"I have never welcomed the weakening of family ties by politics or pressure" - Nelson Mandela.
"He who travels for love finds a thousand miles no longer than one" - Japanese proverb.
"Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence." - Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
"When people's love is divided by law, it is the law that needs to change". -
David Cameron.

Sunday 6 October 2013

Euan & Megan

“Our only crime is that a Scottish guy and American girl fell in love with each other.”

Euan is a British citizen from Scotland married to Megan from Charlestown, USA.

Euan and Megan met in Dublin, Ireland on July 29th, 2008. Megan was there on a holiday with her cousin and Euan was on holiday with a group of his friends. They met by chance at a bar and immediately hit it off, spending the evening talking and dancing and eventually parted ways exchanging emails.

Neither thought they would ever see the other again. However, on her return home to the USA, Megan emailed Euan and within a day received a reply. The next four years were spent travelling back and forth; Euan visiting Megan in Boston whilst she was at university, Megan flying to Scotland for every summer and winter break.

After her final year, they got married in Charlestown, New Hampshire on Megan’s parent’s farm. It was a beautiful ceremony with friends and family joining in the celebrations. No one thought that their happy story would be overshadowed by the worst experience so far of their lives.

The couple decided to live in Ayr, Scotland as Euan’s career was going well and he already had made a home there. With Megan yet to begin her career, it was easier for her to make the move.

So they applied for a Settlement Visa in May 2012, having sought advice from Worldbridge who were very patient and specifically asked Megan to apply as an unmarried partner. Naively the couple believed this advice was the right advice, but within 24 hours, the application was refused.

Looking back now, it is funny to think that at the time the couple thought this would be the worst

After this refusal, they decided to wait to reapply after the wedding. Megan arrived in Scotland on a visitor's visa, planning on re-applying in November when she was back in the US. However, during that time, the immigration rules completely changed and there was now an £18,600 income threshold to satisfy.

Euan is self-employed and only just misses the £18,600 level. He has a very low mortgage, no debt and is able to live a very good standard of living on his earnings. Yet the government is only interested in the amount he makes; they don’t care what his disposable income is, nor do they ask for any information regarding the applicant’s debts or outlays.

Knowing they didn't meet the income requirement with wages (and being unable to combine savings with self-employment) they decided to go down the savings route. They read the guidance notes, thought they had evidence of the right amount of savings and sent in the second application, hoping to be together for their first Christmas as a married couple. At this point the Home office/UKBA website did not have a formula for the calculation of the savings.

The second application was also refused on the financial requirement grounds and it was only with the amendment to the Home Office/UKBA website that it was made clear they needed £62,500 in cash savings held for six months.

This was a particularly hard refusal to get over as the couple had been certain they’d finally be able to start their lives together but were once again forced apart.

Six months down the line, Euan has been able to demonstrate he has the necessary amount of savings and they have made their third application.

They don’t know whether the visa has been refused or granted; they’ve just been told that a decision has been made.

It has been a year and a half since Euan and Megan started this horrific journey of being allowed to be together. Euan has lived and worked in Scotland his whole life, and is a successful musician making more than enough money to support their lifestyle.

Megan graduated with honours from a top Boston university with a degree in Child Psychology. She has extensive experience working with children with autism and is eager to work with children with disabilities in Scotland.

Most of all, they are just a married couple wishing to live their life together, yet being forced to live 3,500 miles apart. This decision the government has made has cost them nearly $10,000, and their family life has been put on hold.

While both remain hopeful that this time Megan will receive the settlement visa, theyr both know the fight is not over.

Other families and couples should not have to go through this. Euan should not be stripped of his rights by his own government simply because he has created his own successful business that just misses out on the threshold officials in London deem fit.

The UK government is destroying well-meaning young couples and families who simply want to work, contribute, and live together in the country of their origin.

Megan has been treated like a benefit-seeking drain on society and has been forced apart from her husband while he as the British citizen must prove his worth.

The government has surpassed being strict into territory which is unfair, unjust and simply cruel.

The most insulting part of the entire process is that after going through all of this madness, spouses are only entitled to live with loved ones for two and a half years. Then they have to go through this nightmare again.

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