Love in Limbo: a financial requirement for falling in love

By 18/03/2024April 11th, 2024Stories

On December 4th, 2023, the Home Secretary announced new immigration rules, including an unexpected increase in the income threshold for British citizens and settled residents wishing to reunite with their partners and children in the UK. Our #LoveInLimbo campaign, in collaboration with Reunite Families UK, highlights the personal stories of those affected by this increase and navigating UK’s complex immigration system.

Main image of the Love in Limbo campaign.

Currently under the Minimum Requirement, British citizens must earn £18,600 p.a. to be able to sponsor a family member settling with them in the UK whether that is a partner, child or elderly relative. This will rise to £29,000 p.a. on April 11 before rising to £38,000 p.a. in Spring 2025 – a sum only 40% of the UK workforce earns.

These restrictions make it completely impossible for many couples and families to be together, seeing their dream of a family life in the UK shattered by the rule changes. We believe it’s unfair to punish people for falling in love with someone from another country.

Through a series of heartfelt videos, families and couples impacted by the spouse visa restrictions share their love stories and struggles in our #LoveInLimbo campaign. These are their stories:

Polly and Roch
Imagine taking a break to find the next step in your career, but ending up meeting the love of your life in the process. 

Polly decided to volunteer at a primate rehabilitation centre in Thailand, which happened to be Roch’s workplace. She decided to cancel her flight back to the UK and, instead, form a life with him. After getting married and having two children, they started planning the visa process, with Polly coming home with the kids. But the plan fell apart in one second, when the government decided to increase the Minimum Income Requirement. Roch’s payslips from abroad are not seeing as valid documents and, having to take care of their kids on her own, Polly cannot meet the new threshold. 

Right now, the two children ask for Daddy, unaware of the financial barriers keeping their family apart. 

Alex and Martyn
What’s the right protocol for going on a first date with someone on their birthday when you have never met them before?

Something that could have gone wrong, went incredibly well for these two, clicking straight away and starting a relationship. But Alex had to go back to Australia during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the time they spent apart was unbearable, with the extra challenge of the government thinking their relationship was not genuine. Light shined when, after several months, they were able to meet the financial requirements and prove how strong their love really is.

Today, they are married, living together and recently adopted Lucy, a 12-year-old cat.

Ayesha and Jack
Two decades ago, Ayesha and Jack fell for each other when he was working as a teacher in her home country.

But the financial requirements for the Spouse Visa meant they had to be separated for some time. What’s more, being able to meet the requirements added stress and fear during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Luckily, the hard times are behind them and the family is happily reunited now.

Paula and Adriano
What could be more romantic than meeting the person of your dreams on a beach in Portugal?

Paula and Adriano met thanks to their shared love of music and decided to have a life together. But they cannot even live in the same country right now: she started her own business less than 12 months ago, so she is unable to present her income for the last financial year; Adriano would meet the financial requirement, but because he works outside the UK, his income is not taken into consideration by the government.

They are still looking for solutions, asking for help, so they can be together as soon as possible.

Stuart and Rahfee
Have you ever felt that fate takes you to the right places?

After chatting online for a while, it was love at first sight when Stuart and Rahfee met for the first time in Thailand. Wondering when they would meet again, work and family circumstances happened to bring them together in the United States of America. But when they decided to get married, Thailand was not a possibility, as same-sex marriage is not recognised there. Whilst in the process for the UK Spouse Visa, they found out each caseworker was following the rules slightly differently, which led to their application being rejected.

They then applied again with the particular paperwork, and have been happily married for five years now, enjoying their family life together.

Rina and Ben
Why should a child be punished for having parents with different nationalities?

Just through months of heartfelt online conversations, she knew he was the one. Meeting face-to-face in Indonesia made Rina and Ben be even more certain about their love for each other. But when they decided to get married, the amount of very specific requirements for the Spouse Visa was a nightmare, and the COVID-19 pandemic just brought more confusion into the mix.

Now, being a bigger and happier family thanks to their daughter, the new financial requirements for extending the Spouse Visa feel like a burden and the child is at risk of being separated from one of her parents.

Lyssa and Oliver
Meeting in the queue of a bar whilst on holiday sounds like the premise of a film, doesn’t it?

But this is exactly how Lyssa and Oliver met. Going beyond a first impression linked to stereotypes, further conversation made him very interested in Lyssa. So much, that the four years that they spent apart, in different countries, were insufferable. Now that the couple is married, after getting their wedding postponed more than once because of the COVID-19 pandemic and financial circumstances, there are more challenges in the UK.

Lyssa’s income from the US is not accepted by landlords or the Home Office, so both finding a place to live and extending her Spouse visa get more difficult day by day.

Filea and Ian: 
When you finally meet someone who shares your exact type of humour, there should not be a reason not to be together.

For Ian, it was definitely love at first sight when he met Filea in person, after months of conversations over video call. But even if trips to the Philippines sound great, the truth is Filea wants to apply for a UK partner visa, so the couple can finally be together without any travel or financial challenges. But, because of a work injury, Ian had been off work for months, being unable to meet the financial requirements as her sponsor.

Now that he is back to work, the Minimum Income Requirement would have increased significantly by the time he can provide the necessary payslips, leaving the couple in limbo and desperate to find a solution.

Sarah and Matteo
A family should not get divided across two countries, especially when they have the financial means to be together.

Sarah’s plan of working in Italy for just one year changed when a friend introduced her to Matteo. The exploration of each other’s culture and language was a beautiful game that led to a marriage and three children. But, even if life in Italy sounds like a dream, Sarah has been missing the rest of her family at home for a while now, and the couple and sons have decided to re-locate to Scotland.

However, even if Matteo’s earnings are enough, the UK government does not take into consideration salaries from abroad to meet the new financial requirements. If the government keeps these rules and the family cannot find a solution, they will have to separate and work from different countries for months or even years.

More stories coming soon!

What can you do to help?

The best way to help these families, and many more, is to amplify their voices. You can join this campaign by sharing these videos on social media, telling your own Love in Limbo story and/or letting the government know your stand on this matter. For this, you can:

  • Sign this Parliament Petition, so there can be a proper debate in Parliament to scrutinise the impact of the rules.
  • Ask your MP to sign up to the Pledge for Families, showing they are supporting policies that help families to reunite and reduce the financial burden linked to the visa requirements.
  • You can also donate to organisations that defend the human right to a family life.

Let’s keep families together.

Author IMIX

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