"I have never welcomed the weakening of family ties by politics or pressure" - Nelson Mandela.
"He who travels for love finds a thousand miles no longer than one" - Japanese proverb.
"Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence." - Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
"When people's love is divided by law, it is the law that needs to change". -
David Cameron.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Labour Party outlines view on UK family migration rules

The following is an email sent to a BritCits member from the Labour Party frontbench email address. BritCits has subsequently liaised with Shadow Immigration Minister David Hanson's office, and has been informed that although sent from an official email address, the content of the email is not an official Labour Party statement.

David Hanson's office has, however, confirmed that Yvette Cooper’s statement (see below) is representative of Labour’s current view on immigration rules in the UK:

Good evening,

Thank you for your email regarding family visas. For help with specific cases, please get in touch with your local MP.

At a time when our national finances are hard-stretched, it is only fair that anyone wanting to bring someone new to this country should be able to prove that they can provide for themselves, and not be a burden on the state. But Labour is concerned that the Government’s policy, of requiring an income upwards of £18,600 before a spouse or dependent can move to Britain, will not achieve what it hopes. We are also worried that the Government have rejected other options that could provide better protection for the taxpayer, and be fairer too.

We are living in an increasingly globalised world, where more and more people are travelling abroad and developing relationships across borders. There is a danger that the Government’s policy could be unfair on people with modest incomes who genuinely fall in love overseas, perhaps with someone whose income does not meet the Government’s criteria. And in the current climate, even someone earning £40,000 today could find themselves out of work and earning nothing tomorrow, so simply relying on income as a guarantee may be a mistake that can still leave the taxpayer exposed.

That’s why there might be other ways of doing it, including greater flexibility giving the income of the person who is entering as well as the person who is here. Or it might be fairer and more effective to insist that anyone sponsoring a partner to come to this country should deposit a financial bond, to be used to meet any unforeseen costs, and which would be redeemable after a fixed period. Yet the Government didn't even consult on this option.

The system for legal migration needs to be much more effective. For example, huge delays for visitor visas mean that British families’ overseas relatives end up missing weddings and funerals. And we know the quality of decision making on family visitor visas is simply not good enough, as almost half of the decisions are overturned on appeal. That is why Labour opposes the Government’s plans to abolish the appeals process for family visitor visas.

The Government’s net migration target isn’t targeting the right things, and illegal immigration is getting worse as a result, with fewer people stopped, more absconding, fewer deported and backlogs of cases not pursued. There needs to be a mature recognition that there are different kinds of immigration – immigration that works and immigration that doesn’t, both for immigrants and for the country. We won't engage in an arms race on immigration rhetoric, we want a sensible debate on policies to make sure immigration works for all.

You can play a part in shaping our policy programme through Your Britain, Labour’s online home of ideas and policy development. If you have views on this issue you would like to share, please submit them to our Stronger, Safer Communities Policy Commission.
To see what else we’re talking about, follow Your Britain on Twitter.

With kind regards,

On behalf of the Labour Party

David Hanson's office has confirmed that the following is representative of Labour’s current view on immigration rules in the UK:

The shadow home secretary, Yvette Cooper, called for a swift review of the policy. “When people bring family back to this country they do need to make sure they can support each other,” she said.

“But the government were warned that the inflexibility of their system would lead to unfairness and injustice. For example if a British citizen is working part-time or at home looking after children they can be unable to bring a spouse back to Britain even if they are earning far more than the threshold and could easily support the entire family. The real problem is that Theresa May's net migration target treats all migration the same and doesn't distinguish between different types of immigration or look at the impact.”


Monday, 27 January 2014

Happy belated Robert Burns Day.

'As political rhetoric against migrants reaches a new height, it's Robert Burns' birthday. We're re-publishing a letter he wrote in 1786 to the representative of Scottish Highland landlords, as if from Beelzebub. He is defending the right of Highlanders to migrate to Canada and seek a better life, but it is as relevant to the rights and plights of migrants today.'

http://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/robert-burns/address-of-beelzebub-robert-burns-in-defence-of-migrants

'The tone of this poem is clear. Beelzebub writes to congratulate the lords responsible for their actions against the audacity of the 'rebel generation'. What right have they 'To meat, or sleep, or light o'day/ far less to riches, pow'r, or freedom/ But what your lordships PLEASE TO GIE THEM?''

http://www.bbc.co.uk/arts/robertburns/works/address_of_beelzebub/
Migrant's Rights Network and On Road Media host divided families event, this Valentine's Day

Have you signed up for our St Valentine’s family migration campaign meeting yet?

On Friday 14 February, St Valentine’s Day, we’re holding a campaign meeting on the £18,600 income requirement. This will be a vital opportunity for families affected by the new rules to meet each other, talk to journalists, and take the campaign to the next stages. Don’t miss it!

When: Friday 14 February 2014, 1pm - 5.30pm (short demo from 11.30am)

Where: St Bride Foundation, 14 Bride Lane, London EC4Y 8EQ (map)

Speakers include:
  • Baroness Sally Hamwee (Lib Dem spokesperson on Home Affairs)
  • Simon Israel (Channel 4 Home Affairs Correspondent)
  • Tim Barnden (Wesley Gryk solicitors LLP)

How to register:
If you wish to join us on the 14th February you need to fill out our short online event registration form.

P.S. We’d love to welcome families from across the UK at the meeting. A limited number of travel bursaries are available for those coming further afield so please send an email to j.brulc@migrantsrights.org.uk to apply for one.

Also -
Dress up in wedding dresses as a group :
http://www.meetup.com/BritCits/events/144752702/

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Paul & Connie

“No one should be punished for something as harmless as loving someone from outside their borders.”

Paul is a British citizen living in Nottingham. He met his wife, Connie from California, USA when he was pursuing postgraduate studies in response to the economic crash when jobs were scarce. She was also here to build her own skills set in the UK education system.

Now this couple is 6000 miles apart only because of UK’s immigration rules. With the monetary bar raised with the Coalition’s immigration reform, their separation feels much stronger.

Paul is still in education – and neither he nor Connie come from rich families. They feel the £18,600 is an arbitrary barrier serving to punish the poor. Paul is firm in his belief that this threshold has been erected under false pretences; the notion that immigration is somehow responsible for the myriad economic and social woes besetting the people of the UK is actually a xenophobic smokescreen to confuse the public.

The couple has strived and struggled for the last three years, stuck apart, only seeing each other for a scant few weeks but they know their story is far from the worst. Families have been thrown asunder, punished for loving each other across petty political borders we uphold.

Paul and his wife have both suffered from depression, each of them undergoing therapy, just trying to survive apart without any certainty of when they will be able to be together.

Recently though they received some good news. Connie has been successful in obtaining a well-paid job despite the current economic conditions. So Paul is considering relocating to USA, although this means being away from his family and friends.

No one should be punished for something as harmless as loving someone from outside their borders.






More stories like this :
http://britcits.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/stories

Friday, 24 January 2014

We are family event - 14th February - with Migrants' Rights Network and On Road Media

JOIN US FOR ST. VALENTINE'S DAY TO TALK ABOUT THE RIGHT TO FAMILY LIFE.

On Friday 14 February, St Valentine’s Day, Migrants Rights Network and On Road Media are organising a half-day event to talk about the right to family life of those who have been separated from their loved ones by the family migration rules introduced in 2012. 
When: Friday 14 February 2014, 1pm - 5.30pm
Where: St Bride Foundation, 14 Bride Lane, London EC4Y 8EQ (map)
The event on the 14th Feb at the iconic St Bride Foundation will be an opportunity for families to speak with journalists, campaigners and others who are sympathetic on this issue. We will also organise a number of workshops on topics like campaigning, speaking to media and video blogging.
We are Family” is a new initiative to highlight the plight of these families. It is part of the wider Divided Families campaign against the new tough rules on family migration, which brings together affected families, charities, MPs and other supporters.
If you wish to join us on the 14th February please fill out our online event registration form.

We will get in touch to confirm your place and to provide you with further details for the day. We also have a number of small bursaries to help with travel costs for those families living outside of London. Do get in touch with our team on info@migrantsrights.org.uk


Meetup event - dress up in wedding dresses in St. Paul's Churchyard : http://www.meetup.com/BritCits/events/144752702/






St. Bride's 'wedding cake' spire:

More 'centre of life' and Surinder Singh FOI

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/foi_request_for_definition_of_ce

'Dear Home Office,

'I am making a Freedom Of Information request to ascertain how the Home Office defines 'centre of life' as pertaining to immigration, and written copies of all policy documents covering this. I am also requesting copies of any guidance issued to any officials and officers regarding decision-making regarding this.

'I have been unable to find this information, and am looking forward to hearing from you on this matter.

HO Response :
'Regulation 9(2)(c) imposes a duty on the British citizen to prove that they
had transferred the centre of their life to another EEA member state.

'Regulation 9(3) provides a list of factors that must be taken into account
when considering whether the British citizen had transferred the centre
of their life. This list includes:
•  the period of residence in the EEA state as a worker or self-
employed person
•  the location of the British citizen’s principal residence
•  the degree of integration of the British citizen in the EEA state  ...


Thursday, 23 January 2014

'Centre of life' for Surinder Singhers

Freedom of Information Request Home Office reply (part c) regarding new "Centre of Life Rules". Essential reading for Surinder Singhers.
http://www.scribd.com/doc/201814738/Ss-Centre-of-Life-Rules

Via EEA visa... EU free movement on Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/groups/650212281695959/ .

Huge thanks to Angie for sharing.

 UK tightens Surinder Singh route : http://britcits.blogspot.co.uk/2013/12/uk-tightens-surinder-singh-route.html
Links on changes to the Singh route : http://britcits.blogspot.co.uk/2013/12/new-surinder-singh-rules-some-links.html
More posts on Surinder Singh : http://britcits.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/surinder%20singh
Happy Valentine's Day...


Thanks to David.

Sunday, 19 January 2014

UK Immigration Forum

https://www.facebook.com/groups/200512816798635/

Discussion and campaigning on UK immigration matters. Group created by Harley Miller (previously : http://britcits.blogspot.co.uk/2014/01/harley-miller-in-uk.html ).

More Facebook campaigns : http://britcits.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/facebook
No visa in the EU but still want to travel?

http://www.scribd.com/doc/200746933/No-Visa-but-Still-Want-to-Travel-Freedom-of-Movement-in-the-EU

Are you a direct family member of an EU citizen and you need to travel within Europe with your EU family member, but do not have a required visa?

If you have a “Residence Card” for a family member of an EU/EEA citizen, then you in most cases do not need a visa.  If you do not have this Residence Card, you may need a visa (depending on which passport you hold).


Mirrored from Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/groups/477537505627291/642154262498947/

and :
http://eumovement.wordpress.com/2010/08/04/no-visa-but-still-want-to-travel/

... and shared here for general education.

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Muhammad

“My health or my wife?”

Muhammad is British citizen whose wife is from Morocco. He is also a lifelong patient of severe atopic eczema which has made life difficult in many areas, including finding suitable employment due to the complexities of this condition. However, he does have a job, albeit one which does not pay over £18,600.

Muhammad met his wife in Morocco in early 2012. She is a decent caring woman who understands his illness. Their friendship blossomed and soon after they decided to marry.

Unfortunately just two weeks after the marriage, Muhammad discovered UK’s immigration rules had changed and now required an income of over £18,600 or a huge amount of savings in cash.

Due to the nature of his illness, Muhammad cannot work in dusty or highly stressful environments as they exacerbate the condition which has severely limited his earning capacity. It is very unlikely Muhammad will ever work in a job paying over £18,600.

Muhammad’s skin condition requires medication every three hours which can cause problems during working and finding an employer who is understanding enough to allow Muhammad the required breaks.

So he has been living in severe depression for about a year now, separated from his wife. Although Muhammad does visit his wife often – culturally she would be ostracised if her husband stayed away from her for too long.

Muhammad has tried to move to Morocco to live with his wife but unfortunately the Moroccan climate isn’t friendly to his severe skin condition and he has experienced severe flare ups on visits there.

Given Muhammad speaks neither Arabic or French, and he has a health condition, he is also unlikely to find a job there, which means he can’t stay there for longer than three months at a time. Overstaying his visa is not even a consideration with penalties including a jail sentence and monetary fines.

Muhammad does currently have a job for which he is very grateful for as it allows him to work in an environment which is suitable to his condition and allows him to earn an amount that would not require him to claim benefits. He also has third party support from his parents, but the rules do not allow for that either.

So Muhammad lives in limbo, seeing his wife when he can.

Friday, 17 January 2014

Fleet Street meet, 14th Feb. (Dress up in wedding dresses as a group - men too).

http://www.meetup.com/BritCits/events/144752702/

We Are Family Camp - 'join us on St. Valentine's Day to speak about the right to family life' :
http://family.migrantsrights.org.uk/we-are-family-camp

Check the new location - St. Bride's Church, Fleet Street, London.

St. Bride's Church is a fantastic venue and an inspired choice by Migrants' Rights Network. The current church was built after the Great Fire of London, along with most of the 50 or so churches in the Square Mile. Each of these so-called Wren churches share certain characteristics, whilst having their own individuality.

One of St. Bride's claims to fame - and the first reason why it's appropriate to this event - is that it is the 'wedding cake' church - the shape of the spire is said to have inspired the traditional wedding cake. From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St_Bride%27s_Church :
 
'The wedding cake is said to date back to 1703 when Thomas Rich, a baker’s apprentice from Ludgate Hill, fell in love with the daughter of his employer and asked her to marry him. He wanted to make an extravagant cake, and drew on the design of St Bride's Church for inspiration.'



Wedding cake.
 
Another connection is that it is right in the heart of the traditional journalistic district of London. The old Reuters building at 85 Fleet Street is right next door to it. (There is a personal connection here - this is the building where I started work in London, back towards the end of the last millennium).

Dotted around the church are plaques and memorials to journalists who lost their lives or their freedom in the service of their profession. There is a large plaque bearing the names of Associated Newspapers staff who died during the world wars. There is also the Journalists' Altar, which bears the names of journalists killed during this century; formerly it was known as the Hostage Altar when the UPI journalist John McCarthy was held in Beirut.

You can read a bit about this aspect of the church here : http://www.stbrides.com/visit/what-to-see.php
In a sense it's a temple to freedom of expression, and this creates another link to the cause of human rights, which the campaign to unite divided families is an expression of.



A hard calling - commemorating the lives of journalists : http://www.stbrides.com/news/2012/10/a-hard-calling---reporting-from-the-frontline.html#more

The final connection dates back to the 1580s; a couple called Ananias and Eleanor Dare were married there. The couple emigrated across the Atlantic; their child, Virginia Dare, was the first English child born in North America.

The family were among the founders of the Roanoke Colony, which disappeared mysteriously within a few years (it's also known as the 'Lost Colony') - although some think that the colonists actually integrated with local tribes and therefore their descendants would now be living in America.

The theme of exile connects the church with those who are seeking to be with their loved ones in exile - including those now in Ireland or continental Europe exercising free movement rights, or those with their partners wherever they are in the world.



Immigrant stories: The psychotherapist and the letter of proof.

http://www.politics.co.uk/comment-analysis/2014/01/17/immigrant-stories-the-nhs-nurse-and-the-letter-of-proof

' The first in an occasional series of Immigrant Stories, shining a light on the people trapped in Britain's immigration system.

'She had the letter to prove it.

'When the Home Office told Mariam Harley Miller, a London psychotherapist, that she had just 28 days to leave the country it felt like a bad dream. But it wasn't. The clock was ticking on the Australian citizen and it would not stop, no matter how strenuously she pointed out they had made a mistake.

'She had in her possession a letter, sent by the Home Office, in which they assured her that her visa status was valid. It didn't matter. They wouldn't listen. She was trapped in a system which made no sense, with a timer ticking down to her departure date....'

More on the ongoing story of Harley Miller :
http://britcits.blogspot.co.uk/2014/01/harley-miller-in-uk.html
----

'... the world expects us to stand up for the principle that every person has the right to think and write and form relationships freely – because individual freedom is the wellspring of human progress.'
- Barack Obama, today, speaking on the NSA surveillance scandal (source: http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/barack-obamas-speech-nsa-surveillance-full-text-1432773 )

Some people who need standing up for :
http://britcits.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/stories

Judges told how to interpret immigration rules

In July 2012, the government made an extraordinary move in telling judges how to interpret new immigration rules when challenged in court.

This curbing of judicial powers has more recently been seen in proposals for a new immigration bill which include a directive to the judiciary to give “little weight” to Article 8 claims based on private of family life in immigration cases.

The provision didn't sit well with the Joint Committee on Human Rights, whose December 2013 report scrutinising the reforms contained within the bill expressed the Committee’s uneasiness over such guidance.  

This remarkable new approach of ensuring judicial deference, pioneered by Theresa May, redefines the concept of the rule of law by restricting the right of judges to balance individuals’ Article 8 claims against the state interests outlined in the second part of the article.

Not to mention it conveniently helps the home secretary to deport undesirables without consideration for their private or family life.

The immigration rules introduced in July 2012 dictate how the balance should be struck between individual rights and the public interest in a shift intended to fill a “public policy vacuum”, according to the Statement of Intent.

Indeed, the statement suggests judges have been craving such guidance on parliament’s view, presumably unable to use their own discretion in determining immigration claims based on private or family life.

Now they need simply defer to the government interpretation of proportionality for guidance rather than formulate an independent decision based on the balancing of individual and state rights. Proportionality has apparently already been demonstrated at a general level.

Furthermore, this so-called public policy vacuum is astonishingly referred to as a “democratic deficit”. Yet what this move to curb judges’ powers ensures is that the judiciary follows government policy in making immigration decisions rather than engaging in decision-making based on the principle of the rule of law.

If this doesn't sound more democratic than judges holding the government to account, that’s because it isn't. The state’s interests are already protected in the second part of Article 8, rendering this judicial deference unnecessary. 

With proportionality now based on deference to the Secretary of State’s view, Article 8 claims are no longer getting fair consideration since the rights of the individual are not properly weighed against those of the state.

While the rules may have been sanctioned by parliament, albeit in a most unusual way which did not see proper debate or sufficient scrutiny, this in itself does not make them lawful. Even with judges working within the government’s guidance on Article 8, the rules may be struck down by the courts.

The MM & Ors v Secretary of State for the Home Department case didn't go so far as to strike down the rules as unlawful. But Judge Justice Blake did determine the rules as unjustified and disproportionate, in a judgment that demonstrates even parliamentary guidance on how to interpret immigration rules is not enough to guarantee legal challenges to government immigration policies will not be made.   

Thursday, 16 January 2014

From the comments section

'My name is Trevandran Rungasamy, South African born, moved to the UK in 2003 to join the British army. I served from 2003 until 2012. Due to the cutbacks I was made redundant in 2012.

'During my just under 10 year service, I served on four operations laying down my life for Queen and Country because I believe in freedom and democracy and fighting for what's right, To uphold justice and pursue happiness.

'I got married to my high school sweetheart in 2008, to the lady of my dreams, and blessed with two amazing kids who are both British citizens ,we decided to go to SA for a well deserved holiday in 2012, and before you know it, it ended up to run a bit longer then planned with catching up with family,

'To cut the long story short I came back to to UK to get our lives back to where it was and the UK government  has closed its doors to my wife's spouse visa due to the new laws. They DECLINED her visa saying that I don't earn enough. I as a hard working British tax payer have not for a day claimed any sort of working benefit and don't need anything from handouts. I'm hard working, and since being back have got a job as a class 1 driver earning in excess of 20k, but because it's with an agency they declined her visa. This is a big moneymaking scheme for the thousands of people that are getting emotionally and mentally abused by the system. We pay their salaries, the taxpayers have the right to a family life. I will move Heaven and Earth to see my kids and beautiful wife but the system is making this unbearable

'My 4 year old daughter cries her eyes out for me and asks her mom - will she see her dad again,
 is he gone back to the desert?

'Only God knows the pain and suffering and tears from our babys and loved ones.'
Upcoming meetups on Adult Dependant Relatives

BritCits and JCWI are holding meetings around the country to discuss the adult dependant rules.

The aim is to share information and see how we can work together to amend what is seen as a ban masquerading as a rule, so that we can look after our family - parents, grandparents etc.

This is a JCWI led initiative and we are lucky they have been successful in obtaining funding for the undertaking of allowing this research.

Also discussed will be the Surinder Singh route - what it is and our experience of it.

Manchester, 23rd January : http://www.meetup.com/BritCits/events/155743262/

Harrow, 30th January : http://www.meetup.com/BritCits/events/155743442/

Birmingham, 6th February : http://www.meetup.com/BritCits/events/155743532/

Edinburgh, 20th February  : http://www.meetup.com/BritCits/events/155743672/

East London, 27th February : http://www.meetup.com/BritCits/events/155743812/


Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Harley Miller in the UK.

https://www.facebook.com/HarleytheImmigrantUK

'On 31st October my renewal application for residency in the UK was rejected after legally living here for 9 years. This page is about this experience.'






Fury at Border Agency over case of the Australian NHS therapist given just a few days to leave Britain :
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/fury-at-border-agency-over-case-of-the-australian-nhs-therapist-given-just-a-few-days-to-leave-britain-8935743.html

'Mariam “Harley” Miller, a 48-year-old specialised therapist who lives in south London, was given 28 days’ notice to leave the country by the UKBA after waiting years for a response to an application to stay.

'Despite the Home Office saying it wants to encourage highly skilled migrants in the UK, Ms Miller, who is a qualified systemic therapist with two masters degrees, has had her application to stay refused.

'A posting about her experience on Facebook over the weekend already has more than 1,700 likes and been shared around the world.

'She wrote: “I have been in this country for nine years. In the whole of that time I have worked for the NHS, in the child and adolescent mental health sector, helping young people of this country through sometimes quite severe mental health problems.”...'

More Facebook campaigns : http://britcits.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/facebook
------

Spousal Immigration: an ignored homewrecker.

http://commentual.wordpress.com/2014/01/05/spousal-immigration/


'A friend of mine is in love. I recently found out she’s engaged to the man she met years ago, and they are to hold their wedding this year. But here’s the twist: the man in her life wasn’t born in the UK, where my infatuated friend was born, and lives. This means that their love has had conditions placed upon it. Not by her, and not by him but by the UK Border Agency.'



Tuesday, 14 January 2014

English for a spouse/partner/fiancée visa: A1 or B1 level from 28 Oct 2013? Stop the confusion!

http://1st4immigration-visas.blogspot.co.uk/2013/09/english-for-spousepartnerfiancee-visa.html

A good blog post. This is a confusing subject because the term 'settlement' can have two different meanings in an  immigration context: it can mean 'settlement' in the sense of permanent residency (i.e. Indefinite Leave to Remain, or naturalisation), or it can mean a 'settlement visa' - a visa (e.g. a fiance or spouse visa) which leads up to permanent residency (but which is, itself, temporary).

A1 English is required for the latter (temporary settlement visa); the more demanding B1 level of English for the former (permanent status).

Quote : 'I had already written in this blog, back in December 2012, about 2 meanings of a term ‘Settlement’ when it comes to the UK visas, so this is what has created the current confusion. The Rules on English are changing indeed from 28 October 2013, however, the new Rules will apply to those applying for ‘Settlement and Citizenship’. The term ‘Settlement’ here represents ‘Permanent Residency’ in the UK, known as an Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR). So, those spouses and partners who are applying for Permanent Residency from 28 Oct 2013 will need to demonstrate English at a B1 level (not A1) as well as pass a Life in the UK Test. Until then, only a Life in the UK Test is sufficient, or just an ESOL with Citizenship course, which is taught at an A2 level of English (this is why we are so busy with SET(M) applications now!).
Will you be there... ?


Via I Love My Foreign Spouse : https://www.facebook.com/groups/139807999382936/694670087230055/
Withdrawn decisions survey

http://www.freemovement.org.uk/2014/01/14/withdrawn-decisions-survey/

This is a very short survey to gather information for a possible legal challenge to the Home Office practice of withdrawing decisions late in the day and perhaps to the tribunal procedure rules, which provide for automatic termination of the appeal. We are very grateful for your time. Any responses will zoom off through the Interwebs to James Packer of Duncan Lewis, who is collating information on this issue.

Hat tip :
https://twitter.com/SalCardiff

Monday, 13 January 2014

Lucinda & Karim

“We will move to another country in Europe, aiding the net migration target – it’s the only route to being a family.”

Lucinda is a British citizen with a 2:1 from Cambridge University. She is currently living with her mum in Leeds because she has been forced into single parenthood only because her husband, Karim, is from Albania and with whom she has a son, a British son. The couple have known each other since Lucinda was 21. She is now 30.

She doesn’t remember the first time they met, though is told that he was there. She remembers the second time though – they were sharing a house in Thessaloniki, Greece, as part of a big group who lived together there for a couple of years. Lucinda was studying Greek and Karim was working as a builder’s labourer.

Lucinda recalls how she used to complain about him to a mutual friend ‘I’m so sick of him’, ‘Why does he do this?;, ‘Why is he always looking at me?’. “Can’t you see he is crazy about you?” her friend would say. There were some nice times as well. Karim would meet Lucinda after work and they’d go for long walks along the harbour, drinking cans of Amstel. Fond memories from a more carefree time.

Eventually the entire group went their separate ways. Lucinda went to Cambridge to study Greek language and literature and Karim moved to Athens. They stayed in touch online and a couple of years later, on her year abroad in Athens, the couple met and this time, sparks flew. Karim came to take Lucinda for coffee on a huge motorbike. He’d grown a beard, filled out a bit and looked very handsome. Now it was Lucinda’s turn to swoon!

They talked and laughed all afternoon - and spent every day together from then on. Karim financially supported Lucinda as the credit crunch was taking its toll and jobs were scarce. The couple talked about their future, planning on Lucinda finishing university and then applying for a visa for Karim to come to the UK. They wanted to be settled and have good jobs before getting married. Do things properly.

However, things didn’t go as planned when on 9th March 2012 Lucinda found out she was pregnant. She was thrilled and the couple brought forward their plans to marry. Lucinda left Athens to begin antenatal care at home and continue her studies. They spoke on Skype every day and she sent Karim regular pictures of the bump.

Throughout all this Lucinda was in the final year of her degree, working really hard, always focusing on the point in the future when this would pay off; where she’d be able to earn over £18,600 and also provide for her son. Karim was refused a visa to be there for their son’s birth, with Home Office declaring that he would likely overstay and become a burden on the taxpayer, an illegal immigrant. Of course he’d leave! The couple knew the repercussions for being in breach of visa regulations, why risk it? Lucinda was adamant that the government was blurring the lines so entirely that now even someone wishing to be with his wife for the birth of their son was being mistreated for trying to follow the rules.

Lucinda has postponed indefinitely her desire to obtain postgraduate qualifications as she can’t commit to anything until her family is together. She doesn’t know how to function without her son’s father. If Karim was here, Lucinda would have been able to study, or work full time. Instead she is stuck on benefits despite having graduated from Cambridge University.

She is on the homeless register and moved house four times between June and October 2013. She has used up her savings to travel to Greece, Italy and Albania this year alone, and is planning another journey– but these are not holidays. They’re to ensure that her son and husband have a fighting chance to get to know one another, to build a relationship, to spend time together. These early moments in a child’s life do not come around again and they are little for such a short time after all.

Her son has travelled at the age of 4, 8 and now again at 10 months– and there is no end in sight. He has never had a room of his own, never had his pictures on the wall or books on a shelf, everything has been in and out of suitcases.

The couple is now considering moving to a country where they can be together. Greece? Germany? Spain? Ireland? Malta? All have been discussed, all are possibilities.

But it won’t be easy. All of the baby’s stuff will have to be left behind – the cot that’s never been unpacked, the highchair that she really needs but will have to buy from wherever in the world they end up in. Her books and kitchen stuff she collected in dreams of creating a home with her husband and child. She doesn’t know what she will do about her son’s next set of immunisations.

Lucinda believes the government should make a public health announcement as a matter of urgency stating:

WARNING:
BRITISH CITIZENS PLANNING TO MEET, BEFRIEND OR HAVE A ROMANTIC
RELATIONSHIP WITH NON-EU CITIZENS ARE EXPOSING THEMSELVES AND ANY
CHILDREN TO SIGNIFICANT LONG-TERM DAMAGE WHICH CAN BE IN SOME
CASES, IRREVERSIBLE.
MARRIAGES TO NON-EU CITIZENS CAN RESULT IN SEVERE EMOTIONAL AND
PHYSICAL DISTRESS FOR ALL INVOLVED.
ANYONE KNOWINGLY TAKING PART IN A RELATIONSHIP WITH A NON-EU
CITIZEN DOES SO AT THEIR OWN RISK.

Friday, 10 January 2014

Zara's story :
'... there are no jobs where I live that pay £18,600 a year, unless I work every hour God sends, and I refuse to leave my child not seeing his mother when he already has been seperated from his father, and I also refuse to kill myself, for a selfish government.'

http://familyimmigrationalliance.wordpress.com/2014/01/10/zaras-story/

Martyn's story :
'I am devastated of the outcome. How do I take a breastfed son who is British without his mother? Six months in the UK he will be settled but it is impossible to travel 20 hours on a plane without his mother although I will try. I don't know what to do now. '

http://familyimmigrationalliance.wordpress.com/2014/01/10/351/


Via the Family Immigration Alliance :
http://familyimmigrationalliance.wordpress.com/

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Immigration rules passed without due regard for human rights

Consultation on the human rights impact of the July 2012 changes to the family route were insufficient

“Consult widely with those affected” is just one of three steps ministers are required to take before making a legislative reform order.

Had this step been carried out with due regard in 2012 when new immigration rules governing family migration were introduced, the ongoing, unfair and unnecessary separation of family members as a direct result of the reforms would perhaps not be an issue.

Proposals to change the rules raised serious human rights concerns. Yet, remarkably, the Joint Committee on Human Rights―the most obvious of the Select Committees of the House for the rules to be referred to for scrutiny―was not consulted.

Despite several MPs, including Dr Hywel Francis, Jeremy Corbyn and Yvette Cooper, voicing their concerns, and the potential human rights impact of the reforms having not been given sufficient consideration during the proposal stage, the controversial changes were implemented in July 2012. 

Vincent Nichols says the rules are "anti-family" 
The rules, which include a financial requirement for British sponsors of non-EEA partners and any dependent children, stipulate the sponsor must have a minimum income of GBP 18,600. 

According to Oxford University’s Migration Observatory, up to 47 per cent of UK nationals would fail to meet this income threshold.

It is difficult to see how the potential impact of the rulesincluding the separation of British citizens from their non-EEA family memberswas not seen as sufficiently serious as to warrant the high degree of regard that scrutiny by the Committee would have provided.

There is perhaps no greater indication than this lack of referral to the Committee that the effects which would result from the rules, and their extent and magnitude, were not given fair consideration.

The feeling of being victimised by one’s own government is a bitter pill to swallow, said Vincent Nichols, the archbishop of Westminster, when speaking out against the rules last month.

But knowing the government didn't pay due regard to the human rights impact of such rules before sanctioning them is enough to make one choke.


Monday, 6 January 2014

Jas

“He is the man I am going to marry and it’s the government keeping us apart.”

Jas is a British citizen, born and raised in the UK. She is currently in the second year of her pharmacy degree.

She first visited India at the agre of three, and then every two years since, getting to know her heritage and family in India. It is here she found the love of her life. Though they spent time together as kids, she only really remembers him from when she was 9 and he, 13. A gorgeous boy who told her he liked her very much.

Jas was too young to understand what this all meant, but a few years later, she did. Leaving India then meant leaving him, and all she could do was cry.

As a teenager, when they met again, at first it was awkward but the chemistry that had been there from the start, the attraction and the sense of comfort they got from each other, didn't take long to return.

This is when Jas started to fall in love and the pair vowed to not grow apart because of the distance. They stayed in touch over the phone and email, speaking for hours.

When her boyfriend got into a motorcycle accident, Jas realised how hard a long distance relationship was when you couldn’t be there for each other to share the good and bad times. So she let herself drift away from him. However, love knows no boundaries, and now at the age of 19 Jas can’t deny her feelings.

She is determined that this is the man she will marry. However she wants to first finish her degree in order to further her career, and also maximise her chances of earning £18,600 so she can sponsor him.

If she is not allowed to be here in the UK, Jas will emigrate. However, UK then loses out on the positive impact she could make here. As more and more like Jas decide to leave our shores, it will be to the detriment of our nation.


Saturday, 4 January 2014

Surinder Singh for newbies - 2014 

Previously : http://britcits.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/surinder-singh-for-newbies-httpwww.html

The new, revised edition of 'Surinder Singh for newbies' is online, with clarifications and additions to the previous version. As always, thanks to David B. ( LinkedIn : http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=114262550 ) for producing this incalculably valuable guide.

Surinder Singh for newbies : http://www.scribd.com/doc/231192464/Surinder-Singh-for-Newbies - by David B.



In epub format :
http://www.scribd.com/doc/195904323/Surinder-Singh-for-Newbies-2014-Ireland-David-B

It's important to highlight that this is a guide, not a manual, as things change all the time and the nature of these things means that the sphere of knowledge is always growing.

This route is not easy - and preparation is key. But the rewards are great.

EEA visa - EU free movement - A great Facebook support group for people going through the route :
https://www.facebook.com/groups/650212281695959/

A video on one family's experience of the route :
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r1-v0cV2Y8E

Surinder Singh stories (lots of links to various people's personal experiences at the bottom of the post) :
http://britcits.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/another-experience-of-surinder-singh.html

More on Surinder Singh :
http://britcits.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/surinder%20singh

Good luck.


https://twitter.com/archiebland :
I can't think of a nastier innovation than the new rule stating that you have to earn at least £18,600 to sponsor your spouse for a Visa: it will split up thousands of families, and distributes rights according to income. They got it right on gay marriage, and about time.

Source : http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/what-did-the-government-get-right-in-2013-and-what-did-it-get-wrong-9018247.html

Friday, 3 January 2014

How the government wants you to see family migrants

Official discourse on family migration sees certain words crop up time again. This use of language plays a significant role in justifying the family reunification rules and shaping public opinion, and consequently, in framing the wider immigration debate.

Conservative policy maintains the party is, “… restoring order to our immigration system,” and in doing so, they have implemented a number of reforms to the family route.

Those familiar with the amended rules will have heard the mantra frequently:

“We welcome those who wish to make a life in the UK with their family, work hard and make a contribution but a family life must not be established here at the taxpayer's expense. To play a full part in British life, family migrants must be able to integrate – that means they must speak our language and pay their way. This is fair to applicants, but also fair to the public.”

Yet the July 2012 introduction of an earning threshold of £18,600 for anyone wanting to bring a non-EEA spouse to settle in the UK has been anything but fair, to both ‘sponsors’ and ‘taxpayers’ – often one and the same.

Many contributors earn below the threshold and are therefore excluded and unable to enjoy family life in the UK.   

Government discourse assesses migrants seeking to settle in the UK with their British family in terms of whether they are hard-working, can make a contribution, will become a burden or are able to integrate. Protecting the ‘taxpayer’ is paramount.

Family migrants have no access to social benefits during the compulsory five-year probationary period towards settlement and plans are already in place to charge them for use of health services.

Low earners are not necessarily lazy; indeed many are parents with childcare commitments, and as for marriage to a Brit, it is arguably one of the most effective means of integrating into British society besides learning English.

This is not to say family-class immigrants should be allowed to come here at the expense of those already settled in the UK. Even the old rules effectively protected against this.

The repetitive use of ‘our’, such as ‘our immigration system’, ‘our values’, ‘our communities’ and ‘our language’, reveals an intentional distinction between citizen and migrant. There is no emphasis on tolerance or respect for different cultures as a means towards social cohesion and harmony. 

Then there are the distinctions between the ‘high value’ and ‘low-skilled’ migrant, and the ‘hard-working’ and ‘without means’ migrant. But these terms are misleading, not least because all can apply to both citizen and migrant.

The government fixation with protecting the taxpayer through limiting migrants’ access to benefits ignores the fact there is no evidence to suggest family-class migrants come to the UK with the primary purpose of abusing the welfare system. They are here to establish family life with a British partner.

Furthermore, there is no real risk of a ‘flood’ of family migrants since the number of Brits marrying non-EEA partners is unlikely to change significantly within a short space of time, so this category of immigration presents little in the way of a threat of unmanageable burden on public services.

Family migrants who are unable to meet the spouse visa criteria are deemed undesirable regardless of their family ties in the UK, their knowledge of British life or their ability to pay their own way or rely on third-party support.

The unqualified sponsor, on the other hand, quickly goes from taxpayer to burden, contributor to abuser, citizen to exile. In many cases, British children are driven out of the UK as a result of one parent not qualifying.

Is this what ‘restoring order’ looks like? Dividing families, forcing Brits to become single parents and making British children grow up minus one parent simply because that parent is not British? These policies are not fair to applicants or the public, as the Conservatives claim.

Recent studies reveal family migrants make a positive fiscal contribution on public finances. Yet their value goes beyond the economic price tag the government has awarded them. They are part of the very building blocks of a stable society and community, as Vincent Nichols, the archbishop of Westminster, pointed out in December 2013. 

The sooner the public stops seeing family immigrants in the government’s terms, the sooner we can put an end to these shameful, un-British policies which are causing devastation to genuine families.




Thursday, 2 January 2014

Cambridge University librarian battles Home Office to allow his Chinese wife to stay in Britain

http://www.independent.co.uk/student/news/cambridge-university-librarian-battles-home-office-to-allow-his-chinese-wife-to-stay-in-britain-9034887.html

David and Bang in the Independent - a follow up from yesterday's story!




'A Cambridge University librarian has launched a campaign to prove his marriage to a Chinese woman is genuine after the Home Office labelled it a sham.

'David Rushmer, 48, a senior library assistant, has accused the Home Office of treating him and his wife Wang Xiang “like political pawns just to keep immigration numbers down”.

'“Everybody’s stunned,” he said. “Before I was married I knew nothing about immigration rules. Unfortunately you realise you have to become a bit of an expert if you want to navigate all the traps that are there.”'

Elsewhere -

Heartbreak for Cambridge University man battling to bring wife back from China after marriage branded 'sham' by Home Office :
http://britcits.blogspot.co.uk/2014/01/heartbreak-for-cambridge-university-man.html

David and Bang's story :
http://britcits.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/david-bang-we-are-aware-many.html

Bang's interview (must read) :
http://britcits.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/account-of-interview-in-british-embassy.html

Support their petition :
https://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/uk-border-agency-overturn-my-wife-s-spouse-visa-refusal-and-allow-her-to-return-to-the-uk
-----

In unrelated news...

Spotted on Twitter -
https://twitter.com/NicholasPegg : Bulgarian scrounger, same-sex couple, French immigrant, Peruvian benefit tourist. Has Royal Mail gone mad? pic.twitter.com/BJtp38rADj





Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Heartbreak for Cambridge University man battling to bring wife back from China after marriage branded 'sham' by Home Office

http://www.cambridge-news.co.uk/Cambridge/Heartbreak-for-Cambridge-University-man-battling-to-bring-wife-back-from-China-after-marriage-branded-sham-by-Home-Office-20140101060030.htm


David and Bang in the local press.

'A man from Cambridge faces a heartbreaking battle to bring his wife back to the UK after their marriage was branded a “sham” and she was forced to remain in China.

'David Rushmer, a senior library assistant at Cambridge University, met his wife Wang Xiang on a poetry website last year.

'The Chinese national first came to the UK on a dependant visa with her ex-husband, who had thrown her out of the house following disputes after just six months.

'She had applied for a ‘Leave to Remain’ visa, with solicitors telling her the process would take two to three months. In the 15 months it actually took to process, she had met David in June last year.

'By November 2012, they had moved in together and David said their lives were “transformed”.

'However, on April 9, the couple were dealt with the “life-destroying” news that her application had been refused. When they found out, David proposed and they married two months later in China.

'David said: “It’s devastating. We are newlyweds and we are being treated like criminals.

'“That is the bottom line. They are suggesting my wife has attached herself to me with the sole intention to gain a UK visa.

'“On December 13 we had been married for six months and I have not seen my wife physically since the beginning of July.”

David and Bang's story :
http://britcits.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/david-bang-we-are-aware-many.html

Bang's interview (must read) :
http://britcits.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/account-of-interview-in-british-embassy.html

Support their petition :
https://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/uk-border-agency-overturn-my-wife-s-spouse-visa-refusal-and-allow-her-to-return-to-the-uk