"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 31 October 2014

How to marry an Armenian (part 1)

Author :Jo Magpie


'Most of us don’t realise how much freedom we have, until it’s suddenly limited...'

Jo Magpie on the trials of marrying a non-EEA citizen. To be continued!

Jo's blog : https://agirlandherthumb.wordpress.com/

Saturday 25 October 2014

Free movement - references to some key court rulings

Here is a summary of some useful case law and other official documentation which could prove useful to those interested in exercising free movement rights.   Reliance on case law should not be blind as it is not necessarily all that is needed to establish rights.  It may not be appropriate for your situation and showing off how much more you know than the caseworker by OD’ing on case law references is likely to piss them off.  Pride is a strange thing! 
Furthermore, Home Office is notoriously slow in updating UK regulations to reflect recent court decisions it is not happy with.  Sadly, it is also not unknown for the Home Office to adopt the most restrictive interpretation possible, leaving it to another case years down the line, to shed clarity or hold the department accountable. 

There are sometimes inconsistencies between judgments where the more recent judgment could ‘trump’ an earlier one, or provide clarification. 

The key message is based on my understanding.  Links are provided so readers can form their own opinions and as always, when in any doubt, you are strongly advised to seek specialist immigration advice.  

Please send any suggestions and corrections (much welcomed) to BritCits@gmail.com

Thursday 23 October 2014

Thousands of UK families forced to live apart due to visa rules

Source : Workpermit.com via QQ


'A UK Labour MP has called for income requirements for marriage visas to be reviewed, after being contacted by two families who are being forced to live apart under the current scheme.'

'... The first is Phillip and Kyoko Malloy, who met and married while Mr Malloy was teaching English in Japan. Mr Malloy then returned to the UK with his wife...

'The second family is Mr and Mrs Briggs, who met in New Zealand after Mrs Briggs moved there for work. They married, and settled down happily with successful careers, until Mrs Briggs decided she needed to be closer to family in the UK..'
Trial collapses after immigration officials 'lie under oath'

Source : Channel 4 News


'The UK's biggest sham marriage trial has collapsed with the judge accusing UKBA officers of deliberately concealing evidence and lying under oath.

'The Home Office has revealed to Channel 4 News that three immigration officers have been suspended and the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has been called in to carry out an investigation.

'The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) is to conduct a full review into the handling of the case and accepts it fell below acceptable standards.'
Living in the shadows: When Brits are made illegal

Source : Politics.co.uk


'... A hard-working single father, Aubrey was sacked from his job of three years when he couldn't prove his immigration status. For the past nine months, he has been reliant on borrowing money from friends and family. His passport, with its precious 'indefinite leave to remain' stamp, was lost some years back. When he made a new application earlier this year, it was refused. When his solicitor started judicial review proceedings, the Home Office initially defended the case, although they backed down before it went in front of a judge.'

"Surprised Brits" report tells of long-term residents shocked to discover they are 'illegal immigrants' :

Wednesday 22 October 2014

Our PEO experience - ILR

 Author : Steve

A few days ago we had an interview for Indefinite Leave to Remain SET M (spouse of a married person) at PEO Solihull (PEO = public enquiry office, also called premium service centre). I'm happy to say straight off that we got ILR.

This brings to a close a long, stressful and expensive chapter in our lives. Of course, it's much worse now for the people currently going through the process. Our application was under the old rules and furthermore was as strong as these things can be, but it still felt like a trial by ordeal at times. This note is shared to be useful to those currently going through this and hopefully to point people in the right direction.

In due course, I'll tot up the total expense of the whole process from the initial fiancee visa through to ILR (which in our case I estimate ran to several thousand pounds - that's including solicitor's fees to guide us through the initial process for a fiancee visa - expensive but reassuring if you're new to this; language test etc. costs; travel costs; and lost earnings - as I'm self-employed). I'll also do a comparison with at least one other country, to provide an international perspective.

These are our experiences :

Monday 20 October 2014

Divided Families Scotland - demo outside Holyrood

Source : Dinnae Deport Oor Arbroath Angie / Divided Families Scotland

Thanks to Angie for sharing these!

More flyers for the demo : http://britcits.blogspot.co.uk/2014/10/flyers-for-this-saturdays-demonstration.html
"Surprised Brits" report tells of long-term residents shocked to discover they are 'illegal immigrants'

Source :Migrants' Rights Network / Legal Action Group


'A new report from the Legal Action Group (LAG) details the experiences of people who have lived in the UK for many years and who had believed they were British citizens or at least had a legal residence status.'

'Chasing Status challenges the idea that being ‘legal’ or ‘illegal’ in the country is a simple matter and everyone must surely know if they are one or the other.'

Chasing Status : http://www.lag.org.uk/magazine/2014/10/the-unintended-victims-of-%27a-hostile-environment%27.aspx

Thursday 16 October 2014

Is UK handling of EEA Family Permit visas still a problem?
Source : EU Movement blog


Quotes :
'In the past, British embassy handling of EEA Family Permit visas has systematically violated EU Law, even in the straight forward cases. The problems are detailed in the Oct 2012 complaint to the European Commission CHAP(2012)3146.
'The executive summary of the complaint (reproduced below) highlights some of the problems encountered by married couples applying for an EEA Family Permit.  The full complaint has significantly more detail.

UK handling of EU family member visas systematically violates EU law :
Flyers for this Saturday's demonstration in Edinburgh

Created by :Tania

More information : http://britcits.blogspot.co.uk/2014/10/divided-families-scotland-demonstration.html

Outside Scottish Parliament Building (EH99 1SP) on Saturday 18th October 2014 at 12:00 noon.

Divided Families Scotland on Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/groups/416927848454512/

Wednesday 15 October 2014

After 20 years of marriage, wife from Bristol now faces deportation

Source :Bristol Post


'Mr Draper, 59, a property developer, said: "After more than a year of visa negotiations involving lawyers and wranglings with the court, our faith in the immigration system has been totally destroyed. We don't know why Mae wasn't given a one-on-one interview at the time of applying, in which our circumstances could have been explained properly, instead of forms containing tick boxes.

"Mae is a trained midwife and wants to work and live in this country but is being denied that opportunity, despite us having been married for nearly 20 years.

"The UK Border Agency should not be using immigration rules in this way, to keep a decent hard-working family apart."

Don't take my mum away, Hanham teenager begs immigration authorities : http://theweekin.co.uk/uncategorized/dont-take-mum-away-hanham-teenager-begs-immigration-authorities/

'A DVD highlighting the Save Mae Campaign has been produced, in which the couple’s 14-year-old daughter Rhian, a student at the John Cabot Academy in Kingswood, pleads with the immigration authorities not to take her mum away, saying: “My family is being torn apart by the UK Government.” '


Tuesday 14 October 2014

Divided Families Scotland is on Twitter

https://twitter.com/DividedFamScot - give them a follow!

Don't forget the demonstration outside Holyrood this Saturday! : http://britcits.blogspot.co.uk/2014/10/divided-families-scotland-demonstration.html 

‘Under detention they think you’re criminal’

Source : Portsmouth News


"If I’m deported there’s no chance of seeing my son. I left Nigeria 31 years ago – where on earth I going to stay? I don’t know anybody in Nigeria, my mum died in 2002, my dad died when I was four years old. What happens to my wife and who looks after my son? They call this justice – there is no justice in the Home Office. Detention is inhuman – I don’t know what to do."

Via Dinnae deport oor Arbroath Angie.

Sunday 12 October 2014

Divided Families Scotland - demonstrate outside Holyrood this Saturday 18th October

Negatively affected by the UKBA?
Denied a visa unjustly?
Separated from a loved one?
Denied a future and life in the UK?

... then we cordially invite you to join our demonstration to make a difference at the Scottish Parliament Building (EH99 1SP) on Saturday 18th October 2014 at 12:00 noon.

Come and make some noise against the discriminatory and unfair immigration rules set by the Home Office against our families. Please bring your families, brothers, sisters, neighbours, friend, grannies, to shout and support us. Let our voices be heard!

Our families are not a minority, and in fact, these rules cand and will be affecting more and more families each day.

Bring your banners, photos, collages etc to make the demo more colourfully displayed.

Flyers by our members and supporters Fran, Tania and Angie :

Family Christmas denied!

United by love - divided by the Home Office!

Divided Families Scotland on Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/groups/416927848454512/

More ideas for flyers : http://britcits.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/flyers

Saturday 11 October 2014

'Brothers who may be woman's last chance of beating leukaemia barred from entering UK'

Source :Mirror

'A mum fighting leukaemia has seen her three brothers – her last chance of a bone marrow transplant – barred from Britain.

'Fatemeh Mehdipour’s siblings were refused visas to fly in from Iran, despite being the closest surgical matches.

'The Home Office said it was “not satisfied” they would be “genuine visitors” and feared they would seek to stay in Britain after their visas expired.

'Fatemeh’s devastated daughter Azar, 24, told the Birmingham Mail: “We were all so positive, and thought mum would be having her transplant.

'“Everyone is so angry – she will die if she doesn’t get this transplant."'

Mirror Poll: 'Should Fatemeh's brothers be allowed into the country?' currently running at 81% YES. Add your voice.
Previously - posts on the campaign to save Oliver Cameron, whose sister was initially refused a visa to donate a kidney. The decision was ultimately reversed :

Friday 10 October 2014

UKIP's policies

Whilst watching Question Time last night I found myself exasperated that once again we were seeing a UKIP candidate on the panel -  a party with no MP's at that time, whereas the Green party, with Members of Parliament continued to be shafted by the what should be an impartial BBC.

I found myself asking once again what were these other UKIP policies - so we all know they want us out of the EU to stop free movement of people, but what are their views on other issues? BBC has provided info on other UKIP policies but they're just as non-sensical as the EU exit one.

UKIP proposes to leave the EU, but retain trading links, whilst withdrawing from treaties, not paying membership fees and they claim this would be similar to the relationship with the EU had by Norway and Switzerland.  Their primary concern here seems to stem from reducing EU workers moving to the UK.

Let's be clear. Free movement of people is as much a pillar of the EU as free movement of goods and services.  So if we are to retain our trade links, so must we free movement of people.  We cannot despite UKIP's hoodwinking attempt, have one without the other.

Norway whilst not a member of the EU, is a member of the European Economic Area. Which means it pays about half the membership fees into the EU as we do, but it still must accept the treaties, including free movement of people.  It just doesn't have a say in what the treaties are!  Our stance changing to be like Norway will not deliver what the bulk of UKIP's supporters think they will get with more power to UKIP.

Switzerland is neither a member of the EU nor the EEA, but it does have bilateral agreements with the EU.  So just as a French, Norwegian or Polish person can move to the UK to live and work here, so can a Swiss - and similarly, a British person can go to France, Norway, Poland or Switzerland.

There's also no mention of the fact that goods and services are cheaper for us because of the EU and the resulting increased competition.  Imagine no Polish plumbers. Don't you think a British plumber will then charge more? Basic supply-demand theory.

I did try and explain this to Nigel Farage, whilst speaking with him last year after a debate hosted by Intelligence Squared, however Nigel refused to believe that an exit from the EU whilst retaining membership of the EEA would not stop free movement of people.   

I wholeheartedly feel UKIP made these grand claims of what they could achieve because they don't believe there will ever come a point when they would need to deliver.  Else why is it that with seemingly the entire purpose of UKIP being to stem free movement of people they don't understand the very basic mechanics.  

Mass uncontrolled immigration - statistics please!  Where are the lack of controls when thousands of British citizens are prevented from being with their family, only because their husband, wife, mum or dad is not British?  When someone earning £18,599 is unable to have his wife join him in the UK because he is just £1 short of the dont-get-me-started £18,600 income level.

What does UKIP mean by a freeze on immigration for permanent settlement? Would we for a five year period, issue no ILR to people who have already been living here for over five years, or do they mean put in a five year waiting period before someone is granted ILR - which in fact is already the case for almost all visas that I can think of except adult dependant relatives (to which the door is slammed shut anyway) so UKIP is not promising anything new.

New arrivals to the UK already have no recourse to public funds for five years - which prevents their accessing ppublic housing or benefits - so again nothing new from UKIP here.  The execption is EU citizens - who must be treated the same as British citizens, just as British citizens are treated as locals by other member states. If the proposal was you have to have paid tax here for five years before accessing benefits - whether you are a British citizen or not, then this requirement could also be imposed on fellow EU citizens.  However this is not what UKIP states - they state they want this restriction to apply only to migrants - which it already does!

A single rate of income tax.  I think I might cry.  The whole point of a progressive tax system, as we have in the UK - whereby income is divided into bands, and the income which falls into the higher bands is taxed at a higher rate, is to redistribute income from higher-earners to lower-earners.  A flat rate of tax will mean tax revenue will drop and the people who will benefit from this the most, are the higher-earners, not Joe Bloggs!  This is an incredibly stupid proposal that will widen the divide between the rich and the poor.

That the uber-rich manage to avoid tax is another issue and I'd love to hear more from all parties on how they will tackle that.

I'm not against grammar schools actually so this proposal doesn't offend me so much - except I would like to know how UKIP believes it can fund student grants as opposed to student loans?

Proposal to hand control of NHS to locally elected County Health Boards - this would result in a huge variation in level of service amongst countries; inflated salaries paid to more people, and dare I say, corruption, inefficiencies, and lack of responsbiility.  How will this be funded?

UKIP wants to increase defence spending and build more warships. Sigh.  Where is the money coming from please?

Energy and climate change
UKIP is openly sceptical over the concept of climate change altogether. UKIP wants to scrap any increntives for renewable energy, cancel wind farm developments ad expand fracking and nuclear power stations.

Oh my goodness me.  The importance of increasing our usage of renewable sources of energy, and reducing reliance on fossil fuels, was something I learned about in science at the age of 12. It's just common sense. Work with nature, not against it.  If UKIP thinks fracking and nuclear power stations are the way to go, let's start these in the areas UKIP candidates and supporters live in and hear the loud cries of 'not in my backyard'.

It's this policy which makes Clacton-on-Sea's vote last night for UKIP particularly bemusing as mentioned in this tweet.

Gay marriage
UKIP is all for civil partnerships, hurrah, but opposes gay marriage because churches should be able to decide for themselves who they will or will not marry.  As far as I'm aware, this decision is up to the local priest (or equivalent in other religions).  Frankly who'd want a reluctant party to preside over their marriage anyway?

Law and order
UKIP wants to double prison places, enforce zero tolerance and protect frontline policing.

Doubling of prison places - how? Where is the land to do this and where will the funds come from? What do they mean by zero tolerance? Is there nothing for which community service would suffice? What are their thoughts on rehabilitation to reduce recurrences?

Ah here is the answer to my question. Sort of.  UKIP says the tens of billions of tax cuts will be funded by cuts to public expenditure to deal with the deficit.  Questions
1) Are the cuts to fund the tax cuts or to eliminate the deficit? It can't be both as the numbers don't add up.
2) Where will the cuts be? Prisons and defence would see a rise in expenditure under UKIP.  UKIP has already aired their wanting cuts to tax, including council tax.  What's left? Schools, NHS, roads, welfare benefits....

Thank goodness Bank of England has a mandate to operate independently of political motives, else we'd just see our currency depreciate with wheelbarrows filled with money used to buy bread and milk from orders of printing money to pay for increased expenditure.

Social issues
UKIP isn't a fan of multiculturalism - how many people do you know who have family members hailing from a different part of the world to themselves?  Has this not enriched their life?

UKIP also wants to allow smoking in pubs and bring back hunting.  Yes, this really is progress to them.

UKIP wants more local and national referendums on 'major issues'.  Referendums are expensive. Who will pay for these and what does UKIP consider to be 'major issues'?

Why UKIP so badly wants to get into Westminster I don't understand given they already are known for not particpating in votes in European parliament depiste being MEP's. Perhaps they just want yet another role they get paid for not turning up to.

I urge anyone voting in May 2015, to question the promises made by the parties - whatever your political affiliation. Ask - will they be able to deliver this promise, and if so how? What resources are required? Where will the funding come from? What areas will consequently see a cut? What happens if this promise is not fulfilled? Ask. Ask out loud, ask the candidate directly, ask on twitter - discuss with your friends, family, colleagues. Use your education and learn to question. Remember politicians are paid to represent us. Ensure they do.

Wednesday 8 October 2014

Family permit refusal letter

Not much astounds me when it comes to appalling behaviour from the Home Office, but they sure deserve a prize for coming up with the most bizarre reasons for deportation or refusal of entry.

One I've just come across has made me so angry, I don't know whether to laugh or cry at the HO's ability to still get to me.  Perhaps because I've not been on twitter much over the last few days the frustration is on overload.  Despite that I have seen many incredibly poor reasons for refusal already, illegal reasons, this refusal letter has really got to me, because in refusing the family permit, HO cites the applicant and sponsor went to 'extensive lengths to understand fully Regulation 9.." thereby deducing that it must have been an attempt to circumvent the rules.

Oh my goodness me.  So a family which ensures they understand the rules so as to comply with them is penalised; whilst another that does not understand the complex and ever changing rules, is also penalised for not complying with the very same rules.

Home Office goes on to state that because the British sponsor's salary in France was less than their spend, they are considered to be self-sufficient not employed. Again, a stupid deduction. The EEA regs do not specify a required level of income.  They actually don't even require any employment at all for exercise of rights under Surinder Singh, as long as the initial free movement exercise was genuine and family life was created or strengthened.  So by imposing the condition of employment/self-employment in itself, I believe UK is in violation of EEA law - and I understand the European Commission has commenced infringement proceedings against the UK for it's regulation 9 requirements (centre of life).

Of course, if those who spend more than their earnings are not considered to be employed, wonder if this means the no doubt thousands of Brits living in the UK who engage in just this kind of behaviour can just claim self-sufficiency and avoid income tax and possibly even claim income-related benefits!

It just beggars belief that we live in a country where a government department can flout the law so openly, and be so uncaring of how ridiculous their reasons for refusal are.  See not just the above refusal letter, but this extract from a deportation letterthis one too,blog piece by Colin Yeo and this HO statement shared by Melanie Griffiths.

I urge anyone who finds Home Office in violation of the EEA regulations to make a complaint to Solvit.  When faced with a government that refuses to listen, holding them accountable for their behaviour may be the only way to ensure we live in a country where the government doesn't use its muscle to act unlawfully, and that it is obliged to interpret regulations in the manner intended.

Thursday 2 October 2014

Leeds school caretaker who lost fight to stay in UK in emotional exit

Source :Yorkshire Evening Post


'... Staff at Collingham Lady Elizabeth Hastings CE Primary School held a special assembly yesterday to pay tribute to hardworking colleague Portas Ongondo, who had worked there for six years.

'Pupils returning to their classrooms for the autumn term were upset to find the caring character was no longer a feature of their school lives.

'The dedicated worker, whose commitment to the school “far exceeded the role of caretaker”, was told during the summer break he could no longer live and work in the UK following the breakdown of his marriage. '

Portas on Twitter : https://twitter.com/PortasUK

Via I Love My Foreign Spouse and Dinnae Deport Oor Arbroath Angie.


Updated answers to the most frequently asked questions here with links to some excellent articles, reports and forums.  Topics covered include:
  • UK's immigration rules, including the MM case impacting spouses/partners, 
  • UK's immigration rules for Adult Dependant Relatives
  • EU treaty rights
  • Surinder Singh - special application of EU treaty rights for home state

Wednesday 1 October 2014

Tax-free allowance - Conservative Party Conference

So today Cameron, at the Conservative Party Conference, announced that if the Tories win the 2015 election, he will increase the tax free allowance to £12,500 by 2020.  This seemed to be met with awe by many, with others questioning how such a rise could be funded.

Several thoughts.  Is £12,500 all that generous, given no concrete date for its implementation has been announced?  When I look at increases already applied under this government, I'd have to say no, whether I extrapolate the 2015-16 tax free allowance of £10,500 to 2019-20 by the lowest annual percentage, or the absolute amount.

For example, the lowest % increase, year-on-year, under this government has been 5%.  The lowest absolute amount is £500.  Applying this going forwards, we'd reach a tax free threshold of £12,763 under the first method and £12,500 under the second.  So Cameron's 'promise' does not seem generous, unless he means for this level of tax-free allowance to come into play much earlier, which is unlikely given his comments on the deficit.

Year TFA Annual % increase TFA Increase to TFA
2010–11 £6,475 £6,475
2011–12 £7,475 15.4% £7,475 £1,000
2012–13 £8,105 8.4% £8,105 £630
2013–14 £9,440 16.5% £9,440 £1,335
2014–15 £10,000 5.9% £10,000 £560
2015-16 £10,500 5.0% £10,500 £500
2016-17 £11,025 5.0% £11,000 £500
2017-18 £11,576 5.0% £11,500 £500
2018-19 £12,155 5.0% £12,000 £500
2019-20 £12,763 5.0% £12,500 £500

Now looking at the next bit of Cameron's 'promise', that with a tax-free allowance of £12,500 no one on minimum wage will pay any income tax.  This is a blatant attempt to appear to be altruistic, when it's really to bribe the lower earner voters with a headline making announcement which in actual fact benefits the higher-earners more!

A rise in minimum wage from £6.31 to £6.50 came into force today.  This implies an annual salary of  £12,145. A tax-free allowance of £12,500 equates to an hourly rate of £6.69.  So a minimum wage of £6.70 or over would breach the £12,500 tax-free allowance.  So with his promise, Cameron is also committing to minimum wage being no higher than by 2020. That is, over the next five years, minimum wage will not go up by more than a total of 19p.  So what is £6.50 on 1 October 2012 will be no higher than £6.69 come 5 April 2020.

I may have been impressed had Cameron said the higher tax-free allowance applies only to those whose total incomes are below a certain level, rather than all of us benefiting.

Finally, with his bold claims of cutting spending to eliminate the deficit, I echo the sentiments of others in wondering how these tax cuts will be funded; I wonder what areas will see cuts. Education, NHS, welfare, housing, or surely not, our spend on war and weapons which have nothing to do with defending our nation?  Sadly what is not in doubt is that it is the lower earners who will bear the brunt of the cuts in spending whilst also benefiting the least from the tax cuts.