Stacey and Yoshi
Stacey tells her story :
'I AM A 24 YEAR OLD STUDENT, reading Japanese and public relations at university. I met my partner, Yoshi, two and half years ago, and we've been in a relationship for two years now. He is Japanese and I am British. I had no idea that falling in love with someone outside of the European Union would prove to be such an ordeal.
When we met, my boyfriend was studying journalism at the same university as me. Although he very much enjoyed his time in England, the course proved to be unsuitable and so he decided that he would return to his home country and train to be a language teacher instead.
As part of my course, I spent a year in Japan on an exchange program. We lived together for months at a time, both in England and in Japan, and are very much in love. When we are living apart from each other, we Skype, every single day, despite the 9 hour time difference between our two countries. We have shared, and continue to share, amazing experiences and have decided that we want to spend the rest of our lives together.
We both agreed that we would prefer to settle in England together. Although I had an amazing time in Japan I couldn't see myself settling there and Yoshi was more than happy to move to the UK with me. Yoshi started a course at a language school in 2012 and is now fully qualified to teach Japanese. I will be graduating next year.
In order for us to live together in the UK Yoshi decided to apply for a working holiday visa. This would enable us to spend two years together without having to spend a ridiculous amount of money flying back and forth to each other's country every few months, for a short visit. After those two years we plan to marry. Unfortunately, the working holiday visa is like a lottery and only 1000 people will be lucky enough to get one. Yoshi was unlucky this time.
We are so very much in love that we would marry today if it meant we could be together. But due to the new non-European spouse visa restrictions that were implemented not too long ago, it won't make any difference. And I cannot tell you just how devastated Yoshi and I are.
£18,600 is how much I need to be earning in order to sponsor my partner. Even if I were to graduate from university and get a well paid graduate job, I live in the North of England. It could be years and years before I'm earning enough money to fulfill that requirement. My partner is qualified to teach and wants to work; he will never be entitled to benefits or welfare anyway because he isn't European (editor's note: All entering on a spouse or fiance visa have the words NO RECOURSE TO PUBLIC FUNDS stamped into their passport, and cannot claim benefits), so why not take into consideration his income? Why actively discriminate against low income earners of non European spouses? Why is it moral to tear people apart like this based on income?
Long distance relationships are difficult, regardless of visa restrictions. You have to be committed, patient and prepared to endure long periods of time apart from the one person in your life whom you feel you can share everything with. Everyone has their own issues to deal with in life and all I ask for is that I can come home to the one person in this world who makes me feel happy, loved and secure.
When I heard that Yoshi didn't get the working holiday visa, I think I was more shocked than I expected to be and actually fell into depression. People have no idea how difficult it is being in love with someone and being unable to see them and hold them simply because you aren't earning enough money. I have never felt so low in my life. I recently heard about a British woman who committed suicide because she couldn't be with her Egyptian partner and I cried so much because I honestly know what she was going through. The situation is horrendous. (Link : http://britcits.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/rip-i-was-afraid-something-like-this.html ).
Ultimately, I'm being forced to choose between my home, my country and the culture I was brought up in - and the love of my life. I will choose the love of my life. we are still young and considering our options but it upsets me greatly that I'm being forced to make this choice. I am British. I am not a foreigner asking to live in Britain with a foreign partner. I am a British individual who wishes to live in Britain with the love of my life.'
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