“I work, but don’t earn £18,600 and so am condemned to a life in a country where my physical and mental health deteriorate”
Mel is a 22 year old British woman married to Mahmoud, a 26 year old Egyptian man. They have been married for two years, and have lived together in Egypt for over a year.
Mel found the lifestyle as a foreigner in Egypt difficult; she became ill, suffered from depression and
was harassed when she would go out with some local men fascinated by her pale skin and blue eyes.
It got so bad that Mel found it easier to stay indoors, therefore isolating herself. Her body rejected the local water, and the bottled water did not suit her either. The stress resulting in problems eating food and subsequently Mel became familiar with the hospital in Egypt, having spent many nights there having tests.
Throughout all this, Mahmoud stayed by Mel’s side and tried to help the best way he could. They had not thought about living in the UK before, but with Mel not finding herself adjusting to life in Egypt, they decided to apply for a spouse visa, to allow Mahmoud to try out living in the UK.
In October 2011 Mel travelled back home to Birmingham to begin the spouse visa process. She knew she would have to find a job and work hard for 6 months so that she could once again be reunited with her husband. She found a job within two weeks of being home. She worked a Shift Leader in a well known company and began work in November, working extremely hard and up to 60 hours a week in order to earn and save as much money as possible.
On top of this, Mel had a home ready for herself and Mahmoud with her family also being very supportive in reuniting this pair.
The seven months they spent apart were the worst days of her life. She missed him so much, but
understood the rules required her to work hard to have her husband with her. Mahmoud passed his English test with flying colours, also working in Egypt to try and save money so they had the best chance of being successful with the application, and having funds for their life together in the UK.
In June 2012 Mel travelled back to Egypt to start the application, just before the rules came into force. At this time, the new rules were only speculation and nobody, not even lawyers were clear on what the rules were, when they would come into force and what they actually meant.
Mel and Mahmoud missed the 9th July deadline by days, having been delayed due to requiring collection of Mahmoud’s army release paper so that he was able to travel.
As it turns out, the few days delay has completely ruined their lives. Now Mel has no choice but to live in Egypt as she does not, and could not at the present time, ever hope to earn £18,600.
Mel has been living once again in Egypt since the new rules came into force; she was forced to leave her job and family in the UK to be with her husband. Her health is suffering again and she has once again been forced to isolate herself indoors. She does not speak Arabic so is completely dependent on her husband.
She begs him every day not to go out to work as she now fears being lonely. Very much a case of being surrounded by thousands of people in the city, but being alone in a crowd.
They don’t have any choice but to continue their life here, with Mel exiled from her own home because she doesn’t earn £18,600. Her husband won’t get to meet her family in person and her future children, who will also be British, will be living a life of poverty – with the right to a decent education and upbringing, denied to them just because their mother couldn’t earn £18,600.