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Unfair visa rules split families say SNP | Immigration Matters

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The Scottish National Party (SNP) Scottish government is gearing up for an immigration row with the UK government, which control the borders, claiming that a new points-based system is acting “against Scotland’s interests”. 

Secretary for external affairs Mike Russell has demanded a meeting with the UK immigration minister Phil Woolas to highlight recent cases. US playwright Thomas Legendre faces being thrown out of Scotland, despite his two children being born and raised in Edinburgh, as he does not meet earnings criteria.

The acclaimed writer is being removed the country by immigration officials in a decision that threatens to split his family apart.

American born novelist and playwright Thomas Legendre came to Scotland with his wife Allyson eight years ago and were allowed to stay under the government’s Fresh Talent initiative.

They now have two children – Nicole, five, and Callum, three both born in the UK.  Legendre has achieved critical success with his work Half Life, which was performed by the NTS.

But Legendre, whose work has been performed by the NTS,  has been told by immigration officials that he is not entitled to a residency visa as he has earned less than £32,000 in the correct 15-month period.

The new Home Office points based system means applicants have to earn sufficient points, based on factors such as ability to support themselves and a family, to remain as residents. 

Legendre will now have to decide to return to the US without his family or uproot his wife and children away from the life they love in Edinburgh.

Legendre’s case has prompted calls from a Scottish minister and MSPs for the Home Office to relax immigration laws on earnings for artists and writers, whose pay can vary wildly from year to year.

His case echoes that of two other immigrants: a US citizen and an Indian widow who both made their homes in Scotland, but have also been refused permission to stay.

Scottish Culture minister Mike Russell said: “There have been a number of recent decisions by the UK Border Agency which demonstrate that the UK-wide immigration system does not always work in Scotland’s best interests. The Scottish Government is clear that there should be a flexible system which allows us to make decisions on what’s right for Scotland.”

Russell vowed to intervene in the case of Legendre, saying: “Scottish Government officials will look into the details of this case and see what we can do to help. We recognise the valuable contribution artists and creators from all over the world make to Scotland’s cultural life and to our economy.” Legendre said: “I’m caught up in a nightmare and nobody is applying common sense to the situation. The new points-based system now requires me to demonstrate at least ‘£32,000 of earnings’ during the 15 months immediately prior to submitting my application to the UK Border Agency. Never mind that few novelists this side of Dan Brown earn money in such a regular fashion.

“Most of us receive a sizeable chunk of money as an advance on royalties, which serves as earnings for an extended period of time while working on the next project. When that next project is completed and accepted for publication, the next advance is paid. And guess what? The gaps between those payments are usually longer than 15 months.”

Legendre added: “I like to think I have contributed to Scottish society. My kids were born here and are as Scottish as they come. They see America as a place to go on holiday or visit relatives. This is home.”

The system was introduced by the Westminster government this year after claims that the previous policy was allowing too many unqualified immigrants into the UK. But critics say it does not address the needs of Scotland for skilled workers and creative talent. Legendre said: “This policy is designed to limit immigration in England, but it is not working here in Scotland.”

Legendre’s wife Allyson, who is financing her own doctorate at Edinburgh University, says the stress of the situation has been unbearable. “There are little things that really upset me,” she said. “I don’t know whether to buy the school uniform for Nicole, who’s at Edinburgh Academy. We don’t know if we’ll be thrown out of the country or whether she will be staying here. And we’ve had our passports removed under the application process, so we can’t even go on family holidays abroad. We love our life here and our friends have been really supportive, but this is putting us all under unbelievable stress.”

The couple’s nanny, Nichola Fraser-Ross, would be forced out of work if the family is made to leave the country. She said: “If they go, I’d be another one going on the unemployment register.”

Legendre had been staying in Scotland as a dependent on his wife’s student visa, granted in 2001. As that visa ran out this year, he applied for one on his own merits. His wife is also having to apply for a new visa, but their applications are being considered separately, which could lead to the family being split up. The children are British citizens.

The family owns its home in Edinburgh and has never received state benefits.

The author supports his family through advances from publishers on his previous works and a portfolio of investments.

A UK Border Agency spokesman said: “The points-based system sets out the criteria migrants need to meet to qualify for further leave to remain and ensures that only the people we need can come here.

“A key element of this is that applicants must show that they have sufficient maintenance levels to support themselves.”

Last Aril, a talented young American who was helping to earn thousands of pounds for the Scottish economy was deported.

Michael Merillo was attracted to stay and work in Scotland under the Government’s Fresh Talent scheme, excelling at the Scottish Book Trust.

But the 30-year-old was thrown out of the country in April on the basis that he was earning 90p a week too little, potentially under-cutting local workers.

In June, the story of Indian computer expert Navjot Singh and his wife Nidhi emerged.

In 2004 the couple settled in Perth with their daughter and had another child. In July this year, under immigration rules, they would have been eligible to stay indefinitely.

Singh died from a heart attack in January. His widow and children were then forced to leave as they only had “dependent” status and Nidhi would not have been able to collect enough points under the new system.

Source: Scotland on Sunday

Immigration Matters Comment

Similar stories of deportations and the Canadian Wife forced to leave the UK last week, are happening every day. But it seems they only hit the headlines when an North American or artist is involved.

When hundreds of Filipino, Indian and African Senior Carers were being kicked out of the UK due to unfair rule changes in 2007 the mainstream press did not say a word.

 Canadian Wife leaves UK under threat of deportation

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info@immigrationmatters.co.uk or visit www.immigrationmatters.co.uk

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10 Responses to “Unfair visa rules split families say SNP”
Read them below or add one

  1. mandy griffith says :

    pls help, i met my boyfriend two years ago in morocco i was married to an english man at the time and became good friends with simo , in march i decided to leave my husband and came to live in marrakech with my boyfriend we applied for a visitors visa as im still married till november thet refused it on the grounds of not enough background information, we applied again…they refused it as they said that my boyfriends boss at the riad where he works had left the company…he was in dispute with his employers, but was on gardening leave, so they said they wouldnt accept the letter to prove he could return to his job, they also said i was lying about where i lived…not true i was married for 20 years it is my marital home…they had called my ex husband, natrually he doesnt want to see me with my new boyfriend so said i didnt live there had they checked electoral rolls they would see i had lived there for a number of years….we have applied again we go next week how do we word the letter telling the border agency we are not liars and cheats, we have a buisness in morocco together we have just set up and plan to live between both countries, he has a permanent job the employer has written an explaining letter for us we have a bit of money in the bank he has no commitments in morocco like children…the fact is they say we lied do i just prove to them we did not?????

  2. Andres Salinas says :

    Hi my Name is Andres Salinas. I am an american citizen and I am also facing deportation as a result of the unfair immigration policies.

    I came to Scotland three years ago in order to get a Masters Degree from Strathclyde University. Once I finished my Masters Degree I appplied to Tier 1 post Study visa, that substitued the Fresh Talent Scheme proposed by the Scottish Goverment.

    Despite the difficult economic situation of the last two years, I managed to work in two different temporary jobs as Research and Pricing Analyst. At the beginning of this year I started a new permanent job as a Financial Analyst. Currently I am living and working in Edinburgh and I would like to continuing doing so, but on July 2010 my VISA extension was rejected on the bases that I did not earn more than £30,000 in the last 12 months, which is practically impossible for a young professional who lives in Scotland.

    After a carefully research from different recruitment agencies websites. I found that in average the salary for a young professional living in Scotland is hardly above the £25,000. The government has recently (19th July 2010) modified the salary scales for its Tier 1 General visa Scheme, which makes even more difficult to get enough points.

    According to the letter issued by the Home Office. I do not have the right to appeal this decision and it seems that I can only submit another application form, which most probably will be refused after the modifications made on the 19th of July and will lose another £840,00.

    For me this is a sad day. It seems that my only mistake was my decision to settle down in Scotland and the North of England after I finished Uni.

    I only have a month to prepare my departure and find someone who wants to live in my flat.All this creates a lot of stress on me and a reduce my performance at work. I was not expecting this dramatic change of events. I was planning to settle down in Scotland and continuing paying my taxes and been a good citizen.

    I hope my story can also be considered like the ones of Mr. Legendre, Mr. Merillo and many other American and Non Americans who are affected by the new immigration policies.

    Regards

    Mr. Andres Salinas

  3. The U.K Government does not respect families
    and their right to stay together,they don’t respect the children rights to grow with both parents.
    they put money first, seems like you only have human rights if you are well off, and I say well off cos they designed their laws so that regular income hardworking families can not move to the U.K either.
    So in a country when money comes first,and family life is worthless they should never ask themselves why are their families broken?,they have all those kids feeling lost, lonely, doing drugs, stabbing each other etc…
    COS IN GENERAL THEY’VE PUT MONEY MAKING BEFORE FAMILY VALUES.

  4. You should take advice (and go through the whole case) from an Immigration Adviser.

  5. janet law says :

    My partner is from morocco and i met him october 08 i ask him to come to uk for a holiday so i can meet him but his visa was refused on basis that he has no employment and cant pay the journey .I have been over to morocco to visit him with my son and we have since got engaged. We applied again so that he could meet my mother and family my mother is 86 and got return flight tickets ,Insurance ,Money everything he needed to show and they refused again this time becasue put on application that i am his fiancee and this means they dont trust he will go back even more .We didnt apply for fiancee visa because we are not getting married in uk.
    I pay a company permits 4 work to ask for a reassesment and it was still refused .
    I have paid out now £1,000 to have my partner come and visit me here and now i dont know what to do next
    please advise because our future is on hold .
    I cant live in morocco because i have a young son of 11yrs who needs his education and i cant keep going to morocco its cheaper for him to visit me and keep going back .
    I have a letter from my m.p advising me to reapply for him but we dont intend to lose any more money .
    Janet Law

  6. You need to take proper legal advice on an appeal or reapplication, which will be cheaper than paying for hotels and flights in the long run. If they have accused her of lying you need to deal with this point.
    Many British people seem to think that applying for their spouce to come to the UK in a mere formality, which far from the case.

  7. Stuart Anderson says :

    My family is also being torn apart by British immigration laws. Thousands must be in the same situation.

    My wife, my son and I are currently having to make ends meet in backpacker hostels in asia because we cannot go to the UK as a family. I am forced to make the decision whether to abandon my wife and son in the hope of finding work in the UK – if I don’t they will certainly starve on the streets. If I return to the UK with my son, who is a British citizen, I am not allowed to claim child benefit if his mum wants to apply for a visa. I have to act as a sponsor, with a job, whilst bringing up our son by myself.

    What is worse is that the Embassy in my wife’s country have already falsly accused my wife of lying and branded her a liar.

    I have no idea what to do. All I want is to keep my family together and safe.

  8. […] Unfair visa rules split families say SNP […]

  9. Ann Brown says :

    The country is over populated and something has to be done. What sometime happens is once individuals get their stay in Scotland they move to England

    With regards to the story of Indian computer expert Navjot Singh and his wife Nidhi emerged.

    How is this UK government problem they are not British Singh died from a heart attack in January. If the main income person dies then its is right for rest of the family to return home.

    If they can kick out the lower income immigrants the same should applies to well off Immigrants. No one should be exempt.

    And with regards to Canadian and the US immigrants they are not from a poor country so I don’t see what the fuss is about. They do it in Candia and the US all the time.

    People that come here must be able to support themselves fully as the country is in a recovering stage. Britain help a lot of war torn country and can not afford to aid every single person.

  10. The immigration rules are somewhat not help the immigration policy in future at all.
    How is it possible that a foreigner come to UK and i sexpected to show a high amount of earning to get visa renewal.In fact, the native cannot for sure justify the earning critera,then how could it is expected from the foreigner?If the UK government relistically want the immigration process to benefit the economy of the UK they should work on fact and figures.

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