of the need for migrants in Scotland. 

Encouraging are the recent words of spokesman for Minister for External Affairs and International Development Humza Yousaf in a letter to the Clark family after Turkish national Jilda Clark was refused entry to the UK on the grounds she failed to provide sufficient evidence she could meet the spouse visa language requirements – a decision which was later overturned.

The letter stated Yousaf shared, “… anxieties over the UK's current family migration rules". Senior Policy Adviser to the Scottish government Ruth Steele also wrote to the family, stating, "The Scottish government is very concerned that the UK government's restrictions on family migration are having a very damaging impact on many ordinary, hard-working UK citizens and their families”, as reported by the Herald Scotland.

Should we see an independent Scotland, it is hoped it will be defined by fair immigration policies which best suit Scotland’s unique needs and that those policies will be less shortsighted and more evidential-based than the current rules, which are tailored almost exclusively to meet the immigration goals of Westminster rather than Scotland.

Wednesday 30 October 2013

Immigration Bill: Important quotes from Oral Evidence

Guest post by Ana Macouzet

Yesterday the House of Commons Public Bill Committee considering the Government's  Immigration Bill started hearing oral evidence. It is important to follow these meetings,  which are open to the public, to understand the measures being put forward and the serious effects they will have.

Adrian Berry, chair of the Immigration Law Practitioners Association, had the following to say on some immigration measures proposed by the Bill, their (lack of) evidential  basis, and their effects (for more, see Hansard record:)

Limiting the right to appeal

‘The adjustment to section 82 (…) removes the right of appeal on points of law for the managed migration routes, which are the people who come in for work, for study and for family reunion purposes. The Home Office decision making in this area is extremely poor, as the appeals impact assessment notes. Some 50% of managed migration appeals are allowed on points of administrative law, and do not engage human rights or the refugee convention’.

‘There is an abolition of certificates of entitlement to the right of abode. That is the document that British citizens use to vindicate the fact that they are British citizens when they seek to rely on their British citizenship when overseas. It has nothing to do with foreign nationals’

‘To be clear, these are not people who are illegal entrants or overstayers. These are people who seek to take advantage of the immigration routes that are prescribed for migration into the UK. If they are right, and they are coming here for work or study, it is public policy that they should be allowed to enter the UK. If they do not have a judicial remedy against bad decision making, they will either try for a very expensive, privately funded judicial review, or they will not bother coming to the UK.’

‘What you have taken away are the rights of the ordinary Joes, who play by the rules and seek leave to enter and leave to remain, on ordinary administrative law points when they receive duff decisions. It is an extraordinary reversal of priorities from the intention to the outcome.’

Article 8

‘Clause 14, which deals with article 8 of the ECHR, seeks to put down a legislative marker as to what factors should be considered in the public interest. In so far as it does that, Parliament has the right to specify what it considers to be in the public interest. Whether it should specify the measures that are specified in clause 14 is a different question. We have concerns about the way in which it has gone about that task. So long as power is reserved to the judges to decide substantively whether there has been a violation of article 8, which is a task granted to them under the Human Rights Act 1998, there may be a sufficient safeguard. In its operation, however, clause 14 directs attention to some measures at the expense of others.’

‘In terms of whether the clause changes the landscape, what I would say is that it will not alter aspects of the way in which the balance is struck if article 8 requires certain matters to be taken into consideration, such as the best interests of the child. What it will do is change the shape of the public interest that is taken into consideration when the balance comes to be struck.’

Syria: UK Government accused of "actively leaving" Brits' relatives in danger in war-torn country

Frustrated relatives claim officials are dragging their feet over visa applications from their family members and spouses

(Source: The Mirror 27/10/13 http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/syria-uk-government-accused-actively-2645316)

The Government has been accused of "actively leaving" the relatives of British nationals in danger in Syria, by dragging its heels over their visa applications.

Campaigners and frustrated relatives are urging officials to prioritise visa application from the spouses and family members who are trapped in the war-torn country. 

A petition launched on campaign website Avaaz calls on them to recognise the "exceptional circumstances" they face, and allow them to join their relatives and partners in the UK.

The petition has gathered more than 700 signatures so far, but anxious families want more people to back their campaign to force the Government to take action.
Christine Gilmore said her husband Ziad is stuck in Damascus in "absolutely dire" circumstances, and accused officials of actively leaving him in danger.
Ms Gilmore, 33, met her 50-year-old husband in Damascus, where she spent a year as part of a masters degree in Arabic.
After meeting in May 2010 the couple decide to marry, and underwent a marriage ceremony in Syria in October 2011, she said.
But she claimed their attempts to get him a visa so he could join her in the UK and escape the dangers of Syria have failed, despite meeting income and English language requirements.
They are currently waiting for the results of his latest application, but Ms Gilmore accused the Government of "trying to find every excuse" to prevent her husband from coming to the UK.
"I naively thought that if you are a British citizen and you have your husband or wife or parents or children in a war zone that they would do something to expedite them being able to come and join you. But it seems they are actually doing the complete opposite," she said.
She claimed to know at least a dozen British people in a similar situation, whose visa applications for Syrian spouses or relatives had all been refused.
"How can they get away with that?" she said. "What surprises me is that they ought to be facilitating that, this is an emergency."
She called for more discretion by officials when looking at cases, especially taking account of difficulties in getting all the necessary documents in a country where the infrastructure is failing due to the ongoing violence, and problems getting to specific English language test centres.
"They are not taking any of that on board and they have the power to do so if they wanted to. It just seems scandalous.
"I can understand that they might not want to take a quota of refugees like some countries, but to actively leave your family members in great danger is so cynical, it's beyond belief.
"The situation out there is absolutely dire, there's no electricity in the whole of southern Syria, there's attacks constantly, he nearly got killed by a car bomb, he has been shot at. It destroys your life knowing the person you love is there."
She said she started the petition out of "incredible frustration" over the situation, adding: "It's far from being just a Syrian issue, it's very widespread."
Shafik Salih, 42, of east London, said he was suffering in the same situation, with an application for his Syrian fiancee Nesrin, 33, refused.
The couple, who met when Mr Salih was visiting Damascus in 2008, got engaged in December 2012 but a visa application for Nesrin was refused earlier this year and they are currently awaiting an appeal, which is due to be heard in April.
Mr Salih said: "I talk to my fiancee every day on Skype, chat and phone. The electricity is available for short periods, the internet connection is very bad.
"My fiancee is ill and she needs medications. The security position is very dangerous up there and I am worried about her.
"My fiancee is in a war zone in Syria. She is in real danger and needs urgent health care."
He said he was not convinced by the reasons given for refusing a visa, which he said included the alleged failure to provide correct documentation, and insisted he and his fiancee met all the requirements for her to come to the UK.
"I think I do not need to explain about her dangerous situation in Syria and my devastating situation here in the UK," he said.
"It is a basic human right to allow reunion of the family members. In our case, the issue is not just a human rights issue, but it is a life issue."
A Home Office spokeswoman said: "All visa applications are considered on their individual merits and in line with the immigration rules.
"We have put special arrangements in place for a visa concession, which will allow Syrians already lawfully in the country to extend their permission to stay in the UK without returning home, where appropriate."

Tuesday 29 October 2013

BritCits meetups

The BritCits community has a lot of meetups coming up. Join in the activities here :

A dividing issue - The immigration debate in context (Cambridge, 2nd November) : http://www.meetup.com/BritCits/events/144299432/

Anonymous's million mask march (London, 5th November) : http://www.meetup.com/BritCits/events/143139112/

Webinar (The Internet, 7th November) : http://www.meetup.com/BritCits/events/145858012/

Film premiere: La Pirogue (The Boat) (London, 17th November) : http://www.meetup.com/BritCits/events/145038692/

Migrant Voice workshop: Engaging with your MP (London, 20th November) : http://www.meetup.com/BritCits/events/145934522/

Immigration Bill round table (London, 27th November) : http://www.meetup.com/BritCits/events/148033992/

Valentine's Day Protest - Dress up in wedding dresses (London, 14th February) : http://www.meetup.com/BritCits/events/144752702/

Monday 28 October 2013

Spain, getting started! Surinder Singh for newbies, Spanish-style.

Mirrored here :

Originally spotted on the EU free movement Facebook group :
BritCits needs your help

We are putting together statistics on applications, refusals, grants, success on appeal, etc., since the new rules came into force (as compared with the period before) - evidence of particularly strange decision-making or patterns of refusals or evidence of underlying policies or other trends or patterns.

If your experience with the Home Office fits into this strange decision-making, or may be indicative of a pattern please let us know -
email britcits@gmail.com

This chart tells its own story :

Support Bang and David's petition


'My wife,Wang Bang, 39 years old, speaks fluent English, is an established writer from China, has published 8 books in China and France, works as a freelance journalist for some top magazines in China, a feminist author for a monthly column in helanonline.cn (Radio Nederland Wereldomroep), has just published a short story on www.wordswithoutborders.org, one of the best literary magazines containing  many outstanding international writers. My wife’s work  concerns  and respects love and family as the most important value in our lives.

'I am 48 years old, a British citizen, a full time permanent Senior Library Assistant at the English Faculty Library, University of Cambridge, a poet whose work has been published in over 30 poetry publications in Europe and the USA in the past 20 years.

'My wife first came to the UK joining her  ex-husband on a dependent visa in early 2010. She was wrongly accused of being unfaithful by her ex-husband and callously thrown out of their house after just 6 months of living here. She survived by herself, and battled with her PTSD as a result of this domestic violence...'

Bang and David's story :

Bang's account of her interview (interrogation) at a British embassy, as the spouse of a British citizen :
Update on Home Office appeal against spouse minimum income judgment


'Sanjeev Sharma of JM Wilson Solicitors in Birmingham is the leading solicitor in the case and the Home Office appeal in the Court of Appeal is to be heard between 3 and 5 March 2014. Judgment is likely to come some time after that.'

Previously :
'High Court finds minimum income rules disproportionate and unjustified.' - http://britcits.blogspot.co.uk/2013/07/the-big-news.html

More - http://britcits.blogspot.co.uk/2013/07/beautiful-out-of-blue-this-arrived-in.html

David, Dee and MM :

“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!”

Plight of Syria Britons highlighted

The Government is "actively leaving" relatives of British nationals in danger in Syria by dragging its heels with their visa applications, campaigners have claimed.


'Frustrated relatives have started a petition to urge officials to prioritise visa applications by their spouses and family members who are currently trapped in the war-torn country, calling for officials to recognise the "exceptional circumstances" they are facing.

'The petition, on campaign website Avaaz, calls for the Government to prioritise applications from people in Syria, so they can join their spouses and relatives in the UK...

'... Christine Gilmore said her husband Ziad is stuck in Damascus in "absolutely dire" circumstances, and accused officials of actively leaving him in danger.

'Ms Gilmore, 33, met her 50-year-old husband in Damascus, where she spent a year as past of a masters degree in Arabic.

'After meeting in May 2010 the couple decide to marry, and underwent a marriage ceremony in Syria in October 2011, she said.

'But she claimed their attempts to get him a visa so he could join her in the UK and escape the dangers of Syria have failed, despite meeting income and English language requirements...'

'... Shafik Salih, 42, of east London, said he was suffering in the same situation, with an application for his Syrian fiancee Nesrin, 33, refused.

'The couple, who met on when Mr Salih was visiting Damascus in 2008, got engaged in December 2012 but a visa application for Nesrin was refused earlier this year and they are currently awaiting an appeal due to be heard in April 2014.

'Mr Salih said: "I talk to my fiancee every day on Skype, chat and phone. The electricity is available for short periods, the Internet connection is very bad.

'"My fiancee is ill and she needs medications. The security position is very dangerous up there and I am worried about her.

'"My fiancee is in a war zone in Syria. She is in real danger and needs urgent health care."

Christine :

Sign the petition :

Deliberate delays and withdrawals by the Home Office

Allegations the Home Office may be deliberately delaying asylum cases as a means of meeting a rejection target have raised concerns the practice is being used in other immigration appeals, including appeals against spouse visa refusals.

According to lawyers, the Home Office is withdrawing from asylum cases which have a high chance of succeeding at the appeal stage in what appears to be a common practice, as revealed in the Observer on Saturday.

The alleged practice, said to protect the “win rate”, or rejection target, of 60 per cent, is thought to be contributing to a backlog of unsettled cases and to be causing unnecessary suffering to applicants.

The scandal has raised concerns that appeals against spouse visa refusals are also being deliberately delayed or withdrawn, in some instances on the day of the hearing or even after the appeal should have taken place.

This trend supports the idea that the Home Office has a spouse visa rejection rate which is being partly maintained through this practice, at a cost to the taxpayer and the appellants caught up in the process.

BritCits spoke with a couple that has experienced delays and withdrawal by the Home Office first hand – a British man and his Taiwanese wife, a PhD holder who has lived legally in the UK for more than eight years.

At the time of their marriage, the British citizen’s wife had nearly a year left on her highly skilled Tier 1 migrant visa, obtained through the new points based system. The couple lived together for three years prior to their marriage.

After the wedding, the couple tried to make an appointment to submit their spouse visa application in person - a service which comes at a premium. No appointments were available on the system. They kept checking at different times of the day and night, even looking for appointments in other parts of the country. Always, nothing was available.

Reluctant to make the application by post due to processing times of more than five months at the time, the couple approached their MP for help. It took several letters from their MP to the UK Border Agency in order to get a response.

Lady Justice: blindfolded from Home Office tricks

The reply said the Border Agency was having problems with its system and that it only releases appointments when it has the manpower to do so – suggesting it may have turned its system off due to lack of manpower.

The couple gave the Border Agency their details but again, they were unable to secure an appointment, even after their MP followed up on the request. In the end, the couple was forced to make a postal application just before the non-British partner’s visa expired.

A week after the postal application was sent, they received confirmation of receipt and the fee was taken from the couple’s account. In the letter, it stated that if there was any problem with the application, such as missing documentation or omissions, a caseworker would write to advise what action would need to be taken to rectify the problem.

“The uncertainty of the process and the retaining of our passports and wedding certificate for a long period of time has impacted both on our work and our ability to travel for both projects and to give papers at international conferences,” said the British partner.

The couple then received a letter requesting the non-British applicant to go to a Biometric Enrolment Centre despite the fact the Border Agency already held the applicant’s biometric information - a requirement of her previous Tier 1 visa application.

After submitting the biometrics, the couple felt confident the visa would be issued soon after. But it was not. A refusal letter – ridden with errors and threatening and intimidating language - was received in April 2013, stating the couple had not provided evidence of a genuine and subsisting relationship, and that their savings were not held for the specified six months. At no time had the Border Agency requested further information before making a decision.

Among the letter’s errors were an incorrect reference number – which their MP later found belonged to a nurse in Shropshire – incorrect application dates and incorrect age. The letter outlined the time limit for appeal, leaving the couple with just four working days to appeal against the decision since the date on the letter was four days prior to its receipt. Even if the letter was received the day after it was dated, the couple would only have had just over a week to appeal.  

Having sought the help of an immigration solicitor, the couple sent the Home Office a notice of appeal. A date for the hearing was eventually set six months from the notice date – not the 12 weeks Theresa May proudly claimed in Parliament recently. Their MP’s efforts to get an earlier date were unsuccessful.  

On the day of the appeal, the Home Office representative arrived late. The judge started proceedings by asking the representative if she had read the appeal bundles for the couple’s case. She had not. The judge instructed her to go away and read the papers and to then seek guidance from her supervising officer.

An hour later, the representative came back and made presentation to the judge that the Home Office was withdrawing from the case. She said the Home Office was not permitted to give an undertaking on what the decision would be.

The couple’s barrister indicated the Home Office often withdraws in this manner, a practice which prevents the judge from awarding the costs of the appeal fees against the Home Office.

“We paid extra for an oral hearing, took the time to attend the hearing, paid for a barrister to represent us at the hearing and at the last minute, the Home Office withdrew, meaning we are still waiting for a decision as well as being out of pocket,” said the British partner.

“Why do we feel like we have just been mugged and our pockets picked?” he added. “This has been such a waste of the Courts time and of public money.”

The Home Office faces no repercussions if it loses at appeal. This practice involves wasting taxpayers’ money on cases which, in many instances, should not have made it to the appeal stage had the correct decision been made the first time around.

Three weeks on, the couple is still waiting for a decision. Until a decision is made, this couple – like many others – remains in limbo.

Eye on Wales : Divided families


'When a British person marries someone who isn't from an EU country, they have to be earning above a certain amount before their partner is allowed to join them in the UK.

'Last year the UK Government substantially increased that minimum income requirement to at least £18,600 a year.

'But it’s estimated that less than half the Welsh working population earns as much as that.

'BBC Wales’s “Eye on Wales” programme follows three couples caught out by the new rules.'

Mirrored : https://www.dropbox.com/sh/30lwuehv9x7adg0/YJgy8L5OYB (thanks https://twitter.com/gerardhearne ).

More :

Family members refused visitor visas by the Home Office!

David and Dee :

Sunday 27 October 2013

Villagers fight to save local hero teacher from being deported.

An attempt to send a respected headteacher back to the US has raised hackles in Scotland.


More :
A PRIMARY school head teacher who has lived in Scotland for nine years has been told to leave the country - even though his Scots wife has cancer.

David MacIsaac, 58, has been ordered to return to his native country, the US, after his application for permanent residency was turned down by the Home Office.

David, whose wife Susan has been diagnosed with breast cancer, is appealing against the ruling and is being backed by his local MP.

He said: “My whole life is here and I want to stay. My wife is ill and we can’t believe this is happening.

“I have no property in America and no job to go back to. I’ve been here for years and this is where my life is.

Saturday 26 October 2013

Minimum wage visa rules keep man and wife apart.


The 45-year-old had not seen his wife Dee for a year, until a recent reunion at Gatwick airport.

But it was not a happy meeting - she was refused entry to the UK by immigration officials and was detained for two days in a removal centre.

"I never want to have to do that again - tell my wife that she's not allowed to come and see me," he told the BBC Wales Eye on Wales programme.


You can hear audio of an interview with David here : https://sites.google.com/site/britcitsbackoffice/mp3/BBC_RW_1.mp3

Friday 25 October 2013

Follow up to the account of an interview in a British Embassy, by the spouse of a British citizen.

Previously : http://britcits.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/account-of-interview-in-british-embassy.html

'We are refused. They said my intention for marrying David is not pure and our relationship is not genuine, because my work touched some sensitive issues in China. I don't know how I feel right now, I am not just sad. They asked me so many questions about my work, just very little and superficial questions about my current relationship with my husband, and now they used this against our relationship!!!

'If we are not in love, for what reasons we can bear this whole thing!!! How many sleepless days and nights on Skype phone calls emails, how many tears... his twin sister even flew all the way with him to China to marry me, I dont know what I am going to say to my mother in law and father in law and my own parents. This is not fair..............I am so sad I cannot even type here....Thanks for your good wishes.'

Refusing entry to the UK as a visitor


Via Migrants' Rights Network.

Many UK sponsors who earn below £18,600 are now reporting that their non-European partners are being refused entry to the UK as a visitor. Has your family had experience of this? If so, please help us by filling out a short survey.

We are seeing a worrying trend among families affected by the £18,600 minimum income requirement, who are already facing long periods of separation from their loved ones.

As if the rules themselves weren't bad enough, many are now reporting that their non-European partners are also being refused entry to the UK as a visitor.

One such example is David's. Earlier this year, David Hook stood up in a Parliamentary hearing to tell MPs how he had been kept apart from his Canadian partner, Dee as a result of the income requirement. Three days ago, Dee arrived at Heathrow to visit David in the UK, but the authorities refused to believe that she was a genuine visitor.

Dee was held in Colnbrook detention centre before she was removed back to Canada. David said: "I'm angry, angry that UKBA can decide that even though they admit Dee's done nothing wrong, that they can still refuse her entry."

We think that this is appalling treatment of families who have already been hit hard by the new rules. The Home Office must be stopped from attacking families who want nothing more than to see their loved ones.

We are putting together an urgent dossier on this issue to circulate among interested MPs and peers, and we need your help. If you or your family member have refused entry to the UK as a visitor in the past 18 months, please take 5 minutes to tell us about it.

Complete the survey!

Spotted on Facebook - for Surinder Singh / EEA route people

The creator says: I have added this PDF to help applicants choose the correct Visa selection when applying on-line for the Family permit. I hope it helps.

Odd response to FOI request asking for correspondence between Children's Commissioner and Immigration Minister


We are considering your request.  Although the Act carries a presumption in favour of  disclosure, it provides exemptions which may be used to withhold information in specified  circumstances.  Some of these exemptions, referred to as ‘qualified exemptions’, are  subject to a public interest test.  This test is used to balance the public interest in  disclosure against the public interest in favour of withholding the information. The Act  allows us to exceed the 20 working day response target where we need to consider the  public interest test fully...

Also : http://britcits.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/finally-childrens-commissioner-gets.html and links thereof.

Mark Harper’s blind repetition of Home Office mantra

If a mantra can be seen as representative of an organisation’s culture then the Home Office’s recent motto, “Go home”, is illustrative of what this ministerial department has come to stand for.

Yet this message, recently seen plastered on the side of vans which were driven through London areas with high concentrations of ethnic minorities, is not the only example of the department’s controversial guiding principles, and the Immigration Minister’s blind loyalty to them, which we have seen this month.

Mark Harper’s absolute obedience in toeing the party line when it comes to the Tory stance on immigration is evident in his defence of not only the now scrapped ‘racist vans’ but in his recent rejection of the Children’s Commissioner’s allegations that the government is failing to fulfill its human rights obligations towards children with regards to the amended family migration rules.

The dismissal – packed with the Home Office doublespeak we have come to associate with Harper - came two months after Children’s Commissioner Maggie Atkinson slammed the rules in a commendable letter to the minister which raised her grave concerns over the promotion of the welfare and well being of children in the UK with regards to the rules.

Minister of State for Immigration Mark Harper
Harper’s predictably disappointing response has angered opponents of the rules who are growing increasingly frustrated with the MP’s unwillingness to engage in any real debate on the issue and with his hollow promises to continue to monitor the impact of the rules and to consider the findings of the APPG on Migration in its recent Family Migration inquiry.

Particularly frustrating is Harper’s lack of serious consideration with regards to the Commissioner’s concerns that caseworkers are not giving due consideration to the best interests of the child in their decision-making - a claim which is supported by the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration’s review of nearly 40 applications for entry clearance on the basis of marriage in which there was a child in the UK from April to October 2012, which found none of the refusals made any reference to best interests.

Furthermore, Harper denied the existence of any policy to refuse visit visas to spouses who have previously been refused a spouse visa on the grounds they are trying to circumnavigate the rules. Yet we continue to see such a trend.

A good mantra can serve to inform an organisation in its everyday decisions and it can guide strategy and act as a rallying point. But when dealing with a department which recently revealed the mantra “Go home” to the world, it is perhaps no surprise that the very framework in which this organisation works to protect children is under question.

Letter from Mark Harper MP on Children and Family Immigration Rules:

Letter to Mark Harper MP, Minister of State for Immigration, on new Family Migration Rules: http://www.childrenscommissioner.gov.uk/content/publications/content_721

Thursday 24 October 2013

Urgent: Evenia facing removal.


Follow https://twitter.com/ncadc and https://twitter.com/CivicLeicester for updates.

Previously : http://britcits.blogspot.co.uk/2013/09/evenia-must-stay.html


Update via https://www.facebook.com/CivicLeicester :

The plane Evenia was scheduled to be deported on eventually left London Heathrow at 20.14, without Evenia on board.
Evenia spoke briefly after this to a member of the team that's been campaigning to save her from deportation to confirm that she was still at the airport, accompanied by her 4 escorts.

Update on David and Dee

Previously - British citizen David's Canadian wife Dee in detention centre :

Dee's refusal letter :

David says :

'Dee's on the plane back to Toronto, and immigration still insist she did nothing wrong (not a hope in hell of getting it in writing though!) Dee says thanks everyone, and she is likely to be away from the computer for a few days to recover from lack of rest. She is going to phone me when she gets home and I'll let you know she arrived safely.

'... The BBC Radio Wales program Eye On Wales will be broadcasting a 30-minute program on Sunday containing interviews recorded with people in Wales affected by the immigration rules, including Dee and me.

'There will also be a segment on Good Morning Wales on Saturday www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03ft71m which specifically focuses on Dee and me due to recent events, and there may be a piece on the BBC Wales website as well (still in progress at this time).

'Both programs should be available online within the UK within 24hrs of airing, and we will be getting a CD recording to upload for those who can't access the online content.'

Immigration Bill: The Committee Stage.


'The Immigration Bill is being pushed through Parliament with remarkable haste. There is usually a gap of about 3 weeks between the second reading and the committee stage, this time there’s 3 days. This kind of hurry is usually reserved for emergency pieces of legislation, it would appear this time it is to minimise debate and opposition. The Labour Party say they abstained on the second reading because they had inadequate time to read the bill before that was sprung on them. The government haven’t explained why things are moving at this speed. So we have to be as speedy as we can be....'

Have your say on the Immigration Bill.

'The Committee is expected to meet for the first time on Tuesday 29 October; it will stop receiving written evidence at the end of the Committee stage on Tuesday 19 November 2013.


Wednesday 23 October 2013

Spotted on Facebook #useful

A little something I discovered which might be of interest to those British Nationals with Central or South American Spouses. My wife is Ecuadorian and if we take the SS route then Spain would be the obvious choice. However if you exercise EU treaty rights in Spain then an "Ibero-American" (basically a native of any Spanish speaking country in the world) can apply for Spanish citizenship (and EU passport) after just two years residency enabling them to walk into the UK through the same immigration channel as you or I would.

(This includes spouses from the Philippines, Brazil and former Portuguese colonies).
Account of an interview in a British Embassy, by the spouse of a British citizen #mustread

'I received a phone call on <day> October 2013 and was told that I need to attend a face to face interview in the British Embassy in Beijing on <day> October 2013 at <time>. It was 4 months after we submitted my UK spouse visa application although we meet all the requirements.

'I wanted to confirm my appointment in person before the interview because it’s about the future happiness of my husband and I, I just could not afford to make any mistakes. So I left my hometown, arrived in Beijing two days before the interview. It took me 3 hours and 10 min on the plane, another 5 hours on buses, trains and tubes, so it was about 8 hours in total, the transport cost about £350 return, and the hotel £100 for 3 nights.

'I arrived in the Embassy in the early morning the day before the interview, and was told by the entrance guards that no advance information of any appointments can be given. It seemed like I would just have to wait at the door until my name was called on the electronic board (if there was one).

Finally, the Children's Commissioner gets a response.

Letter from the Immigration Minister to the Children's Commissioner on children and family immigration rules :


Mirrored from : http://www.childrenscommissioner.gov.uk/content/publications/content_735

In response to the Children's Commissoner letter to the Immigration Minister in August - over two months ago : http://www.scribd.com/doc/171888408/letter-to-mark-harper-mp-on-new-family-migration-rules

Predictably banal and disappointing unfortunately.

Previously :

(September) England's Children's Commissioner expresses concern that UK in breach of UN Convention on Rights of the Child. http://britcits.blogspot.co.uk/2013/09/england-childrens-commissioner.html

The Immigration Minister completely fails to address this point.

(June) UK Children's Commissioners endorse the concerns of the APPG Migration report on family immigration policy.
Immigration Insight....

A human look at UK immigration :

Via https://twitter.com/Michael_K_Allen

Tuesday 22 October 2013

British citizen David's Canadian wife Dee is in a detention centre tonight.

She was due to visit David in the UK prior to planning their future. She had every intention of leaving at the end of the visit.

David says :

'Dee came over from Canada today.

'And was refused entry by immigration. She was refused because she 'stopped her Spouse visa application too soon!' '

'Apparently she's likely to overstay and work, even though she's never overstayed or worked here ever.

'She's now spending the night in a removal centre near Heathrow before being removed tomorrow.

'According to the IO, she's not to enter the UK without a Spouse visa.

'Right now I'm angry, sad, tired and still haven't spoken to anyone at the detention centre on the number UKBA gave me. I got a voicemail from Dee about half-hour ago but couldn't understand it.'

David and Dee :

Links roundup

https://twitter.com/brolezholloway :
Chinatown protest over #immigration raids by #ukba @NoXenophobia pic.twitter.com/E7nxJiOB3f

https://twitter.com/NoXenophobia :
Protest marches off #shudownchinatown #max pic.twitter.com/IZ5wzEAPUs

https://twitter.com/NoXenophobia :
#max #StopTheImmigrationBill chanting outside parliament. "Immigrants have the right here to stay here to fight" pic.twitter.com/gNVMvFXgCW


https://twitter.com/chris8tine :
when the issue is as serious as right to live with your husband we MUST have right to ind review of @ukhomeoffice decisions #dividedfamilies


Britain's 'immigration nightmare' is really just a nightmare for these immigrants.


Rosa Crawford: The Immigration Bill – we must replace hostility with solidarity.


Today there will be the second reading of the Immigration Bill in the House of Commons.  This is the Bill which, in Teresa May’s words, intends to create a ‘hostile environment' for irregular migrants. It will also target migrants who have documents but are born outside the EU.  If this Bill becomes law, it would introduce charges for non-EU migrants to use the NHS and would introduce sweeping document checks across society – for landlords, at banks, for those wishing to take their driving test.

https://twitter.com/DexterDiasQC :
the #ImmigrationBill shows the Govt's grotesque exoskeleton & the moral soul of a political machine that doesn't care

Is this really necessary? Universities introduce fingerprinting for international students.


https://twitter.com/BajuniCampaign :
We are Somalian Bajunis living in Glasgow. We have not been recognised as Somalian by the UKBA and are seeking this recognition. Follow our stories.


"Britain is full!" is the cry of the average pig-ignorant morons that Great Britain is plagued with. It is a phrase that calmly and eloquently explains why Britain can't possibly take on one more immigrant, otherwise the island will sink, or something.

https://twitter.com/CivicLeicester :
Pls support calls for Evenia's release. Sign petition http://chn.ge/1bmBqiB

Leicester grandmother Evenia needs support today!Tell Ethiopia Airlines not to carry her to Zim 24 Oct


'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.'  

Contact Ethiopia Airlines today and explain why they should not carry Evenia against her will on the flight, and how damaging this kind of practice is to their reputation as business and leisure airline.  Evenia’s removal directions have already been issued, so NOW it’s time to start campaigning!!

Unwell and over here: what's the "true" cost of health tourism?


Jeremy Hunt raises red alert on loneliness

Rose-tinted views of the Asian model for caring for the elderly aside, when Jeremy Hunt highlighted the problem of loneliness among the UK’s ageing population last Friday, the one thing that most people could agree on is that loneliness presents a threat to one’s health.

The results of the BBC survey which triggered the Tory politician, himself married to a Chinese national from Xian, to wage war on loneliness among Britain’s elderly were branded by him as a source of “national shame”.

The health secretary controversially said we should follow the Chinese in looking after our elderly relatives at home. Furthermore, we should only use residential care as, “… a last rather than a first option”, something we could be forgiven in thinking is already the case.

The idea that the Chinese, or nationals of any other Asian nation, care for their elderly in a superior manner to the way we do in the UK is rather assumptive.

China, like the rest of the world, has seen rapid urbanisation and a decline in the number of people looking after their ageing relatives in the same household; so much so, in fact, that a much ridiculed law was enacted in July this year to enforce visits by children to their ageing parents.

The UK, like China, faces the challenge of an increasing older population which requires support. Yet under Theresa May’s amended family migration rules, introduced in July 2012, we have seen the erosion of the family’s ability to care for the elderly.

Under the rules, the visa criteria for adult dependents of British citizens who wish to come to the UK have been tightened to the point they are virtually impossible to meet. The rules require the dependent to be in need of care to perform everyday tasks and for no person in their country of residence to be able to provide such care.

The rules also prevent many Brits who are married to non-EEA nationals from returning to the UK to care for their elderly relatives since sponsors must now be able to demonstrate an annual income of GBP 18,600 a year in order to qualify as a sponsor. But, alas, Hunt, himself a millionaire, has overlooked this financial hurdle.

As a result of the rules, we are certain to see many more elderly abandoned by their children, either abroad or in the UK, not to mention a possible increase in the bill of state care as isolated old people are forced to resort to welfare. One of the many sad things about this abandonment is that it will not be through choice.

Grandparents will continue to be denied the pleasure of witnessing their grandchildren grow up and the elderly will continue to battle through sickness without the support of their children. Yet Hunt thinks we should learn from Asian cultures that supposedly have “reverence and respect for older people”. 

When cherry-picking issues to highlight, Hunt conveniently ignored the fact that loneliness affects people of all ages. A recent study on age and loneliness in Europe found only a two percent difference in the number of elderly people having reported feelings of loneliness compared with the young, while the Mental Health Foundation has found old people to be less likely to feel lonely than young people.

If these studies are accurate, we should be as concerned about the loneliness of people of all ages as we are with the loneliness of older generations. So what about Brits married to non-EEA partners who are forced into singledom due to visa restrictions? Many who fall into this category haven’t seen their spouses or children for months, even years, often for financial or language reasons alone.

So we see a conflict of interests: as Hunt tries to reduce loneliness, May is intent on increasing it, not just by keeping families from living together in the same household, but by keeping them from living in the same country. Now that is a shocker to top even Hunt’s distorted view of China’s traditionally family-centred culture.

Perhaps before rushing to follow a questionable social model for caring for the elderly from abroad, a few minor domestic modifications would go a long way in reducing the UK’s loneliness ranking.

Monday 21 October 2013

Maryam Tafakory's animated short for the Divided Families Campaign is screening at the Barbican, 27 October 2013, as part of the Animated Documentaries event.

View : http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=FTK7RMZcXmk

Event : http://www.barbican.org.uk/film/event-detail.asp?ID=15331

More by Maryam : http://vimeo.com/user10267329
'Please don't split my family.'


'Please please please help me get my family back together, My son and daughter in law do not want to claim benefits or council housing, they have a small inheritence to tide them over until they both have jobs, they dont care what work they do although Darren is a foreman plumber in SA and my daughter is an office manager. Darren needsto get UK qualifications to enable him to advance in his career and in the future I'm sure he will attain the stipulated salary but in the meantime I cannot bear the thought of the family being split. '

http://www.thecourier.co.uk/news/local/perth-kinross/kinross-woman-s-battle-to-keep-family-together-1.141704 & http://britcits.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/kinross-womans-battle-to-keep-family.html :

'A Kinross woman has vowed to fight controversial immigration legislation which threaten to split up her family.

'Elaine Lloyd was stunned to learn that her British-born son Darren’s plans to move home with his South African bride and their three-year-old son could be blocked by Home Office rules.

'As Darren Franklin’s wife Lizette was not born in an EU country she will probably have to return to South Africa after six months, leaving her husband and son Clayton behind.

'Under the legislation, the family could be kept apart until Darren can earn a salary of £24,200 per year. The Migrants’ Rights Network said their plight was far from unique.'

More campaigns :
Spotted on Facebook : Britain loses a lecturer because of poor immigration rules

'I'm disappointed, angry, and exhausted. But please, don't feel sorry for me; if anything should be taken out of this, it's that the increasingly restrictive immigration policies in the UK are unfair, oppressive, and hurting people for arbitrary reasons. If I have had this much trouble, how much harder is it for the family from parts of Europe with low wages and quality of living who are seeking a better life? Or the refugees from so many places greeted by racism and rejection from day 1? This country is not drowning in immigrants, no matter what you read in the Daily Mail. Instead, the entire visa and border system has become a political tool to score points with reactionary voters while admitting the super wealthy without pause and holding everyone else in a subservient, precarious and disposable position - no matter how skilled, how connected to the UK, how desired by employers.'
Monday link roundup

https://twitter.com/BritCits :
One man's novel way of seeking job allowing him to live with wife & baby. Can you help? #immigration #dividedfamilies

https://twitter.com/ilonapin :
Jim has his own version of the 'go home' van but it's more like the 'let my family come home' van


Open letter to Lib Dem MPs: The Immigration Bill is illiberal.


'We Liberal Democrats have long been proud of our internationalism and compassionate stance towards refugees and immigration. Not an ‘open borders’ party, but a party which believes controlling our borders does not conflict with welcoming newcomers or upholding their human rights.

By contrast the Conservatives care little for rights, European or otherwise. Theresa May is engaged in creating a “hostile environment” made so unpleasant for “irregular migrants” will simply pack up and leave, and minority ethnic British citizens could end up being racially-profiled if they ‘look foreign.’ This approach is diametrically opposed to the values I believe Liberal Democrats hold dear.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Letterkenny :

'The population of Letterkenny and environs is 19,588 (based on the 2011 census carried out by the CSO).[1] The population of the town, if the current growth rate continues, is expected to reach 50,000 by 2020.'

Boom town. #surindersingh #opportunities

London Chinatown protests against raids on business.


 The London Chinatown community is planning a series of protests to take place on Tuesday 22nd October to bring attention to damage being done to the trade of scores of small businesses in the area.

The day of protest action will include strikes and the closure of restaurants, a press conference and a release of balloons and lanterns ceremony.


https://twitter.com/19pst :
10,000 Brits in Germany on benefits: "expats" says Telegraph. Why not "unemployed EU migrants"?

Texas Republicans find a way to disenfranchise women.


'Think Progress reports that as of November 5, Texans must show a photo ID with their up-to-date legal name. It sounds like such a small thing, but according to the Brennan Center for Justice, only 66% of voting age women have ready access to a photo document that will attest to proof of citizenship. This is largely because young women have not updated their documents with their married names, a circumstance that doesn’t affect male voters in any significant way. '

Vans to tour English pubs telling Scots to go home after Independence.


https://twitter.com/chris8tine :
Pls sign+share to call on #UKBA to help save #Syrian family of #UK nationals by prioritising their visas


Comment: Behind closed doors, the Tories are fundamentally divided on immigration.


https://twitter.com/ColinYeo1 :
Boris Johnson in today's Telegraph: "Which European nation provides the most foreigners? It’s us!" http://buff.ly/H9VHgT

https://twitter.com/johnb78 :
Pro-immigration groups in the UK should push this one harder: "migration clampdowns mean you can't have curry"

https://twitter.com/ilonapin :
Immigration Bill being debated tomorrow at 2nd reading - our briefing is here:

https://twitter.com/migrants_rights :
Charity film premiere of La Pirogue (the boat) + debate 17 Nov, Riverside Studios, London + debate http://goo.gl/UE92Iy

I'll be there :

The Immigration Bill: creating a hostile environment for all migrants - and Brits too.


https://twitter.com/ColinYeo1 :
Tempting but for those bloody immigrant penguins... Falkland Islands Attorney General job vacancy http://ow.ly/q1hCe