Couple face 'exile' following UK spouse visa problems

19 Oct 2012 | Posted by Carl Thomas

Couple face 'exile' following UK visa problems

A couple is facing what they describe as 'exile' due to problems with UK spouse visa access.

John and Nicole Tait, who live in East Lothian in Scotland, married on September 29th this year and chose to settle in Gullane. John originally met his American wife in March last year while working in the US as a football coach, however, they both decided that Scotland was where they wanted to make their permanent home.

At the moment, Nicole is in the country on a UK fiancee visa. But this will expire in January, when she would like to move onto a UK spouse visa. Unfortunately, this is unlikely to be possible through the standard routes because of changes made to the immigration rules this year.

When the couple were originally planning their married life together, the minimum income threshold for sponsoring settlement of a spouse was £13,700. John earns around £16,750 a year at the moment in his current job with Lothian Tractors Ltd. This time last year his earnings would have guaranteed the couple's future together in Scotland, but in July of this year the UK Border Agency (UKBA) increased the threshold to £18,600.

John told the East Lothian Courier: “[After the wedding] we were brought back to Earth with a little bit of a thud when we realised these new rules were going to affect us.

“One of our options is for us to start the Green Card process for me [to live in the USA] which can take over nine months and [could cost] about $5,000. If Nicole has to go home in three months that's us facing over six months apart and that's really not something we want to go through. We could try going to Canada or Australia but it feels like two people being exiled rather than one.”

He explained: "What we really want is to be in Scotland and start our married life here."

A UKBA spokesman told the paper: "British citizens can enter into a relationship with whoever they choose but if they want to establish their family life here, they must do so in a way which works in the best interests of our society.”