LONDON - it is not so easy to fall in love in another country. There are those who get lucky, and those who get unlucky. Even if your loved one used to be a compatriot, it does not necessarily mean that your relationship will always prosper.
If this happens to you and you lose your visa, is there a way for you to remain in the United Kingdom?
Erasmo Gutijer’s story:
This is the question bothering Erasmo Gutijer Jr., a Filipino who previously held a work permit but does not have a visa now.
When he was still a careworker, he was able to bring his partner to the UK to work, with their little daughter, and they happily lived together. They even had another daughter here.
He said, "My partner called me. She said 'Daddy, my work is now sorted out so I can now help you there'. She said the problem was money. I had a friend, Darwin Caubang, from whom I borrowed £500 to send to her.”
Unfortunately, their relationship deteriorated. Gutijer lamented, "You know, it was painful, it was so sad. I worked far away. I would come home maybe once a month or every two months."
To add to his misfortunes, Gutijer lost his job and also lost his visa in the UK.
Gutijer continued, "She told me to leave as I had no job then. She just asked me to leave. That was hard. Our doctor friend was even there. She threw my things out because I was criticizing her for doing what she had done, then she even slapped me in front of the kids. I did not retaliate."
On the other hand, his ex-partner was lucky as she soon obtained indefinite leave to remain in the UK until she got her British citizenship, the same as their two children.
"They became British, all three of them," Gutijer continued. "Then one day I saw a notice that she got married to a white guy from Nottingham. I went to visit my daughters. I said I am just visiting them. He told me you are not allowed to stay here. But that was a council house. I could have complained about them, because that is not allowed. I am the father and he cannot say I have no right. I did not complain about them, but it should have been just the three of them there."
JUAN EU Konek hosts (L-R) ABS-CBN Europe and Middle East bureau chief Danny Buenafe, immigration consultant Gene Alcantara, and ABS-CBN Europe senior correspondent Rose Eclarinal.
Gutijer’s case is a bit complicated. His children are British and in the UK, children have priority and their father has the right to have access to them.
If he is lucky, the UK government could grant Gutijer leave to remain here until his children reach adulthood.
"What I want is to sort out my status here so that I could visit my mother. It has been too long. I have not seen her for 11 years. She might die before I could see her again. That is what I am praying for, for my papers to get sorted, visit home, then come back here to work because this is where my life is now," he said.
Once he has been granted his visa, Gutijer could work again in order to support and maintain himself, and help with rearing his young daughters.
Felimon Ventura’s story:
It is also not so simple to fall in love with another race, for example a British person.
But what if such a relationship between a Filipino and a Briton breaks down especially when the Filipino has still not obtained permanent residence in the United Kingdom?
This is the story of Felimon Ventura, a former student in England. We went to visit him in Birmingham in the northern part of England in order to find out what is happening with his life now.
Ventura met his British girlfriend at work. Not too long after that they started living together, they got married.
Ventura said there was nothing special when he started wooing his British girlfriend.
"How was it? I just let her feel it. Then my ex asked me if I was serious. I said, yeah, I am. Then from there, we started going out already, that’s it. We were an item already.”
Their relationship bore fruit and a son was born to them after one year. Unfortunately, the marriage failed and they separated.
"Actually, we never fought," Ventura explained. "Probably that was one of the reasons why we could not get along. We just never fought. I would go to work, then come home, that’s it. And then, when I have a day off, she would in turn go to work because we both had jobs. The biggest problem was my affections for her disappeared 2 to 3 months before we separated. And then I met somebody."
Ventura said he was worried. "Basically, the ground is all on my fault, you know. But then I was also prepared to go home if I was sent home."
Ventura came to consult my office and we talked about his situation and explored his options. We agreed that we would fight for him to stay in the United Kingdom because his British son needs him to be around.
Fortunately, it did not take too long and his application was soon granted by the UK authorities.
The UK Home Office gave him leave to remain, together with the ability to work, because of his parental relationship with his British child who now stays with him at the weekends and during holidays.
It seems easy to fall in love in foreign shores, but if your love affair ends up in separation, there is still hope for those who wish to stay if the Filipino concerned has a minor child with British citizenship.
According to immigration law, British children and their welfare are accorded a high priority. Firstly, they have the right to grow up in the UK and to enjoy life as a European citizen. If the child is forced to leave the UK because one of his or her parents has no visa status, this could be considered unreasonable and deemed a breach on their human rights.
On the other hand, a British child has the right to be cared for and have a parental relationship with his or her father and mother, so that if one of the parents has no visa, he or she could be granted what is called discretionary leave to remain in the country in order to continue such relationship with the child until the latter is grown up.
If this is your situation, then you should consult as soon as possible with a reputable solicitor or licensed immigration consultant in order to find out what to do to apply under the category of 'family life' and hopefully obtain discretionary leave to remain. Even those who are unauthorized in the UK could avail of such a visa if they have a minor British child.
And when you obtain this visa, you can start counting from 5 to 10 years in the country in order to obtain permanent residence or what is referred to as indefinite leave to remain, which is also the route towards British citizenship.
So even if you fail in love, it does not mean that you have to leave the country straightaway, especially if you have a child. Instead, this could be your route towards being able to remain in the United Kingdom. -- Gene Alcantara, with Ryan Chua, for Juan EU Konek.
Immigration 101 is one of the segments on TFC’s Juan EU Konek, a once-month special, which will air regularly on TFC, starting June 1. It will be presented by immigration adviser Gene Alcantara.
On the same episode, ABS-CBN Europe senior correspondent Rose Eclarinal will feature the London revival of smash-hit musical Miss Saigon and Europe and Middle East bureau chief Danny Buenafe will look into the plight of migrant domestic workers in the UK.
Juan EU Konek will air on TFC in its regular time-slot for the first time on Sunday, June 1st, at 10:35 p.m. (Italy, EU) and 11:35 p.m. (Saudi Arabia, ME), with replays on Thursdays at 9:05 a.m. (Italy, EU) and 8:45 a.m. (Saudi Arabia, ME).