Sarah & Angelina
“All we want is to live our lives together, as a married couple.”
Sarah is a British citizen who first met her partner, Angelina three years ago when she went to work at a USA summer camp in Texas. They are both 25 year old graduates.
The couple began their relationship a year later, when Sarah returned to the same summer camp, and after reviewing their options, both decided to both apply for a year's work visa to live and work in Canada, as neither USA nor UK allowed the other to apply for any a temporary work permit.
They lived in Canada happily. Although both on minimum wage jobs, this was sufficient for them to live in rented accommodation comfortably; they could afford basic luxuries without any sort of dependency on the government or anyone else. They planned to marry in the UK, but the visa conditions (just to get married there, not for settlement) were so expensive and onerous that they decided it was easier and cheaper to marry in Canada. They did, in a beautiful low-key ceremony in Victoria, British Columbia.
Having thought about it long and hard, and discussed it between them, both agreed but in both our minds we decided that living in the UK would be a happier life for both of us, for various reasons.
Angelina joined Sarah in the UK in July 2013. They planned that Sarah would find a job paying £18,600, and after six months, they would get moving with the paperwork that would let Angelina stay here, and finally begin their lives together with some permanence.
Sarah was even then concerned with the difficulties around obtaining a job paying over £18,600 at entry level and wrote to her Conservative MP, Charles Walker. His response was that he could not possibly imagine opposing these rules, and that she should turn her attention to getting a job as soon as possible. Charles did however eventually relent and wrote to the immigration minister when Sarah pointed out that this threshold was even harder for a single mum to meet.
Now Sarah and Angelina are three months into their time here, and despite applying for many jobs, Sarah is no further to gainful employment than when she began looking. Every recruitment agency she has liaised with has indicated that her experience will not get her this salary; every day marks more time that she will have to be apart from her wife.
Feedback from four interviews was ‘lack of relevant experience’ which is difficult to get without a job. A job that pays over £18,600.
The couple grows increasingly desperate for options as the job rejections roll in every day, and it becomes increasingly apparent that Sarah may not be suitable just yet for anything that meets the threshold.
What makes it increasingly frustrating is that Sarah’s parents are more than happy to be co-signers of any paperwork – to be their guarantors. However the Home Office has this is not an option. The fact that Angelina's work history, which is much more impressive than Sarah’s (although still not enough to make her eligible for a Tier 2 visa) is not taken into account is baffling, and just another barrier. It just seems that this is an impossible task for a British citizen to be able to sponsor their wife; the person they love.
Despite the heartbreak, stress and intense pressure this situation has brought upon her life, Sarah finds it comforting to know there is a support base for those in exactly the same, or even worse situations than she and Angelina find themselves in.