Some of our families' stories

 Here are some heartbreaking accounts of the real impact of the UK visa rules on children and families.

If you are from the media and interested in more stories please contact us hello@reunitefamiliesuk.co.uk 

Neil – daughters 5 & 8

I lived in The Philippines from 2005 until 2015. Since then I have been living and working in UK and returning to the Philippines every Christmas for as long as I can afford. I met my wife in 2007, we were friends until 2009 and married in Jan 2017. We have three children, two young daughters (5 & 8) and my wife's son (11) from previous. We also had another son but he died at five weeks old.

I used to own a popular sports bar in Puerto Galera and my wife managed the day to day things there. When she became pregnant with our son it was becoming clear that I had to return to UK as there was not enough spare cash available to support us with a new baby properly. I left to come to UK when our youngest daughter had recently turned two years old and my wife was six months pregnant.
Our son was born and I was away working. He was diagnosed with late neonatal sepsis.


Being 7000 miles away I was worried sick. Our newborn son went into ICU in the nearest hospital from my family (54km) but there wasn't enough incubators to put him in. Everything went wrong and I was not in control of anything. I had and in fact still have a hundred questions and nobody to ask them to. I don't know why this happened to my son.


I flew to the Philippines to meet my son in casket and put him in the ground. They do things differently there, the deceased are kept at home for a week in an open coffin with a plastic top so that all the relatives can come around and see them. This tradition sees the house open for a week and many visitors, friends relatives and neighbors around. This is what I found when I arrived there.


Two weeks later I was back at work in UK. I had no time to grieve or to consol my wife and children. My heart was broken into a thousand pieces.


The effect this tragedy had on my children was as you would expect but my wife to her credit was fantastic with them.


I couldn't stop crying for a long time, like 18 months. It would get me at work, in the car or in the shower. Always when I was alone and my mind would wander.


At least my wife had the kids to keep her busy but I did not. I turned to alcohol to help me sleep and forget. In the end, it made me quite ill and I had to dramatically change my lifestyle to get out of it.
Four years on and we are still separated. I work 80 hours a week to support my family and make sure they have everything they need but I still cannot afford the visa application fees and all the associated costs... Almost twelve thousand pounds to get my family here on a two year visa. As such, we are moving to Malta next year. My own mother has never met her granddaughters.

Emily – daughter is 4 years old

Growing up as a Skype family is totally confusing. You have this interactive image on the screen that you are supposed to form bonds with. Trust, love, respect how can these complex emotions be formed via a screen? Our daughter has spent large chunks of her life in hospital, with cronic lung disease. How can a screen help her to feel brave and supported? It cant.

 

Childhood is the time in your life when life long bonds are formed. Parents and children learn and grow together becoming a strong family unit. This cant happen via Skype alone.

 

Our daughter met her father for the first time when she was 1 1/2. In unfamiliar country. She became clingly to me in a way she had never been. She wouldn't talk to him, didnt want him to help her do anything. Her lungs couldn't take the humidity. She was hospitalised for 4 months. If he had been allowed to visit her in the uk this wouldn't have happened. When we finally managed to get her back on an aeroplane to the uk. She would walk around calling for her papa and crying.

 

Our daughter of a Skype family is too young to process loss and grief. Loss and grief for a living parent!

Having only one parent to help you grow and learn and develop into a decent human. But our family is of two cultures! To only learn half your background. Or to learn half via the screen.  Our daughter should be bi lingual however her father speaks English to her as he feels there are already so many barriers between them that language shouldn't be one.

 

Money is always tight. Indian wages dont go far in india let alone the uk.

 

We got to spend two months together in france this year. Our daughter is 4. Statements like  "its hard to love someone you dont know mama."

"i dont love you go back to the himalayas"

"why are you only here sometimes?"

"if you loved me you would come to my house!"

Its heartbreaking for all 3 of us to hear.

 

Childhood should be easier than this.

 

Childhood should be laughing and hugging and chatting easily with both your parents. Knowing that you are loved and can turn to both your mother and father for support and strength in and situation. 

 

Children of Skype families are different to children of single parents. They know that they are missing out on a family that wants more than anything to be together. They also feel their parents heartache and loss greif for not being together. I think is tragic that at 4 you have already lost faith in "the system"

To know that the government dont care about you.

 

Stephanie – daughter is 3 years old

Here is my story my husband is Thai and we have a 3 year old daughter. His visa was refused so I gave birth alone the whole experience was very stressful and depressing. I was kept in due to lack of fetal movement and I was the only woman on my ward who was alone whilst everyone else had the partner around them to support and worry with them. It was a very dark time and I felt like everyone was judging me - why was she alone? Where is the dad?

 

My daughter's birth was straight forward and as any woman’s knows you just want it to be over. The worst part was after seeing all the happy family’s seeing what I couldn’t have. I will never forget FaceTiming my husband so he could see his first born. He just cried because he couldn’t hold her.

 

After that I suffered postnatal depression and so did he but I kept mine secret as my situation was already complicated and I didn’t want the Heath visitor to judge. There have been so many heartbreaking moments - when my daughter was 6 months we went to see her dad and she was terrified because he was practically a stranger. However as she gets older it only gets harder as she cries every time she says goodbye. She asks constantly where her daddy is and often cries at night wanting cuddles. He has missed every milestone and I’m practically a single mum. It’s so inhuman to keep a father and daughter separated over money. I would do anything for us to be a regular family.

 

Jessica – son is 8 mths old

Our son was born on January 1st 2018. 

Although he is still a baby I believe now is the most important time to gain a bond with parents,but how can he do that if his Baba is still in Turkey? Facetime/WhatsApp/Skype calls aren't enough. 

I feel so strongly about him having his Baba around we have no choice but to travel to Turkey to visit as everytime we applied for a visit for his dad it's been declined on the basis the HO don't believe he is a genuine visitor. This is expensive, stressful and not something a baby should have to do to see both mum and dad together. 

I can't say how it will affect him in the future because I'm hoping that soon I will find a job to reach the minimum income without having to leave him in childcare, with a stranger who will be sharing every special moment with him for 10 hours a day. But I can tell you he has seen me cry, his Baba cry, he has heard our pain on the phone, he has been literally pulled out of his Babas arms screaming at the airport because we've held each other till the last second before I have to run to the departure gate. How is this fair? How is this OK for my child? What has our son done to deserve this start to life?

Yes, I need to get a job. Yes, a majority of parents leave children in nurseries and babysitters. But our son only has me in the UK and i worry that both me and my partner are going to miss his exciting years and he will look at both of us in the way he looks at strangers. 

Family is important and without choosing so we are a broken family.


 

Jane – daughter is 8 years old

We lived happily together as a family in Turkey for the first 6 years of our daughter’s life. Following on from the military coup which directly impacted our family and for other reasons we decided we would return to live in the UK. Myself and our now 8 year old daughter had to return to the UK without her father . It took a year as an experienced and qualified secondary school teacher before I could find suitable work in my town to meet the income threshold of £18,600 and a further 6 months before we could apply. In total our family was separated for almost 2 years.

 

Unfortunately this indefinite separation had devastating effects on our daughter who was 6 years old when we first moved. I spotted a problem with her ability to speak and this was later diagnosed by a doctor as selective mutism. She suffered with such severe anxieties it affected her life every day. When I was working, she would scream, cry and plead with me not to leave her, a form of separation anxiety. Having been pulled away from her father, she was now losing her mother too to the world of work in an attempt to live and meet the requirements. My daughter was referred to CAMHS to see a psychologist for anxiety that on occasions was so severe caused her to collapse.

This whole process, due to living in 2 countries, the need for my husband to give up his job as an English Teacher in Turkey because of the difficulties he had to leave Turkey, and the need to financially support him in Turkey at the same time as supporting myself and our daughter, not without the near £3,000 visa application fees, cost of flights to visit my husband in Turkey and generally costs that normal UK families would not have to find has left us financially impoverished.

We are now together as a family again. We need time to rebuild our family life of which for 2 years our daughter has hardly had any communication with her father. She refused to use skype to speak to her Dad, always running away from the screen and hiding because in her words “I miss Daddy too much”. It is already noticeable that this separation has had an effect on her and her relationships with other people. Now, she clings to her Dad, she won’t let him out of her sight. In the meantime, emotionally and financially we are rebuilding our family again after such a devastating separation.


 

Cassie – children are 7 & 4

I remember very clearly when I read of the new rule changes. I remember sitting, with my one year old daughter on my knee, confused and shocked. How would we as a family, me as a mum who only worked part time in a developing country ever be able to meet this new criteria?

 

I had given birth to my daughter in my country of residence one year previously. It was August 2011. When I researched the possibility of us returning to the UK to birth in a familiar environment Citizen’s advice told me two things. 1) The visit visa would be difficult so I would be looking at giving birth alone, or giving birth in Thailand (also alone since men could not be in the labour room) 2) The settlement visa was an option to us.

 

My mother in law was diagnosed with terminal cancer while I was pregnant, so we stayed in Thailand. We had savings, professional jobs. I saw no reason why we could not move later.

 

I hated it. I had a stressful pregnancy, was treated appallingly by my employers, the doctors did nothing to promote modern child birth (separated from my baby for 8 hours at birth for no reason, c section, formula given without consent at first feed). The birth was also expensive, and could have run into tens of thousands of pounds if there were complications.  I had to fight every step of the way to have mine and my daughter’s voice heard.

 

In time of course the effect of the rules on our family life became clear. Post natal depression unrecognized by the medical profession set in. My second daughter arrived as the country experienced yet another coup- the route to the hospital was blocked by protesters and tanks. It was frightening and uncertain, with a long history of political instability there was talk of civil war. Two children were killed leaving a major shopping mall less than 200 metres from myself and my week old baby. My husband inadvertently drove through a shoot-out outside another shopping mall with our two year old in the car.

 

I was sinking under the weight of two small children, a dying mother in law, a husband who worked extremely long hours and my own worried mother who could not understand why we could not just come home.

 

We were also extremely poor. The medical fees, my lack of work, my husband’s local salary could not support a family. We received no statutory maternity pay and no child benefit from our resident country. Our situation was precarious.

 

In 2014 I went back to full time work in order to slowly build up to meeting the income requirement. My youngest daughter was 3 months old. My youngest has grown up with both her parents working between 50 hours and 100 hours a week, with their living grandparents 10,000 miles from them. As long we live here my children will suffer.

 

Both free education and healthcare are poor. The education system is one of the worst in the world.

Our youngest daughter has a very obvious, yet thankfully benign heart condition. This was not picked up until she saw a doctor in the UK in 2016. The doctor suspected a heart murmur. Private healthcare is very expensive.  This now costs us thousands every year to monitor and excess health insurance. 

Private education is very expensive and excluding a few International schools that meets UK standards remains extremely poor. Corporal punishment, shaming, outdated teaching methods are widespread. My eldest daughter has suspected dyslexia. She is seven and struggles to read and write. To test her would cost £.1,000. There is no specialist support at her private school.

 

In this Asian mega city we commute for 4 hours a day just to take the children to school (travelling less than 10km). They are exposed to air pollution that is always listed as unhealthy, and often dangerous to sensitive groups. Occasionally it is dangerous to all.  My youngest daughter wheezes and coughs. They wear a face mask at times in the year so they can breathe. If we leave the city, we lose the magical income which would allow us to return to the UK.

  • Is it British children’s fault that their parents are unable to give them a better life with the same opportunities as their UK based peers because of family migration policies?

  • Why to British citizens (and until recently their spouses) automatically receive their UK pension abroad but British children abroad in exile are not entitled to child benefit?

  • Why are British children living in exile denied or charged for using healthcare services in the UK?

  • If the French government can subsidize education for French children abroad, why is the British government happy with the possibility of its children growing up with poor educational experiences?

The American government can issue a spousal visa if the applicant can prove poverty. British children are being denied basic rights because their parents can not afford a reasonable education/ healthcare in the resident country.

The British government, in following this policy targets young mums and their children. We are forced to make the impossible decision to a) leave the children’s father for an unspecified period of time b) leave the children and the father for an unspecified period of time c) relinquish our right to live in our home country.


 

Lori – daughter is 2 years old

Its difficult to find the right words to use to describe our situation.  My daughter is still a baby.. a toddler.. therefore unaware. Unaware emotionally and mentally of the fact that because of the income threshold her daddy has not been able to hold her. Unaware that her daddy ended up in the hospital after suffering a nervous mental breakdown trying so desperately to bring his family home.  One day however , if things dont change I will have to have these conversations with her. I will have to explain to her why she was not allowed to have a normal healthy up bringing with two parents that love each other honestly. How do you explain to your child that because we are normal working class , she is not up to par to having her daddy tuck her in at night and read her a bed time story. Or simply have breakfast with her, walk her to school.  Take care of her when she is sickly, hug her and kiss her cheeks. Light the candles on her birthday cake. I could go on and on all the the little things that make up our everyday lives, that my baby girl will not get to have with her daddy. 

 

David – sons are 13 and 16

I am from the US, but have lived in the UK since 2008, and became a naturalised citizen in 2014. I am also a divorced father of two lovely children, who live in the US with their mother. In the past couple of years, my ex-wife's mother has become increasingly ill, and requires care. Since she lives in Russia, it is very difficult to arrange any care, as family members generally provide care for their elders. The children’s mother needed to return to Russia to provide this care, so we decided that the only avenue available to us was for the children to come live with me in London. We spent two solid years preparing for this move, including following various instructions set out by my lawyers, in order to transfer legal custody over to me. We also assembled a mountain of evidence to verify our situation.

 

In May, we applied to the Home Office for resident permits for the children, on the basis that I would be the sole carer, and in consideration of “compelling family or other considerations” as per S297(i)(f) of the Immigration Rules. In June, their applications were rejected, throwing our entire plan into chaos. Despite having provided volumes of evidence, including doctor’s certification of the illness, my own income and housing situation, and written testimonials, the only response was that the officer was “not satisfied that there are serious and compelling family or other considerations which make your exclusion undesirable and that suitable arrangements have been made for your care”. (The latter point is absurd, as we secured places in a good school, and my remuneration is more than sufficient, as per the Home Office’s own requirements.)

 

We have since appealed this decision, but unfortunately have been told that this process could take up to a year. In the meantime, we had to give up their school places, and the children are staying with relatives in the US, while their mother travels back home to care for her ailing mother. This situation is unsustainable in the long term; however, we feel we have no other choice but to wait and hope that our appeal will be successful. In the meantime, their names have been placed on a list of failed visa applicants, which causes them to undergo extra scrutiny whenever they cross the UK border. This involved a 90-minute wait in Heathrow when they came for a visit in the summer. Not only are they not allowed to come live with their father, but they are treated as common criminals whenever they even try to visit me. It’s all very disheartening.

 

 

Gillian – mother of 3 boys

When the family arrived in the UK, the older children were detained at Heathrow, denied entry and were booked on flights to New York by themselves. Their passports were confiscated, they were fingerprinted and photographed. They had to return in 3 days to be removed from the country (after the parents appealed to not send them back immediately). They hired a lawyer to have it overturned, and they were given 6 months to sort out the situation. They hired a lawyer who advised them to apply under article 8 of the human rights act, that they have a right to live with their family. After 9 months this was denied, and the boys were told they had to leave. The father took a leave of absence from work to take them back to the US. It was only after that the mother took their story to the press that visas were finally granted

 

“My two sons who were deported are adopted. Part of why they were denied visas, and it's harder to get visas for them, is because they are adopted. It's not a part of the story I emphases very much (although that was how it was run in the Guardian), because I think the MIR is the biggest issue to tackle.  However, adopted children should not be treated any differently under immigration rules, and they are.  I understand if it's a completely new adoption and you're brining in a child that there has to be checks, but these children were adopted more than 10 years prior and should not be treated any differently to my biological children.

 

One of these children is now seeing a counsellor for depression, and one is seeing a paediatrician for behaviourial issues. My other, biological child who was not deported, is not seeing anyone.

 

To be adopted can be hard for any child, but to be deported on top of that - rejected twice, essentially - could seriously affect a child's mental health.”


 

Olesya – children are 39 months and 15 months

We have been living as a happy family until January 2017, when we had to move to the UK from abroad. I had to go to Ukraine to apply for the spouse visa and my husband went to the UK to start his new job, find a place for us to live and settle down. 

I was pregnant with our second son then and was due in July 2017, our elder son was 19 months old when we had to say goodbye to his dad and my husband and go to Ukraine. In total, we were separated for 4.5 months but we still see the consequences and deal with them. 

This separation affected our son so much. He was crying to sleep almost every night. He started hating the phone because he had to talk to his dad on Skype and he couldn't understand why his dad was never coming home from work. In general, he was a happy boy, playing and being happy, but when we were talking on Skype, he didn’t want to stay in the room. It looked like it was a betrayal from his dad not to come home. I could feel that he was also angry, but couldn’t express it well. He was just pushing the phone away when we were on skype. We were trying to keep him busy, occupied every day, but it was not easy. It was very traumatic for our son. We could not arrange things in a different way, unfortunately, as my husband started his new job and it was not possible for him to take care of our son there in the UK. I don’t agree with the process at all. Why are families separated that way? I cannot imagine our son growing up without his dad. Our son is so happy to spend time with him, playing, reading, doing just anything! Anything, but together.

My son is still very clingy to his dad. Even when my husband travels for work for a couple of days and we speak on skype, our son doesn't like it and starts crying all the time and asks me when daddy will be coming from work. Last weekend my husband had to travel and was away till Monday, so we were talking on skype every day. Every time he was calling, my son was crying and saying 'I want my daddy'. When my husband was talking to us all, our son was asking dad just to come home. It was heartbreaking and it took me around 45 minutes to make our son to calm down and stop crying while putting him to sleep in the evening as he sounded so desperate and kept crying and saying 'I want my daddy'. He was sobbing and I had to teach him how to take deep breaths and relax, giving him water to drink as well just to make sure he doesn't start crying again. Our elder son is 39 months old now and I really hope that this will pass soon and he wont remember that he had a long separation with his dad in the past. 

I really hope that he will grow out of it soon and forgets about it, as it is really heartbreaking to see our son not letting his dad out of sight and getting upset. My husband is spending a lot of time together with our son, trying to make our son feel confident that they will never be separated again and always be together, that dad is always there to support him, to teach him things and play.  

And there is one more side of our story: it is a congenital heart defect of our younger son. When I applied for the visa from Ukraine, I found out during our scan that our son has a transposition of the great arteries and required an open heart surgery straight after birth. We informed UKVI about it, but it was ignored. If they delayed it for longer and if our local MP didn't intervene, I don't know what would happen if this surgery had to be performed not in the UK. It is a life-saving surgery as the baby is not able to survive and the whole life of the baby depends on the result.  

We met all the criteria for the spouse visa but it was put on hold just because a few papers were missing, and we explained it in our cover letter. The situation in Ukraine was not stable at that time too, and we were just two hundred kilometres from the war zone. This fact was also ignored.

Donna – daughter is 4 years old

My daughter only moved from turkey to uk end of July. I’ve been here since beginning March 18. She stayed with her grandparents so her father could work (4 hours away in a different town) & so that I could come back, find a job etc. That was an incredibly stressful time for all, the extra stress on my in laws, us as a couple & our daughter, who at 4 years old, doesn’t understand why we had to be apart. She has now started school, but wets herself everyday in school, asks for her daddy every day & has separation anxiety with me. She follows me like a puppy. I find it so hard being a single parent (& not by choice) working full time & struggling financially. My parents passed away 6 years ago so I don’t really have any support network here, but rely on childminders & after school clubs-which all costs money too. I can apply for his visa at the end of October & although we have a good case & we meet all requirements, I can’t help panicking, thinking what will happen if they say no.

Loren – daughter is 8 years old.

My daughter is 8 years old and from a previous relationship. She has never met her British father and probably never will. However she idolises my fiancé (we are due to marry in may) from turkey. 
It’s because of her we met. She started playing with him in the hotel pool one day when he was on a break from work and the rest is history. 

 

He has asked her to take his name when we marry. Something she was so excited about. And it makes me so happy when I hear her telling her friends “my dad” or “he’s my dad now” with such a big smile on her face. 
Because of him she has experienced a new culture, she has learnt a new language and she has experienced things most British 8 years olds don’t get to see anymore sadly, like street parties, neighbors sharing food and playing instruments in the house like a band for fun. Her mind is open to the possibility that not all Muslims are bad, something that is sadly portrayed strongly by our media. And to me that can only be a good thing for future generations. 

 

Sadly I don’t earn enough for him to come here on a spouse visa once we are married. And getting a visitor visa is ridiculously hard because proving he will go home, even though I know he will, seems an impossible task to prove to our home office. My word as a British citizen should be enough. Instead I’m made to feel like a liar in my own country that I once used to have faith in. I can’t travel to him when I want because she has school and then I get fined. I can’t win. I have to choose between love and education all the time. And it’s constantly heartbreaking. Furthermore I can’t move there because her life is here. So we spend our time apart. Paying for two houses, and two sets of bills. Instead of paying them together.

 
My daughter doesn’t understand why he can’t come here to visit. She doesn’t understand why he can’t be here for her birthday or Christmas even though we badly want that to happen. And she wishes for it every birthday which breaks my heart! She doesn’t understand why people who don’t know us make decisions about family when all we want is to be together. And while I know some measures need to be in place, I can’t help feeling like they are too much. That too many people are hurt for nothing. 


If he was to come here to be with me, he would work. He would make mine and my daughters life better. But until then it rests on my shoulders. I have to be the one who works 40 hour weeks to make the income to even be able to think about a visa and miss time with my daughter and pass her from pillar to post in order for us to be a family. I have to be the one to explain that I have to do that because my own country don’t believe that we are a couple or that we are trying to commit some sort of crime. I’m in Love and we are a family, yet it seems in Britain money talks. If I was rich or sick, then he would be with me. Until then I have to love someone British. That’s basically the way it feels. 


I’m saddened and angry that my daughter has had to experience the visa system. I never knew till I fell in love with someone not British at 28 so I was lucky that I could live in a fantasy world. Sadly she is 8 and knows already that in Britain they make you pay for love. 


She may not be his biological daughter, but he’s treated her with more respect and kindness than her British father, and that to me speaks volumes. And it should to our country too. Because it’s about time we starting teaching our children that love is more important than money, not the other way around. Before it’s too late and all children have is anger and pain from missing out on family time. 

 

 

Raquella – son is 7 years old

Although we have been fortunate enough at this present time not to have to live separately from each other the impact the visa situation has had on our family especially our son has been immense. 

My partner has been without status in this country since late 2013 due to visa issues and Home Office incompetence. We have found ourselves in and out of court at great expense to us as a family, my partner has to report to immigration every month and has also spent time in immigration detention. The impact this has had on us as a family has been quite devastating both financially and mentally. My partner has suffered a complete mental breakdown and now suffers from depression, panic disorder, anxiety disorder and PTSD.

 

Every day life within our family is extremely difficult at times the huge cost of our constant battle with the Home Office has meant that we are not able to take our son on holiday he hasn't had a holiday since 2013 when he was 2, we don't really go anywhere as we are now paying back a huge amount of money that we had to borrow in order to get my partner released from detention. Our son who is 7 suffers from separation anxiety from his dad when he panics constantly that his dad will be taken away again. When the monthly signings come around our son goes into panic mode, we are not allowed to go into the signing centre with my partner and therefore have to play a waiting game until he returns home this is made doubly worse as this is how he was detained previously without warning and taken away without us being able to see him therefore our son is a nervous wreck on signing day constantly asking me to call his dad's phone until he answers, if this takes longer than expected he is begging me to go look for his dad as he says 'they've taken him again' he's petrified that he will never see his dad again. This has impacted on our little boys mental health we struggle to get him to go out places or far from home , he doesn't like to go anywhere without us in case someone takes his dad. Its impacted on my son's friendships as he doesn't know what to tell his friends about his dad why he doesn't go to work because he isn't allowed its to much for a 7 year old to take on board whereas we don't discuss the details of everything some things we have to tell him so he at least has a little understanding of what is happening.

 

At this present moment we are living apart from my partner as his mental health is impacting on us to much as a family  and its too distressing for our son. Before all of these visa issues we were a happy family,  to quote my son 'its better to have a good life but we have a terrible life now because of dad' this is the most upsetting part my son doesn't understand Governments and their rules etc he believes its his dad's fault in some way which is heartbreaking but if we can't understand this need to tear families apart as adults how can you expect a child to.

 

Louise – son is 2 yrs old

My British two year old son, has never been granted the opportunity to meet his non-EU Nigerian father, due to the hostile environment imposed under the Conservative government, led by Theresa May.
 

According to a child's human rights they have the right to have both loving parents in their life and under article 8 of the human rights act, a right to family life. Our British government is in breech of these rights and it is heavily impacting upon my son's life.

 

After two refused visitation visas for no just reason our son has missed out on having his father welcome him into the world, care for him..My partner has missed all of his 'first's' including the first time he sat alone, crawled, walked, talked, first day at nursery school, first hair cut- all of the little things which add up and feel so special. For a man who wants to care for his son this is absolutely devastating for him. 

 

As our son grows older day by day he has noticed that he doesn't have the same family unit that his peers have at nursery. He doesn't have a father to collect him like his friends do, or a father to play with or take him on adventures at the weekends. Aiden doesn't have a father to look after him, protect him and do all the 'boy' activities which he loves so much like playing football. He doesn't have a father present as a role model who he can look up to and follow in his footsteps and most of all, he doesn't have a father to read him a story at night, give him an affectionate cuddle when he's sad and a kiss goodnight. 

 

The Home Office has told numerous families that they are not in breech of their human rights as through modern means of technology, such as Skype, Facebook call messenger, FaceTime and Viber they can sustain a relationship with their parent. I cannot understand this thinking, how can a desktop screen look after your son while you go out to work or give them a kiss or a cuddle, they need human contact.

 

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.

 

Hayley – daughter 4 years old

I have been married to my husband who is from Turkey for 8 years and we have a daughter together who is 4 years old. We applied under exceptional circumstances for my husband to come and live as a family in April 2018 but we were refused. The refusal included details of another person and did not report any correct information. Our local MP has been in contact with the home office, who are not really cooperating very well. We have since appealed the decision and are still currently living in limbo whilst we await an update

 

Our daughter has really been affected by not having her dad around words honestly cannot describe how awful and heart-breaking it has been for me to witness the change in her behaviour, when we are together as a family she is a very happy and content little girl. Right after we came back from seeing her dad 3 months ago, she went through a stage of pulling her own hair out, it was terrible and it lasted for about a month. We were previously able to go and visit her dad in Turkey every 2 to 3 months, but now our daughter has started full time school, and I am back at work, we don’t get the opportunity to visit until at least every 5-6 months.

I am too frightened to approach for any help from a medical professional as I didn’t want social services to be contacted and involved, and start doubting us as parents, we just want to be a family but are prevented from that because of these laws, and because of the home office poor decision making.

The only way our daughter sees her daddy is through a telephone which every time she constantly kisses and hugs the phone and doesn’t want to let it go.

When she gets ill, she doesn’t want me around her, she constantly cries and screams for her dad to the point where I have to call him via video call, just so he can settle her down as she refuses to for me.

Since our daughter started school she is constantly seeing other children with their daddy’s, and now the questions have now begun such as “why doesn’t daddy want to live in the house with me?” and “why doesn’t daddy not want to take me to school like other daddy’s do?” I honestly have no answers for these questions and try to stop the tears from filling up in my eyes every time she asks them. She says at least 10 times a day “I miss my daddy mammy do you think he misses me?”

She has always been a very confident little girl, but with each day that goes past without her daddy she is losing her confidence and becoming quite confined.

For us as parents, the words tiring and heart-breaking doesn’t come close when we have to describe how we are dealing with this. The onus is on me to hold this all together, I feel like I’m holding a wall and if I drop it, everything around me will crumble, but I have to be strong for our family.

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