Jessica & Warren
“It feels like I’m trapped in South Africa, first unable to return home because I was under 21, now because I don’t earn £18,600.”
Jessica is a British citizen. She met her husband Warren in the UK in early 2010 while he was on a UK working holiday visa (ed. - the two year working holiday visa has since been abolished). When Warren’s visa came to an end in October 2010 they decided to go to his home country of South Africa together. They married in November 2010 and in February 2011 decided to return to UK. However then Jessica was only 18 and spousal rules required the British citizen to be 21 for sponsoring a spouse.The couple was devastated but that's the way it was at the time and there was nothing they could do.
When the Home Office was taken to court on this issue, the rules changed to allow Brits over 18 to sponsor a foreign spouse. Jessica was overjoyed and started saving to start a life back home in the UK.
In June 2012, Warren was granted a holiday visa, so they both could visit UK and attend Jessica’s father's edding. While here, they looked at properties and assessed the employment market. They did return to South Africa after the visit - Warren is a law abiding citizen and adhered to the expiry dates of his visas. Then discovered the immigration rules had changed virtually overnight and they could no longer move back to the UK unless Jessica, and Jessica alone, was earning over £18,600.
Jessica is 21 years old. She is living in a country which is known for not being particularly safe. There is no minimum wage like in the UK..how is she expected to earn over £18,600? Even as an IT Manager for once of the largest ISPs in SA, she earns £6,000 p.a. Warren earns £12,000 p.a. Indeed, Warren could easily get jobs paying over £25,000 in the UK as he is a specialised voice engineer. There is no way Jessica can earn £18,600 living in South Africa.
This young couple feels trapped and are experiencing a lot of anxiety and tension because of rules designed to keep British citizens with non-EEA family out of the UK.
Jessica lives in hope that the rules will change and her little family will be welcomed in the UK.