Yes I chose to come to Turkey and most days I love living here. But the plan was always if the job didn’t work out I could always go back to the UK. For those of you that have been reading for awhile you will know that not long after I got here I met my husband.
We did the usual things…..dated, got to know each other, fell in love and decided to get married. But that’s when the choice stopped been a choice……because now I don’t have a choice….we have to live in Turkey.
Why, why? I hear you shout…..well in October 2012 the UK changed their immigration rules for non EU spouses. That means Turkish as well as Egyptian, Tunisian, American… Yes I said American,Canadian and anywhere else that isn’t Europe.
So we have some choices…… I could return to the UK by myself……find somewhere to live, try and find a job…not any job I have to earn more than £18600 a year. Once I have been working for 6 months we can apply for a visa for my husband. He first has to pass an English test which is a reasonable requirement and we have to pay the extortionate visa fee which with translations, photocopying and visit to the visa centre to submit the documents can easily come to over £1000.
Then we would have to wait…..,between 12 and 24 weeks for a decision to be made. They can suggest we live in my husbands country especially as we have already done so for a number of years. So that’s nearly a year apart. If the visa is granted he would come to the UK but be subject to immigration control for 5 years. The visa is only for 2.5 years and we would have to reapply again after that time for a further 2.5 years. Exactly the same costs, and we would have to be earning £18600 between us…… possible for a mature couple like us but what about young couples with children or who want to start a family…..not such an easy amount to reach.
After a further 2.5 years we would then have to apply for a different type of visa allowing him indefinite leave to remain and yes that does come with a price tag…… He also has to sit a higher level English test and pass a Life in the UK test. I’ve tried the Life in the UK test on line and failed….58%. Interestingly I got sidetracked and ended up doing an aptitude test on the MI5 website afterwards and was told that I have an aptitude for that type of work and should apply……..no chance they don’t pay £18600 a year.
Eventually if we meet all the criteria set by the Government 6 years down the line……he can apply to be a UK citizen if he wants.
But what if they refuse the visa…….. We can appeal…….that can take a further 19 weeks…… All the time living apart. We won’t get a visit visa for him because they will know that he wants to settle in the UK and won’t believe that he’ll come home afterwards.
If I was European…..I could bring my husband to the UK to live. He could have a Family Permit and a 5 year residents permit and not be subject to immigration controls, not pass an English test,claim benefits if he wanted in fact everything that an EU citizen can claim in the UK. Not very fair is it?
There is a way…..we could consider the Surinder Singh route. Couples move to another European country, get jobs work for an undefined period of time although 12 weeks has always been acceptable and can then apply for a Family Permit and return to the UK. The UK Citizen is then classed as having exercised their rights to free movement and are treated as an EU citizen rather than a UK citizen. Many people have opted for this route as it is cheaper and you get to be together for the whole time rather than separated for 6 months to a year.
There are groups on Facebook specifically for supporting people through the Surinder Singh route…search for EU FREE MOVEMENT DIRECTIVE and you should find them easily.
But…..isn’t there always a but? In January 2014 the UK decided to add a few extras to the European ruling…..not legal but they seem to be able to do what they like. Now you have to prove you have moved the centre of your life to the other EU country. Things like keeping a house, car or job in the UK may affect your right to return as a family. People who are enrolled on University courses in the UK could be classed as not having transferred their lives. Sadly the UK government is doing everything it can to keep non EU spouses out.
At the moment we are happy to live in Turkey……which is just as well as there aren’t a lot of other options open to us.