"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.

Friday 14 February 2014

News flash

'So UKIP have beaten the Tories in the Wythenshawe and Sale East by-election.

'Theresa May has failed to beat them over the head by being really tough on immigration.

'Never mind, still over a year to go until the General Election so a few adjustments need to be made to ensure victory and they will have effect from yesterday lunchtime.

'For spouse visa:-

'Earnings requirement now £18,600 per month
'Minimum age for British national introduced - Must be over 87
'Evidence of committed relationship by having at least 12 children

'New Section 9 criteria:-

'(a) Must have worked or been self-employed in host state
'(b) Partner has to have been living with you in host state
'(c) Must have moved centre of life and integrated into host state
'(d) Must have served two terms as President of a republic or be related to the royal family if monarchy exists
'(e) Must have won at least £50m in host state lottery (can be combined winnings from different draws)
'(f) non-EEA partner must show that they share ancestry with Theresa May (not exceeding 5 generations)

Thanks to Alan D. Via Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/groups/650212281695959/permalink/693824450668075/


  1. First off, I just want to say that my partner and two children have been denied an extension of their Settlement visas. We are appealing the decision, but face the prospect of all of us being removed from the UK. I am a lifelong resident of the UK, have my own business (over 10 years old), and have contributed literally hundreds of thousands of pounds to the tax system over the years, never claimed benefits (not even child benefit!), have never broken the law etc etc etc. My partner runs her own business here too, never broken a law or an immigration rule. The refusal of extension is on an absurd technicality and no discretion by the Home Office has been applied.

    ANYWAY, onto my point.

    The UK's immigration policy is absurd. On the one hand, we have millions of EU immigrants coming into the UK without a visa, and they can even claim benefits. My home town (in the Midlands) has around 20% of its population as being from eastern Europe. On the other hand, we have non-EU migrants in much smaller numbers, who have arrived (or been denied entry) under much MUCH stricter conditions. Conditions, in fact, stricter than UK residents who live in the UK.

    In my home town, primary schools were shocked last September when lots of un-enrolled children turned up for school (from eastern European families). Of course, they arrived without visas legally, but therefore were "invisible" to the system and they didn't know they had to apply for school places in the previous January. An example of infrastructure problems such mass immigration brings. Now Romanians and Bulgarians can arrive without visas - who knows what this will do to immigration numbers?

    The tightening of the rules for non-EU immigrants is all to do with the huge influx of EU immigrants.

    It's a bit like someone eating three Big Macs, large fries and two quarter pounders, and then thinking they need to order a diet coke instead of a "full fat" one to limit the calorie count.

    It's a ridiculous countermeasure to a much bigger problem.

    Debate on immigration requires nuance. In the UK, it seems that you're either for immigration, or against it. I'm actually strongly against no-visa immigration for a number of reasons, but not least because it's punishing individuals outside the EU who are to all intents and purposes model citizens: articulate, resourceful, intelligent contributors to society - denied on one technicality or another (to fulfil a Home Office quota).

    The problem is serious though: the cat is out of the bag. The horse has bolted. The milk has been spilt. Pick your phrase, but we now have anywhere between 3 and 5 million (perhaps more) EU immigrants in the UK, and the number is rising and rising. The country is being force-fed no-visa entrants on a daily basis, therefore the government in their wisdom are seeking to crackdown on the (in comparison) TINY minority of non-EU immigrants. Things will only get worse for non-EU individuals wishing to live in the UK. No doubt the Home Office's quota numbers will go down each year as to how many non-EUs they will accept.

    The appeals process is already under huge strain - now a wait of 4 to 5 months for an appeal for refusal to be heard.

    I've learnt so much about other families who have faced incredible injustice meted out by the Home Office - it does feel like we are living under a government that's lost its way completely and certainly no longer serves us.

    They're punishing a minority to counterbalance the huge problem of mass and unchecked no-visa immigration from eastern Europe. It shouldn't need to be said (but I will say it), I have nothing against such migrants - it's the crazy unfairness I am against. One person can arrive without any kind of visa - could be a criminal for all we know - and another person is under the microscope. The no-visa numbers puts extra pressure on those that require visas.

    1. Hi John,

      Thanks for your comment.

      I am very sorry to hear about your situation. It is, sadly, a familiar story.

      The issue with EU migrants is a red herring though. There are as many, if not more, British citizens in Europe as there are other Europeans in the UK. And members of this group are exercising free movement rights to be with their own loved ones.

      The government is doing this because it is terrified of Ukip, I'm afraid. Europe is not to blame for this situation. Quite the reverse; it offers the best chance for many of those affected to be with their loved ones.

      Best wishes to you,

  2. Thanks for your kind words, Steven. Yes, it's a tough time for us and given the arbitrary reason for refusal, with zero discretion afforded by the Home Office. I've lost all faith in the idea that a tribunal might bring us fairness and justice. We will go to the appeal with a genuinely rock solid case against the Home Office's decision on their lack of discretion and article 8 concerns, but for me it's a toss of a coin. I know the judge isn't the HO, and the tribunal is where discretion should be applied - we can only wait and see.

    As to movement of people within the EU, I guess my gripe is that the requirements set for non-EU immigrants seem meaningless when compared to the absolute freedom of movement that EU immigrants have. Why ask for KOL, English language ability, earnings levels, prove your family ties etc - when millions of other immigrants to the UK have none of those requirements? Why are EU and non-EU treated so completely differently? Why not have a compromise set of rules they all follow? Or am I being too idealistic to present the idea of treating people equally? In fact, the non-EU who wants to live in the UK for familial reasons surely has a more compelling case than an EU economic migrant. Having said that, why not treat those two people equally, with equal visa regulations that are fair and just?

    In terms of the government trying to have an answer to UKIP by picking on non-EU immigrants, it seems very strange because it has little ostensible impact to the average voter who sees the EU immigrant as a "foreigner" anyway, with most of the concerns being with the worker-rights being expanded and expanded to include more and more countries - often ones which you will expect a completely asymmetrical movement of people. With huge population displacements going on, the perception that "the UK is awash with foreigners" is something UKIP are playing on, even if, as you say, as many (if not more) UK citizens leave the UK to other EU countries. There are eastern European hotspots around the country now, and it's playing into the hands of UKIP. So from a vote-winning point of view, it seems crazy to pick on non-EU citizens. I can only think it's "because they can" - the freedom of movement for EU people is sacrosanct and enshrined in EU legislation. As for the 2nd-class citizens (non-EU), feel our wrath.

    So we have two very distinct classes of immigrant - EU and non-EU. The difference in rights between the two is enormous. The former group don't need to pass any English tests (or KOL), they have recourse to public funds, don't need to earn a minimum amount per year, or savings in the bank, and don't even need any familial ties to be in the UK. In fact, non-EUs might have lived in the UK for years, only contributed to the UK, never claimed benefits (they can't!), never broken a law, never broken a visa rule, paid into the tax and NI system, THEN be refused extension of their visa! (as is our case). It's not only unequal and discriminatory, it makes no fiscal sense at all.

    The above paragraph could be misconstrued as resentful. It may well sound jarring to those who are married to EU citizens. I don't mean offence to any EU citizens. I have no issue with people wanting to better their lives. I am simply appalled at the lack of equality - and that blame lies with those that set the rules.

    1. @John - thanks for your comment, and expressing your position so eloquently.

      To be honest, the EU citizens are the next targets. Moves seem to be afoot to restrict free movement and the benefits it brings to Britain and British people who can take advantage of it. This is to the detriment of all - including those with non-EU spouses who may wish to take advantage of free movement.

      Europe is not the problem here. A poisonous political discourse in Britain is. And we are all - non-EU spouses, students, refugees, EU citizens, and British citizens - feeling the downside of that. The only way forward is unity and solidarity.

  3. Steven, thanks again for your reply. You say Europe "is not the problem", yet there is such a disparity between how the Home Office deal with EU and non-EU individuals. The great injustice is toward the non-EU indiviudal and the BRITISH CITIZEN (or resident) married/partnered to the non-EU. This is where my focus lies, and where everyone's focus should lie. Why should we worry if the EU citizen might have his or her right to unfettered access to the UK (including recourse to public funds) slightly denied with tightening laws that in tandem loosen the laws applied to the non-EU? (please apply emphasis to "loosen the laws applied ot the non-EU!"). The upstanding hardworking EU worker will be welcome - no problem. Numbers will decrease, allowing less pressure on non-EUs. Why should I care about a third party in Romania's right to his or her rights to UK public funds paid by the UK tax payer, such as job seeker's allowance or housing benefit or child allowance? I pay over £1000 a month in UK taxes - I and my family have ZERO recource to public funds in the UK according to our current visa status, and to add insult to injury, the Home Office have told us to leave the country (pending appeal). Surely you're for a compromise here? If not, we are at complete odds here (I make no bones here, surely you understand my incredulity). You can't say a country can have an unlimited immigration policy. It's not possible. There must be controls. There must be a compromise. We are a victim of no-compromise within the EU! My own home town that I live in now in the UK has had a massive influx of EU immigrants. Our population has increased to the point that primary schools have a problem as does our general hospital. The knee-jerk reaction is to think I sound racist - I'm not (and it's tiring to say this, believe me, as someone whose own family has been told by the Home Office to leave the country, Jesus Christ, I'm not a racist - I'm a lifelong resident of the UK who - according to the Home Office - tells me my family don't belong here). Arguing for unfettered access to the UK by all EU countries is arguing against non-EU families in my opinion. There's no balance here. The government aren't punishing non-EUs because of some UKIP reaction, it's because the EU migration has gotten out of hand, and it's their diet coke drink to counter the high-calories EU-immigrant binge they've already had. I'm a lifelong resident of the UK who want my family to settle here. How awkward my opinion is - I want balance - I don't want 3 million eastern Europeans to settle in the UK while hundreds of thousands of British citizens CAN'T settle their families in the UK - I want all immigrants to require visas but allow British citizens to settle their families here with common sense. Over and out on this one - I know my opinion is too awkward and is "off message" for at least some here.

    1. I think your anger is a bit misplaced to be honest John - this isn't a zero-sum game, and the EU migrants are emphatically -not- costing the British taxpayer money (quite the reverse - they are less likely to claim benefits than British people in the UK, and the disparity would grow if they were to leave and be replaced by British pensioners from Spain). Also remember at least some of those EU migrants are themselves using free movement to be with their -own- families - victims of draconian rules in other countries.

      I don't see how a compromise comes into it, and to be honest as someone who is focussed on allowing people to be with their families, shifting attention to restricting free movement in Europe (which is not something I agree with, nor is it something I'm prepared to campaign for) would be at best a distraction, at worst harmful.

      I'd also point out that the Tories pledged to reduce net migration below 100k. UKIP have committed to bringing it below 50k - as well as introducing the very harsh 'primary purpose' rule, which divided families on a similar scale back in the 80s and 90s.

      You say that arguing for free movement in Europe is arguing against non-EEA families. I fundamentally disagree - as I say, it's not a zero-sum game, the two complement each other if anything, and I'm not prepared to campaign against free movement because it's been massively beneficial to hundreds of British people with non-EEA families..

      I'm afraid we'll have to agree to disagree on this!

  4. Hi John & Steven,
    Here's my 2 cents. Whilst what you argue Steven, that EU migrants are less likely to claim benefits than Brits is totally true and logical I don't think this is really the issue. Reducing the burden on the tax payer is really just a convenient argument for people to use when what they really feel is fear of change, fear of British culture being diluted, fear that their town will be filled with people you won't be able to connect with or maybe trust because they don't share your cultural background, fear of feeling the outsider in your own homeland. Most of these fears are not very rational and so it's easier and more socially acceptable to focus on immigrants costing the tax payer money (they don't know that it's not true and they won't be open to hearing it either because that's not really the issue for them, it's just the excuse they use).
    So your right Steven but as you know we wont win over the politicians, press or media with rational arguments to tackle mainly irrational (I say mainly as in some places perhaps the fear is warranted) fears.
    John the argument you make about needing EU citizens to meet certain requirements as well as non EU (assuming neither is as ridiculous as non-eu right now) is interesting. I think it's the kind of argument the public would like and the political parties would take on. That said I don't think we should tie our argument to any change in EU laws, I think we should try and stay away from that discussion. Our stories of British families torn apart or exiled by these rules is strong enough for us to demand and ultimately get change without us becoming trapped in a debate about EU migration because changing those rules would be a lot harder than the non-eu ones.

    1. @ Amanda - At this stage I'm not even sure I want to win over the politicians and media - I think that demographics will do that all by itself (as it has done in America, with the very impressive Latino bloc). I think it might be better just to be focussed on helping people who need help. Free movement is one way to achieve that (and is also a laudable thing in itself).

  5. Thanks again Steven - good to have a civil discussion - and I sincerely hope you are correct with your views, because if my own theory is correct, I think the UK government are only ever going to be more and more punitive toward visa applications to the UK from citizens outside the EU/EEA.

    I'm just not sure that the evermore punitive Home Office regulations hitting out at non-EEA immigrants is basically a PR move to somehow win votes with the public. Punishing the families of British citizens and residents is more of a PR disaster than anything else - they've only gotten awful publicity from the punitive restrictions imposed on their very own citizens and residents. I can't see a single media article that basically says "the public are glad the government are cracking down on the families of British residents and citizens" - but I can point to hundreds of articles that harshly criticise the government for doing this, most with human stories that virtually all readers could only ever sympathise with. If the government think that's good PR, I give up :)

    1. Hi Andrew,

      I think that's a sad reflection on human nature, nothing else. The essence of cutting off your nose to spite your face.

      I'm starting to believe that there's a bloc in British society who will vote for anything - even something which is actively harmful to themselves and their families - if some tabloid newspaper is telling them that someone else is getting for something they don't deserve!

      Back when I lived in America (back in my days of being an immigrant), I saw this a lot with the debate around President Obama's plans for universal health care. People who would benefit from the proposals were up in arms because they felt someone else would get something they didn't deserve (or rather, that certain talk radio hosts said they didn't deserve).

      I actually thought the British were better than that. I fear - with the tone of the immigration debate at present - that I was wrong!

  6. This just in : http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/feb/27/net-migration-uk-jumps-30-percent

    This can't be good news for non-EEAs - this will just mean the Home Office will get even more punitive because it's the only control they have over immigration. They can't control EU freedom of movement so they punish non-EEAs.

    I hope I'm wrong, but that's how I'm seeing it....


    "The home secretary, Theresa May, made the Conservative pledge to reduce net migration to the "tens of thousands" by the time of next year's general election the central target of her immigration policy. "

    This ties in with the Home Office become evermore punitive to EEAs.