Posted on November 06th 2012
Guest Post. Yana is suffering from the family immigration rule changes introduced in July this year. We asked her for her story...
We have a wide and varied circle of international friends here in Edinburgh. There is Patrick from Ireland married to Jing from China, Andy a Scot married to Katarina from Poland, Jose from Spain married to Lisa from Argentina and Mike from Netherlands married to Olga from Russia. Then there is me and John, both British citizens.
We are all different shapes and sizes: Jose prefers coffee to tea and Jing goes for rice over potatoes. But when we all meet up we have good times together comparing stories about our families around the world and I am reminded how the small the world has become and how we all share the same common wishes and experiences: the desire to give our children the best possible start in life, the longing to be together as a family and the heart ache of being apart. We share all these in common and there is not much to tell us apart - except that is until it comes to UK immigration rules. That is when we found out that John and I are the odd ones out… Here is our story.
My Mum is a Russian citizen and lives in Russia on her own: I am her only child and she was widowed two and half years ago when my dad was killed in a car crash.
After many years of waiting, this summer we were fortunate to be blessed with twin girls. My mother retired from her job to come to the UK for half a year on a visitor visa to help us with our children. Following the difficult years after my dad’s tragic death we were looking forward to bringing my mum to live with us and begin to enjoy a happy family life all together. Under the previous immigration rules this would have been possible and we were planning to apply for a settlement visa for my Mum, however, following the introduction of the new immigration rules in July this year, we are in total despair as the route has effectively been closed off. The situation is causing severe distress to all of us; instead of enjoying motherhood I spend most of my days desperately trying to find a solution to this cruel situation, and I know that there are many, many other British people in the same position…
The new rules have set the proof of dependency so high that it is difficult to imagine any circumstances where a visa would be granted. As a consequence of the new requirements, should the sponsor earn a reasonable salary, it is deemed that they can afford to pay for care in their parent’s home country. If the sponsor does not earn a reasonable salary, they will not be able to prove that they can support their elderly parent without recourse to public funds. So, regardless of your personal financial circumstances, it is unlikely that the elderly parents will ever be allowed to come and live in the UK with their children, they just have to wait for parents to become incapacitated and be solely dependent on the sponsor in the UK, with no other close relatives who might be able to offer support to them in the country of origin. Also, and, rather, appallingly, such important things as the value of family and emotional support for those elderly parents who feel isolated and lonely, especially if they live on their own, have been completely ignored by these new rules.
All political parties claim that families form the ‘bedrock’ of a strong and stable society, but the recent changes threaten to tear thousands of families apart. These rules, apart from being totally impracticable, fail to recognise the very basic right of families to live together under the same roof. This right should never be violated, at least not in the country that calls itself a developed democracy. Yet this is exactly what the Government’s policies are doing to people all over the country. It seems particularly ironic that it is British citizens that are being most severely affected by these new rules.
In the 1930s my great grandfather’s family were forced off their land, had their property and belongings confiscated by the Bolsheviks and were exiled to the north of Russia because they were a little bit richer than everybody else in their village. In the 21st century Britain I have been penalised for the fact that I have a mother who is not British and deprived of the right to live comfortably with my family in the country that I am a citizen of. Why? Since coming to this country I have studied, at my own expense, volunteered with several charities, worked hard and paid taxes; I have never claimed benefits. So, I ask what have I done to deserve this?
As parents we want to stay in our own country and raise our children as British citizens, but if we do this we are effectively being told by the current Government to abandon my mother left widowed and that she has to be vegetating before her settlement in the UK can be even considered. It is not fair that families are being forced to make such choices.
I find it appalling that so many British MPs of all parties have allowed Home Secretary Theresa May to implement these new regulations without any serious challenge.
The world has changed significantly in the last a few decades since we met amongst the excitement and optimism of perestroika. The iron curtain has come down and people are free to travel, settle and establish families in the countries far from their homelands. But the bonds of the family remain as strong as ever and families want to live together, caring for the ones they love.
The heartbreak, stress and devastation wreaked on people who just dared to love, be it their parent, spouse or child, will be so devastating, it is something that will leave lasting effects not only on our economy but the values we pass on to the next generation.
John & Yana's story was featured on The World Tonight on BBC Radio 4 (listen from 25.00).