LONDON - Once Filipinos become permanent residents or citizens of the United Kingdom (UK), they wish for none other than to bring their loved ones here, such as their spouses.
The question is, can they fulfill or meet the requirements of the British Government especially at this time of tightening of the rules for bringing families to the UK?
Let us look into the experiences of two Filipino families in the UK.
Cora Canlas, a British citizen, first met her husband Dante Canlas at a social gathering. They quickly felt comfortable with each other, and their relationship developed rapidly until they started living together.
Unfortunately Dante was undocumented, having arrived in the UK in 2007 with a tourist visa which he was unable to renew. His status became a big problem for the couple and they obviously wanted to sort it out.
The couple approached an immigration lawyer to sort their papers out but the application to the Home Office was refused in view of his being an overstayer in the country.
The refusal hit them hard especially when they realized that Dante might be forced to go back home. They were saddened by it and at the same time were afraid of what might happen.
They transferred to another immigration consultant who advised them to just go back home and apply at the British Embassy there for entry clearance as a spouse.
Cora Canlas recalled, “That became our decision, for him to go back home. It was truly a gamble as we did not know what would happen: would he be given a visa or would we need to be separated for a long time…”
Although it was difficult for Cora and Dante, they carried out their decision, went back home and there got married. However in view of Dante not having a legal right to stay in the UK, he was unable to apply to return straight away and they were separated for one year.
Then when they eventually applied, Cora’s full time income was insufficient to meet the salary requirement so Dante’s application was delayed.
As Cora had a part time job which paid cash, she managed to persuade the part time employer to confirm this in writing and produce signed payslips. So when Cora was able to show that she could meet and exceed the British Embassy’s income requirement if she added her part time income to her full time salary, Dante swiftly received his Entry Clearance and was able to return to the UK.
The couple is now building their life together in Ascot, Berkshire and working towards the future.
Dante’s advice to compatriots in the same situation is for them to seek the assistance of a solicitor so they will know exactly what to do and what to expect and to get some protection if you get detained.
The complete opposite happened when Rose Lazo applied for her husband to join her in the UK to help her with the difficult birth of their twins, and to help her look after them.
Lazo first arrived in the UK to work, brought here by her employer from Hong Kong. After five years she was able to obtain Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK and plans to apply for British citizenship in due course.
In 2013 she married her husband in the Philippines and when she came back she found out that she was pregnant and that she would have twins.
Unfortunately, although she had some savings, Lazo decided to stop work while she was pregnant. This meant sadly that because she had stopped working, she found it difficult to show that her income is no less than £18,600 which is one of the strict requirements of the Immigration Rules.
Her husband’s visa application was therefore refused on the basis of lack of income, which she considers very unjust. She has lived here for many years and her children have the right to stay here, so she cannot understand why the British government is treating her family so unfairly.
If it were possible, Lazo wishes to work to show the British Embassy she earns what they require, but this is impossible to do for now because she does not have even any relative whom she could ask to look after the twins while she works.
In order to resolve their problem, Lazo is now considering bringing her children back home to enable her to work in the UK, but this will be a major sacrifice for all of them. Lazo said, “Even if it hurts, I need to do this heavy and difficult decision… I really want them to be with me, they need a mother to be by their side. It will be hard to be separated from the twins.”
She knows full well that even her husband in the Philippines is suffering from the refusal of his visa application to join her. He still has not seen her personally since she left, when she was pregnant, and then when the twins were born, until now. He only sees them over the internet when they talk to each other via Skype.
Lazo realizes that if she brought the two baby girls back home, she would be completely free to work hard. Once she can show after six months that her earnings do not fall below £358 per week, she could then try again to petition her husband to join her.
And of course the twins would come back to the UK with him.
If anybody wishes to bring their spouse over from the Philippines or from other countries, they need to show that they can fulfil the stringent requirements of the British Embassy. These are as follows:
1. Proof of continuing relationship
2. Proof of regular communications
3. Tuberculosis test certificate
4. English test certificate
5. Minimum income of £18,600 per annum.
The first two requirements are easy to show if your relationship is genuinely stable and continuing. Certainly you will need your marriage contract, photographs together whenever you go home to visit, remittance slips, telephone bills or printouts from social media such as Facebook or Skype.
If you happen to be afflicted by tuberculosis, this disease is curable and once you are cured, you could undertake a TB test anew and if the results are clear then you could apply again for entry clearance.
The English test certificate requirement is one of the easiest for Filipinos to produce. This is because English is our second language, and we study it from elementary school.
The most difficult requirement to meet for many sponsors in the UK is the minimum salary of £18,600 per year. If your employer actually already pays you this much, please make sure that the monthly gross amount of £1,550 or weekly £358 is shown on your payslips (minimum six months). Avoid cash payments as these are difficult to prove. Then ensure that the monthly gross amount of £1,550 or weekly £358 also appears in your bank account statements for six months, as the Entry Clearance Officer is going to scrutinize the payslips and the bank statements and check that they reconcile.
Because of the current tick-box mentality of the British Embassy in the Philippines, it is difficult to expect that they will give you any consideration if you do not meet all the requirements.
The best thing of course is to fulfil or meet all of the requirements so that you can have your UK family reunion.
[For Juan EU Konek, Gene Alcantara, with Patrick Camara Ropeta]
The above story will be shown on Immigration 101, one of the segments on TFC’s Juan EU Konek, a monthly special which airs every first Sunday of the month. It is hosted by immigration consultant Gene Alacantara.
In the same episode, ABS-CBN Europe Bureau Chief Danny Buenafe tells the story of Pinoys who left their abusive employers in the segment dubbed as ‘Takas’ and ABS-CBN Europe senior correspondent Rose Eclarinal explores the island-country of Malta for the stories of Pinoys in the heart of the Mediterranean.
Juan EU Konek will air again on TFC on Sunday, September 7, 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).