On 31 October, the UKVI denied my request for residence in the UK. The reason? My partner Scott and I “failed to prove we had been married”. However, we applied as unmarried partners. So since the decision was given wrongly, I need to appeal. The difficulty is that after spending six months waiting for the decision – while not allowed to work – the already expensive legal case is next to financially impossible, and I could really use some help getting there.
I think maybe calamitous better describes the effect it's had. We had a careful financial plan in which we would just be able to get by on an already strained money situation. A positive decision was crucial to that plan, so the negative decision has completely blown us out of the water.
The costs for the appeal, travel to and from, and preparing evidence will be over £200. Then if we're able, representation could be around £1000 if we're lucky. This is without even considering continuing living costs.
Even the smallest amount helps. If a lot of people are able to give a little, then we'll definitely make it.
The Back Story
I grew up and was educated in the United States, in Washington State. After finishing, my degree in Linguistics and Russian, I skipped the country to teach English in Slovakia – and later Poland – and to really put my language skills to the test.
While in Slovakia, I travelled as much as possible - and as cheaply as possible – to all the surrounding countries and in April of 2011, I travelled to London for a long weekend. My first day there, I met Scott who was staying in the same hostel. The whole weekend was spent wandering around London with Scott as my personal tour guide.
Those few days around London were it for us and about two months later, Scott joined me in Slovakia...after a 24 hour bus journey from London to Slovakia. In April, we celebrated our 4th anniversary in the same places we had wandered four years previous and had a picnic on one of those site: Parliament Square.
After two months, we left Slovakia for Opole, Poland where we spent the next three years teaching English. Scott focused on Business and Conversational English, teaching directors at Danone, Filplast, staff at the university, the Polish Prison Service, 4-year-old preschoolers and adults as old as 60. I taught all-encompassing English lessons for NATO soldiers, Polish government officials, the university's International Relations Department, directors of international companies and lots of amazing children and adults.
It was a wonderful, yet challenging, experience. So after four and a half years of teaching English, I decided it was time to call it quits and bring Scott back home to London.
England!...and the Home Office...
That roughly brings us to the present. I applied in April 2015 for an EEA (FM) residence card via the Surinder Singh judgement. This route allows non-EEA partners to join their British partners in the UK to live and work for five years as long as we prove a couple of key things:
1. We are in a durable (long-lasting) relationship of more than 2 years.
2. Scott lived and worked in the EEA country for min. 3 months.
3. We lived together in the EEA country before Scott returned to the UK.
I was as thorough as possible with my application. For even the smallest query, I immediately called the Home Office, from pre-application through to after applying. I literally wrote portions of the application with them on the phone to ensure it was perfect. For supporting evidence, I supplied 60+ photos and descriptions, Polish tax documents, rental agreements and work contracts with translations for each, plane tickets, and even little notes from Scott over the years. This was all in support of the 150-page application form. I was as thorough and accurate as possible to make the UKVI's job as easy as possible.
Yet despite my best efforts, they denied me on grounds I didn't apply under.
In my many calls to the Home Office, I was assured by them that Surinder Singh was for married and unmarried couples. In the past, it was only for married, but that has since changed and I have found legislation to support what I was told originally. And yet, their decision states we would have to be married.
I just want to work and contribute to this beautiful country, and with your help, hopefully I'll be allowed to.
Thanks for reading and hopefully contributing xx
Natasha and Scott