"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 27 November 2015

Alexis & Miad - United Family of the Week

“I had to give up my studies to earn £18,600 even though completing the course would have meant a better future for my family.”

Alexis is a British citizen from Scotland.  She met Miad in 2005 through shared interests online.  They became good friends, with the relationship two years later moving to that of a romantic nature.

Miad is from Iran.  As they were desperate to meet in August 2008, one year after having an online relationship, Alexis travelled 4000 miles to meet the man she had fallen in love with.  Miad as a university student, could not obtain a passport because the Iranian government do not process passports for their male citizens until National Service has been completed. 

So Alexis travelled with her two children, (who at the time were 5 and 7) to Iran for a month.  They all loved every second of it – and none of them wanted to return to the UK.  . Whilst in Iran, Alexis and Miad got engaged.

By June 2009, when Alexis returned to Iran for three weeks, Miad had left university and was working, having also been called up for military service.  They planned on getting married during Alexis’s visit although the Iranian authorities did not make it easy. 

She was told that after marriage, she would automatically become an Iranian citizen - meaning that she would effectively forfeit her British citizenship as Iran doesn't recognise dual nationality. Alexis didn't like this idea, so instead the couple opted for a “temporary” marriage lasting fifty years.

This was an interim solution to also get round the Iranian law which prevents its citizens from having a boyfriend/girlfriend.  So the couple went through an Islamic ceremony, paid fees and exchanged rings.  Alexis also had to convert to become a Muslim.

The temporary marriage was another step of commitment for the couple, formalising their relationship.  Alexis returned home and in November 2010, returned to Iran with the kids this time, again for a month.  Miad's 20 month service was due to end in January 2011 and then, the family could be together.

They planned for Miad to join Alexis and the kids in the UK. Uprooting the kids to move to Iran was not an option – they had to have access to their birth father. 

At the time, Alexis was studying full time. For Miad to join her in the UK on a spouse visa, she would need to leave college but didn’t relish giving up her studies.  So after some discussion, they decided the best step would be for Miad to pursue his studies in the UK.

It took a while to collect the required funds for the visa and college fees - in fact they needed nearly £4000 in fees, and another £7200 in the bank for 28 days to show that he could support himself financially.  With effort, they got everything he needed together, applying at the British embassy in Turkey (as there is none in Iran).

In June 2012, Miad travelled from Iran to Turkey and applied for his student visa, with Alexis joining him there for support.  A couple of weeks later, they received a response from the Home Office.  The application was refused!  The bank in Iran that Miad had deposited his money with, was suddenly blacklisted.  Despite the fact that just a month earlier they had been informed that the UK government recognised and accepted the bank he had used.

A sudden rule change, which was not made public, caught this couple off guard.

Miad complained to the visa consultant who had been helping him (provided by the UK college). The consultant apologised profusely, offering to refund the visa fee.  The visa adviser said Miad could make another application - instead of going back to Iran, he could simple send the money directly to the college. Miad asked if this was allowed. The consultant told him that yes, this was allowed. So listening to his 'expert' advice, he re-applied. And, surprise surprise, he was refused again.  Miad was hopping mad! Again, he was given an apology and a feeble excuse that it had been fine for other students.  This visa consultant again refunded his visa fee - but by this time Miad was again out of pocket from expenses whilst living in Turkey!

Why was Miad using this useless man's services? Because he had been told by the college that, if Miad didn't use him and his application was refused, he wouldn't get his college fees refunded!

Miad went back to Iran in August. He had to get the money back from the college which he put in an approved bank and waited until he could go for a second time, to Turkey - in September - and apply for a third time.

Thankfully the application was successful this time.
In the meantime, the family migration rules had changed.  Miad arrived in the UK in October 2012 and started college straight away.  His student visa expires in August 2013.

In January Alexis had to give up college.  Had she been able to complete her course, she could have aimed for a better job, better career and better future - for all four of them.  However, because of the rules, the onus only fell on Alexis to find a job paying over £18,600. 

Alexis has been on medication for anxiety and depression with the threat of state-enforced separation hanging over them.

Update: Alexis and Miad are living happily together in the UK finally, and are now proud parents to a gorgeous baby boy.  They however remain involved in the campaign for fair family immigration rules.

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