As Ashleigh was still at university, the couple maintained their relationship long distance for three years, meeting during the three times a year Ashleigh could visit Cuba during university holidays, and Orisvel coming to the UIK on two occasions, under a visit visa. The second of these times, just before Ashleigh's graduation, the couple got married in Ashleigh's home town. UK visit visas, the second where they got married in Ashleigh’s home town.
They had planned on Orisvel going back to Cuba shortly to apply for a spouse visa before returning to England, where he had an unconditional job offer. However, unbeknownst to them, just two days after their marriage, the immigration rules changed which meant Ashleigh, being a young, recent graduate, could not meet the elusive £18,600 financial requirement.
Ashleigh postponed plans to complete her Master’s degree, and instead, took a job in a bar working over 60 hours a week in order to try and earn £18,600. Even worse for the couple, Orisvel was banned by Cuba’s communist government from working in Cuba because he had married a foreigner and left Cuba to go to the UK.
The couple believed given their situation, future earnings would surely be taken into account, yet were refused the spouse visa. On appeal, the couple evidenced their combined annual future earnings would be around £40,000, yet the appeal was refused. Orisvel applied for another visit visa – it was difficult for Ashleigh to take off as the burden for earning the required level of income was on her alone – yet what is turning out to be standard practice after a failed spouse visa or settlement application, Home Office refused the visit visa as well.
After yet another two years apart, Ashleigh was finally able to evidence earnings in excess £18,600. This time the couple paid for an immigration lawyer to check their paperwork, and then re-applied. However, like thousands of others, their application was put on hold, with the Home Office somewhat bemusingly citing they did not meet the income threshold.
Several months of emails and phone calls to the embassy in Havana later, the application was refused – not because the financial requirement was not met, but because Ashleigh had not submitted a letter from her employer saying she worked there, even though the paperwork submitted included 12 months payslips, a p60, employment contract and even a letter from an accountant confirming that Ashleigh had earned £19,776.
Questions arise over why could the Home Office not just ask for this one missing document rather than refuse; why put the application on hold citing not meeting the income requirement only to refuse on different grounds months later; why did the immigration lawyer not pick up on the missing document (could the rules in fact be incredibly confusing and contradictory to the point of defying common sense?!).
Yet another couple trapped in Home Office bureaucracy despite having gone to so much effort to do everything right.