UKBA – Doing their best to keep Simon OUT

UKBA

Yes, I think that the UK Border Agency is in kahootz with my Mum – One wants to keep us out of the UK, the other wants us to stay in Australia  (hi Mum!).  When we first hatched this plan to sell everything we own and take the kids on the Global Adventure of a lifetime, we expected that our first destination outside of Australia would be London. Why London you ask? One of the most expensive cities in the world?! Sure, it’s an unlikely destination for new digital nomads but hear me out. First, we’ve lived there before, so we have experience of relocating there. Second, it’s our favourite city in the world, and one that we want to share with our kids. And third, I am a school teacher, so I hoped to pick up some well paying supply work there, to fund our stay in such an expensive place.

But how does an Australian family of four come to expect that relocating to the UK is even possible, let alone easy? Simple. The kids and I have British Citizenship and Simon had “Indefinite Leave to Remain” stamped in his passport last time we lived there. We were not planning on living in the UK for the rest of our lives, just a short stint, (maybe a school year) before heading off to continue the adventure.

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After a bit of digging around on the UKBA website (code for HOURS of unraveling mysteries) I read that to have his “Indefinite Leave to Remain” stamp moved to his new passport Simon just had to prove that he still had strong ties to the UK. Married to a UK citizen and two British kids… easy we thought. Ah Ha! Roadblock number one. Apparently a wife and children ARE NOT strong ties, hmmm who knew? It would appear that property, bank accounts, frequent visits etc are stronger ties.

Fair enough UKBA you’ve got us on that one. But were we discouraged? No way! We’ll just apply for a spouse entry visa. It’s what we did last time, a couple of forms, a couple of hundred pound, and butta bing, butta bang… Visa!  –    Wrong! More digging around on that bloody indecipherable website, revealed that the visa we’d acquired quite easily back in 1998 had radically changed. Now, to be approved for spouse entry into the UK, Simon has to prove that I (yes me the British Citizen) have been earning the equivalent of £18,000 pa (AUD $34,000)  for the 6 months leading up to our relocation, and that I had an offer of work in the UK for a position that would earn at least £18,000 pa. plus savings in the bank (untouched for 6 months). Hmmm… BIG roadblock! Back in my teaching days that might have been easy to prove. But I had been self employed, and not exactly writing payslips for myself, and not to mention, the business sold in October and I am unemployed now. Crap. There was another option however. The UKBA kindly suggested that if I could not prove my income, I need only provide evidence of savings in the bank over £62,000 (yes, that’s AUD $115,000) untouched for 6 months. Crap. Crap. Why did it have to me? Me who had been in and out of the classroom around having a family. Me who had given away a steady paycheck for a pretty pick cupcake shop. Me who had been relying on my fabulous husband’s earning capacity to take care of things all these years. Crap. Crap. Crap.

Discouraged yet?! Well I have to admit, maybe a little at that point. Not enough to panic and call the Real Estate agent to pull our house off the market. Just enough to make us think OK – same dream, different plan – we’ll go somewhere else. I went to bed to sleep on it that night, and sure enough by the time I woke the next morning, I had a strong desire to find out who Surinder Singh was. Never heard of him? Neither had I before my digging about, but apparently he’s the guy who took the UKBA to court, reminding the UK government that they are in the European Union now, and like it not, Europeans like keeping families together. The Surinder Singh case states that if a British Citizen lives in another EU state with their non EU family members, and then wishes to return to the UK, they and their spouse will be exercising their EU treaty rights for freedom of movement. No minimum income threshold and no cost to the family. Ha! Take that UKBA! We’ll just start out in Europe (perhaps Italy?), hang about for a few months, I could teach some English, and then into the UK we go.

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That was a couple of months ago. Last night I checked out the UKBA website again to see what those cheeky buggers have been up to whilst the rest of us were enjoying our Christmas dinner. Yup. You guessed it. They’ve shifted the goal-post again. In the latest installment of “Keep that Aussie, Simon out” the rules now state, that to exercise my EU treaty rights for freedom of movement, I (yes me again) have to be able to prove that I shifted the ‘centre of my life’ from the UK to another EU state, before deciding to go back to the UK with my Australian husband. What on earth does that mean? Who knows, but you can bet your last British Pound Sterling it’s sure to be near impossible to prove.

For now, we’ve decided to let the politicians argue about it. At the current rate of change, and with a British High Court hearing scheduled for March, there seems to be no point in us trying to satisfy the current requirements for Simon’s entry into the UK. We get there, when we get there. I just hope that with all this fuss though, the door isn’t closed to Simon, and many others like him, who’d just like to visit the UK as a tourist with their British family. Not to work. Not to be a burden on the British tax payer. Not to stay until he’s got one foot in the grave. Just long enough to ride a double decker red bus with the kids, and go check out the Tower of London 😉

 

15 thoughts on “UKBA – Doing their best to keep Simon OUT

    • Ah, it’s all good Jacki, we’re not letting it phase us too much at the moment… But yes, we must chat soon xx

    • Susie, too true! I think we may just have to head that way… Know any good places to stay? 😉
      Not too sure about salty yoghurt drinks though!

    • Yes we’ve thought about the tourist Visa route Gee, and it’s probably what we’ll end up doing. With this one though, there is still the risk that it won’t be approved because me and the kids are dual citizens, so that poses a risk to the UKBA that Simon might overstay. If we apply for a tourist Visa we will be at the mercy of UKBA for how long they approve it, (law states UP TO 6 months, but they can give much less) and worse still, if they do not approve it at all, because they don’t believe Simon is going to leave, then he will have little to no chance of having ANY visa approved thereafter, so it’s still a risk.

      • It’s a weird world when countries make it difficult for professional people who can contribute to the country’s economy to enter legally. I am just glad that Australia was easier to get into from the UK!
        Keep the faith, and continue to be creative and flexible with your adventure plans.

  1. Thanks Mavis, you are absolutely correct, some decisions don’t make any sense! We’ll be fine though, we’re not too fussed about it all, if we can’t spend an extended period in the UK, we’ll just ‘visit’ 😉

  2. Interesting! Dave is also a British citizen and when we lived there back in 05-08 I gained indefinite leave to remain. Like your husband that was in my old passport. Our daughter was born there so she also has citizenship. Our son was born back in Australia and because Dave’s citizenship is by descent he does not qualify. So two of us are citizens and two of us are not. I did not apply for any special visa this time. On arrival at Heathrow back in November they didn’t ask us any questions. Probably because we were only staying for a few weeks (that question is on the entry form.) They even let us all go through the non-UK line together which was faster than the huge other line. The guy directing people said “You’re a family! Stick together!” When we came back in again in December via the Eurostar they actually asked why two of us were citizens and two not and they asked where our permanent home base was.

    • Oh thanks for that Madeline, that makes me feel a bit better. Out of curiosity, did they ask to see your outbound ticket for proof that your were leaving in a couple of weeks, and how long were you given on your visitor stamp? We don’t mind if Simon only enters as a visitor, (as long as he is given 6 months to stay) because I am the one that would work, not him.
      On another note, I am only British by descent, and our kids DID qualify for British citizenship because Simon and I had spent 3 years living in the UK before their births, (which it sounds like you did as well if you got indefinite leave to remain) so you may be able to get dual citizenship for your son also. See here:
      http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/britishcitizenship/eligibility/children/britishcitizen/bornabroad/

  3. No, they didn’t ask to see an outbound ticket (we did have a return ticket) and they stamped me for six months both times with employment prohibited. Thanks for that link too. I will look into it. Would be great if he was eligible too! Then it will be just poor me with only one passport. At least if we ever decide to live over there again we shouldn’t have too much trouble with the spousal visa since Dave is the main worker here.

    • Oh! That’s just the answer that I wanted to hear 🙂 I have read about people being hassled because their partners were British, and the border control staff assumed they would be a risk to be overstayers. We’ll just have to see. At this point we’re enjoying the idea of spending some time in Europe first anyway 🙂
      Good luck with your sons dual citizenship if you decide to go down that route 🙂

  4. How about going to Ireland first? As an EU citizen, you have the right to live and work in Ireland, and under EU law, family members of EU citizens should have the same right as EU Citizen. With Irish visa, you’ll be able to enter the UK (albeit temporarily).

    Even though all EU countries agrees on how to treat fellow EU citizen and their family members, individual countries can make exception to their own citizens. Here in the Netherlands, it is much harder for Dutch nationals to bring a non-EU family member than a non-Dutch but EU citizen. I guess the UK takes the same stance.

    • It’s so crazy isn’t it, that individual countries make things harder for their own citizens! We don’t really mind where we end up Cherie, anywhere in Europe where we can hang out for a while, (Ireland would be great!). It would be good if I could work a little, (teaching English perhaps) wherever we go, but it’s not essential.

      • The reason I suggested Ireland is that because Ireland and the UK seem to have a more relaxed visa rules between themselves compared to the mainland EU countries.

        But hopefully everything goes well in the end, wherever you decided to go to.

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