Update #1: Partner Visa Joint Sponsorship Petition

Joint Sponsorship Update

Last month we started a petition to introduce joint sponsorship to the UK. If you missed it, you can read the original post here and sign the petition here. After our first month, we’ve nearly gained our first 500 signatures. That may still be some way off the 10,000 required for the government to respond – but it’s a great start. We’re eternally grateful to everyone who has supported this cause and signed so far.

Lizzie’s Story

We wanted to write this quick update to let you know what’s been going on, and how the petition has grown over the last few weeks. The first development we wanted to share is the story of Lizzie Swift. Lizzie contacted us regarding her partner’s visa, but unfortunately we had to break the news that she wasn’t able to meet the current financial requirement and could not apply. We shared our petition with her also.

Although it offers little consolation, Lizzie shared her story and the petition with the local Stockport paper On the Spot. Lizzie’s story has since been published in the online publication, and can be read here. It’s stories like these that remind us why we set up this petition in the first place. While Chelsea and I were fortunate enough to meet the financial requirement – there are a staggering amount of couples who do not. But looking beyond just numbers, there’s a story behind every couple, and only one rule keeping them apart.

Canvasing for Government Support

The second piece of news we want to share is our effort to gain government support for the petition. We have reached out to a number of MPs who we believe might be able to help us in our case – including our local representative David Morris.

We emailed David, the current MP for Morecambe & Lunesdale, for advice on how to proceed and whether there were any routes that we had not explored. David’s response confirmed some of our fears – that it was unlikely for the current government to approve such a proposal. However, he was also kind enough to forward to forward our email to fellow MP James Brokenshire, Minister of State at the Home Office. Though James has yet to send a reply, we are always hopeful of positive news.

If you want to support the petition for Joint Sponsorship, we would encourage you to email your local MP too. The more noise we can make, the more chance we have of getting noticed and making a real, positive change to the system. Find the contact details for your local MP using this Parliamentary search engine.

Full Email Conversation(And Template)

For those who are interested, the full transcript of our email to, and reply from, David Morris can be found below. Please feel free to adapt this email to send to your local MP too!

Our Email to David Morris

Hi David,

I wanted to write to you about the topic of immigration, and ask for any advice or support you might be able to offer in taking what I think is a huge inequality in the immigration system to government. My wife is a US citizen and we have been lucky enough to successfully apply for a spouse visa and close the distance between us.

Throughout the process and afterwards, we’ve run a small site (Love My Brit) to document our experience and help others with their visas. What came to light in particular was the financial requirement of £18,600 and how this must be earnt by the sponsor (UK partner) alone for any family partner visas.

For a lot of people who came to our site – we had to tell them if their sponsor couldn’t earn it, they couldn’t live together in the UK. It even affected us, as I had to find full time employment during my final year university to work towards meeting it.

We’ve since started a petition to introduce joint sponsorship, that would allow third parties (friends/family members) who are more financially stable to support foreign spouses in their application. We believe this would give younger & less financially stables couples a fair option to be together, without imposing any risk on taxpayers.

There has been a lot of news around the visa financial requirement recently, though little talk of any practical changes that would support the huge amount of couples we talk to who cannot be together because of it.

We’ve spoken to a few journalists on the issue, who are interested in revisiting the story but are hesitant to until anything is bought up/ discussed in parliament.

I apologise for the long email – I’m sure you receive so many of these! But any advice, guidance or help you could offer on taking this to government would be appreciated by us and so many other young couples.

David’s Reply

Dear Christopher and Chelsea,

Thank you for your email which I read with interest.  I am delighted that the Visa process for yourselves personally has been completed successfully.  I also imagine that the work you do to advise and support others going through the process is of great value to them.

Clearly, as you are already aware, the proposal you are making would require a change in the law, something which can take many years to happen, even if it were to be considered. 

You will know from your own experience, that all recent changes to Immigration legislation have been designed with the intention of tightening entry conditions, so my personal belief would be that it is extremely unlikely the Home Office would consider a change which potentially reverts that position.

That being said, I have forwarded a copy of your email to my colleague, James Brokenshire MP, who is the Minister of State at the Home Office with responsibility for Immigration Policy and Legislation.  I have asked him to consider your proposal and respond with his views and comments on the likelihood of a review to this current requirement.

I hope that this is satisfactory to you, and I will of course be in touch with you again as soon as any response is received.  Please be advised that Ministerial replies can take some time to be returned.

I will be in touch again I due course and send best regards in the meantime.

Thank you for taking the time to read this update, and once again thank you to everyone who has taken the time to sign the petition already. We will continue to update with the latest news and developments as they happen.

-Chris

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Chris Martin

Chris is a digital marketing manager for CommonTime, currently living in Nottingham, UK. He met Chelsea when she visited a friend of his in his hometown of Plymouth in 2013.

  • Kevin Armstrong

    You’ll eventually get a standard reply from Brokenshire along the lines of ” everyone is welcome but not at the taxpayers’ expense”. Completely misses the point that the passport stamp says no recourse to public funds.
    Your efforts are commendable but don’t expect much help from MPs and even less from MEPs. There’s virtually zero interest in this because so few votes are at risk. No MP has yet stood up for this absurd injustice and most have no idea what it’s about anyway. A sad state of affairs.
    You’ll be aware that the Supreme Court is due to hand down a judgement on this matter in the coming weeks/months and that probably is the best avenue to look down for change unless you can find a celebrity or group of them who would head up a campaign. Others have tried both that and your parliamentary route, but to date, without success. Good luck with your efforts.

    • Hi Kevin,

      I appreciate your thoughts, and we’ve heard from and of a lot of people who have tried similar petitions and parliamentary procedures before. We know that there is little interest in this, mainly as it benefits so few (not that it should be a reason). But to our knowledge most efforts to date have been aimed at lowering the financial requirement, which is easy to dismiss (wrongly) with the risk to the taxpayer argument. We’re aware of the supreme Court judgement in a few weeks and are hoping for positive news from it, but as it is, again, mainly regarding lowering the financial requirement we aren’t holding too much breath. We’re hoping the joint sponsorship route may be a more amenable middle ground.

      Most likely you are correct and we will get a canned response, but I’ll still be happy knowing that we tried rather than letting this happen and not standing up for what we believe.

      Again, thank you Kevin for taking the time to comment.

      All the best,
      Chris

      • Kevin Armstrong

        Hello Chris,
        Maybe I came across as a bit dismissive of your idea, that wasn’t my aim. I favour a broad based approach to the problem and to that end, a simple lowering of the threshold or even total abolition ( as some always bang on about) is not really the complete answer. The hearing heard evidence about suggestions such as yours and was far from just confined to arguments about removing or lowering the threshold. That said I’m not sure which way to swing with regard to the likely decision. The original High Court decision seemed to be a common sense one, whereas the COA one seemed like an exercise in legal gymnastics. Having watched a lot of the proceedings at the Supreme Court I did get the impression that the HO barrister was left floundering more often than her opposing barristers so I’m going to say I’m cautiously optimistic that sense might prevail!

        • We can hope! We’ll definitely be watching for the verdict, and I like your phrase ‘cautious optimism’. I think that summarises the whole feeling very well.

  • Letícia Melo

    I am not an EU citizen and my husband is british (his name is also Christopher hehe). I have applied for a FLR(M) as I am in the UK on a student visa. We were fortunate as well, in terms that Chris was able to meet the financial requirements. But what made me really angry was that, if he wasn’t british, but from any other european country, I could apply for the EEA family permit. It is not only FREE, but also gives you the 5 years at once, no financial requirements, no IHS, no English test, no questions asked. So, an european non-british living in the UK has more right to marry whomever they want (including non-EEA citizens) than a british citizen! A good petition would be “British citizens are European as well!”. I think it is just so unfair!
    By the way, I love your page, and I loved the videos explaining the documents you submitted. They helped me a lot, as I have not hired any advisor and made my application by myself. Thanks guys, and I wish a lifetime of happiness to you both x

    • Hi Leticia,

      I’m glad you’ve found our blog and videos helpful! I agree with you that the UK immigration rules are extremely unfair – especially compared to the rights of other EU citizens (even those living in the UK). It’s also given rise to the Surrinder Singh route of visa entery (whereby if a UK citizen moves to an EU country to live, it then becomes possible for them to bring their partner to the UK under the EEA family permit).

      It is very unfair, and there are a lot of couples who have been trying to change the system. Unfortunately, the general consensus of the current government is that stronger immigration controls are better, which could potentially make it even harder for couples.

      We wish you the best of luck with your FLR(M) application, keep us posted on how it goes!

      All the best,
      Chris

  • Letícia Melo

    I am not an EU citizen and my husband is british (his name is also Christopher hehe). I have applied for a FLR(M) as I am in the UK on a student visa. We were fortunate as well, in terms that Chris was able to meet the financial requirements. But what made me really angry was that, if he wasn’t british, but from any other european country, I could apply for the EEA family permit. It is not only FREE, but also gives you the 5 years at once, no financial requirements, no IHS, no English test, no questions asked. So, an european non-british living in the UK has more right to marry whomever they want (including non-EEA citizens) than a british citizen! A good petition would be “British citizens are European as well!”. I think it is just so unfair!
    By the way, I love your page, and I loved the videos explaining the documents you submitted. They helped me a lot, as I have not hired any advisor and made my application by myself. Thanks guys, and I wish a lifetime of happiness to you both x