"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.

Saturday 5 October 2013

Tom & Elizabeth

“When we vowed ‘till death do us part’ we had not factored in the divisive role played by UKBA and the Home Office.”

Tom is a British citizen and married to Elizabeth, from the USA.

They met in 2012 in Florida. Elizabeth wasn’t immune to Tom’s face, charm and British accent which make Americans swoon. Within six months, the couple was engaged, travelling back and forth to visit each other. Whilst not together, they spent hours on the phone and cherished the capabilities of Skype and Facetime which allowed them to see each other. But through it all, they were focused on one thing: the moment when the long-distance part of their love would end.

Tom and Elizabeth married in January 2013 with a lovely ceremony and reception in Washington, DC. Sitting in the anteroom of the church, Elizabeth recalls her emotions swirling. Theirs had been a whirlwind romance spanning an ocean. Now she faced the enormity of the moment, the date circled on her calendar had arrived, and like any other bride she felt on edge, a mixture of anticipation and tension. At last – after months apart she would marry the man she loved. They would be together.

This couple’s dreams are not unlike other couples in love. They longed to live life together: holding hands on the street, kissing at the doorstep, embracing in joy and sorrow, falling asleep entangled with each other, and sharing those unspoken moments – making memories. Tom and Elizabeth want to stand together and face the world. That was the whole idea behind getting married, after all.

Photograph © Peter Toth Photography

From the flowers to the car, the fair weather and the band – all the little details of the wedding went according to plan, and in their eyes, their big day was perfect. The couple could not have been more happy or more in love.

Photograph © Peter Toth Photography

They are back to having five time zones separate them; back to coordinating travel and long-distance phone calls. Though they vowed “till death do us part,” they hadn’t anticipated the divisive role UK Border Agency and Home Office would play.

It is even harder now to reconcile that they – as husband and wife - live thousands of miles apart, even though Tom meets the financial requirements.

Tom started a new company in March 2013, but was disappointed to learn that he cannot sponsor his wife to join him until the company has been in existence for one year to meet the strict evidential requirements of Paragraph 9 of the Appendix FM-SE, which require the latest annual tax return and 12 months' bank statements.

The company is doing well. Indeed, Tom has already earned the requisite £18,600 income, but it is only because they do not have certain documents for very valid and legitimate reasons, they have been advised not to apply at this time.

This evidential rule vaults form over substance and adds a further layer of red tape on self-employed persons, who must wait 12 months to sponsor a loved one – even more than the other categories of employment who need to show 6 months documentary evidence.

Elizabeth is a trained attorney and broadcast journalist.

Photograph © Peter Toth Photography

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