"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.

Tuesday 17 March 2015

BritCits Divided Family of the Week - Joshua and Edward

Josh and Edward

“It is a human right to live with your partner.”

Josh is a British citizen, who met Edward, from the India, in October 2013.  They formalised their relationship to become husband and husband in a civil partnership on December 12th 2014 in Josh’s home town in Somerset, celebrating their having found each other with family and friends.

Edward was in the UK as one of the brightest and best international students we so want to attract.  However for Josh and his family, Edward’s contribution was much more significant; Edward alleviated the depression Josh was suffering from, obliterated his suicidal thoughts and helped Josh find motivation in life to pursue his psychology degree, and stop claiming benefits.  Josh felt loved, valued and encouraged to becoming a better person. He could finally with Edward’s support, see that his career goal of becoming a clinical psychologist was feasible.  Josh felt more at home with his sexuality and thus able to break down the barriers he had put up around him.

Not long after meeting, the couple moved in together and Edward truly became part of Josh’s family.  Josh’s mum travelled from our Somerset to meet the person who was responsible for her son’s happiness in March 2014 and got on famously with him.  Josh reminisces about those days together; Edward cooked a delicious lunch and Josh’s mum was so pleased with the positive role Edward was playing in her son’s life. 

Edward subsequently visited the rest of Josh’s family in Somerset and Wales.  He was welcomed into the fold immediately and like Josh’s mum, all felt grateful to the man who had rescued Josh, seeing that with Edward, Josh was the happiest he had ever been.

Josh and Edward were in love and couldn’t bear to spend a day apart. They met each other’s friends, even Edward’s ones from India, on Skype, became a large part of each other’s lives.  Josh met Edward’s family as well, and was similarly welcomed into their ranks, particularly getting on with Edward’s brother.  Neither partner could have asked for things to have worked out better in terms of being able to fit our lives together so well.

June 2014 saw Edward submitting his dissertation and the couple moved out of their student accommodation and into Josh’s mum’s home, living also with the mum’s partner and Josh’s younger brother.  Getting to spend that time together as a real family made both realise they didn't want this to end. 

The couple made arrangements to settle down together in their own place and started looking for jobs in order to support themselves and build a life together.  They exchanged promise rings on their one year anniversary and committed to a life together.

Edward was made two job offers, both in his field of expertise – but neither could provide sponsorship.  The alternative was for Edward to apply to remain as Josh’s partner.

Plans for their civil partnership were accelerated with the couple opting for a small and intimate family gathering.  The service at the registry office was followed by a celebration party with family and close friends. It was very small and very personal, and perfect.

The couple researched on ways to legalise Edward’s stay in the UK beyond the validity of his student visa, also looking into options for Josh to move to India.  However given Indian laws, found that would not be viable in the long-term.

Josh and Edward hugging goodbye at the airport, as Edward leaves in accordance with his visa conditions.

Edward left the country as per the terms of his visa.  Josh meanwhile is working really hard to earn money and find a suitable job paying over £18,600.  The couple feels trapped because of the financial requirements which are proving very hard to satisfy and mystified when they’ll be able to see each other again.

It is beyond their understanding why Edward, with a Masters degree from a UK university and as the partner of a British citizen cannot stay in the UK.  He would be a huge asset to the country, would have no recourse to public funds, would contribute by way of taxes and NI contributions – and Josh, a British citizen, would be able to live with his husband.

Update:  In July 2015, Edward was granted a spouse visa and he is now in the UK, setting up his own business. What an entrepreneur!

Sunday 15 March 2015

Don't miss out!

BritCits membership has grown significantly over the last couple of years and sending from Gmail to a group of this size is no longer feasible.

As we migrate to using a software program for the sending of group emails, we are taking this opportunity to do things in a more 'proper' way and ensure only those who wish to receive the mailers, do so. The hopefully snazzier mailers are a bonus!

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Friday 13 March 2015

Daniel & Rachel - Featured Family

"Home Office treats self-employment income like it's not legitimate, requiring submission of non-existent documentation!"

Daniel is a British citizen.  He met Rachel, from the USA in 2009 online. "He had me at 'bats in Honduras," Rachel will say, if asked how their romance started.  

Daniel owns and operates his own cleaning business, works at a health-food store as well and does odd-jobs self-employed on the side. Through this effort, he satisfies the income requirement of £18,600 for both the fiancée visa and the subsequent FLR(M) visa to follow, as the partner of a British person. 

They applied for the fiancée visa in 2012, but were horrified to receive a letter telling them that it was denied for reasons that even now remain unclear. They enlisted a solicitor and, upon appeal, the visa was granted with the same documentation that was provided as part of the original application. Thinking their troubles were over, they put the event behind them and were married in April 2013.

In June 2013, the couple applied for FLR(M) visa.  They used the same solicitor as they had for the fiancée visa, effectively repeating the process.  They even used the same accountant to provide evidence of income.  Eager to get on with their lives, they opted to pay the extra fees for Premium service.

It didn't go according to plan. Despite having the right to exercise judgement, the officer interviewing them refused to accept the credentials of the accountant who had prepared their Statement of Income and Taxes because it wasn't "certified".  They were told that they had ten days to have a "proper" accountant review the financials, obtain payslips (including one which had not yet been received or issued!).  They were assured that they still maintained their "priority" status given they had paid for the Premium service.

Frantic, Rachel and Daniel called every accounting firm in the town they live in, searching for someone who would be willing to complete the daunting task of reviewing two years of financials in 10 days.  Thankfully, there was someone benevolent enough to take on the challenge. This certified accountant, upon interviewing was puzzled as to why the officer had rejected their documentation, saying “The way your accountant did this is exactly the same way that any accountant would prepare your documents.  Accountants do not know Immigration law”.  This certified accountant pointed out that even the guidance information for the visa didn't state that they had to be prepared any differently.

Frustrated but grateful the accountant did his best to address the concerns of the officer, they mailed back the requested documentation seven days later. Then the waiting started; they heard nothing, saw nothing, until a month later when a letter arrived through the post, informing them their “outstanding” documentation was received, and that the fiancée visa was effective until a decision was made.

The couple believe the complexity arises because Daniel has three sources of income and UK Home Office does not even flirt with the same rules HMRC does in calculating income.  All of this is made worse by the Home Office treating self-employment income almost like it's not legitimate earnings by requiring documentation that doesn't even exist to prove that it is "real"!

Three months after application, the couple who paid for Premium service have still not heard anything from the Home Office about their application.   


At the end of October 2013, Daniel and Rachel received a letter from the Home Office.   Despite the fact that they have provided clear evidence to show Daniel earns over £18,600, the Home Office has said their application is on hold indefinitely, because they do not meet the financial requirements of an annual salary of £18,600.  The Home Office was however generous enough to offer Rachel the option of withdrawing her application and losing her application fees.

This couple is now stuck in limbo only because the Home Office does not appear to have staff who can read an Accountant’s Statement of Income. 

They will be working with their solicitor to see how best to proceed with this. Home Office rather than actually reading the documents submitted, thought it easier to put them in the ‘delay’ pile.

Daniel is reasonably confident the courts will stand by their original verdict in regards to the Income Requirement ruling and at least, while their application is on hold the couple gets to remain together as it was an in-country application.  However it’s very frustrating for Rachel to not be able to do anything or go anywhere; to be unable to make any sort of contribution to society or even partake in any activity.

Update 2

Daniel and Rachel were put on hold for not meeting the income requirements according to the Home Office, despite HMRC, Certified Public Accountants and bank statements showing otherwise, pending the result of the MM case. 

Rachel and Daniel grew increasingly worried as the days, weeks, and months passed without any word.  After that awful Court of Appeal judgment on the MM case, the couple was prepared for the worst and had begun the process to re-settle in the USA.

Much to their surprise however, in October 2014, they learned that Rachel's visa had been approved (begging the question why the MM case was used as an excuse to put their application on hold pending the judgment given the lack of relevance).  It couldn't have come at a better time, as the couple are also expecting the birth of their first child.