Gavin and I have been married for almost a decade. We married in the Church of England what seems like eons ago, but five weeks later, my UK visa expired and I had to return to America. We knew that there was no way for me to renew my visitor’s visa so we made the decision for my husband to explore the U.S. immigration route once I was back on home soil. Eleven months of our first year of marriage was spent an ocean apart. It was an experience neither one of us was willing to repeat. We have been best friends and soul mates since the first time we heard each other’s voices; being apart for that long was horrible.
In the end, we overcame the distance and my husband finally arrived in the United States, spousal visa in hand. We planned to go back to England someday, making a fifty-fifty deal: some time in my country and some time in his. I would do a post grad in the UK, let our son spend some time getting to know his British family, and we’d enjoy being an international couple.
We never dreamed that my husband would be exiled from his own country.
In early summer of 2012 I began to research ways for us to return to England. I learned that the rules were going to change in a few weeks, but I didn’t give it much thought. I had no idea the changes would make the rules so drastically different. I had no idea that we would fall short of the new income requirement by less than a thousand pounds. I had no idea we would have to have such an excessive amount of savings to make up the shortfall.
Not only were we shocked, but I was appalled. As an American, I had always looked at Britain as a more progressive country than my own. That was my naivety, I suppose. My romanticism. I no longer feel that way. I am appalled that my husband is exiled simply because he married a non-EU citizen and does not meet an arbitrary income requirement. I am appalled because, under these rules, I am a non-person – my income, my education, our assets, and the fact that we’ve already cleared one country’s hurdles, never needing public assistance, counts for nothing.
If we knew then what we know now, I am not sure we would have made that same decision nearly nine years ago.
My heart breaks for our son’s grandmother. She wants so much to be a part of his life, but the Home Office says that her own British son doesn’t make enough money to have this amazing family in their country. My heart breaks for my husband who simply wants to spend time with his mum and to have his whole family together again.
My heart breaks.