"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.

Sunday, 22 January 2017

BC newsletter - 22 January 2017

The most recent newsletter from 22nd January 2017 is now online, covering:
Past issues available here.

If you'd like to receive the newsletters directly into your inbox, please sign up here.

Paul - Featured Family

“My life now is just about work, work, work ... and when I have time off, I am too fatigued to do anything but sleep.”

Paul, a British citizen, married his partner in May 2012, in the Philippines. She is Filipino and the decision to marry was based on the assumption that having met the visa requirements they would be able to make a life together in the UK.

Suddenly though the rules changed, leaving Paul and his wife devastated.

The massive increase in the amount Paul had to earn before he could sponsor his wife has made it impossible for them to be together.

He works full time in retail and doesn’t claim a single penny in benefits. Recently, he changed the branch of the store he worked in to reduce travelling costs, and is taking on as much overtime as possible, including working night shifts. Despite this, however, he cannot meet the income criteria.

His life now is just about work, work, work ... and when he has time off, he is too fatigued to do anything but sleep and cope with the relapse of the depression he has suffered from, on and off, for many years.

Paul is not asking for handouts, he just wants to be able to live with his wife in the UK.

Paul’s wife is not entitled to any benefits, so the message being put across in the media by Theresa May that the presence of non-EU spouses would be a drain on the benefits system is intended blatantly to mislead the British public, as their rights are chipped away.

Paul does not have a fancy accountant. He has paid his taxes diligently for years. It is Paul and others like him who have contributed to the system, and yet he is being told he cannot be with his wife as they are a threat to the system.

MPs get a huge salary, they can claim all manner of household expenses ranging from food and their TV licence, to interest on their mortgage and rent payments (blatant abuse of expense policies) and yet they have the nerve to put restrictions on the lives of ordinary British citizens, and accuse us of being a threat to the British economy?

Call for families: Valentine’s Video Project

Another Europe is Possible

BritCits has been contacted by a fellow campaigner, Zoe Gardner, in relation to a Valentine's Video Project.  Zoe is keen to speak with all sorts of couples to participate in a video campaign telling the not enough heard story about the positives of immigration - that love that has no regard for borders. The aim is to demonstrte in a tangible and understandable way the benefits immigrants bring to the lives of the Brits who fall in love with them. 

The couples should comprise of one British national and one foreign partner - in the UK, or navigating the rules to try and be allowed in. The videos will tell a universal story about each couple in a 2-minute video.  Couples will talk unscripted about how they met and fell in love.   Discussion of immigration rules on the family is optional.  The goal though is to get across a pro-migrant message 

The videos will be short, sweet and depending on you, even humorous :)

The idea is to share these videos, starting on Valentine’s Day, and encourage others to make and share their own, to create a library of positive stories celebrating the love between people, regardless of their origin. A suitable tag-line and hashtag is in the works…

The videos will be filmed on one day (probably very early February) in London, exact date and location TBC.  If you are part of a divided family, Zoe thinks showing a Skype conversation would be quite powerful. 

For the tech savvy who want to take part themselves, please do upload your own video using the hashtag (TBC) from Valentine's Day.
Please contact zoehgardner@gmail.com if you would like to be involved

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

G'bye 2016

Ho ho ho!

It's been an intense 4.5 years since the now unforgettable 9th July 2012.  Families unfortunately have proven to be an easy target.  We are not big companies whose voice the government hears when tightening of immigration for skilled migrants proves bad for business.  We are not universities with the power to lobby the government when the very significant threat to UK's economy from the treatment of international students comes to the fore.  We also do not have limitless funds to fight the Home Office for our rights; ever increasing application fees are met with poorer caseworking; for those able to appeal, so often a win at First Tier Tribunal sees the Home Office appealing further, seemingly just to buy time and hope the family gives up.

However, whilst companies refused a visa for an employee may find a replacement, families are not so easily substituted.   So we battle on - together, better and stronger.

Several cases of interest:

#MMcase for partners - decision pending from Supreme Court. (There is alas no news on when the judgment will be handed down.  If you're on twitter, do search for the hashtag.  For those who want to understand better the workings of the Supreme Court - what the judges do, perhaps giving an insight into why it's taking so long - watch this on BBC iplayer - The Highest Court in the Land: Justice Makers.)

ADR is to be heard at the Court of Appeal in May 2017.

And recent changes to Surinder Singh are terrible - unlawful in my view, and showing the lengths our own government will go to, to keep Brits out of the UK.

More on all three issues next year.

If you want to catch up on our newsletters, check out this link.

With this, we say adieu to the year and hope you have a very merry Christmas with your family for those united....and that it's the last one spent apart from your family, if you are divided.

Season's Greetings

from Sonel, Steve and Stuart (BritCits trustees).

Friday, 9 December 2016

Why Brexit?

This is a call out to those who voted for Brexit, or those who know people who did and have answers to some questions I have for Brexiteers, to better understand what people see as the direct benefit - to them - of leaving the EU. Indeed, remainers who can see any benefits of leaving the EU welcome to comment too.

I am a remainer. Most or all members of this organisation are remainers too, and proud EU citizens.  But I do not think everything about the EU is perfect - just as I, and likely leave supporters too, don't think everything about Westminster is perfect, yet it doesn't detract from our being proud Brits.

With about half the voting population indicating a desire to leave the UK, if we are going to live in a divided nation, let's make it a tad easier by trying to understand where the other side comes from.  To date I have not been able to get answers to questions that would enable me to do just that, so here's an attempt at understanding why people have voted leave.  No snide comments please.

1. What do you see as a benefit to you personally from leaving the EU?

Instant house price drops? Better job opportunities? Weaker currency making overseas holidays cheaper?  Something else?

2. What is it about the EEA regulations that you don't like, and would change?

Is it their telling us what measurement we can sell things in? Shape of our bananas? Fishing restrictions?

3. What do you see as the downside of leaving the EU - but that you think is a price worth paying for leaving?

EU has strict regulations on compensation airlines must pay for delays. Free movement - the ability to live anywhere in the EU, as long as you do it to work or are self-sufficient.

4. Anything else you want to say.

Thank you!

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Rhys & Natacha - Featured Family

“All we want is the opportunity to live together and be near family." 

Rhys is a British citizen, and Natacha, his common law partner, is Canadian.  

Rhys and Natacha met whilst Natacha was studying in England as part of her undergraduate university degree.  Now the having been in Canada for over four years, where Rhys was able to work, they are trying to figure out a way they can stay together in the UK to be close to Rhys’s family, who are desperate to have the couple lose by.

Rhys has a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts and is working full time in Canada, whilst Natacha is completing a Masters degree in Sociology from Queen’s University.

Of the two of them, Natacha has the greater earning potential; however, under the new rules, Rhys must be earning £18,600 for at least six months before his wife can join him, regardless of the fact that Natacha might earn much more. Indeed, Natacha was accepted by the University of Birmingham with a full fees bursary worth $20,000. If a leading British university sees Natacha as someone worth paying to have her in the UK, why does the British government see her as a burden?

It strikes them as bizarre that Natacha’s earnings in the UK, and hence her taxes, are completely discounted, as is any help from their family. If the aim of the policy is to reduce the burden on the state, why not let Natacha’s earnings be counted too? Why not let them show they won’t be a burden on the state?

Why not have requirements such as mandating private healthcare cover from migrants? This would boost the healthcare system and UK companies, whilst reducing the reliance on the NHS. Their view is that if the issue is about migrants being a burden on the system, then restrictions should be placed on work permits, rather than on British citizens wishing to live with their family.

Rhys and Natacha are pleading with this government to understand and appreciate the difficulties these new rules are producing. All they want is the opportunity to live permanently together; they are a family, even if it is just the two of them.