Monday, 19 August 2013
'Here is our tale of immigration woe. One more to add to the many. I must say I feel a little unworthy to share after hearing the terrible stories of others but still bottom line is we are being given a choice of living apart in separate countries for a very long time or not returning to the UK.
'I'm a Brit born and bred, I grew up in Dumfries & Galloway. After finishing university and working a year to save up I headed to NZ on a working holiday for a year. During that time I met and fell in love with Tony, a born and bred Kiwi. We built a fabulous life together in NZ which is a beautiful, special country. We bought a house together, then after 4 years together we got married returning to Scotland so we could share the day with my family and friends. We both had good jobs.
'Tony is a carpenter who worked for 16 years for the same company and I'm a marketing professional. I progressed to director level which was my position in the last 6 years of the 12 with my organisation. We were working really hard but we also could afford ourselves a very good lifestyle. To save some money and to purchase 2 rental properties which we see as our pension policy. However during those 14 years in New Zealand I have missed my family dreadfully and this has always stopped me from feeling fully settled. I'm extremely close to my family and though I have been lucky enough to afford twice yearly trips home - and of course Skype - there is simply no substitute for being a part of the day to day life of the people you love. My brother and sister have two little boys each and I'm missing out on them growing up, having a relationship with them.
'Tony and I reached a point where we decided we were both ready for a career break we decided to save up and take a year off work to travel Latin America. We felt we deserved it and afterwards we planned to start a new life in the UK, back in the bosom of my family. We've been through plenty of immigration drama, before we were marred, getting my permanent residency status in NZ but we figured we had a year of free time to work out the details...never thinking that such ridiculously restrictive new rules would have been put in place.
'We quit our jobs, sold anything of value and headed of on our new adventure. For the last 6 months we have been hiking and exploring the southern part of South America, finally after all those years work being able to have so much time together to enjoy. Three months in I thought I'd better work out the details of getting Tony residency in the UK... After 14 years together, 10 married I was envisioning, like New Zealand, it'd just be an expensive exercise with lots of frustrating paperwork. Well you already know what I discovered to my dismay....the rules exclude us from returning to the UK.
'I've been through them with a fine toothcomb. I was appalled that people on low incomes were not afforded the same rights as the middle class. Still I didn't think this applied to us, we already have good job offers on the UK which will put us well over the salary requirements. We also have some savings and rental properties which are bringing in income each month. Plus my sister has renovated her house so we can live there until we find our own to buy. There is no chance we will be living on benefits, we have jobs to go to and frankly
'I've no idea how people are supposed to live off the measly benefit income - I've no intention of finding out.
'Here's what I've found out: Our fantastic trip of a lifetime holiday excludes us from being eligible to return to the UK as we haven't been working. Our savings aren't enough to be counted as nothing under £16000 is. In fact we need to prove we have £62500 in savings (all but impossible on an NZ salary). Our assets (rental properties) can not be counted unless we sell them off which would mean we would lose a huge amount of money and anyway would take months to do, after which we still have to wait 6 months with that cash sat in a low interest account (because we're not allowed to have savings in high interest term deposit accounts).....
And that's before the applying and waiting god knows how many months for them to process it. Our rental income can not be counted as our properties are owned by a limited company in NZ (that we are 100% owners of) for tax efficiency.
'I know, I know we are on a year long holiday and have job offers and actually have assets etc. you wont be shedding tears, but I am. We still are left with a choice of living apart for likely a year on opposite sides of the world or never returning to the UK and my family.
'I'm frankly livid with the UK government. I think an income related immigration test for families is abhorrent anyway but to have one that is not just about stopping people claiming benefits but is actually saying only the very wealthy can marry foreigners is an outrage. I just about choked when I read in the case study UKBA guidance notes where they describe a person with £1million in stocks and shares liquidating the £62500 required... I mean seriously!
'So there's now a dark cloud over our once in a lifetime trip. We don't know what to do next.... All advice and suggestions greatly appreciated, along with telling me what more I can do to fight this thing, not just on our behalf but on the behalf of all the other people who's terrible stories I have read.'