Family separated by earnings rule

15 Oct 2013 | Posted by Carl Thomas

A British man and his daughter are being kept apart from his Syrian-born wife because the Home Office will not allow her to enter the UK, as her spouse visa has expired.

Mark Wallace and the couple’s nine-year-old daughter fled from Damascus to the UK 15 months ago because of the civil conflict, but wife Soulaf was not allowed to join them. The couple have been separated by legislation brought in during July last year that requires the British partner to earn £18,600. Mr Wallace, a former teacher, is unable to work after being diagnosed with depression, agoraphobia and post-traumatic stress disorder after his experiences in the war-torn country.

Mrs Wallace, a psychologist who married her husband in Market Harborough 10 years ago, had a spouse visa to remain in the UK until 2006. But the couple returned to Syria after marrying to be closer to her elderly parents and because of the better job prospects.

Mrs Wallace has been repeatedly turned down for a familial visa to visit her husband and daughter because of concerns she would not return to Syria when the visa expired after six months.

Mr Wallace told the Huffington Post: “We had no choice but to leave suddenly as roads to the airport were already being targeted with gunfire and bombs. We assumed, as before, that if [my wife] could make it to the nearest British Embassy that she would be automatically be given a visa to come to Britain, as my wife.”

He said the couple were not aware of the “hard and fast, black and white, inflexible, inhumane minimum salary rule” and that his wife had provided evidence of her savings and assets in support of her visa application.