“As a British Masters student, I can’t live in my own country with my partner, because he is Argentinean and I don’t earn £18,600 – how many British students do?! However, international students coming to the UK from elsewhere in the world can live here with their partner and kids, without needing to earn £18,600. The UK is slamming the doors on its own people, just because we accidentally fall in love with someone from outside Europe’s borders”.
Jade is a British citizen; 28 years old, a graduate and a former advertising professional from Greenwich, London. She is currently living in Argentina with her Argentine fiancé Luis.
A couple of years ago, she took some time off work to travel. Whilst in Argentina, she met and fell in love with Luis.
Jade stayed in Argentina for ten months during which time Luis and his family financially supported Jade (she worked part time as an English teacher but it wasn't enough money for her to live on).
They then travelled together, first living together in Rio de Janerio, Brazil for two months; then for six months in London, where they lived with Jade’s family.
Jade returned to her job in advertising where she earned £22,000 – over the £18,600 now required. As Luis was on a tourist visa, he did not work and instead, spent his time researching for his thesis.
In September, they returned to Argentina for Luis’s graduation. For two years either Jade's, or Luis's life has been put on hold, just so they could be together.
In Argentina Jade can’t get can't work in a career progressing job, as fluent Spanish is essential and the language and cultural barriers also make it difficult for her to make too many friends (they live in a small city). Luis has a good job in an international winery. He put his university and career on hold to spend time in London because Jade was homesick, and now, Jade is putting things on hold while they are both in Argentina.
It's a complicated life but they really love each other and are trying to make it work.
Jade wishes to return home to study for a Masters in Sustainable Tourism; she has found the perfect course. However, this is only feasible if Luis can also come to the UK and develop his career, whilst supporting Jade in her studies.
In Argentina, a good salary is about £500 a month. There is no way she could earn £18,600 a year whilst in Argentina, so it is totally impossible for her to meet that income threshold from Argentina.
Neither Jade nor Luis want to get married if it means their marriage begins with a six month separation, while Jade returns to England alone, returns to an advertising career, just to make an arbitrary salary of £18,600.
Jade feels that her mother country has closed the doors on her. She is feeling a mixture of anger and sadness; it’s scary to think that were she to fall pregnant, she would have to choose between pregnancy at home with family and friends around her, and the father of her child. But the choice is difficult but obvious – she would have to stay in Argentina and therefore be forcibly exiled from the UK.
Jade is aware that she could move to Spain where she and Luis would be welcomed with open arms, as part of the EU treaty. However this still means putting her life on hold; dreams of studying in the UK are postponed and she would continue to have to teach English as a foreign language for another few years.
Jade just wants the UK to keep its doors open to her, welcome her back and not punish her for travelling around the world and accidentally falling in love with someone from outside Europe's borders.