"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 26 February 2015

‘Using the Surinder Singh Route’ Research Project

Middlesex University's Research Project on the Surinder Singh route

A research team at Middlesex University is aiming to conduct a research project on the use of the Surinder Singh (SS) route by UK citizens in order to reunite with their family members.

By way of the research they would like to gain a better understanding of both the practical and legal aspects of the process, especially about people’s decision to use or not to use this route, the legal and practical difficulties they experience in the course of the process and what strategies they use to overcome such difficulties. This is especially relevant, as not much attention has been paid in either the media or academic literature to the difficulties experienced before and during the use of the SS route.

This project aims to not only add to the existing academic knowledge on family migration but also contribute to the knowledge base on which lawyers, advice services and eventually the European Commission could draw. As the SS route is a right existing under EU law, this research would support those trying to effectively exercise their right by drawing attention to the administrative obstacles and processes that the UK Government requests people to comply with.

Therefore to know more about the SS route, the researchers would like to undertake Skype interviews with people who:
  •     Are either contemplating the use of the SS route; or
  •      Have decided not to use the SS route; or
  •     Are currently using the SS route; or
  •     Have already completed the SS route and remained in the adopted country or returned to the UK.
The interviews would last approximately 60 minutes and will be recorded. Full anonymity applies to the data gained through the interviews. The participants can fully or partially withdraw from the research at any time, if they wish to do so.

The research project has received the ethical approval of Middlesex University.

Members of the research team are:
·         Dr Helena Wray (H.Wray@mdx.ac.uk), lead researcher, her academic profile can be accessed here: http://www.mdx.ac.uk/about-us/our-people/staff-directory/wray-helena;
·         Professor Eleonore Kofman (E.Kofman@mdx.ac.uk), her academic profile can be accessed here: http://www.mdx.ac.uk/about-us/our-people/staff-directory/kofman-eleonore; and
·         Agnes Agoston (A.Agoston@mdx.ac.uk), research assistant of the project, PhD student at Middlesex University.

The research is not associated in any way with the Home Office.

If you would like to participate in the research, please contact Agnes Agoston or any of the team members who will be happy to discuss any queries you may have related to the research.

Tuesday 24 February 2015

Tory candidate for Walsall wants your views on immigration

Douglas Hansen-Luke and immigration

Parliamentary candidate for Walsall, Douglas Hansen-Luke, posted a photo on Facebook, lauding the wonderful things with immigration his party has done.   He no doubt did not expect the reaction he did receive, from British citizens impacted by the rules, and his replies to those who told him how let down they felt by the government, show he's likely been seduced by Tory propaganda. 

Please help him see the light and tell him what you think by posting on the  original FP post
Or in the revised one Douglas put up to detract attention from the original one, here
And in case the posts are 'accidentally deleted', see this

"My understanding is that if you're contributing and can completely support yourselves then spouses can take partners in to Britain"

Douglas shows a lack of understanding that even those earning very high salaries are forced to spend 8 to 18 months apart from their partner in order to satsify the rules.

"You've married a non-Brit and don't have the funds to support your partner. Instead you'd like other tax-payers to that for you. If that's the case then I'm afraid that I'm not on your side. If that's not the case then by all means put me right."

Douglas shows a lack of understanding of 'no recourse to public funds' which means non-EEA citizens - albeit married to British citizens - cannot access benefits.  At no point did any of the posters suggest taxpayers should pay for their spouse to live in the UK.

Then, there was this: 

"Let's be very clear immigration is a good thing. It enriches our country and if done well allows us to grow and support those already here. What is not sensible is letting in non-Brits and supporting them when we are going deeper in to debt each day just meeting current obligations. Is it fair that current tax payer have to pay for that or that those who have paid in all their lives have to accept reduce services because of increased demand?

I am the child of immigrants. Both my parents worked in the NHS. I understand the case for immigration, I don't understand the case for putting non-Brits before our own people.

And now to address the pain of those who have commented so far. I am sure that the current system is not perfect and I'm sure that we don't always get it right. And when we do, your voice is heard. Our country is far more tolerant than most. If fair play is what's needed and your cause is just then I would be happy to support you and I'm sure all politicians would be too no matter their party."

Update - 12th March 2015

Power of the people shown when Tory candidate, Douglas Hansen-Luke further to the volume of replies, requested a meeting with BritCits, taking place as an hour long phone call.

Douglas admitted knowing very little about family immigration rules - despite the fact that he has a foreign wife.  He was very surpised to know that had his wife's spouse visa application been made post 2012 rather than in 2005, they would have had to spend time apart and it may not have been feasible for them to relocate to the UK.  He asked for me to explain to him what the rules are and I was able to share the experiences that many of you have had as examples. 

He was not aware
- that even those who earn over the threshold have to still spend 12-18 months apart from their spouse (because of the evidential requirements)
- of the issues faced by those with a Prohibited Steps Order in place
- of the ELT being needed pre entry into the country
- of the inflexibility in the rules in taking into account income and expenditure (e.g. if own home, no rent or mortgage costs should mean lower income required)...
- ADR rules slamming the door shut on elderly relatives.
- the probationary period having been increased from 2 years to 5 years

....essentially lots he wasnt aware of.
On the face of it, he agreed with us, stating the policy is 'not sensible' and "un-British" and not in keeping with the family friendly view he had of his own party, a view which is welcome and certainly places Douglas in company with a handful of decent already elected politicians.

Douglas wants to hear from people in the Walsall region - so pls do contact him on facebook or through his email: douglas@workingforwalsall.com and let him know what you think of the Tory family immigration rules and what change you want to see. He was surprised to hear that Tories, amongst our membership at least, had lost a lot of support because of these rules, as a surprising number of us live in what were formerly safe Tory seats.
What did he say he will do? 
1) likely ask around to see if what I have told him is right - which we know it is

2) "When" he is elected as MP (he seemed very confident), will vote the right way when it comes to amending the rules.  Currently difficult to depart from the standard Tory party line because he is in a very closely contested seat.  But he would need to see that his constituents want change - so this comes from you guys living in the area - or indeed, in any area, raising this with the candidates standing for the seat come this election.

3) Might make a statement on Facebook - feel free to follow up with him asking for that, either on Facebook, email address or twitter: @DHansenLuke

4) Agreed that when he makes statements praising the Tory immigration policy (incidentally he is not a fan of the Tories treatment of international students either!) he will not conflate this with their policy on family immigration

5)  Come out publicly about his own experience of the immigration rules and the points we have discussed, once elected.

Monday 23 February 2015

BritCits Divided Family of the Week


“UK puts a price tag on love.”

Suzanne is British, with a fiancée from the USA, living in the north-east of England. They’ve been together for nearly three years and planned to marry this year.

At £16,600, Suzanne earns just £2,000 below the required threshold. However, average wages in northern England are lower than in the rest of the country and £16,600 is considered a very good salary.

The couple’s only recourse is to try and save up over £20,000 in cash – a figure the couple feel government has plucked out of thin air, to make up for the £2,000 income deficit from the £18,600 per annum salary requirement. An amount that will take years to save, if ever, evident of how out of touch politicians are.

Suzanne cannot move to the US because the American government does not recognise same-sex unions.

So, their lives are on hold, and their right to a private life is held in check by two countries with equally discriminatory laws. UK puts a price tag on love, and America has a gender requirement.

Since they have no idea when they will be able to be together, the separation is slowing chipping away at their sanity as they struggle to stay on track; relationships are hard enough to maintain at the best of times.

However, enforced distance results in additional frustrations, distress and depression.

Update: Unfortunately, thanks to the havoc wreaked by the new rules, Suzanne and her fiancée broke up. 

The positive change since 2012 was that the United States did overturn the federal law which previously prevented American citizens from sponsoring same-sex spouses and fiancees, and it's much easier to do so as well, as third party support is allowed, personal financial circumstances such as cost of living in the state of residence vs income are considered, and the income level is at a reasonable level such that anyone with a full time job would satisfy it.

Unfortunately, moving to the United States wasn't an option for Suzanne because both her parents in the UK are ill.  Suzanne felt it was her duty to stay and look after her parents, as there is no other family nearby to assist.  However as Suzanne still doesn’t earn £18,600, she couldn’t sponsor her fiancée either.  If she came here, it would be impossible for her to return to the UK with me, again because of the financial requirement.

The more relaxed US laws on family reunification would actually for Suzanne’s parents to also relocate to the US, so that their daughter could be with her partner; but their health condition prevents such a move.

The couple were at an impasse with no resolution in sight, and unfortunately, both thought it best to end things than continue in a long distance relationship with no means visible for their being able to finally live together.  Another family fallen victim to Home Office’s family immigration rules.