It was Christmas Eve yesterday, and the “PM Exceptions” team, which used to employ humans but clearly no longer does, had dampened it considerably by dumping a pile of dung on my doorstep. A pile I would have to somehow explain this Christmas to yet one more scared, abused, cornered Ukrainian woman, a single mother of two children, both British citizens, terrorised by a Lithuanian man who fathered one of them and to whom she is still married. I promised her that I will help her. But UKVI has now taken to piling on and perpetuating spousal abuse. IT MUST STOP DOING IT.
This issue right here, at the core of it, is one of the reasons I support Brexit, and specifically end of Free Movement. How many times did I have, in 5 years of practice, someone come to me and say “My British hex-husband wouldn’t give me any documents, he says he would do everything in his power to make sure I get nothing, so I don’t get any visa or housing or benefits or work, so that I can get detained”. I know that happens, presumably, but I heard that only once. What I did have more than once, was concerned British men, including naturalised Brits of Russian or Ukranian origin, call me directly and ask “what can I do for my ex-wife to make sure she is ok? whatever you need”.
How many times did I have rude, alcoholic, violent Lithuanian or Latvian men (if one could call them that) stare ME IN THE FACE – after I, bewildered, had gone to confront them, sometimes driving hundreds of miles, if I knew where to find them – or called them – and say, in Russian, “This bitch gets nothing” about a MOTHER OF THEIR CHILD(ren)? At least once a week, I swear to God. Whatever is it in the water in those s**t countries, it causes it, no? Is there some sort of other explanation? The women in question are almost invariably from Ukraine. Sure, this is all not very politically correct. Sure. But this is how it is, and let us call it what it is.
There are exceptions to everything, I guess, but this is statistics. Somehow, accession of Latvia and Lithuania to the EU, which had brought us tens of thousands of the unloved lonely Eastern European men, who drive lorries despite never having taken a UK driving test, work in rock canyons, food processing plants and other inspiring occupations, had also caused this phenomenon. Sure, some had normal families, usually with other EU nationals or non-EU nationals originally also from Eastern Europe, just without citizenship (it’s a thing there). There were well adjusted people among them (and I know I sound like President Trump when I say this). I know. But hear me out.
So, how does this happen?
THOUSANDS OF THESE MEN took to the Internet about 5-10 years ago or so – and specifically looking to Ukraine – to meet Ukrainian women in search of a better live. Some of those were naive young women, some older women admittedly looking for a better live for a child maybe they already had. What does it matter now? Fast forward 5, 8, 10 years — in all the cases. They are here, and have been here for 5-10 years.
The couple will invariably have had a child, often the child will have received a British passport – upon an application filed by the father – either because HMPO did not, at the time, check WRS or whatever, either because the father was quite diligent with their own affairs, WRS registered and such like. Very few of these men are the sort of slobs that have no paperwork and think the country owes them. There are some, but that is not usual. Most of them had WRS, have been continuously working, with variations, and have paperwork to prove it. None of them usually, however, have applied for a document certifying permanent residence, even if they did apply for a child’s passport and it otherwise looks like they indeed acquired permanent residence. Invariably, as they continued to live in the UK, so did the wives. But there is no proof.
Then comes the breakup, usually when an afraid-of-everything Ukrainian woman, having spent years in the UK and having now a child in nursery or school, starts to get out more, talks to other parents, and realises that the abuse in her family is not normal and is not, generally, tolerated in the UK, and starts to try and escape the situation she is trapped in, speak up, or even seek out a relationship with someone else. In a variation of this theme, break-up actually comes when she asks the husband, who initially supported her visa and an application for a residence card, to get the documents out of the drawer for her upcoming permanent residence application. The documents never come – none of these controlling, abusive men, no matter whether they still semi-enslave the woman or have split, want their wife to gain independence, they want to continue to control and threaten her. I will make one call, they say, agents will come, take you away, you will never see your daughter again. This is TYPICAL in these families. Women live like that.
So they have all had a residence card, but they never get to obtain a permanent residence card. Sure, in EU Free Movement law permanent residence rights are “acquired” – a concept civil servants always had trouble with – but this really does not work in the real world, where you are enveloped by the hostile environment. If your residence card nominally expires, you can’t work, you can’t rent your house, your bank account has been closed, and your tax credits, to which you are otherwise as a spouse of an EU citizen entitled, stop — this is a spiral that leads to destitution and all sorts of terrible things. Unless of course the woman complies and stays with the abuser, when terrible things still happen to her, but she gets to continue to be the mother and is not on the street.
The ones that come to me, haven’t stayed — but for leaving, the ex-partners gave them hell, usually without any regard of the effect it had on the children. Thank god most of these men have a history of violence and physical abuse – else, they’d be getting custody, too. Naive family court judges really like a song about how mothers who have no immigration status provide unstable homes and are at risk of homelessness and destitution — they usually care zero that the reason for those things is the very person making the arguments, and that that person could resolve the mother’s situation in five minutes, just by providing needed documents.
Here we come to the crux of the issue.
Crux of the issue – the Happy days (didn’t feel like it, turns out they were)
The EEA Regulations always required that application for EEA documentation be accompanied by the original ID of the sponsor. Not a controversial requirement in itself – clearly, since the UK had not issued this ID (the idiocy of requiring it in Surinder Singh cases aside) , it needs to see it. But in practice, the requirement has been applied senselessly: in cases where the applicant’s relationship with sponsor had already been established, and the applicant already holds a residence card that had been issued to him on the basis of sight of sponsor’s documentation, Home Office required the original ID of the sponsor again at the Permanent Residence stage.
This flows from what HO thinks is the overarching logic that each application for EEA “confirmation” documentation is to be considered anew, as opposed to leave under the Immigration Rules which creates continuity of positive rights it establishes. (I have written previously on this blog a lot about how HO gives little to none importance to the documentation it itself issued, for instance refusing PR in retained rights cases where residence cards have been previously issued based on Retained Right of residence, by claiming a further 5 years later that there was no right in the first place and documentation had been issued by mistake, but that is beside the point here).
I suspect, knowing HO internal logic a bit, that it also considered this a sort of covert test of relationship veracity. Initially 5-10 years ago marriages of convenience were a huge problem in EEA arena, and HO felt that such marriages were more likely to deteriorate to complete loss of contact at PR stage. This was their back-handed, not strictly legal way of leaving people who slipped through the net without options.
The Home Office always part disliked, part misunderstood — many poorly trained EEA caseworkers still do – the case of Diatta v Land Berlin, which HO ostensibly recognises and includes in all caseworking guidance. It established that a marriage, for purposes of EU law, can only be in a binary state: it either exists, or it does not. Once a couple is married, it is a marriage for all purposes, until the gavel falls and decree nisi is pronounced final and absolute. Non-EU family members that have made it past their marriage being recognised as genuine in the first place, are thereafter not required to co-habit with the sponsoring spouse. This is the flip side of the fact that Free Movement rights have not been automatically bestowed on unmarried partners. The marriage eiother exists, or it does not — living or not together neither gives nor takes away rights. This was the design of the Free Movement directive, actually – to make EU free Movement rights easy to administer for member states. (as an aside – the United States immigration system, for instance, treats marriage in a similarly binary way, and does not recognise unmarried partnerships at all — again, mainly for ease of administration),
This position was always the opposite to how we treat marriage or relationships for the purpose of UK immigration law, where relationship supports underlying leave to enter or remain only so far as it is “subsisting” — but, since that inevitably calls into detailed examination each case’s facts, we then go ahead and recognise unregistered cohabitation in exactly the same way as we do marriage. This had made it into folklore, and confuses many EEA route applicants and caseworkers – merely separated people attempt to make misguided applications for retained rights while in fact they aren’t divorced and still have their original rights, and caseworkers, likewise, searching of importance of the fact of separation – when highlighted – while there isn’t any, often mistakenly trying to consider those applications as ROR applications. HO officially recognises Diatta, this comes rather just from low-level employees being under-trained and uninformed and poorly supervised.
In reality of course the requirement for sponsor’s original ID at PR stage hit a lot of genuinely estranged partners. Even when some contact persisted and say proof of treaty rights, such as payslips and bank statements, can be obtained from the spouse through some combination of begging and threats, it is ever much harder to obtain their original ID, especially as the case used to be, for months to send off and who knows when to get back (HO trialed immediate return of EU passports in 2017, but firstly it stopped doing it, and secondly, it never returned IDs in the same manner).
The most befuddling aspect of this is that the issue had already been litigated once, in 2015, when the Upper Tribunal ruled in the case of Barnett and Others, which Home Office technically also recognises, that sponsor’s original ID was NOT needed at PR stage, where documentation had previously been issued. Throughout 2015 and 2016, I have obtained dozens of PR cards for estranged spouses and have even dispensed with sending sponsor’s document even when there was no estrangement, because it was widely recognised as unneeded in these cases.
As to the rest of supporting documents, eg lack of say, payslips and/or WRS certificates (in other words, documents that the government technically could itself obtain), the policy at the time was that women applying on the basis of retained right of residence could, upon providing written explanation about steps they took to obtain documentation, plead with Home Office to query HMRC and Home Office’s own records, and generally it would do so. In 2015-2016 I had quite a few of such cases. IN some cases, separated women were advised to get divorced, in hope that divorce would support them in a way that HO will agree to look up the hereto missing information.
How it all started changing after the Referendum
But in January 2017, when the latest 2016 EEA Regulations came into effect, the Home Office sharply abandoned Barnett, and never gave any explanation for this. After 1 February 2017, they started to refuse cases outright only for lack of sponsor ID. Well, in Spring 2017 I did have a small fight with them over Barnett, and the then-DCC (Deputy Chief Caseworker) did provide an explanation of what their position was. It was that Barnett was decided under 2006 Regulations (FALSE – Barnett was decided by reference to the Free Movement law directly) and now that 2016 Regulations came into effect, they thought they were no longer bound by it. Obviously NONE of these employees are legally trained, so they have not read the actual case and do not know how it was decided. This is like getting legal advice from your doorman. But this is how it is.
(as an aside, my client, and EU citizen, subsequently tried to challenge the change in JR, in which HO put forth a lawyer from New Zealand (!) that produced pages upon pages of gibberish, for which he was subsequently billed £1200 in costs, and Admin Court put a medical malpractice solicitor on the case as a judge — this was like a Coen brothers noir film, not justice. You can read more here. Subsequently my client, again, an EU citizen, had been detained for 3 hours twice entering the UK on claims that he owed “litigation debt”, not a thing with EU citizens.).
In 2017, those were strange refusals. They would process the applications, take fees, and then send you a refusal “with no right of appeal” – because ostensibly you haven’t proven that you are subject to EU law at all – but say in it that the rest of your case hadn’t been considered on the merits. At the time I recall we even argued that this was an unlawful way by HO to pocket application fee money, because it kept application fees, of which it would have to refund most of, if the application was rejected as invalid. I recall arguing on the highest level with HO officials in 2017 that such applications must be rejected, not refused. The cases I had at hand then, were not abuse-related cases,it was just about convenience then – so I did not anticipate what an even bigger disaster it will be when they finally heed my call.
When they changed the policy in 2017, they also eliminated the facility to automatically assist in ROR cases, and started to demand sponsor ID in ROR cases as well, which wasn’t a thing before. It was then that they adopted a policy which instructed caseworkers to dispense with original document requirements, and possibly consent to making inquiries, not strictly speaking in ROR cases, but in cases where extreme circumstances, e.g. domestic abuse, are alleged. This had made it necessary to bring abuse claims into cases which otherwise did not require it as an element, because applicants qualified for the benefit sought and met requirements anyway – making cases much more open to intrusive inquiry and painful for the applicants to make.But, on the upside, the policy did not apply in ROR cases only anymore, but in all cases where such circumstances were made. In theory.
Colin Yeo wrote on his blog then , that this was all good news — and when I commented saying it was bad news, he famously personally banned me from his site. But he WAS wrong. In practice it became much worse. Not all cases were refused for lack of sponsor ID, it was like a devil’s lottery. Outcomes were always bizarre and it became much harder to get any justice for women.
My client 1, who had a ROR application made (with assistance of another firm) in summer of 2017 with a legal error AND without sponsor ID, was refused due to a caseworker’s misunderstanding of the point of the law on which the old reps also made an error , and given right of appeal. She came to me. I filed the appeal, but told her the case will be easily resolved on reapplication. We filed again, and got refused, this time, for lack of Sponsor ID. Since appeal was already pending, there was no point in more appeals. But both she and her ex were well to do and involved in a custody battle with help of expensive family lawyers, who reached a deal. She put up a bond of £10,000 with his lawyers for a dufus to send his passport. It was all cloak and dagger, it came to me directly from overseas, to which he fled the family proceedings, and I was not supposed to let her touch it. But it was only then that her THIRD application was granted and we were able to withdraw appeal just a week before the hearing (I had to intervene with the current new DCC to make it happen in time). Note this was a different case involving an applicant who had previously resided here on a non-EEA route, and sponsor was NOT Eastern European
My client 2 mistakenly made, with assistance of god-knows-who, a ROR-based PR application even though she was not yet then divorced, and she had no original documents of the sponsor at all, not ID, not anything else. She was refused for lack of documents, and the fact of not being divorced, but not lack of ID specifically. Appeal was also filed and she came to me shortly before it was to be first heard. I discovered abuse was in fact documented by social services in this case, but she never put any of this forth — since she had no case without proof of sponsor employment, it took me 8 month (1) to finally get the Tribunal to issue directions for HO to request info, and even then they did not comply TWICE. The case was adjourned a total of three times, and on the fourth time the Home Office conceded it, after Judge McCarthy yelled at the new HOPO for ten minutes. The issue of ID never came up. (This is the case which infamously had me thrown out of court in Birmingham once, as we were seeking adjournment, which was only achieved because I was thrown out for ostensible misconduct – to wit, speaking in Russian – as was chronicled on my Facebook page). Anyhow, it took 1.5 years to resolve so far, and it is not even resolved yet, since they “withdrew with a view to grant” and i had to agree, but nothing has so far happened. I now have to append a 17-year old stepdaughter to the case, and fear that the same problem of sponsor ID will befall that effort — which is critical, since the girl needs to go to uni on 1 September, and the HO policy, as you will see in a second, changed again.
How has it changed?
This is how:
My client 3 has, just like client 2, entered the country initially on an EEA FP after a marriage in Ukraine, in December 2012. She was subsequently issued with a residence card valid up to June 2018 on its face. The child of the marriage was born in September 2013 in England, and issued with British passport on what appears to be a conclusive set of documents, including WRS. It is not generally in dispute whether the father has PR, and pretty clearly she does too. In December 2017 they broke up (and she took up with another man and subsequently had a child, whose parent is a BC but whom nationality law considers the child of the husband – a separate story). There was in all this no time for a divorce – they are still married and so she still has Free Movement rights. Husband visits with the daughter frequently and comes around to terrorise her, he does not however tell her where he now lives and refuses to support her with any documents.
She was, like many other women, misadvised when she was making a PR application in May 2018. in any event, it was refused, as used to be standard, in summer 2018 for lack of sponsor ID. None of her explanations were taken into account. She was given “NRA” – no right of appeal, although technically even under the Regulations that was incorrect as she had, at the time of that application, a valid Residence card. She could have appealed anyway — it is possible to convince the Tribunal you have a right of appeal even if an illiterate caseworker decided you don’t – but when she came to me in November, it was too late (refusal was July). So I said, ok, we will file an approvable application. Her collection of sponsor documents related to his PR was near perfect (she had managed to stash them away secretly after they had been returned by HMPO following the child’s passport application). All she was lacking was his ID, and it was very clearly not forthcoming. Surely the Home Office would see the light on this one?
The application was properly garnished with evidence of abuse, her written explanations, and my written warnings everywhere where sponsor ID was required, including a copy of it, that the case involves abuse and then reference to policy, caseworking policy printouts, Barnett and then that I request that SCW look at it. Did any of it happen? No. Do you want to know what happened? THIS PART IS NEW.
The pile of dung they heaped on my doormat yesterday, was like this. It was a REJECTION FOR INVALIDITY. Not a refusal. Difference? I could appeal the refusal, NRA or not. But I cannot appeal a rejection for invalidity.
The note I got was particularly stupid, in included other falsehoods, such as me not filling out Section 2 (what moron would not fill out section 2? of course it was there!) and lacking a sponsor photo. I recognise that Reg 21 in the new recently tweaked version of the Regulations makes it technically possible to reject an application without a sponsor passport, where only Applicant’s passport used to be required – so “discretion” to accept or not is moved from consideration stage, where it’d be looked by a caseworker, eg trained, somewhat knowledgeable human being, to a not-really-trained monkey in the intake stage, that lacks knowledge of language to read or consider the implications of anything I say about this, and certainly never seen caseworking guidance. It’s like having cases on which lives turn, decided by a cashier. THIS is what’s new.
But either way, the Regulations certainly say nothing about rejecting applications for lack of photos, and counting the sections is also problematic.
Whose responsibility is this, that we treat abused women like it’s Saudi Arabia here? Let’s name names.
The team in charge of this… erm… output, is the infamous PM Exceptions, more fully “biometric and exceptions” team shared by two main arms of the “permanent migration team”, which encapsulates Nationality and EEA (don’t look for logic in naming here). This is the very team whose incompetent work I profusely covered on this blog a couple of times (at least here and here). It used to be headed by my nemesis David Woosey (he was the SCW there, which I think means essentially a team leader), who, I recall, was once very upset when I disparaged the team’s work (or what he thought passes for work) to the then nationality DCC, and previously EEA DCC, the now-retired Linda Bateman.
The post of an EEA DCC gained infamy in the years that it was held by Mrs Bateman, who liked to accept awards and give interviews to the media about how her work involves “helping people”, but in whose tenure most of the EEA-related abuses occurred. Well, years have gone by, and David Woosey is now the EEA DCC. This is a huge career climb, but trust me it was probably not due to performance improvement in the Exceptions — or was it? Because under David Woosey, our archrivalry aside, one could eventually find sense and even solutions in the Exceptions team. One could reason with them.In his own manner, he made a sort of sense, and he certainly did not always ignored issues. Just sometimes..
This is now gone. The occasional real weird emails I get (you can see screenshots on my Facebook page) include allusions to “low staffing” and virtually nothing gets done, and the dung they cough out is unsigned (making me think Capita or ATOS took it over – or was it G4S? Come to think of it, it did come with a “reporting center” return address). Mr Woosey, in his recent email to me, underlined with deliberate emphasis that he no longer works on that team and is not directly responsible. I guess he didn’t want me to think too bad of him.
The Exceptions team was initially small and designed to resolve “technical exceptions” – hold checks sent with nationality applications until they cleared, look for missing photos, or return cases sent in without passports. It quickly gained power in the PM directorate in 2015, when it was decided to collect biometrics from nationality applicants, and it then had to also collect them in non-EEA family members cases, which were thought to be a minority of EEA cases not worthy of their own team. By the way, I do not know any of this, this is all educated guessing, my extrapolation of their operations from my communication with these people over the years.
And NOW the Exceptions team is going to decide how good my client’s evidence of abuse is, and which applications will be processed or not? Well, don’t buy into that,. Clearly the not-so-trained monkeys are just told to reject all applications without a Sponsor ID. That is it. There is no evaluation process, it is a lie. To all my evidence the caseworker only wrote “we note that your sponsor is unforthcoming (oh, that is what it is called now?) but “in that case, decree absolute will be required”.
I guess it was their half-witted way to suggest that only in ROR cases will lack of ID be considered — which is where policy had been 2 years ago. It is not the policy now. A caseworker would presumably know, these ones don’t know. HOW IS THIS SUPPOSED TO WORK IF A CASEWORKER, LET ALONE SCW, DOES NOT EVEN TAKE A LOOK AT CASES WITH ALLEGED SPOUSAL ABUSE?
Whatever rationale is behind this, I am 100% that my Client 3 is not the policy target of it. No one actually meant to have applications from women in situations such as hers, to not get permanent residence card applications accepted for processing. It is just poor wording, lack of care, ring-fencing of officials, no one cares, etc. Long-time wife of a clearly abusive EU citizen, mother of an EU and British child, clearly everyone there has PR and there is proof, relationship not in doubt, husband’s pattern is classic controlling behaviour etc. The current published policy is 100% behind my client and so is the law. They just don’t follow either.
But what do I got to do if they are now sending application back without any recourse at all? Well, I personally can call out David Woosey publicly and accuse him of perpetuating spousal abuse. I can call the Guardian, and I will if I have to. But Woosey is truly not in charge of that team anymore, because he is now EEA and it’s between teams. And we cannot resolve each case through The Guardian just so that Home Office will follow their own published policy.
I have some personal contacts in the HO, developed over the years. It’s like Stockholm syndrome — the evil guys agree to maybe follow their own rules and be a bit less evil once or twice, and I start feeling like they are my friends and we are on the same side. But those relationships will strain and stop being effective if I have to evoke them for every case. In fact I very-very rarely do it, usually to communicate on cases that involve complex situations — have already been subject to litigation or damages payments, had passports lost, something like that. Casework cannot be resolved by personal contact with senior employees. It is not the way. The department needs to start, in these last weeks of the current EEA documentation regime, to work as intended. IT MUST STOP PERPETUATING SPOUSAL ABUSE.
The bottom line is, all our wives, break-up or not, have acquired PR rights, but can’t prove it and, even if they have squandered some proof of the spouses’ work, or miraculously the spouse has a PR document, they still can’t make an application because they cannot get the spouse’s original ID to send with it. This is like Saudi Arabia or something, when women are not allowed to do anything without permission from a male relative. AND OUR GOVERNMENT CREATED THIS REGIME HERE.
And yes, Mr Woosey, I do not care that you are not in charge of Exceptions NOW — considering the case-by-case for discretion based on domestic abuse allegations is NOT EXCEPTIONS WORK, this is EEA CASEWORKING TEAM’s WORK, so please get it done.
NO SETTLEMENT SCHEME WILL EVER WORK EITHER, UNLESS THIS IS PUT TO NORMAL PROCESS. Tons of these women are now waiting for the new pilot to kick in, hoping it will help with their lack of evidence of sponsor TR, but they will be caught in the same net of stupidity you guys have now started there, because none of them have Sponsor ID, and many are not divorced either, because sponsor is ion the wind, unwilling, or trying to divorce them overseas (which would not be valid in English law) to avoid property division with the wife they left to care for their child. These women and their mostly British by birth children will be, without proof of their PR, homeless, destitute and at risk. And this will be ON YOU, David, even if only you are the only person there able to get anything done. It will be. Personally on you.
I am quitting all EEA practice when the new “settlement scheme” pilot starts in a month. I can say what I think.
Now, the extra. Why are all these women in these situations in the first place? What are all these strange ill-considered marriages and abnormally acrimonious break-ups? HO officials, including I am sure David Woosey, consider that something is wrong here en masse, that all of these situations simply cannot be what they are — there must be procrastination, lack of effort, or some sort of back-handedness. That is why they are all really treated like this. I know, because I thought so too.
In the five years of this practice, I, a person who once called my company World Without Borders, moved sharply to the right on immigration.
- I believe in borders (look for my upcoming blog that chronicles me spending a day with the Border Force team in Calais, when I have the time to write it).
- I realised that I am a huge believer in personal responsibility. I can see how many people’s problems are a result of their own doing, procrastination, or attitude towards laws.
- I think Windrush people should have made effort to establish and keep evidence of their immigration status years ago, and EEA citizens should have asked themselves when they first came in, what the conditions of their residence were. I do think, just like Mrs May, that people on EEA route get to “the front of the queue” unmeritoriously.
- I do not believe that a person lacking all skills who came in on the back of a banana lorry or a fake passport, should ultimately have the same outcome, except cheaper, as a person with a Masters who paid £20 000 in government fees for their family, form entry to citizenship, and spent interim years of sleepless nights complying with thousands of small rules. Free Movement and ludicrous EEA jurisprudence such as Metock, sort of provides that.
- I also believe in assimilation, I believe that people should speak English if they came to England, and attempt to understand local culture and people and mix with them. I think that a person who moved here along with half of Lithuania, never actually left Lithuania — except that it is now here. That is why I supported and support Brexit.
- I believe that majority of those who call themselves “ETS victims” actually cheated on their TOEIC tests, and we were right to expel them.
- I believe that majority of “asylum seekers” in Calais do not qualify for asylum, and many of those who pretend to be children are not actually children.
- I know as a matter of law, that majority of couples, usually involving Americans, that are profiled in the Guardian as victims of injustice, are victims only of their own inability to understand and follow basic rules.
- I think that highly profiled “small accounting mistakes” were in majority of cases results of deliberate misrepresentation.
The list goes on. But it is what it is right now, Brexit is in 3 months, this is all about to be over – and we have this relatively small group of frightened, abused women with small British children, of whom no devisers of any settlements, agreements and schemes really thought.
Whether or not we like them or understand the forces of nature that brought them here, or agree with laws that entitle them to permanent residence and their kids to citizenship, they are here, they are entitled, and there are children involved. We can’t have not-so-trained monkeys gamble with their lives. LIVES, as it proves to be in a hostile environment. We cannot fall as low as to enable abusers to turn our country into a version of Saudi Arabia.
Am I puzzled by these relationships, in the first place, the way these families live here in modern world, the mutual animosity and acrimony of these breakups? Yes, very much so. Do I accept that so many of these marriages, given their sheer numbers, could not have all been based on true love? Yes, I do. But they are, however, real. Real children of these families were born in our country and carry its passports.
I am myself, of course, from Russia, and, although we met and got married in New York, so was my first husband, with whom we have a (now adult) daughter together. We broke up literally 6 months into our marriage, before she even was born. I have a lot of questions for him, still. But in all, we have been, to the extent possible, friends all these years. He, his new wife, and their three children, my daughter’s half siblings, remain part of our family, It was them, myself absent, who visited my grandfather in his retirement home in Moscow recently on his 94th birthday.
Most of the other divorced Russians, and Ukrainians for that matter, that I know, have similarly amicable relationships with the other parent of their child(ren). Now, I can see how couples who did not have children together, may sort of drift apart and not stay in touch. But how to you vow to DESTROY a woman who actually is raising your child? These men, what sort of sub-humans are they?
Initially, I tried to not believe the women. I drove 100 miles once, to confront one of those geniuses, the husband of Client 2, at his house. She does not have £10,000 to rent his ID from him, but I was thinking — well, maybe he would give something to me, a stranger, if not to her. Oh, boy.
He looked me in the eye and said “this bitch gets nothing”. He conducted himself, but for that, alarmingly calmly and was, as any psychopath, persuasive, by unsophisticated standards. he then lounged into a lengthy paranoid conspiracy explanation of how his wife, a mother of his now school-age daughter with whom he lived for 7 years, had actually only used him to move to England, he just knows it. So, he figures, he owes her nothing. She reported abuse to social services to destroy him, AND filed for child support to bankrupt him, because she was “urged on by a malicious group” (probably a citizens advice bureau?) so he will deport her to destroy her. It’s that simple. And the kid? Well, the kid is afraid of him anyhow now, cus the mother is lying to her. That simple.
Is it sort of like marriages we or our mates have had? No. Do we want geniuses like this in this country? No. Do we understand how all this even came about, or think this is normal? No.
But his wife and child are here and they have rights. Our government cannot perpetuate his abuse of them, by denying their right to exist. And this is what is now being done. This is a new level of low. Hardliner than I am, I am now also ashamed of my country. Who is left thinking this is all well and dandy? How about you, Mr Woosey?
********UPDATE. Things unfolded quickly after this post. The new SCW for Exceptions wrote to me asking to scan and send back the evidence and explanations that were included for lack of sponsor ID that were apparently ignored. I scanned 12 pages for her. She came back to me asking to post the application back to her personally, which I did. Biometrics was issued the day after it was received back, and e-mailed to me. The client then enrolled it the day after. She received a permanent residence card today (on Friday 18/1 actually, but she was out). I also received her approval 18/1. We are all very grateful for this outcome. But my point is and remains, that we cannot possibly be resolving each individual case via blogging about it and personally calling out senior HO staff, or publicising it in The Guardian. No policy is worth a penny if your own staff are unaware of it or can’t be bothered to apply it ROUTINELY. These cases are not unique. There are a lot of people in this position, with variations. It is a statistically significant number of women and they are all treated like this, routinely. It wasn’t a one-off.