SELECTED MPs will today receive Valentine cards from members of
a community action group in support of their campaign against an
immigration rule that keeps families apart.
Citizens UK wants to lower the income threshold of £18,600 that
a UK resident must earn before a visa can be granted for their
partner or children to join them from overseas.
It points out that 43 per cent of British employees earn less
than £18,600 a year. It wants the limit reduced to the Living Wage,
Among those sending cards will be Suzette Ashley, who is
separated from her Jamaican-born husband, Oliver, because her work
as a health-care assistant pays less than the immigration
Mrs Ashley, who is also pastor at the Taste of Glory Apostolic
Ministry in Camberwell, south London, said: "Everyone is talking
about love and relationships this week, which breaks my heart. The
most important date I have this Valentine's is with my MP to ask
him to help us negotiate a change and give more people a chance at
building a happy family.
"Even the Living Wage amount would be a struggle for me because
of the sector I work in, but at least that figure makes sense."
The director of the East London Mosque, Dilowar Khan, said:
"Many of our communities are built on spouses coming from abroad to
support their families and children. It is a sad state of affairs
to see many testimonies of families' being kept separated, because
they are unable to meet the income threshold.
"Strong communities and families are the backbone of all
civilised societies, and we need to ensure citizens are supported
to keep their families together."
Victoria (not her real name) also faces possible separation from
her husband. She arrived in the UK from the Philippines in 2002. In
2008 she fell in love with a British citizen, and they married last
month. Her husband is medic- ally unfit to work, and her job as a
cleaner pays well below the threshold.
The Vicar of St Barnabas's, Walthamstow, Canon Steven Saxby,
where Victoria worships, said: "It is heartbreaking that this
lovely couple could be divided because of the current spousal visa
arrangements. I hope others will support Citizens UK's call for
change and help keep couples like them together."'