Some of our families' stories
Here are some heartbreaking accounts of the real impact of the UK visa rules on children and families.
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Michael Grieve – one daughter, 8
My second wife, who is South African, and I are currently living in self-imposed exile in the Republic of Ireland, where we have been since February 2016. We applied for a spouse visa to enable us to return to the UK in February 2017, however, despite my earning above the minimum income requirement and us meeting all necessary criteria, we were refused upon spurious and still not clearly specified grounds. I have a now eight-year old daughter in the UK from a previous marriage and, according to the agreement set out in the terms of my divorce from my first wife, I am supposed to enjoy equal, shared custody of our daughter. The Home Office’s decision has presented me with the thankless choice of being with either my wife or my daughter, but has made it impossible for us to be together as a family in the UK.
Despite the obvious Human Rights abuses and the violation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, most disturbing of all is the effect this has had upon my daughter. It goes without saying that all children need the influence of both parents in their life. I grew up as a child of a broken home and did not have access to both parents when I needed them, so I know all too well the psychological damage this undoubtedly has on a young mind. My daughter very reluctantly parted company with us over two years ago on the understanding that we would only be gone for a few months to just over a year. She was devastated and leaving her was heartbreaking.
Initially, she seemed to cope quite well, but then after a few weeks, she did not want to even speak to me on the telephone, let alone see me on video chat. She has frequently been in tears down the phone to me, begging me to come back, even asking why I couldn’t send my second wife back home to Africa so that we could be together again. This is in spite of loving her stepmother dearly and being very close to her.
I have been back as often as I can to see her, but given employment contracts and the cost of travel, this has been limited to two to three times a year. It isn’t enough. Even now, she still gets very upset sometimes and I can go weeks without contact from her. Although I do not really enjoy any kind of communicative relationship with her mother, from what I gather my daugther is fairly well-adjusted and is bright and popular at school. Yet, I feel the huge rift which has been driven needlessly between us has severely dented my daughter’s confidence and ability to trust people. She sometimes seems very withdrawn and uncommunicative when I talk to her. This mindless, baseless and arbitrary visa refusal has destroyed our family and robbed me of the ability and the right to be a real father to my daughter. I cannot imagine what possible gains have been achieved from placing my family in this heartbreaking situation.